Monday, October 03, 2005

Oh, Johnny Appleseed... plant your seeds and watch them grow

There is something very primitive about gathering your own food, and then creating dishes to feed and nurture your family.
Every fall we go apple picking. It is one of my most favorite fall activities. We always go to the same orchard, and we have the same routine. Wagon ride to the orchard (we don't always do this, if it's crowded we just walk), pick apples, pay, get homemade donuts and fresh apple cider. The donuts alone are worth the trip.

Each year we harvest about 40 lbs. of apples. Depending on the type of apples we pick, this is either a lot of apples, or a LOT of apples. This year we picked only Cortland's, which are a smallish type of apple, therefore we have a LOT of apples. I take my afghan out of my apple basket, line it with one of the bags the apples are in, and then put the rest in with it. The apples fill this basket, and I believe it's a bushel size if I'm not mistaken. The apples stay in this basket in the kitchen until they've met their fate.

Some will become cinnamon applesauce, some will become a pie that I take to a family craptacular at my MIL's on Saturday, some will become chocolate chip apple bread (one for eating, a few for freezing), some will be canned as apple pie filling; to be enjoyed long after the last fresh apple has gone, some will be eaten for a snack, some have already become an Apple Betty, and some will be things I haven't found yet. Each year I like to try 1 or 2 new recipes, the favorites of which get added to the yearly baking.

More important than the food that nourishes our souls, are the memories of a tradition that our family enjoys. My own family didn't have very many traditions when I was growing up. Nothing that I can look back on and think fondly, "Oh yes, every year we did ________". My daughter remembered this year that we usually get two different kinds of apples (they weren't picking our second kind), my son remembered that one year they begged to make a scarecrow, and "don't you remember when they added the corn maze?" I will hold dear the sight of my two cherubs climbing their first trees. Holding on for dear life with one hand, while trying to "lift and twist" apples off with the other. I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in October.

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