Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Apple picking and a recipe
After being home bound for 6 days straight, I needed to go out. So on Sunday Gian Luca took me to Minnesota Harvest, an orchard in Jordan Minnesota.
We couldn't have asked for a better day to pick our Haralson, Fireside, Regent, and Connell Reds. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and the entire world screamed autumn.
From the smoky smell of fire in the lodge, to the taste of sweet apple cider donuts, it was the perfect apple picking experience, and a first for both of us here in Minnesota.
Throughout the day Gian Luca recounted stories of picking apples off trees in his hometown of Montepulciano, Tuscany. I couldn't help feeling a little envious of his past. Not that I didn't pick fruit in the garden state. The summers in New Jersey led my family to the farms for fresh tomatoes, strawberry picking and the world's largest blueberry festival, but autumn always fell short.
I'm sure there are apple orchards in New Jersey, but I've never been to one. I vaguely remember "pumpkin picking" which consisted of taking a hay ride around a school parking lot and selecting a pre-picked pumpkin from the piles. Those days always ended with fresh apple cider and warm apple-cider donuts but the experience always felt a bit fake. Sunday was the real deal; we even rode horses around the orchards.
After our ride, we were left to graze the orchards and pick our apples. We ran through the fields like two little kids, and yes, I actually skipped for a bit. Gian Luca climbed the trees to get the good apples and we laughed all the way back to the lodge where we sampled cider and ate our donuts, baked fresh just minutes before.
We came home with ten pounds of apples just waiting to be baked into delicious treats.
And of course, my first instinct was to make muffins. ( I just love a good muffin for breakfast!)
Apple Bran Muffins:
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup apple cider
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large apples, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Toss apples with cinnamon and sugar, set aside
Mix together wheat bran and milk; let stand for 10 minutes.
Beat together oil, apple cider, egg, brown sugar and vanilla and add to milk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, until just blended. Fold in apples. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!