Autumnal Reverie Part II: Apples

Autumnal Reverie Part II: Apples

Dear Reader(s),

 I meant to create this post about two (or was it three?) weeks ago, but we are nearing the end of the semester and my freshmen have developed one of two distinctly opposite characteristics: a sudden state of concern or a sudden state of ambivalence. Both cases have meant additional work on my end and therefore less blog time. But enough about that. It's time to indulge in more fall fabulousness.

This is the second part of my Autumnal Reverie and it is dedicated to the crisp, delicious orbs of goodness otherwise known as apples. Since E and I can't get enough of our annual pumpkin date, we decided to go for a second round of fall produce procurement. Our second "U-pick" date took us to Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, GA.

The drive from ATL to Blue Ridge was a treat in and of itself. Seriously, look at how beautiful this is! Rolling green hills, a patchwork of colorful treetops, weathered barns, and an outrageously blue sky set the backdrop for cows and horses as they lazily graze and frolic.This is postcard worthy stuff.

Then there was the orchard - friendly, happy people, trailer rides, rows upon rows of trees heavy with ripe apples, and an old-fashioned store brimming with goodies; it was a wonderful place to visit.

(Keep reading to see why my grandma is amazing... and also what I did with our small harvest!)

(Above) E picks a particularly nice Golden Delicious. (Right) The rows of 45 varieties of apple trees seemed endless.

(Left) One of these things is not like the other... (Below) I take a moment to pose with the orange imposter.

 (Below) The trees were dripping with apples. What was the best part of that? Try the fact that we could eat all we wanted to while in the orchard. E and I had about 9 apples while we strolled. 

After a few hours at the orchard, we left with a big bag of apples, a jar of whipped blueberry honey, fresh pressed apple cider, and Muscadine preserves. Once we got home, it was time to play in the kitchen! As per Evan's request, the first thing I made was an apple fritter recipe from my amazing 1950's 6th ed. Betty Crocker cookbook.

Now, I'm not saying that my grandma is better than yours. I don't know her and I'm sure she's lovely. However, I doubt that your grandma scoured antique markets for months with grandpa and all of their car club friends (Did I mention that she's in a car club? How cool is that?) in search of the perfect copy of this particular cookbook. Mine did, and here's proof:

This cookbook is filled with so many great things. There are fun drawings, witty rhymes, ideas for practically any event (including cherry pie with hatchet-shaped cutouts for Washington's birthday - yes, really), and easy-to-follow instructions. But perhaps the best feature is the way the recipes are arranged and developed. Most begin with a basic, "master" recipe and are  followed with different variations. Once you master the master recipes and get in the swing of things, it is easy to adapt recipes to your individual tastes. Here is what I did with the basic fritter recipe:

Ingredients to gather:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (Not in the original recipe)
1 cup all-purpose flour (Sift before you measure)
2 tsp ground cinnamon (Not in the orig. either)
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (Neither was this)
1/4 tsp freshly ground allspice (Or this!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs oil or melted butter
1 cup (or more) chopped apple
1-2 tbs flour for dusting apples (Also my own addition)
Oil for frying

Heat deep oil in a heavy pot to 375 degrees F. Use a candy/frying thermometer to maintain even temperatures. This is really important so that you don't end up with bipolar fritters (burnt or gooey).

Whisk the eggs well. beat in milk, then sift dry ingredients together. Add to batter. Stir in oil. Sprinkle chopped apples with flour, toss to coat, and then fold apples into batter. Fry by spoonfuls in hot oil, turning once. Drain on racks and keep warm in a low oven until all the batter is gone. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with a powdered sugar/ water glaze. Devour and smile.

Much to my dismay, I found that we were out of powdered sugar when I was halfway through making the batter. *Note to self: ALWAYS check ingredients before beginning a recipe.* Did I panic? Hardly. I improvised and drizzled cooked fritters with maple syrup. Results? Delicious.

Also, I got really fancy and added crumbled bacon to the last few in the batch. You know what's better with bacon? Pretty much everything. Next time, I will get even fancier and use Joy the Baker's brown sugar bacon technique seen here in her Brown Sugar Bacon Biscuit recipe, which, by the way, is fantastic.

 I might tweak the recipe even further the next time I make these. Perhaps I'll use apple cider in place of some milk. Maybe I'll even make a glaze using an apple cider reduction. You never know. Things could get crazy. In any case, the final result of my first attempt at fritters (and frying in general) was a resounding success. See? The proof is in the.... fritters. Sorry, no witty alternative for "pudding" here- just enough crunchy, apple-y goodness to make a grandma proud and a husband happy.