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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Michgian Apples, Cider Mills and My Own Chaos

I know, I have said before that I got a job. The transition of stay at home mom and student back to a working mom has been crazy. Crazy is the right word, crazy fun, crazy busy, crazy stressful and sometimes I think I might go crazy. I mean, my coffee maker went out on me one day during the week. Oh... My...Goodness, I didn't quite admit to myself how much I like my morning coffee until I had to get it from a gas station one morning because I was not facing 1st Grade without it. 

My Ladies
Even though, my life and path have taken a bit of a turn, evolved if you will, I still practice much of what I preach when it comes to simple living. I think America, shoot, the world, needs to get back to basics. What is back to basics you might be wondering...Well to me, it is doing more things for my family, friends and community. It is enjoying the things in life that really matter. Self sustainability is high up there for me too. I try to rely on foods that I prepare and grow as well as what I can buy from my local farmers markets. Am I 100% self sustainable? No. Absolutely not, but I strive to make the best decisions on what I buy as a consumer to be responsible. Mostly, I like to bake bread, garden, can and buy my children popsicles when they want them...which is pretty often. lol

Stopping to smell the roses... It means not wanting to get so wrapped up in working and shuffling kids to and from sporting events that I forget to breathe.  It is September and in Michigan, the roses are not as easy to stop and smell, so instead we have to stop and smell the apple cider. Michigan has an abundance of apple orchards. As a State, we are the 3rd largest apple producing State in our fine Country. Apple picking and Cider Mills are part of a long standing Michigan tradition. I happen to be lucky enough to live in a County that has quite a few within a short drive from my quiet little Village home.

This weekend my family visited with 2 Orchards. The First was Diehls Orchard in Holly, MI (  While I was there, my youngest son and I, enjoyed cider donuts sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar that were still warm. We also bought some of their honey. The cider was cold and I like to dunk my donuts in the cider. Aaron, thought this was quite gross, but that kid doesn't know what he is missing. Next weekend, September 29, 2012, Diehls will be hosting their 31st annual Ciderfest. There are always fun activities for the kids and a favorite of mine...Apple Cider Slushies. Oh My Goodnes...they are spectacular.

The next orchards we visited was Ashton Orchard in Ortonville, MI. ( This little Orchard is home to my absolute favorite cider and donuts. They also have fresh apples, pies that they bake as well as breads. There are a variety of fruits that you can purchase but their Honey Crisp Apples are my favorite. My mother and I stopped in there today with my young nephews to pick up apples and some cider and donuts. The boys also scored Carmel Apples. Aunt Shannon is a sucker for the littles one.

With my cider, I made some cinnamon apple bread. I would like to think this is a one of kind from scratch recipe, but it isn't. I use a boxed Spice Cake mix... The shame...well not really because it is very good.

Mmm cake/bread
I take 1 box of Spice Cake, 2 cups of Apple Pie Filling (homemade or canned is fine) mix that in a bowl with 1/4 cup of apple cider. I then pour this in loaf pans and top with rolled oats. Bake it at 350 degrees for around 25 minutes. Depending on your apples, it could take up to 30. Insert a tooth pick to see it if comes out clean to check doneness. This quick bread is much like a zucchini bread or pumpkin bread. I love the large chunks of apples that bake into it.  It's great with coffee in the morning or topped with a bit of vanilla ice cream for a desert.

Speaking of vanilla... My homemade extracts, both have turned very dark in color but I am really loving the smell that the brandy vanilla has. I am beginning to think my crap-shot of an experiment with that combination is really going to work out. The Bourbon vanilla still smells more of bourbon than of vanilla. I am starting to contemplate adding another vanilla bean to the bottle. I will keep you posted.

My goofy group of Cider Mill explorers

: )
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