Happy Tuesday, and welcome to another celebration of food. We here at the Guide find it necessary to spread the tales of food far and wide so that people eat. Because we came to the conclusion that dying corpses along the road weren’t very attractive. And while zombie movies are fun, we aren’t looking forward to a foodpocalypse. As we are quickly tying up the month of September, please do not forget to celebrate Honey in some way before the end of the month, as it’s still National Honey Month. But as the air gets a little colder and a little crisper, heading into the fall, we are heading towards a new month of food celebrations in October. And what could be better to kick off next month with celebrating one of the most amazing and versatile fruits: the apple. For this October the Guide celebrates National Apple Month.
Why do we celebrate the apple? Because nothing can beat the apple as far as versatility and tastiness in pretty much any cuisine. The apple seems to be a hearty tree and makes up a vast amount of fruit production in all of the world. Historically, people used to call any “foreign fruit” apples, provided that they were not berries or nuts. We have had historical myths surrounding apples, and we have modern-day proverbs dedicated to this delicious fruit. Because according to these proverbs, an apple a day can do just about anything, I wonder why we do not celebrate the apple more. With all this in mind, we shouldn’t need an excuse to celebrate them.
But as it is October and it is National Apple Month, we cannot think of a better thing to celebrate. As far as my history with apples, I don’t know that I have any major stories when it comes to apples. No apples jumped down from a tree to save my life. Likewise, no apples fell from a tree, bonked me on the head, and told me the secrets to quantum mechanics. Although it would be really cool if it did. Maybe I need to sit under apple trees more and find out.
Go To Oak Glen
Despite my lack of tall tales (excepting my fake histories), I can tell you about one of the best U Pick places in the Southern California area. If you live out here and have never done apple picking and celebrated all things Apple, you must make your way out to Oak Glen. Whether you want to make the trek just north of Redlands all in one day, or you want to go to a delightful bed and breakfast in the area, Oak Glen provides that beautiful small town feel. As you make your way out to the 10 and north on Oak Glen Blvd, you know you are getting close when you see the large apple signs welcoming you to the area. About ten to fifteen minutes further and you are right in the heart of apple picking country.
There are several companies that own different orchards in the area, but my daughter and I head directly to the Los Rios Rancho and their U Pick trees. After parking, you pick up an apple sack or two from wherever they are stationed and you go out into the fields picking apples. They have the trees sectioned off by types. Whether Granny Smith, Red Roma, or Red and Golden Delicious, you can pick to your heart’s desire, and then pay for them afterward.
After doing that my daughter and I then head out to the pumpkin patch to get our pumpkin for the year. As my daughter likes to say, this is a “REAL” pumpkin patch. And it is. Instead of grabbing it off the ground in rows, you have to go out to the vine and twist or cut the stem off to get to the pumpkin. This year I got one as large as my head.
And if that isn’t all, you can purchase little knick knacks they have for sale, or test your metal going through the corn maze that they have up. But by that time my daughter and I are always a bit peckish and want to get something to eat. After walking up and down in amongst the trees in the higher elevations always leaves us with a bit of an appetite. And so we head down a little ways to Apple Annie’s, where you can get a lovely home cooked meal to tickle your taste buds.
I do have to admit I keep making the mistake of saying it’s ok to eat outdoors. I know that I want to get seated quickly. But in my haste, I keep forgetting how cold it can be outside as the wind whips through the deck. The line can get pretty long so if you get there by noon you can avoid some of the crowd. My daughter loves the chili, and I always love the all you can eat ribs that you can get there on Saturdays.
After stuffing ourselves, we like to walk around the village and burn up some of the calories we have eaten walking through the little town area. It’s almost always like a festival with bouncy houses, live music, carnival games, tents with various things for sale, and treats to tempt the taste buds. In addition, they have a small little zoo with some pretty cool animals, various artisans to sell different crafts and find unique treasures and a mountain museum to view. If you get a little further down south by car, there is another orchard with a regular pirate adventure, more arts and crafts and an art gallery. You can spend all day getting lost among the local fare.
From there we make sure to grab some tasty treats to grab with us on the way home. The first time we went there we made sure to get the volcano-shaped apple pies that you can purchase from the bakery at Annie’s. It’s so big you begin to wonder how you are going to slice it. But if that doesn’t tempt you, there are cheeses, all sorts of delectable sauces to try, ice creams, pastries, candies and fudge for you to sink your teeth into.
This last time our daughter and I had a different goal. We wanted Cider. And cider we got. You can purchase them in Gallon Plastic containers, but who doesn’t love the idea of having a gallon sized glass jug? You have a memento of your journey after the trip and can fill it up with other delicious drinks. It’s pretty darn heavy but it’s totally worth it.
It may seem simplistic, but they have so many different things to do there that you can get lost among the locals and just enjoy the entire day basking in the beautiful mountain air. My daughter and I have been a couple of times now and we love it. My only caution is to dress warmly because there will be a ten to twenty-degree drop in temperature as you make your way up there.
While the Guide definitely recommends making a trek to Oak Glen should you be in the area in the months of September and October, we would be remiss if we didn’t give you our patented fake history of the marvelous manzana (apple for you non-Spanish speakers out there). And for those of you who are new to the Guide, this is where we send out crack research team out to the deepest and darkest jungles of Africa to research the history of the apple. And then we forget all of that and look up stuff on the internet. Or for those of you who need adventure, we seek the deepest darkest reaches of the deep web. And maybe we forget that too. I never know.
Needless to say, we here at the Guide bring you the preeminent fake food history and hope you enjoy our spectacular ramblings. So without further ado, The Single Dad’s Guide to Life presents:
The Fake History Of The Apple
With the apple, we go back. Way, way back, to the Ancient of Days who told these two naked people living on planet earth that they just had to avoid this one fruit and all would be copacetic. Or for those of you who are still trapped in the 70s and wear bell bottom jeans and only the bottom three buttons on your shirt, it would be groovy . . . man. (This would include Ash from Ash Vs. Evil Dead as well.) This Ancient One was not too demanding and yet somehow they screwed it all up and did a bad thing, eating from this apple tree . . . or the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Evidently, some woman was tricked by a talking snake into taking an apple. I just need to know whether this snake was Kaa or not. Because if it was, I am not sure you could blame the woman with all of those hypnotic powers. Then again, maybe she was just tricked by this tricky snake named Richard, or Lucifer, or something like that.
Later that day, the woman came to the man with half eaten fruit. She told him she ate this great new fruit that tastes wonderful. The man took the fruit from the woman and just ate it without question. (This is evidence early on that man never wants to ask questions.) Things went downhill from there with the Ancient One. Crazier than that, somehow it took until that moment for them to realize they were naked. One begins to wonder what kind of Garden this was.
Now whether this was an actual apple or something else has been hotly debated. But for our purposes and for those of artists throughout the centuries, we will pretend that the apple was the culprit that doomed us. Or maybe it was just our stupidity for not eating from the tree of life first because . . . tree of life . . . duh! Whatever the case, we were never the same since. I have one big question though. Was it a Golden Delicious or a Granny Smith? Come on! Just tell me!
And then that brings us to those crazy Greek gods and goddesses who couldn’t get enough of them. For instance, in Greek mythology, the Greek hero Heracles, as a part of his Twelve Labors, was required to travel to the Garden of the Hesperides and pick the golden apples off of the Tree of Life. And then there was Eris, the goddess of discord, who threw this bomb golden apple into a wedding feast which made these gods and goddesses crazy. And somehow this lead to the Trojan war. Good going Eris!!!
According to Norse tradition, the apple can do anything. At one point they consider the apple given as fruit to the gods which keep them perpetually young. Others of Norse and Germanic tradition believed that the fruit was given to us by the gods to promote fertility. And still, others think the gods sent apples to Earth to promote life. From there, this beautiful fruit spread throughout the world. Apples whether responsible for our demise or life-giving gifts can be found throughout the world. And we cannot seem to live without them.
For those of us in the United States who drank the Disney Kool-Aid, there was no bigger person responsible for the expansion of the apple throughout the world than Johnny Appleseed. But the Guide wasn’t happy with crazy Angels and men wearing pots on their head so we decided to dig deep into the legend of John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed). We needed to get to the bottom of this man’s life and see what was at the core (another obvious apple reference).
John Chapman was born just prior to the Revolutionary War in Massachusetts. He had one brother, Nathaniel, who only lived two weeks as his mom died in childbirth and the baby shortly thereafter. John’s dad rushed home to take care of John as his wife was now deceased. The dad would eventually remarry and have another son, named Nathaniel. (I began to wonder whether George Foreman got the idea from John’s dad Nathaniel.)
John and Nathaniel Jr. Jr. would soon become fast friends and would do everything together. They ran away to Ohio together to live a nomadic life. But their dad would eventually bring the rest of the family West to live with them. Nathaniel would eventually go to work with his dad, but John had very different plans.
His life turned seedy. John apprenticed himself with a nurseryman who worked primarily with apples. This would be the start of a long journey to appledom. He would eventually leave the apprenticeship and run around the Midwest planting nurseries. Then, John put fencing around the trees to prevent livestock from destroying them. Afterward, he had someone watch over it in his stead. John would pay them and he would come back every so often to tend the nurseries. He had large swaths of land that he purchased and planted on throughout the region. All of this he would give to his sister.
But as he aged, he became a more religious man and took to preaching to people on his travels. He ran around with very few clothes on his back, only that which people donated, and preached the gospel everywhere, even to the Native Americans. Some converted, but all respected him enough to leave him alone on his journeys. They believed the Great Spirit touched him and hence they should leave him alone.
Eventually, Disney would make a crazy cartoon with his legend of planting apple trees up in heaven. Regardless, his generosity and love for people were widely known, and even exceeded that of the Disney fantasy version of his life. People celebrate Johnny Appleseed even to this day on September 26th, celebrating the wonderful humanitarian and soul who saw a need in the world for producing that wonderful fruit that the world couldn’t get enough of. So think of him this September 26th and be sure to celebrate the Apple this October for National Apple Month.
Cooking With B – Apple Butter
I know that it has been a while since I put out a “Cooking With B” recipe out there. And we have been busy for a while, but I felt like I finally had something great that we did together, celebrating the apple. It just seemed to fit here. While usually separate series, this cooking adventure we took fit perfectly into our Food Holidays series as we celebrate some wonderful food. My daughter and I picked apples up at Oak Glen. And we got to taste all of these amazing dishes with apple. My daughter loved the Apple Butter the best of everything she tried. So we decided we needed to make some for ourselves with the apples that we picked.
As the Guide always wants to give back during food holidays, adding this Cooking With B segment was perfect. So we bring our Apple Butter recipe we made to you. Bone Appetite!
15 Apples of Various Varieties (We used Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Red Roma, and Fuji)
4 cups of sugar
1 Tablespoon of ground cloves
2 Tablespoons of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon of nutmeg
1 Tablespoon of ginger
2 cups of Apple Juice or Apple Cider
1) Peel and Core All of the Apples
2) Cut All of these apples into 1-inch cubes
3) Sprinkle Lemon Juice on Top to Prevent Oxidation
4) Pour into a large pot
5) Add Sugar and other spices
6) Add Apple Juice or Cider
7) Turn to medium-high heat and cover for 30 minutes
8) Turn off heat, stir and mash apples in the pot.
9) Turn back heat to medium and cover for 30 minutes
10) Turn off heat and mash the rest of the apples.
11) Turn on heat to medium-low and cover for 2 hours
12) Put into a container and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.
Continue The Conversation
So what did you think of the fake history of the apple? How much did you learn about Johnny Appleseed? How much did you know before? And how many of you have been out apple picking? Where did you go? And if you went to Oak Glen, what did you think? I would love to hear from all of you.
For those of you who loved this post, please take a look at some of my other food holidays and fake food histories. Also, don’t forget to follow me here at the Guide. Email followers will get access to the Dad Rules. These are ten rules that every father should know about and follow. Once again, thanks for stopping by. I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life