Apple Season

Virginia has a long history of growing and cooking with apples, dating back at least to Thomas Jefferson.  At Monticello, Jefferson grew many varieties, including his favorites:  Hewes’ Crab and Taliaferro for cider production and Newtown Pippin and Esopus Spitzenburg for dessert fruits.

An hour North of Monticello, Graves Mountain Lodge holds an annual Apple Harvest Festival.  Recently, we loaded up the car and headed to the mountains for a day of food, fun and apple picking.  We came home with plenty of Virginia-grown apples to use in all kinds of apple recipes.

Northwest of Madison, Virginia, Graves Mountain Lodge has been growing apples since the 1960’s.  They offer “pick your own” in their orchards, as well as plenty of fresh-picked, locally-grown apples from their own and other local orchards.  Local food and craft vendors abound, and there’s plenty for the kids to do:  hayrides, a haybale maze, etc.  Nestled in the side of the mountain, the Lodge offers a buffet-style lunch.  On the day we visited, meatloaf was on the menu, along with three bean salad, mashed potatoes, lima beans and yeast rolls – all homemade and all delicious!

Here are some pics from our trip:

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Once we got home, I quickly realized I had a HUGE box of apples I needed to use up.  One of the first things I made was this English Apple Shortcake with Brown Sugar and Cream Cheese Crust.  I’d made it before and loved its hint of sweetness, especially when served with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

It was super easy to make.  Just be sure to drop your peeled, diced apples into a cold water bath with some lemon juice so they won’t brown while you’re making the crust.

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The finished product was yummy, and totally worth the drive to Madison!

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Fall Food History Events in Virginia

“Listen!  The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves.

We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”

~Humbert Wolfe

Anyone who knows me knows that autumn is my favorite season.  My birthday and my favorite holiday – Halloween – are both in October, and I adore sweatshirt weather.  There are plenty of food events throughout the state throughout the fall.  My boys and I will be going apple picking this weekend, while the fall foliage of the Blue Ridge Mountains is at the peak of its color and the apple orchards have their fall festivals.

Here are some of Virginia’s upcoming food history events:

Oct. 11 – Archaeology Day at Historic Jamestowne – Featuring demonstrations of Algonquian cooking and foodways and archaeology-themed tours.  (Adult tickets $14, 15 and under free)

Oct. 11 – Colonial Hearth Cooking Demonstrations at Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown – Interpreters will prepare a fall feast using colonial cooking techniques and preparations. ($8/adult, under 6 free)

Oct. 13-18 – Awesome Heirloom Apples chef’s demonstration and tasting at Colonial Williamsburg – Learn to prepare creative dishes using locally-sourced apples with Executive Pastry Chef Rodney Diehl.  ($33.50/person)

Oct. 25 – Whiskey and Moonshine Tasting, History Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke – Learn about the Appalachian region’s long history of whiskey and moonshine distilling, and taste some of the best local spirits.  ($10 in advance, $15 at the door)

Oct. 30-Nov. 2 – Fire, Flour & Fork – “A gathering for the food curious,” featuring speakers like Christina Tosi of famed New York dessert ship Momofuku Milk Bar, Jason Alley of Pasture restaurant, Tuffy Stone of Q Barbecue and Kendra Bailey Morris, author of “The Southern Slow Cooker.”  Themed receptions, lunches and dinners will showcase the talents of chefs from Richmond and beyond.  (Cost varies by event, one-day and multi-day tickets available).

Nov. 2 – Virginia Thanksgiving Festival at Berkeley Plantation – Celebrate the first Thanksgiving in the New World at historic Berkeley with a living history program, tribal dancers, a traditional Virginia Thanksgiving dinner and a re-enactment of the arrival of Captain Woodlief and his men.  ($5 parking fee per vehicle, additional fee to tour the house).

Saunders Brothers Orchard and Farm Market, Piney River:  Nov. 1 – Fall Vegetable Sampling, Nov. 8 – Apple Butter Demonstrations, Nov. 15 – Apple Cider Making Demonstrations, Nov. 22 – Apple Dessert Sampling.

Nov. 15 – Open Hearth Cooking Class at Brentsville – Join an experienced cooking historian and learn the techniques involved in recreating period recipes in an open hearth kitchen.  ($30/person).

Gadsby’s Tavern, Alexandria:  Nov. 22 – Mr. Jefferson’s Ball, a period-inspired banquet with retired President Jefferson including dancing.  ($120 for banquet and ball, $45 for ball only).  Nov. 23 – Jefferson Salon, an afternoon of conversation and Madeira with Mr. Jefferson while enjoying period foods.  ($45/person).

Nov. 27-29 – Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia – Discover the foodways of colonial Virginia at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center.  Open-hearth cooking of puddings, pies and pottage will follow recipes of Elinore Fettiplace in 1604 and Robert May in 1660.  In Yorktown, soldiers will show how they cooked during the Revolutionary War, while the the 1780’s farm will demonstrate open-hearth cooking of stews, pies and breads, as well as salting and curing a whole hog.  ($20.50/adult, $10.25/child age 6-12, under 6 free)