Off Hwy 151 just outside of Fond du Lac, WI is a fourth generation family farm called The Little Farmer that grows apples and pumpkins. Here, you can pick the apples/pumpkins yourself or make your way over to the Apple House – a rustic barn which holds a fresh produce farmers market, craft store, and bakery. Make no mistake the aroma inside the barn is heavenly with scents of fresh-baked pies, muffins, caramel sauce, and apple cider lingering in the air. Although I was half-tempted to buy some apple pie right then and there and pass it off as my own, I opted to join in on the fun and go apple picking for the first time ever. In hindsight, I might as well have stuck with my original plan because 10lbs of apples and 5 recipes later I STILL have way more than I know what to do with. Also, I’m getting tired of eating apples.
The day I went apple picking there were two types you could pick: Cortlands or Red Delicious. Rather than get a mixture of both I opted for the Cortlands because they’re perfect for baking and cooking. With the weather turning cooler and my Halloween party coming up, I had a lot of stews and desserts to whip together.
First up were two stews: slow-cooker pork and cider stew and chicken stew with cabbage and apples. I made a few slight modifications to both recipes. For the pork and cider stew I tripled the amount of apple cider the recipe called for and replaced the kidney beans with carrots, celery, and potatoes. I ended up increasing the amount of liquid the recipe called for because I thought the meat might absorb all of it and stick to the slow-cooker. I’m glad I did because even with the added amount of liquid, there was hardly any left when I got home from work. It ended up being the perfect consistency and I served the stew over a bed of pasta. I’m not entirely sure I would make this recipe again (except there is a batch in my freezer guaranteeing I will at least eat it again). It definitely has a strong apple taste and after a few meals it gets to be a bit overpowering.
In this regard, the chicken stew with cabbage and apples fared much better. The only modifications I made to this particular recipe were to reduce the amount of cabbage and increase the amount of liquid so it was more soup-like. I also didn’t use fennel or caraway seeds because I didn’t know what they were or where to find them in the store. That being said, I’d say what brought this recipe together is the apple chicken sausage. It added a nice flavor and extra kick to every bite. In fact, I can’t get enough of it and the leftovers are even better.
Then there were desserts! Luckily for me, I have wonderful coworkers who love to eat. A lot. They’ve been the main beneficiary of my apple cooking adventures over the last week and a half but I also kept some in the freezer for a Halloween party I’m hosting towards the end of the month. So far, I’ve ended up making apple cinnamon muffins, apple coffee cake, and freezer apple-pie filling. When it comes to baking, I’m too scared to modify the recipes so the only thing to report here is that I’m proudly contributing to the growing waistlines of DJC (including my own) and the apple coffee cake was so. damn. good.