Almost one month ago, we went on our first long-ish road trip since Nathan was born (long-ish being about an hour and 45 minutes). Granted, we've been on a long trip before with Nathan, namely our trip to New Jersey last year for Christmas. But, this was our first long car trip with him and we were a little bit anxious about how it would go. Turns out, it went fine. I brought plenty of snacks and books and I even brought his little Leap Frog laptop which he got for his birthday this year from our neighbor. He did great, no whining or crying or complaining. He really was quite content to read his books and interchangeably play with his laptop:
Where did we go? Here:
Riley's Farm to pick apples. I have never been to an apple orchard before and since we were enjoying such lovely weather in early October I thought it might be something fun to try. Despite growing up in the Northeast my husband had never gone apple picking before either so it truly was a new experience for everyone. Both of the boys had lots of fun, but in their own unique ways. Gabe took our instructions about the correct way to pick the apples from the tree very seriously and he was so careful about which apples he picked:
Nathan on the other hand wanted to put every apple he saw into our half bushel box, including the apples that had fallen off the tree and were lying on the ground. We had to keep a close eye on him. =)
And goodness, I could not get a photo of his face while he was picking - he was too quick! Every time I'd get a shot, he'd be off again.
I even handed the camera over to my sweets and had him take my picture:
We had some very tired boys when we got home (well at least one very tired boy and one crabby boy who was tired but wouldn't nap):
And a lot of apples and pears; I actually have no idea how many pounds we had total because I didn't measure:
That is the box with 3 lbs of pears taken from the top so that I could make this pear crisp with vanilla brown butter. (Which was delicious by the way, but I'm not so sure that I liked the brown butter; as weird as it sounds I'm still deciding on that one. I will say that this was better the second day than the first as it gave the flavors a chance to meld and mellow a bit).
As soon as we got home I went online and started searching for apple and pear recipes; I was determined not to let any of the fruit go to waste. The week after our trip we had a dish incorporating apples almost every night. On Monday we had quinoa and apple salad served with leftover roasted chicken from the night before. The apple salad is made with a curry dressing and I wasn't sure I would like it, but it was just the right amount of curry so as to not be overpowering. Also, unless you're vegetarian I'd suggest serving it with grilled chicken or pork chops to make a more substantial meal of it. The next night we had pork chops with apple chutney, very good and actually a recipe I've made before. Thursday was apple, ham and cheese melts and then on Friday, since we don't eat meat on Fridays, we had apple-butternut squash soup. I've made apple-butternut squash soup before and wasn't too fond of it, but this recipe is a keeper. Not too heavy, not too sweet and with just the right amount of cream. Along with all of our savory meals we also ate tons of apples as snacks, which is normal around here - Gabe says that apples are his favorite.
In addition to the savory recipes I also made a few sweeter recipes that I'd like to share. We made a double-batch of these chunky apple muffins and put the extra dozen in the freezer (I'm going to pull them out for eating this week). I doubled the apples in the recipe too and they came out just fine (in fact with double the apples I think they're more true to their name than if I had made the recipe as is). I used-up the last of our pears to make this slow-cooker apple butter, so obviously we had pear butter instead of apple butter. I will say that I didn't bother with all the fussy instructions to strain-out the pulp. After the butter had been in the slow-cooker overnight I simply took an immersion blender to mixture. Turned out great, although a bit too spicy. If I make this again I'll cut down on the cinnamon a bit (and this coming from someone who loves cinnamon). We enjoyed our pear butter on french toast with mascarpone. Yummy! But we still had quite a bit leftover so I froze some and used the rest to make this spiced applesauce cake. One note about this cake in case you want to make it for yourself. In the instructions she says to use either an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. I made ours in an 8-inch pan (because that's all I have) and I had to cook it for a little longer than the instructions suggested because it was quite thick in the middle. So some parts of the cake turned out a little dry. Which didn't matter too much since the cake is iced with cream cheese frosting, I mean everything is better with cream cheese frosting (well lots of things). But I'd suggest a 9-inch pan if you have it or perhaps an 11 x 7 inch pan. Despite the touch of dryness the cake was still very delicious and I have been given instructions to definitely make it again.
So why post all of this now a whole month after our trip? Because we finally finished the last of the apples this past weekend! Also, apples and pears are great in the fall and I thought I'd give some recommendations on recipes that our family has tried and loved.
And what about my goal of not letting the apples or pears go to waste? Achieved rather successfully I think. We only had to throw out a few pears and apples because they were rotting from the inside out - which wasn't because we hadn't got to them in time, but rather they were like that when we picked them and you just couldn't tell.
Until next time, God bless. =)