Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What to do With Apples - Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

So you gotta be thinking "What is she going to do with all those apples?" Aside from pies, crisps, and all manner of fattening desserts, I dehydrated about 1/3 of my harvest. I can still rehydrate and make pies or applesauce, but I just don't need to do it RIGHT NOW.

One of Thing 2's favorites, besides preferring dried apples to fresh ones, is Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal. Yes, you can buy it instant, but it's so much better this way:

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup water
3 dehydrated apple rings, cut up
dash salt
dash cinnamon
pat butter

Then I put it in the microwave for 2-1/2 minutes and add a tablespoon of brown sugar. Fall comfort food.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Frost and Apples

After Apple Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still.
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Robert Frost

A frost was expected last night (and it came: 26.4 degrees), so the boys and I scrambled to get everything out of the garden. Thing 1 took care of all the squash and overripe cucumbers, Thing 2 stripped all the beans from the bean vines. And I set about getting all the apples off the last apple tree.

I ran across the above poem after Googling "apples" and "frost" (I wasn't sure if the apples could take any frost, and I'm still not sure), and I laughed at how appropriate it is. I realize that it's been analyzed this way and that, but I truly can see it for what it is: a poem written after carefully picking apples for hours and hours, and rather sick of it, at that.

I brought in 99 POUNDS of apples from the last tree. That was after picking 33 pounds from it already. That's more than I got from all four trees last year together! Thankfully, it's the keeper variety, so they all went into the shed until I've dealt with all the other apples in the house.

So with that, 30 pounds of squash, and 5 pounds of cukes, I have actually SURPASSED my goal of 350 pounds of food! I'm now at 404 pounds with a few carrots and beans yet to weigh. So 237 pounds was apples, but there were still 167 pounds of other fruit and veg. I'm hoping to expand on the "other" and literally "cut back" on the apples next year.

I'm definitely pruning back the apples. The trees were so overloaded, the branches were bending to the ground. We're not allowed to transport apples across county lines here because of the apple maggot. And, of course, all my friends live in another county. So here they stay unless I make goodies out of them. As for the rest, they're either in the garage (squash) or awaiting me to do something with them. I'm going to try The Victory Garden Cookbook's senfgurken recipe for the cukes, since I hate to see them going to waste.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Baaaaack!

Hey there. I'll bet you've been wondering where the heck I've been. Well, August was more than a little crazy, but fun. September was spent catching up.

We spent our yearly trip up in Canada, hanging out at a cabin next to a lake. The boys went horseback riding, and did some swimming. Unfortunately, due to the wildfire danger, we weren't allowed campfires, but we did manage a BBQ. We spend the same week up there each year, as do the other families, and it is so fun watching all the kids grow. My eldest was literally getting chased by the girls this year. I guess I don't need to worry about him yet as he's still running away. :-)

We were home for four days and then left for two weeks in France. We spent a week in Paris seeing all the sights, then drove south to Provence for a week with my in-laws. Provence is so much slower than Paris, it was a little hard adjusting. The food there was spectacular, though, and we ate our way through a lot of escargot, cheese and olives.

So, basically, my garden fell apart during the high season of August. My neighbor took care of the watering needs, but he had his own tomatoes and needed none of mine, so they rotted on the vine. The pears were ready, and he took almost all of them - there were two very ripe ones left for me. They are so yummy! So August's harvest was only about 5 lbs and a lot went to waste. Unfortunately, I didn't have my neighbor weigh what he took, so I couldn't add it to my harvest total. I'm guessing he took about 10 pounds of pears?

We came back in early September, and what a load of work I had before me! The rest of the boys' school supplies needed to be purchased, and I had trees full of apples waiting very impatiently for me. The garden was in dire need of help. So I hit the ground running, pulling out the food dehydrator and baking like crazy.

I have decided that four semi-dwarf apple trees are really too much for my family of four. At least at this time. Either that, or I need to rent a cider press. I've brought in 118 pounds of apples so far, and I still have another tree to go. AND it was one of the tree's "off" years. This last tree is a "keeper" variety, so I'll try to wrap and store the better-looking apples in the shed to see how they do. The bugs seem to dislike this tree's fruit, but unfortunately, it's not scab-resistant.

So I'm about to surpass last year's harvest total of 255 pounds. I don't think I'm going to make my goal of 350 pounds, but I probably will be within 25 pounds of it. I'm upset that I didn't get anything in for fall and winter except the garlic. I'll just need to get my rear in gear next year if I'm to make an even higher goal. What do you think? 400 pounds?