Food + Wine

How Bout Dem Apples?

Is summer over yet?  I feel like I checked into an insane asylum three months ago and just busted out.  What did I do all summer?  I know I went to the beach once, the pool a couple of times, walked a lot, sweat a lot, and now it’s September already.  Then next month will be October, then November, then December…did anyone else know this?! I have been so busy that I can’t seem to remember what I’ve been doing to stay so busy.  Did someone pull a fast one on me and subtract 8 hours from the day?  I’ve been working (cooking) more, potty training (not me, my baby toddler), wiping lots of snot, running lots of errands, and then repeating it all the next day.  I’ve kinda been a lady version of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, only I’m not an ass.

So many things happened to me over the summer that I thought to write about.  I could have written about our family beach vacation and how it really wasn’t one, I could have written about croup and our fourth of July curse, I could have written about learning how to cook vegan for clients that now eat meat again, I could have written about teaching an 8 hour culinary boot camp to an 11 year old girl, I could have written about getting a newer and better hot water heater and how every time I take a bath now I burn myself, I could have written about my other brother coming to stay with us and how we made a video for my YouTube channel that I may never find the time to edit, I could have written about taking my kids to a Mommy and Me-type Dance and Music class and how they looked at me the whole time like, ‘Why on earth did you bring us here?! We don’t do things like this!!’, I could have written about how I wasn’t able to make my husband’s birthday as special as it needed to be this year because his birthday is now the day that I lost my Nama, I could have written about how my Other Mother’s Husband is sick and I wish I could do something to help, I could have written about how I’ve started up yoga again and now look forward to getting my butt kicked by my Yogi Mama every Thursday, I could have written about potty training a 17 month old, stubborn mini-me and how it’s both so awesome and tiring on a minute-by-minute basis…  Hey, look at that!  I did lots of stuff this summer!  Who knew?!

I had the thought to write something about each and every one of those things that happened over the summer, but then I just got so damn tired and something else crazy would happen and take it’s place in my brain, and so on and so forth.  But yesterday my husband and I took the kids to the Lincoln County Apple Festival because my husband used to go to it every year as a kid when he lived there.  It’s always fun to become a parent and allow your kids to experience the things you loved as a kid.  It makes you re-live those memories and become a kid yourself all over again.  Except, things don’t tend to stay the same, do they?  Here, in my home town of Davidson, NC, we have what we call Town Day and Christmas in Davidson.  Both things I remember loving as a kid.  It was small and quaint and all my friends would be there.  I remember fishing for prizes behind a wooden board at Town Day and drinking hot cider on a horse drawn carriage after singing carols in front of the Post Office at Christmas in Davidson.  Then I became a mom and wanted to let my kids have the same kind of fun I had.  And I couldn’t even make it down the sidewalk.  What used to be so small and beautiful and charming is now exploited and obnoxious and irritating.  I know the town is now making more money than it did when I was a child and I like that part.  But I guarantee most of the people who come to these events now are not Davidsonians.  At least we still have our football games.  The tourists can’t take away our Davidson football!!

So my husband was very excited to take his wife and his two children to something he loved as a child.  The drive was only 30 minutes and the weather said it was to be in the upper 70’s, if that at all…I even thought about wearing jeans.  (I’m a bit tired of this heat and will find any excuse to think of building a fire, pouring Bailey’s in a cup of evening coffee, and wearing jeans and boots.)  Let’s remember that we are still going through potty training my now 18 month old daughter.  So we stopped at a grocery store and fast food restaurant along the way to let her go, and I stowed the potty seat in the stroller for us to use at the festival.  We were all so excited for the Apple Fest!  Doesn’t that just scream Fall Fun?!  We were looking forward to Apple fritters, Apple cider, Apple ice cream, assorted games involving Apples…Apples, Apples, Apples!  Hooray!

We finally got to Lincolnton and after 30 minutes of searching for a parking space, got out and set up the double stroller, loaded it with all the necessary gear and headed into the streets of downtown Lincolnton.  It was hot.  Like, 88 degrees at 10:30 am hot.  And once we finally made it to main street, we found ourselves stuck in a parade.  Only it wasn’t a parade, it was just a boat-load of people walking in one direction, elbow to elbow.


I don’t know if you can see from these pictures but beyond the street lights is an actual sea of humans.

I think it took us 5 minutes to even find a break in the crowd to get through.  Everyone was starving so we set out to find something fun to eat.  And here’s what I have discovered about the people of Lincolnton…or at least the people of the Lincoln County Apple Fest:  They love their bologna, their Diet Rite, and their Jesus.  And for a festival celebrating the Big Apple, there was nothing Apple to be found at the lunch area.  I was kinda hoping to find something unique and fun like apple fries or apple turkey burgers, or sausage and apple kabobs…not packaged hotdogs, burgers, bologna and bags of chips.  But that’s what I get for expecting things.  At an APPLE fest.

We ate and then kinda stood there, in the middle of the crowd and the sweaty heat and my husband and I both tried to make the best out of where we were.  Our daughter was miserable in the stroller, our son was uncomfortable in the direct heat, and I was a little annoyed with the attitudes of the people around me.  As I waited in line for a coke, a large woman jumped in front of me and I politely said,

‘Excuse me, ma’am, I was actually in line.’  

And she huffed, rolled her eyes and said,

‘Well, damn. I ain’t in line, I’m just standin’ here lookin’ at somethin’.’
(All the while still standing in front of me…IN LINE,
and not moving…for, like, a minute. Out of principle, I suppose.)
So the tiny, stubborn woman that I am looked up at her, put my hand on her soft shoulder, and said,
‘But you’re in front of me, in the way of my place in line, so yes, you are in line.  
So if you aren’t wanting to be in line, I was just informing you that you are, in fact, in line. Excuse me.’
And I moved past her to get my coke.  I tried so very hard to show my husband support because I know how excited he was about coming here.  But I could read his face and knew this was not the Apple Fest he once loved.  We once again navigated our way through the crowd, up the hill, in search for something Apple related.  If you’ve ever pushed 70 pounds of flesh in a front-to-back double stroller, you know how difficult it is to go anywhere, let alone up a hill, dodging people who don’t want to move out of your way.  I did, however receive sympathy help from two bible-hander-outers.  (Thank you, Jesus!)  They still tried to give me their bibles, but I politely refused.  There was a lot of handing out going on at the Apple Fest…no one seemed to be handing out Apples, but if you were on the hunt for any clicky pens, stickers or bibles, head on down to the Lincoln County Apple Fest and stock up!  Up the hill, like a mirage to a couple of sweaty, tired travelers, we finally spotted some Apples!!  There was a man, with a large cart and 80 pecks of Apples, stacked on top of each other.  We bought ourselves a peck (about 12 pounds) but realized we had nowhere to put it.  So the little lady who was riding stroller shotgun now had to ride hip.
We also now needed to find something to feed the little lady.  She’s not too big on hotdogs and burgers and was a hungry mess.  There was one port-a-potty that I could see and although I’m not against using them, I am somewhat against waiting in an hour long line to use the one bathroom a town decided to place at a festival.  I’m sure there were others, but I didn’t see them…maybe they were hiding behind the wall of people blocking my view of anything and everything.  But when we approached a fresh corn shucking station, I almost heard angels singing.  (I think I can thank my bible man friends for this.)  My daughter loves corn.  Straight from the cob, naked corn either raw or cooked…she doesn’t care.  So we put the piping hot corn, freshly shucked by a Lady Lincolntonian, in the front with the Apples and headed back to the car.  On the way we were handed a couple of balloons by someone trying to sell us something, and normally I avoid people trying to sell me things, but I had restless kiddos, one especially restless kiddo, and nothin’ appeases a wiggly child and burned out parent better than a complimentary, sugar-free balloon.
So having not eaten nor drank anything Apple, we gladly left the Apple Fest with two hot and sleepy children.  But as we turned right down a back street and the one quiet and shady portion of the festival, I decided we needed to stop and take a picture of the family.  Not because it was a day that needed to be remembered really, but because we had all just completed something together, however sweaty and disappointing it may have been.  We did something as a family, we survived something together and it somehow didn’t matter what it was that we did.  We are a family that goes and does things together.  We may not have all the money in the world, but we have each other.  And that’s pretty great.
The lady soon grew tired of the hip and began to get a little squirmy…and still hungry (the corn was still cooling off).  The trek back to the car was a long one, with many a hill.  We passed by one more port-a-potty, and took a detour to get to it quickly, but it was fenced off.  Why someone would fence off a toilet is beyond my comprehension.  I got in a good workout curling 25 pounds up a steep hill and we finally made it to the car.
Still holdin’ on to that balloon!
We bobbed and weaved through traffic to get out of downtown and stopped at the first fast food place we found.  The lady did her business (finally!) and happily ate her lunch as we drove back home.
It took her about 2 minutes to eat through an entire ear of corn, bigger than her face.  And she, for the first time I think that day, giggled.
I cleaned up her cob when she was done and you know what?  That was the best damn corn I have ever eaten.  They should seriously consider changing their name to the Lincoln County Corn Fest.  We came home and put the kids down, had a little quiet time of our own and then continued on with our day.  Later that night I wondered if all those people there felt the same way that I did about that giant festival.  Were they all there because they were expecting Apples too?  Or were they there because they go every year and love it just the way it is?  How many people came home with pecks of Apples like we did and are now thinking, ‘what am I gonna do with all dem Apples?’  I know one thing for sure- in this house we have two things we use a lot of apples for…  I’m either making an Apple Pie, Cobbler or Crisp type thing or if I’m feeling extra fancy, I’m making an Apple Tarte Tatin with Cinnamon Whipped Cream.  And today, this week, with my upcoming 31st birthday, with my family whom I am so very proud of, I am feeling very, very fancy.
*Abbey’s Apple Tarte Tatin

*Pastry First
–In a food processor, pulse to combine…
-1 stick of cold, unsalted butter, cut into pea-sized pieces
-1 cup of AP flour (whole wheat PASTRY flour is a great, high fiber sub)
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 pinches of kosher salt
–When the mixture looks like sand, with the butter fully broken down, slowly add in and pulse…
-1 large egg yolk
-1-2 TB of ice cold water
want to add the water drop by drop, very slowly. When the dough begins to ball
up inside the food processor, you’re done. If you add too much water,
the dough will be too sticky. But if this happens, just add more flour
when you dump it out on the counter.
–Knead this dough just a bit
with some flour until it’s not sticky anymore and roll it out to a
10-12 inch circle. Transfer the dough onto a plastic wrapped, inverted
cookie sheet. Cover with more plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an
hour, but as long as overnight.

*For the Apples
–Preheat your oven to 425* while you…
–Peel, core and slice 4-6 large apples* into halves (depending on the size, see note below). Toss in a little lemon juice to prevent oxidation and set aside.
–In a 10 inch, nonstick, oven proof skillet add…
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup apple juice or cider
-1/2 lemon, juiced
-1 tsp vanilla extract
–Stir this to combine over medium heat. Please be careful to not splatter any, this gets very hot.
7-8 minutes, the mixture will start to brown. Swirl the pan gently and
cook for another minute or two until you get a darker, richer brown
color. Be sure to not overcook because this does not taste good burnt.
–Turn the heat off and slowly add…
-1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into chunks.
–Add the butter a couple of pats at a time. Know that the mixture will probably bubble up, so be careful.
the butter has melted, add in your apple slices. You want to arrange
these as prettily as possible because the bottom of this skillet will
end up being the top of your tart. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the pears.
–Place the pan back on medium-low heat and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
out your well chilled pastry from the fridge and carefully place over the skillet.
Tuck in any sides that overhang, and don’t worry too much about the
looks of it because this will end up being the bottom of your tart.
–Carefully place your skillet on a foil-lined cookie sheet and into the preheated oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
the tart to cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a serving
platter. This gets a little tricky… You want to find a platter that
is bigger than the skillet and place it over the top. Then carefully,
but quickly, with the platter held firmly to the skillet, flip the
skillet over onto the platter. The tart should fall easily out of the
skillet and onto your plate.
–Serve this warm or room temperature with a good spoonful of lightly sweetened whipped cream spiked with a bit of ground cinnamon or bourbon.


(*tip-find out exactly how many pears you will need by first arranging them in the cold pan after you’ve sliced them and before you begin cooking.)

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