Besides jumping into large piles of leaves, our boys love to pick apples in autumn. When they turned two, we took them to Adrian's Orchard on the south side of Indianapolis. What we didn't realize (and this was not noted on their website) is you can only pick your own pumpkin; they do not allow customers to pick their own apples like other orchards do. Apples were prebagged inside their country store. Our boys had fun choosing their own pumpkin. It was their first time visiting a pumpkin patch. They also had orange colored eggs for small children to locate throughout the patch. The eggs either contained a Halloween toy or candy. In addition to the the pumpkin patch game, every child received a free apple. We browsed their country store and purchased two bags of apples which we turned into delicious apple pies (my husband's favorite dessert). Our boys loved the experience and talked about it for weeks, but we really wanted them to have an apple picking experience.
Two years ago, when our boys were three, we decided to go to Stuckey Farm, Orchard and Cider Mill based on recommendations from friends. Our boys loved it! This year we thought about visiting another orchard that a friend recommended, but our boys said they wanted to go back to Stuckey's. A couple weeks ago, during fall break, back to Stuckey's we went. They were our little apple experts. They examined each apple carefully before deciding to pick it. Before leaving, we were able to purchase some apple cider slushies. They were delicious! Once we arrived home, my husband and I were ready to kick up our feet and relax, but our boys had other plans. They wanted to eat an apple. We let them and then they insisted on cooking some of the apples. We decided to make some appplesauce. Now, our boys have an awareness about the purpose of my little notebook by the stove. One of my boys asked, "Mommy is this one in your book?" I wrote down our simple applesauce recipe just for them. You can view it here.
The smell of apples, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in the is part of fall in our home and many homes. My boys are correct about my love of experimenting in the kitchen. It's a science trying to create something wonderful. Just like any experiment, they can go horribly wrong. After some trial and error, we penned two additional recipes. Although, my husband does not care much for pumpkin, the boys and I wanted to experiment with cooking apples and pumpkin together. We made pumpkin apple butter and pumpkin apple soup. Mr. Pumpkin Skeptic (aka hubby) had to admit that he liked the soup.
I love cooking with my boys because it gives them some ownership over what they are eating and I never have to coax them to eat what they helped cook. They were so excited that the apples they carefully selected ended up in the recipes we made.