Tag Archives: apples

How ‘Bout Them Apples?

Although the first day of Autumn is not until September 23, it’s hard to not anticipate its crisp arrival. I’ve recently found myself caught in the humid fall afternoons dreaming of the crunch of fallen leaves, chilly, foggy mornings, and brisk air that pierces your lungs with a delightful sharpness. Pumpkin beers are already making their way into bars and evenings have been cooling off much more quickly. Worry not, everyone, we are getting closer and closer to the most glorious of all the seasons that is slowly ushered in by the ripening apple trees every year. So with your first bite of a seasonal apple you can allow yourself to get excited for the yellows, oranges, and reds that will begin to decorate our neighborhoods and beautiful North Carolina landscape.

Coston Farm in Hendersonville, NC is a fourth generation family farm that specializes in apples. They grow 20 different kinds of apples and the season spans from August 10 until the last week of October. If you find yourself up in the High Country to see the leaves change and to celebrate fall’s arrival, you can stop by Coston Farm to pick apples and continue the festivities. Otherwise, they can arrive at your front door in your Papa Spud’s box! The first apples of the year are Golden Crisp and Gala Apples, and by the end of this week Honey Crisps (my personal favorite) will be available. Then come Fuji, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious in September. Finally in October come Shizuko, King Luscious, and the season ends with the beautiful Pink Ladies. This is, of course, an abbreviated list of the amazing flavor profile that is headed our way. To see the Coston’s Apple Ripening Calendar, or any pictures, recipes, or apple information, just check out their website.

Apple background

I spoke with Lola Coston on the phone who imparted a little bit of knowledge for us—if you’re making a pie the best apples to use would be Honey Crisp, Shizuko, Mutsu, or Granny Smith; a cobbler calls for Golden Delicious apples. Lola’s favorite kind of apple is the Shizuko apple, it’s a yellow apple that is both sweet and tart and will be ready in October. It’s a crispy eating apple as well as great for baking. So bring on the apple pies, turnovers, crisps, sauce, muffins, breads, and, of course, cider! Don’t forget how easy it is to store apples in different forms for the rest of the year. To freeze apples simply peel, slice, and core the apple–if you don’t want it to brown you can brush the apple slices with diluted lemon juice. Lay the apples out on a baking sheet making sure that none of them are touching and freeze. Once the apples are frozen, consolidate in a plastic bag or Tupperware and keep in the freezer!

Along with being delicious and grown locally, apples are pretty amazing fruits. Here are a few apple facts that I found interesting:
-Apples are part of the rose family, similar to pears and plums
-If you have produce that is unripe, just throw it in a bag with an apple and it will ripen more quickly because of the amount of ethylene that apples give off
-Apple trees can live for over 100 years
-The crabapple is the only type of apple native to the US.
-Apples are full of soluble fiber, which is good for digestion, as well as Vitamin C for your immune system
-The antioxidants found in apples help to prevent coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease
-Eating an apple before you work out may increase your endurance.

As you’re enjoying your apples this season and bettering your health by doing so, you can save your apple scraps to make apple cider vinegar (which is also incredibly good for digestion). This super simple recipe explains just how to make homemade apple cider vinegar so you no longer have to buy it from the store!

Ingredients

  • Cores and peels from 6-8 apples (ideally organic)
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • Water to cover

Instructions

  1. After you use the apples to make a wonderful apple treat (such asapple pie bread), place the cores and peels in a large, wide-mouthed jar. I use a 4-cup jar, but you can adjust the size of the jar to the amount of apple scraps you’re using.
  2. Cover the scraps with water and stir in the honey.
  3. Place a paper towel on top of the jar, and secure it with a band.
  4. Let the mixture soak for 2 weeks, and then strain out the liquid. Discard the solids.
  5. Return the liquid to the jar and cover it again with a paper towel and band. Leave it for 4 more weeks, stirring daily.
  6. Taste it and see if it has the acidity you would like. If it does, transfer it to a covered bottle for storage. If not, leave it in the wide-mouthed jar for a little while longer, checking every few days.

Now that you’re armed with all of these apple facts and apple ideas, I wish you a very apple-filled autumn.

Fall Recipe Extravaganza

This week I decided to attempt a fall recipe extravaganza using several of the different fall vegetables that we offer. This all started when I found a recipe for Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Latte and then continue to think about more interesting ways to use the vegetables in my refrigerator than my typical stir-fry. So I decided to create a whole meal (granted, a HUGE meal that could be split into several meals) all around fall. The pumpkin spiced latte doesn’t quite fit into the meal, but who doesn’t want a delicious, autumnal coffee drink to start out their day? I will preface all of this by saying that I have realized that I have a complete inability to follow a recipe perfectly and, for some reason, always feel like I should add some twist to it. This works well sometimes and others not so much, so I’ll share with you the recipes I found, tell you what I did and explain how it turned out. So, here you’ll find an appetizer, a salad, a soup, and a dessert. Enjoy!

pumpkin spiced latteLet’s start with this recipe for a crock-pot pumpkin spiced latte from Thriving Home Blog. This was delicious, very sweet, and made a huge amount. I shared it with my roommates, my mom, everyone who came over and I still have a nalgene bottle full in my fridge. The pureed pumpkin is so easy to make on your own, you do not have to go to the store and buy a can. Just cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake it at 375 for about 30-45 minutes, or until you can easily stick a fork in the pumpkin. However, make sure that you do blend the pumpkin before you use it in this recipe. I decided to not blend it and just mash the pumpkin with a fork because I was feeling lazy and thought it would cook down in the crock-pot—unfortunately that is not the case. While it still tasted delicious, there were strings of pumpkin floating around in my drink—most people are not inclined to prefer a chewy latte. Secondly, the recipe calls for 4-6 cups of strongly brewed coffee, I used 6 cups and still wanted to taste the coffee more. If you want a stronger coffee taste I would recommend using less milk. I’ve actually been using the leftovers like creamer and adding it to my cup of coffee in the morning, I think I might like it even more that way.

croquetas3The appetizer is something I’ve wanted to try to make for quite some time, it’s a Spanish dish called croquetas, often made with chicken, but you can use whatever you want. I first had croquetas while I was working on a farm in Maine alongside a woman from Spain named Steffi; she would make them when we had a huge amount of a vegetable left over after market—usually zucchini or kale. I attempted to use her recipe and mixed it with some other recipes I found online (because my Spanish is a little rusty) and here is what I came up with. I used mustard greens as my vegetable of choice. What I found was that croquetas are all about proportions and texture, so depending on how watery the vegetable you choose is, you may have to alter the amount of flour or milk you add. This was definitely the biggest experiment of everything I made, so here’s the recipe I used online to compare in case you prefer actual measurements.mustard greens

  1. Dice one yellow onion and sautee with butter.
  2. Chop up mustard greens as small as possible (I used about a pound and a half total) and add to the onions. Add whatever spices you’d like to this mixture–I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin, but remember you can always salt fried things after they come out of the pan so don’t stress too much about how much salt to use.
  3. Sprinkle flour into the mixture and continue to add flour until it forms a slightly moist ball.
  4. Add milk until it has the same consistency as cake batter. **I made the consistency thicker than cake batter and it worked well, I think the more milk you add the creamier the inside of the croquetas will be after they are fried.
  5. Put in the refrigerator for 24 hours, this makes the croquetas easier to form.
  6. Roll the “dough” into balls or cylinders and roll in flower. Meanwhile, scramble two eggs in one bowl and put 1 cup of bread crumbs in another. Dip the croquetas in the egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs to completely cover them.
  7. Fry in a pan and serve hot!

croquetas2

Other than the few that I burned, I thought that these turned out great! The spice from the mustard cooked out almost completely so it tastes a lot like kale, it might work to experiment with adding cayenne or sriracha if you want the spice to stay. You can make this recipe with any meat or vegetable combination so don’t be afraid to get creative!

Autumn Cobb Salad with Smoky Pumpkin Dressing: I usually don’t think of salads when I think of fall, so when I came across this delicious salad from Heather Christo I couldn’t wait to try it.  I was a little skeptical about the pumpkin vinaigrette, but it turned out to be delicious, I would highly recommend this salad. It is the perfect combination of fresh greens and vegetables with the warm, roasted flavor we crave as the days and nights begin to cool down.

salad

Butternut squash soup: Once summer ends and it is not so unbearably hot, I almost butternut squash soupinstantly crave soup. So I wanted to try an interesting version of butternut squash soup and found this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats. The chickpeas are a fantastic addition, also a fantastic snack. I tend to like soups that are at least a little chunky, so they add a nice texture as well as a great flavor compliment. I did not use bacon (I know, that’s almost sacrilegious to some people) and instead added sweet potato. I really like the way that sweet potato and butternut squash go together; so I just chopped up three sweet potatoes, boiled them, blended them, and stirred them into the soup as it was simmering. Soup-er easy, soup-er delicious.

Finally, we have an Irish Apple Cake from The View From Great Island. I unfortunately did not get to make this recipe, everything else took longer than I planned! But I wanted to share this with you anyways because it looks absolutely delicious. I’d love to hear how this recipe turns out for you. Post pictures and comments on our facebook page or on the blog and tell me what you thought!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I did, and the best part is that I don’t have to cook for the rest of the week! Happy eating!