There’s a reason that the traditional, age-old, back-to-school gift for teachers is apples. As summer turns to fall and the days get shorter and cooler, apples come in to season. But don’t bother buying apples from the West Coast when they’re available right here in Hampton Roads. Several orchards in the area even offer pick-your-own apples including Apple Berry Farm in the West Neck area of Virginia Beach and Martin’s Vineyards on Knotts Island, just over the state line in North Carolina.
Give your kids’ teachers the gift of fresh, local apples to start the school year out right, and save a few for yourself to make this amazing apple bread recipe—an easy, no-rise bread that is perfect for weekday breakfasts when everyone’s rushing out the door. Or try the slow cooker apple sauce recipe, which honestly could not get any simpler. Portion the sauce out into small plastic containers for your kids’ lunch boxes. That’s a snack you can feel good about them eating.
Beyond apples, there are still plenty of local foods being produced during the fall in Hampton Roads. In fact, several farms now offer fall CSA programs where you sign up in advance to receive a box of fresh produce each week directly from a farm. Farms offering fall CSA and other programs include Cullipher Farms, New Earth Farms, Vaughan Farms, Coastal Farms, and more. Go to www.buylocalhamptonroads.com to find more information on these and other farms.
September is also the time when we celebrate the end of the summer season with our annual local food celebration: Farm to Fork. Farm to Fork is a tasting event where over a dozen chefs from the area pair up with local farmers to create dishes that highlight fresh and local ingredients. Guests can taste dishes, pair them with local wines and craft brew, enjoy live music by acoustic duo, Mercy Creek, check out Patrick Evans-Hylton’s Virginia food artifact display, and get a signed copy of his latest cookbook Dishing Up® Virginia while you’re there. Kids’ activities such as a live farm animal display, face painting, and food crafts will also be available. The event will be held on Sunday, September 22 from 3-6 p.m. at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center on Diamond Springs Road. For ticket information, visit www.farmtoforkhr.com
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 T. vanilla
2 cups diced apples (without skins)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. flour
• Mix flour, cinnamon, soda, salt and baking powder together.
• Beat eggs and add sugar and oil.
• Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Stir in apples.
• Mix walnuts in a 1 tsp. of flour and add to batter.
• Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Recipe courtesy of food.com
Crock Pot Applesauce
8 medium apples (Use a combination of Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala—whatever is available locally)
1 strips of lemon peel (Tip: Use a vegetable peeler.)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3-inch cinnamon stick
5 tsp. light brown sugar (unpacked) or agave
Peel, core, and slice the apples and place in the slow cooker. Add the cinnamon stick, lemon peel and brown sugar. Set crock pot to low and cook for 6 hours. Stir apples occasionally. Remove cinnamon stick and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth or if you prefer a chunky sauce, leave sauce intact. Makes 3 cups.
Recipe courtesy of Skinnytaste.com
Rachel Burns is the owner at The Content Chop Shop, a small shop providing content marketing services to small businesses, designers and nonprofits. She is also the co-owner of Burn Both Ends, which develops and presents educational opportunities and resources for small businesses looking to grow. She is a local to Hampton Roads and a vocal spokesperson for all its myriad advantages, her favorites of which is the Atlantic Ocean. She has been published in The Virginian Pilot, Tidewater Women, and AltDaily, among others. She lives in the Hickory section of Chesapeake with her husband, two pugs and several feral cats.