Friday, September 7, 2007
The start of school reminds me that Fall is just around the corner. Even though the temperatures here in Virginia are still sitting around 90 degrees, school busses, new lunchboxes, cool weather clothes in the stores, and the first falling leaves get me in the mood for sweaters and crock pot cooking. One of my favorite things about Fall is that with it comes apple picking time.
Just 70 miles from us is a wonderful apple orchard named Carter Mountain Orchard. After a steep, winding ride up a mountain, we are greeted with acres and acres of apple trees, a barn store, and many activities for children. Everything other than the actual apple orchards is handicapped accessible, which garners them many kudos from me. When we drive into the parking area, the aroma of baking apples and spices fills the air. And, they have absolutely the most wonderful apple donuts in the world!
The kids and I take a picnic lunch, spread a blanket on the hillside, and enjoy the country atmosphere. We don’t actually pick apples (that accessibility thing), but we do buy some that have already been picked, along with apple cider and extras of the apple donuts. Since pumpkins are also available at the same time, we pick out our Halloween pumpkins along with the apples, and have the same discussion we do every Fall about whether the pumpkins will have scary faces or happy faces. After a few hours, we pack everything into the van and head back down the mountain – tired, more than a little dirty, but happy and looking forward to more apple dishes.
Many years ago, my apple pie recipe won a blue ribbon at the state fair. I can’t share that recipe with you because it has a secret ingredient, and if I shared it, well, then it wouldn’t be secret anymore, now would it? But, here is another of my family’s favorites:
1/2 c. sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
4 c. thinly-sliced pared apples
1 well beaten egg
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 c. melted butter
Place apples in bottom of a greased 8 1/4" x 1 3/4" inch round baking dish. Sprinkle with a mixture of the sugar and cinnamon. Mix dry ingredients together. Combine egg, milk and butter. Add dry ingredients all at once, and mix until smooth. Pour over apples. Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings. The addition of a handful of black walnuts to the apples makes for mighty good eating!