I have a peck and a half of apples sitting on my kitchen counter. There are Macouns. Red Delicious. Courtlands. I know I’ll probably make some kind of pie or rustic tart, but I’ll still have a bunch leftover.
What’s your favorite way to prepare apples in the fall? I’m definitely looking for ideas.
Let me back up
So yesterday was one of those fabulous, sweater-y fall days. It was on the cool side and plenty sunny—the perfect weather to go apple picking. The Angry Chef and I piled into the car with the dog, picked up our dear friends the Lady Otter and D. Bunnyhunter, and headed north.
Now, our original destination was Smolak Farms in North Andover, MA. The Angry Chef and I have been there a handful of times. It’s quaint. It’s New England-y. It has hay rides, cider donuts, and a petting zoo.
When we arrived yesterday, however, it was absolutely overrun with tourists and other leaf-peeping types. There were lines. There was one of those carnival bouncy houses. There was a cop directing traffic.
As we stood by our car surveying the scene, we decided to pass. We’re really happy for the farm’s success, but it just didn’t look like the laid-back afternoon we were after.
And man, am I glad we did. It had everything we were looking for, minus the mob scene. If you’ve never been to New England in the fall, the pictures that follow will give you a really good idea of what it’s like.
About Brooksby Farm
The farm is a 275-acre apple orchard and conservation area managed by the city of Peabody. There are some neat historic buildings on the property, including Smith Barn and the Felton-Smith House, the oldest house in Peabody, built in 1644. You can tour and rent both for weddings and other festivities.
Get to the apples already, would ya?
Yep, yep. One sec. We swung by the petting zoo quickly first. There were a handful of animals, including a few sheep, goats, and a llama. Dexter also encountered his first-ever emu. But when Emu #1 called Emu #2 over to size him up, we headed up into the orchard.
We skipped the hay ride and decided to poke around the orchard on foot.
Apples, apples, and more apples
The countryside was out-of-control beautiful.
The trees were thick with fruit, though most of the apples we saw seemed to be slightly on the smaller side.
This was the tiniest one we found.
Off to the farm stand
When our bags were full, we headed back down to the farm stand. As we approached, we could smell the cider doughnuts cooking halfway across the parking lot.
They had a really neat old cider press sitting just inside the door to the market.
Inside, dozens of wooden crates were piled high with all kinds of goodies.
There were loads of fresh produce, from tomatoes to almost any kind of root veggie you can imagine.
And of course, bags of many different types of apples.
They also had a strangely enticing bin of crab apples. I wondered what in the world you might cook with these. Quite a bit, as it turns out.
They also had a mind-boggling array of homemade jams, preserves, salsas, chutneys, pickled vegetables, and apple-flavored barbecue sauces. I’ve never been much of a canner, but this really kind of inspired me.
I think I’m definitely putting pumpkin butter on list of things to make in the coming months. This looked so good.
Both these barbecue sauces have apples or apple cider in them. I’m definitely going to experiment with a homemade version.
And let’s not forget the baked goods.
The market had a few cases of pies, as well as a giant cider doughnut display in back.
They even had a few baskets of fresh dog biscuits.
Odds and ends
Brooksby Farm also sells a bunch of other stuff, from candles to pumpkins painted for Halloween.
The canned brown bread caught my eye. This is an old New England thing that I’ve never made. (You actually bake the bread in a empty coffee can.) If you want to give it a whirl on your own, the Food Network has a decent looking recipe for Boston Brown Bread.
I also spotted Mr. Popping Cob‘s popcorn on the cob. According the wrapper, you put the corn cob in semi-covered glass bowl and stick it in the microwave for a few minutes. The corn pops right off the cob.
And that concludes our tour
So tell me�now that you’ve seen just where they came from�what do you think I should do with all these apples?