Autumn and Apple Orchards
When I was a child, growing up in central Michigan, my family didn’t make an annual trip to the local orchard. I’m not even sure there was a U-Pick apple orchard or cider mill in Shiawassee County. We had our own small stand of apple trees, as did many folks, my dad had planted behind the rose garden, when we first settled on Legion Road.
The crowning feature of our big back yard was a Red Rome apple tree. That apple is my favorite to this day but is only available for a few weeks in September and October.
The other day I drove over to my favorite orchard, Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm for a bag of apples. I took along my camera and after asking permission, took a few photos.
Apple orchards today are about much more than apples and cider. Many offer activities for the whole family.
The corn maze is growing in popularity. It seems each year the mazes become larger and more complicated. Be sure to pick up a map before entering. I got turned around in a maze two years ago and wondered if I was ever going to get out. I was lucky and found the road that ran along side of the corn field. After cutting through several rows of corn stalks, I was on my way back to the orchard. That kind of experience isn’t only scary for kids, it’s scary for mom and dad, too.
Hayrides are an exciting all around good time, often followed by roasted hot dogs and cider. I’ve even heard of an orchard offering elephant rides. That would be an experience of a lifetime.
Live music with local bands adds a festive air to the day. And the smell of cinnamon and fresh donuts will lure you into the bakery. It is hard to choose between the delicious breads, fresh baked cookies and scrumptious sweet rolls.
Apple orchards and cider mills have become destination spots for a family outing on a crisp clear autumn day. A trip to the local orchard or one that is a few miles away is one of the high points of the season
And what would fall be without homemade apple pie. Here is my all-time favorite recipe. I use Cortlands but any crisp, tart apple will make a tasty pie.
Pastry for a 2 crust pie
6 large cooking apples
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
DIRECTIONS: Line a 9-inch pie plate with a pastry crust. Pare, core, peel and slice apples about ¼ inch thick. Spread evenly over bottom of pastry crust. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over apple slices and dot with butter. Place top crust over apples and seal edges. Cut slits in the top for steam to escape. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.