Fall is all about apple picking, and I’m one very lucky girl. You know why?
You see, for two weekends every October, one of the very best places in Portland for fresh fall fruit is just a few blocks from my house.
But you’ll have to hurry.
One of my neighbors allows a family who owns a farm in Hood River to commandeer their Hollywood front lawn for a big apple and pear sale every year, and it’s become a bit of a neighborhood tradition every fall as people come from all over the city to stock up.
Some people come by car, but most arrive on foot, by bike, rollerskates or scooter.
The prices are ridiculously low for just-picked fruit (seventy cents a pound or twenty four dollars for a forty-plus pound box). The fruit isn’t sprayed, there are quite a few varieties you don’t see in most stores, and the apples will hold for a month or more in a cool spot.
Last year I bought two of the forty pound boxes and used them all.
They allow you to mix and match to your hearts delight, so I got a mixture of Gala, Old Striped Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold and Newtown-Pippin apples.
I also got about twenty pears (mostly Bosc, Comice and Seckels).
I love everything about apples and pears — starting with the sweet world.
Apple sauce, cakes, crisps, cookies, cobblers and pies. Last year, I think I made crisps about ten times between Halloween and January.
Soon I’ll have to share with you the recipe for my favorite Apple Crisp.
Then there are all the savory ways to enjoy apples and pears: roasted with pork or chicken, added to squash soups and stews for a touch of sweetness, and tossed into salads for both crunch and sweet/tartness.
I make quinoa salads with apples a lot and I think there is nothing more delicious in the world than a ripe pear alongside a warm goat cheese salad and toasted baguette.
And then there’s another fall favorite: Spinach Salad with Granny Apples, Dried Cranberries and Blue Cheese.
We’re a big apple eating family — and when we have such abundance, it’s not unusual for any of us to eat multiple apples in one day.
One of my favorite fall pairings is a super tart Granny Smith apple and Chewy Gingersnaps.
Have I shown you those yet?
My bad — I’ll have to show you those soon, too (they’re to die for).
Back to fresh apples and pears.
What could be better than buying fresh fruit directly from the people who grow it?
The thing I love about this stand is not only will they let you try each and every variety they carry, both signs and chats with the farmers give you a good sense of what apples work best for what usage.
Making Pie? Use these. Looking for a good snacker with longevity? Load up on those. Roasting a pan of apples with maple syrup and serving them with homemade cinnamon ice cream? Look no further than here.
Do you see what I mean about these instructive signs?
Think of these folks as the matchmakers of the fruit world.
Because this is such a neighborhood tradition, I always see so many people I know here, and it’s so enjoyable to catch up with a friendly face over the sale of fresh honey or a big basket of pears.
Do you live anywhere near Portland?
If so, head over for their second and last weekend this Saturday and Sunday –they can be found on the corner of NE 37th and Hancock in the Hollywood area (just one block from Grant High School).
I think they open at 9 a.m. but they leave whenever they sell out– so be sure to come early.
Fresh off my Hood River Apple People success, I did a little baking.
I made a double batch of blondies…
… to take over to Lewis and Clark College to meet a new friend.
Have you seen this campus nestled high in the hills of Southwest Portland?
I’ve not spent much time here so this week I was stunned by its beauty — such gorgeous architecture nestled in the woods with footpaths and park-like settings everywhere.
Gosh it’s so pretty here.
Walking from one building to another and catching glimpses of all those little thatched roofs made me feel like I’d been transported to a little village somewhere in England.
I was at Lewis and Clark because a friend had just started her new job there; in this position she’s been asked to match students with interested locals as part of a cultural exchange. Thinking that this could be interesting, another pal and I’d signed on to be part of the program.
Turns out we were both paired with Japanese exchange students who said that they were interested in food, dogs, and learning everything about Portland.
How could we resist?
My friend suggested the cafeteria at Lewis and Clark as a great place to meet. We were all introduced and got to talking.
My gal is named Aika and she’s the young lady in the middle. She’s a twenty year old from Kanagawa prefecture which is supposedly near Tokyo. My friend Mary Ann in the back got paired with Rio, the other darling gal up front.
They’re both completely adorable and were so excited when I presented them with blondies.
Despite the fact that we were in the middle of a cafeteria with every imaginable dessert offered, they both broke into the boxes of blondies I’d brought them.
Our initial conversation with these two ladies showed us that they’re pretty much game for whatever we want to show them or do with them in Portland, and we also learned that they would love to learn how to cook some dishes and desserts, too.
We will meet them at least monthly and take them around on various adventures, both in the city at large and in our home kitchens.
I can’t wait for our adventures to begin.
And Aika and Rio– two things.
One. Prepare yourselves –your command of an English food vocabulary is about to increase exponentially.
Two. Do you care for a basket of Hood River fruit?
I think I’ve got plenty.