October 8, 2013
Lakeside Orchards, Manchester, Maine:
This past weekend, I went apple picking with my husband and kids at Lakeside Orchards in Manchester, Maine. We go every year. It’s a tradition we look forward to. Typically, we go the weekend of their annual apple festival, but we had to miss it this year (sad face). At the festival, they set up all sorts of vendor booths out in their back field. Last year I bought my son the cutest knitted hat that looked like a pumpkin. They also have interesting jewelery, soaps, handmade crafts, and pantry items. Last year there was a woman there selling jars of salsa. She had samples out to try each one, such as habenero peach (yum!!), mango salsa, and standard salsas of varying heat. Boy were those good!! They also have an apple slingshot, which my husband gets very competitive over. There is live music and bouncy houses for kids, as well as horse rides. The food vendors have typical fair foods such as burgers and hot dogs and fries, as well as some delicious award-winning chili. There is a pie contest too, and every single year, when I see the pie tent, I wish I had been brave enough to enter a pie. Maybe someday. At 11am, they have a parade with antique cars, fire trucks, and tractors. The kids love it. It really is a great time.
Alas, as I mentioned, this year we missed the festival. We ended up being able to go to the orchard a week after the festival instead. I have to say that parking was much easier this year! Lakeside has a retail store that sells all sorts of produce and delicious treats. The pantry items included stonewall kitchen jams, baking mixes, various mustard, maple syrup, spices and dried herbs, coffee and tea, just to name a few. They also have a wide variety of produce such as apples (duh!), potatoes, onions, winter squash, leeks, lettuces, and heirloom tomatoes. In their refrigerated section, they had interesting beer, wine, and champagne, delicious cheeses, fresh yogurt, milk, cream, cider, mustard pickles, bacon, sausage, and ground beef and chicken from a local butcher. As if all this isn’t enough, they also have an in-house bakery that makes apple turnovers, pies, cookies, and my personal favorite…the donuts. I look forward to these donuts all year. Now, I only live about 15 minutes away, and could probably get these donuts all year, but waiting until the fall apple picking day makes them that much more special. I’m weird like that. They are usually warm, fluffy on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside, and covered in sugar. Good grief are they good! My kids both go nuts over the honey sticks. They have about 10 different flavors. If you don’t know what honey sticks are, find out. Yum! Outside the store they have many potted perennials as well as pumpkins. I got a white pumpkin this year! It’s the little things really…
When we purchased our bag for apple picking, the cashier apologetically warned us that there were slim pickins left out there in the orchard. This turned out to work in my favor. We drove our car all the way to the back of the picking area and discovered an apple we had never heard of before. It looked like a granny smith, but when I tasted it, it was slightly sweeter…sort of like a granny smith mixed with a golden delicious. After we were finished picking, we went back into the store to inquire about the new apple. We were told they were Mutsu apples. Hmm…never heard of that before! I got home and googled them immediately. Mutsu are apparently a hybrid of the golden delicious apple (see I was kinda right!!) and the Japanese Indo apple. I can’t seem to find much information on the Indo apple, but I do know they are green. I know, right?? We also picked some Macoun, which I was happy about because I’ve always wanted to make an apple pie with this variety. We usually end up with all McIntosh when we pick. Right before leaving, we found some trees with Gala apples. These are my kids favorite apple, so we picked some of those as well.
With so many apples, I am pressed to conjure up several apple recipes. I know there’s the apple pies, apple crisps, the apple muffins and apple bread, apple cake….you get the idea. I’d like to also come up with some savory recipes including my apples. I’ve done a soup with squash and apple before, but I think I can get just a little bit more creative than that. If any of you have any savory ideas, please feel free to share them with me. I’d love to try some new things. I also purchased some acorn squash, spicy pork sausages, sparkling wine and apple cider in the store. Oh and donuts…lots of donuts. The squash and sausage inspired my stuffed acorn squash recipe as well as the squash risotto (see recipes!!), and I have some interesting plans for the cider. The donuts? Well, those are just for putting in my face hole. I share with the kids when they’re being extra cute. That sparkling wine is long gone. It made for some delicious mimosas on Sunday.
This year’s apple picking, albeit much less eventful without the festival, proved to be quite inspirational for my cooking. I also discovered that the orchard gets their meat products from a butcher that is right down the street from me. How fortuitous!! Now I can pop over to the butcher and grab some amazing spicy sausage any day of the week. Though I may continue to buy them at Lakeside just as an excuse to buy their donuts. Stay tuned for more apple recipes and enjoy some photos I took while at Lakeside Orchards.
Macoun: The skin is a dark red with a purplish flush. Its very firm flesh is juicy and snow white, tasting sweet with a hint of berry.
Gala: are sweet, grainy, with a mild flavor and a thinner skin than most apples. Firmness and crisp.
The cuties tasting the apples…
Delicious donuts that I look forward to all year:
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