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Posts Tagged ‘apples’

Fall this year seems different. It seems to be taking longer to be … well, fall. Not to complain. The days have been mostly sunny and in the 70’s for weeks, and in the 50’s-60’s at night. Heaven, really.

On my front porch, fall has arrived at my door with a basket of leaves and a pumpkin I picked up from Melick’s Farm in Oldwick a few days ago. In the morning sun, it glows so nicely.

Meanwhile, on my back porch, summer still reigns, and the vivid pop of color from Impatiens cheers up the quiet afternoons.

And the coleus (which you saw a few posts back) just continues to grow like wildfire. The will to live and grow that these plants have is undeniable, and I have already decided that they will stay in their favorite spot until the frost, whenever that may be. I’ll be sorry when they go – they’re such a bright spot when I go down to get the mail or hop in the car. I don’t think I’ve ever been more vigilant about a plant’s needs. Especially when all they ask is to be watered.

Inside, fall has come to grace the spots that welcome seasonal touches … the oak washstand in the hallway, and spots all about the house that welcome autumn colors and textures. Likewise I have switched my dishes to those I use for fall and winter, and am happy to put away the bright colors of spring and summer.

There’s something so home-y about the fall colors, so cozy and warm.

Outside, the trees have not yet turned color, not many leaves even fallen yet. Days are beginning to get noticeably shorter. Apples are coming in to the local farmstands, along with pumpkins and gourds of every color and pattern, though there’s still plenty of fabulous corn and tomatoes to be had. Soon there’ll be freshly pressed cider, and a chill to the air.

Fall coming slowly is just fine.

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applebars-squaresdone-small2It’s no revelation to say that routine can be a real buzzkill. And that can be true in any area of our lives. And yet, many of us are confined by the strictures of work, family, chores, etc. A fair amount of our scheduled days is necessarily and simply unavoidably routinized.

But what about some of that other time? I have been noticing lately how much of certain nights is all packaged up ever-so-neatly around the TV. Very American, yes? Truly I am not all that into TV the way I realize a lot of people are, but still … I have my favorites that I like to catch. However, I will find myself parked there, watching something relatively inane that has been sandwiched in between some things I really like. Why am I watching it?

I decided to take a harder look at what I’m watching and … decided to skip a bunch of it. Dumping the telly for a good book. Yeah, I remember that. Sunday afternoon I came home from a picnic with the plan of baking something – had all the ingredients already on the counter and everything. (Ergo the photos you see.) But I wasn’t feeling it, so did some other things, yet was still aware of he clock ticking. Who starts baking after 7 p.m. with work looming on Monday? Well, I guess that was me.

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The dry and other basic ingredients are gathered; the butter and egg at room temperature. Ready to start.

And that’s what made me think of/remember the importance of mixing it up. Even on the small stuff. Was there really anything so pressing on TV? Did I feel like watching the Netflix movie that was waiting? No and no. Why not go ahead and bake even if it’s getting late? Who cares how long it takes? (It was cooled off by 10:00 p.m. – Double Apple Bars. Yum.)

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The apples are pared and cubed. There are 2 cups of apples to about 1-1/2 cups of batter. Very apple-y.
I gave my favorite Macouns a try in this recipe.

We all get so comfortable doing what we’re used to. I’m at the point where I really need to mix it up more – need to feel inspired, have fun, try some new things, go back to some old ones I haven’t done in a while. I don’t know that I’ve actually been bored, but I do know that I have, in too many ways, succumbed to routines. How about you?

I just got a funny image of Bugs Bunny. “What’s up, doc?” he always said. What’s up? Well, I don’t know – what say we go find out.

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They taste like apple pie in a bar – moist, spicy and full of apple flavor. The pecans are yummy as an addition.

 

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MacounOnPlate2One would always hope that we have reasons to love where we live. As mentioned in previous posts, living in my county in New Jersey provides such simple joys in its natural beauty all year long. Similarly, I love living in the Northeast where we have the largest concentration of deciduous trees, giving us the fabulous Fall colors we love, and four distinct seasons as well. But there’s another simple pleasure …

Apples. We have apples. Beautiful red, gold, green and blushing apples. And farmstands aplenty selling them right from their own orchards. Pictured here is the apple that rose in ranks to my favorite eating apple, the Macoun. Before I’d moved to this side of the state nearly 20 years ago, I’d never heard of it, and up to that point my favorites had been Macintosh and Granny Smith. I loved the tart- sweet flavor of them both, but the Macoun topped all. It has a very specific appearance in contrast to MelicksCider2other apples, a grey “bloom” which you can see in the photo. (One might think it needs a washing, but that is the apple coloration.)

About a mile down the road from where I lived in Pattenburg was Tradition Farms. They had a small farm stand which sold produce from early summer right through Thanksgiving, and it was there I discovered the delicious Macoun. And along with that, their own apple cider which amazingly enough, tasted different each week because the farmer was pressing different apples depending upon what was ripening. I drank a lot of cider during the time I lived there! In addition to that, the farmer offered – and still does – a chart with all the varieties he grows, 32 in all, and their taste, what they’re best for, (eating, pie, sauce, salad), and what time they’d be ripening and at the stand. Want some Ida Reds for pie? Come in late September. Some Gold Rush for applesauce? They’re in in late October.

Pictured in this post are Macouns and cider from another nearby farm, Melick’s, practically an institution in this county. Their cider is also delicious and featured not only at their farm in Oldwick, but also in many local supermarkets.

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We are all fortunate to have such little pleasures around us, whether they be apples or anything that reminds us that the simplest things in life can also be an abundance of riches.

 

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The weather is still crisp and perfect for making the most of enjoying the Fall colors and seasonal fare. A friend and I decided to take a short journey to Oldwick, a town in the eastern part of our county.
Our first stop was breakfast at the Oldwick General Store.

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Unassuming from the outside and simply furnished within, this converted house offers a variety of delicious home-style foods. You order your meal off the blackboard behind the counter where staff takes your order, gather your utensils, fetch your beverage, and find a table. They’ll give you a shout when your food is ready.

The selection of hot food is always delicious and cooked right there in plain view. Adjacent to this is a deli counter with standard delicatessen fare and a host of delicious made-on-premises salads. And right next to that, a bakery case of rich homemade  treats that is hard to resist. (But I did.) Tasty food, hot coffee, pleasant surroundings and a good friend start the day off right.

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Our next stop was right down the road at Melick’s Town Farm, a family owned farm that has been growing fine produce for several generations. Their apple cider can be found almost anywhere in the county, and their main farm stand, where we stopped, carries a great variety of their own fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers, home-baked breads and sweets, and more.

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Melick’s has many varieties of apples, and if you don’t want to buy by the bushel or pound, you can buy in 1/2 peck bags.

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Only when we were on the way home, did I remember that I’d wanted to buy one of their breads!

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What I didn’t photograph at Melick’s Farm, but did succumb to, were a couple of their delicious apple cider doughnuts and one fabulous coffee cake muffin, above. It’s hard to resist homemade.

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Once we’d gotten home, we still felt like doing something else, so decided upon a walk. The sky had become a bit overcast, so the autumn hues were not as incandescent as they had been earlier in the sunshine.

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Even so, the feel of Fall was in the air.

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Along our walk, we passed all kinds of weeds … tiny magenta thistles, miniature daisies of some kind, vines. However, this pod, one of many to be found along the path, was fascinating. Closed, they are soft green, hard-shelled pods, but when open, they push out something akin to cotton. At one point along the way, there was a stand of them, looking to my eye not unlike a landing spot for so many aliens.

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They may just be weeds, but even in their texture, they have an interest all their own. Sugar maples are on fire around the next corner.

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.  ~Rachel Carson

 

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There are always wonderful things to love about wherever we live. Out my way, in a highly agricultural area, there is fresh produce.

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I am so grateful that from the first greening of asparagus in the Spring through apples and pumpkins in the Fall, there is always an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available. And even though they are not grown in my part of the state, (fairly) local blueberries and cranberries can be found in season as well. (Did you know that New Jersey is the #1 producer of blueberries in the U.S.? And #3 for cranberries!)

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New Jersey has an unfortunate reputation of being like the very small area of smoggy highways and industrial refineries located in the eastern part of he state. But hello! New Jersey is the Garden State, and best known for its seasonal unfolding of tomatoes, corn, apples and everything in between. We are joined by nearby Pennsylvania in offering a true harvest of delicious and healthy foods from early April through late November.

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Particularly in Fall, the beauty of apples, squash and pumpkins is a treat for the eye and palate, and an inspiration to cook and bake. Local farmers often have up to 10 varieties of apples daily which change as the trees come into fruit. Their own fresh-pressed cider tastes completely different each week thanks to the blend of apples they include.

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To live in an area where I can stop and pick up fresh, locally grown food along any number of routes is indeed a blessing, for which I truly am grateful.

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