Happy Labor Day, y’all! There is definitely a long-weekend attitude happening in our house, even though for me it doesn’t mean much. The only benefit I am reaping is that I don’t have class this afternoon, which is probably a good thing- I’m still working on Mark Doty’s Atlantis. Even so, I have been in a vacation state of mind all weekend, and the kids and I have been having a lot of fun kicking back and relaxing. I even watched a movie last night! So special 🙂 This weekend was jammed with good stuff.
On Saturday, we took my mother on her first visit to Solebury Orchards! I couldn’t believe it when she told me she had never been- especially since we’ve been making so many trips up there lately, stocking up on the last of the season’s peaches.
Originally, our plan was to drive up, grab some peaches and cider ice, and maybe walk around in the cutting garden. However, on the weekends they hook a passenger wagon to a tractor and ride people out into the orchard to pick apples. As soon as Jack caught a glimpse of the tractor, it was all over- we were going apple picking!
We rode out to the Gala rows where the apples were fully ripened. The first time Jack and I went apple picking, we stuck to the ground, since it was the first day of the season and the fruit was abundant on the lower branches. Also, I was juggling both kids, so ladder climbing was out of the question. This time, I had my Mum to hold Carolyn, so I was able to get up into the higher branches and pick gorgeous, warm apples from the tops of the trees- with Jack right behind me.
No surprise here- he loved the idea of climbing the ladder. I took him up as soon as I had finished picking.
It is still so extraordinary to me that you can just go and walk around the Orchard, even during the winter months! They encourage people to explore and familiarize themselves with the property, and celebrate curiosity about the business. Everyone is so friendly, including the customers. It is such a wonderful place, and I can’t believe that Jack and Carolyn will grow up with these experiences.
We walked back through the orchard, past different varieties of apples still ripening on the trees and oodles of ultra-ripe and delicious looking pears.
We got back to the parking lot just in time to see another wagon pulling up. I took Jack over to look at it, and the driver told me that he’d be happy to have us ride along again if Jack wanted to. He said that since it was slow, he could take us on a ride through the entire property. Sold! We paid for our apples, loaded up on doughnuts and cider ice, and set off for a gorgeous 40-acre tour of my favorite orchard.
How do I always end up catching them looking miserable? I swear, we were having fun!
It was so beautiful riding around the property, especially since the weather was absolutely perfect. I could have stayed out there all day.
Solebury Orchards also has a cutting garden in addition to their fruit and berries, so you can cut your own wildflowers and then pay by the pound for bouquets. It’s so wonderful to walk through all of the wonderful smells and colors. Jack is a flower child- he loves flowers, so we always take a walk through the cutting garden.
And since we were already up in the New Hope area, we figured we might as well stop for lunch at Dilly’s 🙂 I look forward to the first day of Dilly’s every year (they close for the winter), and make sure to pack as many Dilly’s lunches in as I can throughout the summer. I used to come to Dilly’s in high school- on really nice days, if a teacher was feeling like a trip or if we were ahead with the material, sometimes we would take a class trip in one of the school’s vans and get lunch. It was so much fun, something that never could have happened in a public school setting- things like that were pretty unique to Solebury School. I have great memories of trips to Dilly’s, and I love that now I can take my own children there.
Jack and I shared a veggie burger with barbecue sauce and friend onions, and a side of onion rings. They also have a great black bean burger- I love that they have two vegan burgers, and both are made fresh! Carolyn wasn’t loving the burger, so she snacked on some Ella’s while we ate.
It was the perfect summer day here in Pennsylvania- the kind of day I’ll ache for come February and March, but I suppose that’s the beauty of the seasons- it’s hard to appreciate the warmth without the cold to contrast it! My father lives in Los Angeles and loves it, and while I think it is a paradise to visit, I don’t think I could live in that kind of perfect climate. I need the changing seasons to keep me appreciating them.
Another exciting thing that happened over the weekend:
This…is…my very first CSA pickup (with some items from the Forest Grove farm stand tossed in)! I am sorry to say that I have never actually belonged to a CSA, even though there are so many in our area. My mother and I had talked about joining one in the spring, but we had difficulty deciding on which. They all have different requirements and regulations, and we had a hard time finding one that worked for us before the season began. I had just let it go in favor of going to the farmer’s market, figuring that I would do my research and join at the start of next season.
Then Maurya told me that the CSA that she and her mother belong to were offering a winter share, opening soon. Woop! I did a little investigating, and in my research discovered that they still had shares available for the remainder of this season. So now we are members ofPalovchak’s Produce, picking up a full share every Sunday afternoon. Sunday is my new favorite day 🙂 I’ll definitely write up a post about the CSA as a whole, but for now I’ll share what we received on our first day as members.
This week’s share includes: yellow and purple wax beans (“a handful”), 6 ears of corn (we’ve already eaten 3), a jar of honey (for being new members), two green bell peppers, 3 squash, 3 onions, more peppers (a medley of chili peppers, “help yourself”), three potatoes, three eggplant, three leeks, one giant nappa cabbage, six kirby cucumbers, and six tomatoes- all organic. Also…
cut-your-own herbs! This is probably my favorite part so far. I made the mistake of bringing Carolyn for my pickup, so I didn’t actually cut the herbs myself, but another Mum there was so nice and helped me out. I brought home cilantro (already gone- black bean burgers!), dill, thyme, mint, marjoram, lemon basil, parsley, and…?
I honestly can’t remember what the herbs on the far right are, but they have almost no fragrance, fuzzy leaves, and a really intense flavor- they’re juicy. I’m going to have to do some research. UPDATE: it’s sage! The most flavorful sage I have ever encountered, in fact. Excited!
The veggies look so fresh and gorgeous. They pick them throughout the day as needed, so your share is always as fresh as possible- and it shows. There is a chalkboard with each item listed, and next to it the amount that each share is allotted.
The beans actually said “a handful,” which was plenty. They gave me honey to thank me for joining, but between trying to juggle all of the vegetable and holding a grabby, fussy Carolyn, I didn’t get a chance to ask them anything about it. I’m wondering if they have hives right on the property?
I’m really looking forward to having that nappa cabbage in a stir-fry, with sweet-chili sauce…
…and the leeks are destined for potato-leek soup. I am also working on a sweet corn relish, which will take care of the rest of the corn and many of the peppers. I think this is the beginning of a life-long love of summer CSA’s. Jack was also excited, running around and helping me put the food away. He found the perfect home for the potatoes.
So far, it’s been a good two out of three for this long weekend. I am giving myself permission to do almost nothing today, aside from dropping off some donations in Bristol and picking up more Ball jars for CANNING! I am really getting into preserving some of these fresh summer fruits and veggies, and it is so not the challenge I thought it was. In fact, you probably have everything you need right in your kitchen. I’ll write up a post as soon as I have it all figured out, and hopefully that will inspire some of you to give it a try.
For now, I’m off to make some big decisions- quilted jelly, or classic mason jars?
Happy Labor Day weekend!