Oct 27 2010
Can you imagine a 23-year old college guy going apple-picking with his girlfriend? Sounds kinda lame and wussy right? Well, luckily Greg doesn’t care about the potential for wussiness because he and I have been going to local orchards to pick apples for years. I know he first did it just to appease me and to be a nice boyfriend and then I figured he just did it for the inevitable pies and cobblers but now it’s a tradition. We’ve actually put some conscious thought into developing long-lasting traditions that we can look forward to and this one of my favorites.
We’ve been to other orchards but now we only go to Larriland Farm in Howard County for our apples. They have A TON of all different types, tons of parking and reasonable prices. To get those reasonable prices, you have to buy more than 30 pounds of apples (3 big bags full) but, like I said, there are pies and cobblers to made, so they go fast.
This year we both had off work on Columbus Day (shout out to the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria) so we chose that day to avoid weekend crowds. And, since we had the whole day, we packed a little picnic and had a real-life version of the cutesy couple-picnicking-by-the-lake-in-autumn scenes I previously thought only happened in chick flicks.
Of course it’s pretty much sacrilege to bring Taco Bell on a down-on-the-farm picnic so we had to plan for some fresh foods and to incorporate the apples we had just picked.
Harvest Chicken Salad
Makes 4 sandwiches
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 Tbsp sour cream
2 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp finely diced red onion
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
Rehydrate cranberries by placing them in a bowl and immersing them in boiling water until needed. Place 2 chicken breasts into a pot of boiling water. Poach until thoroughly cooked and opaque throughout. Remove from water and leave on cutting board to cool. While chicken is cooking, mix sour cream, mayonnaise, salt and celery salt in a medium bowl. Scoop out middle pink part of the fig and mix that into the mayo mixture. Dice the chicken and the remaining part of the fig and add to the mayo mixture. Drain the cranberries and add them and all other ingredients and stir to combine. Serve on rolls, bread, wraps, pita or over salad greens.
Spiced Caramel Apple Dip
Adapted from An Oregon Cottage
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Dash ground cloves
1/2 cup evaporated milk
Heat a small saucepot over medium heat. In pot, stir butter and brown sugar until butter is completely melted. Add all spices and evaporated milk, increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Maintain a hard boil for about 1 minute then decrease heat to medium-low and cook for a minutes more, until sugar is completely dissolved and caramel is thick and smooth. Don’t cook too long or it will get too hard. Serve warm with apple slices. Can be refrigerated and microwaved to return to caramel consistency.
We laid out our blanket right underneath a tree in front of the small pond they have on the property and prepared the sandwiches and enjoyed one of our fresh picked apples with the caramel dip. The menu with store bought potato chips and left over pear cake–such a comforting yet still fresh and crisp lunch. I packed the chicken salad in the smallest in a set of nesting bowls and settled that into the largest in the set then put ice all around the space between. Kept the salad cold all through the car ride and was easy to dump out and repack once we were done.
Is it any wonder why we’ve kept up with this tradition and I look forward to it every year? And now, on to the pies–which I still suspect is the only reason Greg goes apple picking.
Last but not least, we had to pick our pumpkins! One for me to put on the porch with a mum so we can be accepted by suburbia as knowing what season it is and one for Greg to carve something intricate into once we get right up on Halloween. Now, I know lots of people have pumpkin picking traditions and nearly everyone I know loves to show off photos of their kids with pumpkins so we’re not discovering any new territory by visiting the pumpkin patch. What I don’t get are the people who buy these pumpkins from a bin at Shoppers. What is wrong with you? GO TO THE PATCH!! There is one within 15 minutes of everywhere I’ve ever been and it takes like 15 minutes to search around and get a pumpkin. Just go there. Get your orange juice and National Enquirer at Shoppers; get your pumpkin at the patch. Easy. Do it. Pumpkin. Patch. Go.