Farm-to-Fork? More Like Farm-to-Face

Willem is eating FOOD, guys! I’m not sure why I’m so excited about this, but I am. I mean, it was inevitable that the kid would eat food at some point, right? He’s not going to survive on breast milk forever.

Part of it is that, oh, holy crap, he’s already eating food. At this rate, he’ll be learning to drive before we know it.
20140724. I'm ready.

The other part is that so far, his first foods were lovingly made by ME last fall. With every messy bite, I’m brought back to that time, when I was so full of excitement and big dreams for this little creature I was anxiously waiting to meet. And now? Now he is here, and he gets to eat that excitement and those big dreams with every spoonful. How cool is that?

Sweet potatoes (or were those yams?) from the garden last fall…
20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

And straight into the gullet. The kid, he likes his sweet potatoes.
20140724. Sweet potatoes are GOOD.

Our annual trip to Anderson Orchard last September:
20130914. Anderson Orchard.

20130914. Annual Anderson Orchard visit.

Apple sauce making:
20130914. Old school is new school again.

Apple sauce eating. Verdict: apple sauce is GOOOOOD.
Apple sauce!

I honestly don’t see us ever buying baby food from the store. This is one-ingredient goodness right here, and it doesn’t get much closer to home.

Give Me Sweater Season, or Give Me Death!

Scarf and sweater season is upon us! Apples! Crunchy leaves! Crisply scented air! Cold mornings! Slippers and favorite sweatshirts!

Fall and I? We get along. I understand how to dress myself in cooler temperatures. I don’t sweat every time I leave my house. Fall means snuggling and cozy fires and Harry Potter marathons and rediscovering my favorite handknit sweaters and scarves.

To celebrate the cooler temperatures and one week of wedded bliss, Chris and I made our annual trek out to Anderson Orchard this morning, and it was wonderful. It’s hard to believe just a week ago, I was trying not to sweat through my wedding dress in near 90-degree temperatures, waiting to walk down the wood chip mulch aisle.

20130914. Anderson Orchard.

When we first started dating, we came here and picked a 1/2 bushel – I remember how we both had apples rolling around the bottom shelves of our respective apartment fridges for weeks and weeks. We’ve not missed a visit each fall since; I suppose that’s what the beginning of a tradition looks like.

20130914. Anderson Orchard.

I also had a realization the other day – the apple sauce I canned from these apples today may very well be among the first solid foods our baby eats next summer and fall (assuming Chris and I don’t eat it all first, which is entirely possible). Still… totally wild, right?

20130914. Apples and peaches.

There’s Apples in the Trees, Let’s Take All that We Need

With some fantastic rains, temperatures solidly back in the double digits, and evenings dropping down to the 70s and even 60s, suddenly life is flowing back into everything. The garden, the grass, the chickens, and, yes, even me.

I’m starting to think wistfully of my scarf and cardigan collection, of jeans and chilly mornings wandering the last days of the farmers’ market with a steaming mug of coffee in my hands. I’m fantasizing about these things, really. While I hate to wish away time, I am quite content to get lost in daydreams that include the smells of crunchy leaves, wood smoke, and wool sweaters.

With these daydreams in mind, Chris and I ignored the fact that the temperature would get up to 91 degrees last Saturday and braved the beautiful orchards of Anderson Orchards, just west of Indianapolis.

20120825. Anderson Orchard.

20120825. Anderson Orchard. Right about when Chris was saying, "This is the dorkiest thing ever."

I have had visions of making more apple sauce than I know what to do with since last fall when we left the orchard with over 20 pounds of apples. I made jar upon jar of apple sauce and the best apple butter I’ve ever had (with a few apple crisps thrown in for good measure and to keep me going through all that canning), and we still ran out fairly early in the winter.

20120825. Anderson Orchard.

Chris’ new favorite joke: “What’s the favorite dessert of gang members? APPLE CRIPS.”

20120825. We picked a peck.

A peck of apples: 12 pounds, to be exact. We came home with TWO of these.

Fast forward to tonight and round two of apple processing. I got through 3/4 of one bag last Saturday. First, I busted out the trusty apple peeler/corer/slicer tool of utter MAGIC my parents gave me for Christmas last year.

Then, I peeled. Oh, how I peeled. I peeled like there would never be an end to the apples I had to peel, like peeling was my new purpose in life. And it was good.

20120830. More apple sauce.

My apple sauce recipe calls for water and apples – that’s it. The step by step: peel and core six pounds of apples. Throw into large stock pot with 1.5 cups of water. Boil for 30-40 minutes, stirring often, until the apples are broken down and fluffy-awesome. In the meantime, prep your water bath canning getup. Blend the liquid-magma-hot apples to your desired consistency in a blender, return to stock pot, and simmer gently another five minutes. Ladle into hot jars with 1/2″ headspace, then process in water bath canner for 15 minutes. Let sit for five minutes in the water bath canner, then remove to a cutting board for 12 hours. Label/store and/or guzzle said apple sauce straight from the jar.

Other signs of life and of impending fall: drying Northern Sea Oats grass seed to plant along the back of the house.
20120825. Drying Northern Sea Oats seeds to plant in the backyard.

Worm feasts of turnip and carrot greens.
20120825. Snacks for worms.

Baseball-sized turnips!
20120825. TURNIPS.

Sunflower parties.
Happy.

So far, we’re up to 10 jars of apple sauce. I think another trip to the orchard is in order to do up apple butter. Apple butter or bust! Apple butter til we puke!