We made our way through a honey crisp orchard Sunday afternoon and spent the Packer’s bye week the best way we knew how, by picking apples.
The tree branches sagged with their gold, red and green apples, exhausted from a summer of producing one of the best crops of apples we’ve seen. We made straight for the McIntosh trees, the perfect apples for pies, cakes and sauce. A sample bite into that crisp, fresh, tart goodness brought us all sweet memories of prior harvests. I looked through the neat rows of trees and saw the happy ghosts of nursery school children from all those field trips I chaperoned many years ago. I looked up at my tall, grown children and smiled, because the appeal (you knew that was coming) of apple orchards spans generations.
Our apple adventure passed quickly, the laden trees made for easy plucking. Even in lean years, apples remain the easiest fruits to pick; they hang conveniently at eye level and lack the thorns of their sister fruits.
Midwestern autumns are beautiful; trees stand proud in glorious late afternoon sunlight, peacocks with their red, gold plumes. But the fall passes quickly and dreary gray days loom. That’s when we call upon memories of sunny afternoons and the lingering taste of cool, crisp apples.
Enjoy these two recipes, which sprang from the foam of our apple picking imaginations.
Colonel Charlie’s bourbon applesauce
10 Mcintosh apples, peeled,cored and chopped (Charlie likes to do a rough chop so the applesauce remains chunky)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a crock pot. Set the crock pot to high and cook for four hours, checking occasionally to make sure the bourbon mixture is evenly distributed. Author’s Note: I rolled my eyes at the bourbon, leftover from our Kentucky Bourbon Pie, but this applesauce ended up tasting like a decadent dessert and I highly recommend it.
Golden Harvest pork chops
4 boneless pork chops, thick cut
5 large leafs of kale, washed and chopped
1 large apples, chopped
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Butterfly cut the pork chops, season and set aside. Sauté onions, garlic and apples in sauce pan with olive oil until apples are tender and onions are clear. Add kale and cook until kale wilts, just a few seconds. Remove this mixture from the pan and add pork chops to the frying pan. Brown chops on both sides. Don’t cook the chops all the way through, just get a nice brown color on each side. Place each chop in a baking pan (I used a 13x9x2 pan) and stuff each chop with the apple/kale mixture. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.