Thursday, November 12, 2009

Apple Orchard Field Trip with Friends!

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Before we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of winter, I better share one of my favorite fall experiences this year! A few weeks ago, friends and I took a road trip to an apple orchard in Indiana, just outside of Chicago. It was a beautiful autumn day and one filled with some great food finds along with lots of apples.

We started our day at 10am where we met up in downtown Chicago at my place. From there, we took our caravan of cars on an hour drive to Hobart, Indiana. Our first stop was lunch at Marilyn's Bakery and Johnson's Farm Produce.


I chose this spot for lunch because it was very close to the apple orchard we were going to and it also carried some pretty interesting food finds. We all enjoyed some delicious lunch of sandwiches, quiche, chips, and pie!


Marilyn's Bakery is known for their homemade pies and their display case was full of so many varieties. An interesting tidbit I learned here at Marilyn's was about Indiana's state pie:
Indiana State Legislature voted Sugar Cream Pie as the State Pie for Indiana. Marilyn's Bakery hasve been making Sugar Cream Pies by order with a secret family recipe -- this is the only secret recipe they have. Now with its notority, Marilyn's Bakery makes Sugar Cream Pies daily. Stop in for a sample.
I couldn't leave without a slice and when I got home to finally try it, it was heavenly. It was very similar to a buttermilk pie I recently had but much creamier and sweeter!


Aside from pies, Marilyn's Bakery also offered quite a variety of jams, jellies, honeys and even sweet potato butter!


After lunch, we walked next door to Johnson's Farm Produce. Here we found quite a bit of fresh fruits and vegetables, including many varieties of pumpkins and squash I've never seen before...

Of course, we're all familiar with the traditional orange pumpkins, but have you seen any of these other pumpkin varieties before? I can tell you that this was a first for me and it's always fun and interesting to come across fruits and vegetables you don't see too often!






Aside from these pumpkin varieties, Johnson's Farm Produce also carried other vegetables such as this assortment of peppers, blueberry products and these gourds...





Once we had our fill of all the neat food finds here, we headed to County Line Orchards, also in Hobart, Indiana. It was a bustling day full of families and friends enjoying the beautiful fall weather. At the orchard, we all got to pick some apples and learned about some new varieties.


We all went our separate ways in smaller groups into the apple orchard. Joining me was Kelly and Teresa. We decided to focus on picking Gala, Suncrisp and Shizuka apples.
Gala are pretty common apples and are great for eating as is, cooking, sauces, pies, frying, juicing and even for apple butter.
Suncrisp is just as versatile as Galas, only they aren't recommended for sauces.
Shizuka
is a new variety to me and are delicious! Just like the Galas, these are great for the same reasons and were my favorite of the three we picked.


I was sure that they would pick more apples than I would... but when we tallied up our pickings, it turned out that I came in the winner with over 14 pounds of apples! (How the heck did that happen?! - lol) After we had our fill of picking apples, we went to check out the orchard store and other treats available such as hot apple cider and kettle corn...



One of the foodie highlights of the orchard was stepping inside their Barn! Here was a treasure trove of fall favorites they made fresh...


Candied Apples...

Apple Cider Donuts & Pumpkin Spice Donuts...
Local honey...

Fresh pies...

Flavored popcorn...

Lots of fudge...
Even apple cider gelato!
It was a perfect day with friends and a great way to celebrate the season. Hopefully you had an opportunity to visit an apple orchard this season and if not, there's always next year!

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