Chicago has enjoyed a spectacular September. Refreshingly cool mornings, sunny afternoons and sneaky 80 degree days scattered throughout. As someone who laments the end of summer, this slow entry into autumn makes me very happy.
Last weekend we decided to take full advantage of the delightful fall weather and spend a morning at the idyllic County Line Orchards in northwest Indiana. We go every year – it is nice to set traditions for our family to look forward to. This year we brought our nephew along, too. All four kids loved running through the orchard, but they were most excited about the petting zoo and kids area.
The orchard offers a tractor ride through the trees – a sure way to thrill the kids!
There’s just something about eating a freshly picked apple that makes me change my mind about this otherwise familiar fruit. The sugars are more intense, the peel is more protective, the scent is so much more robust. We all helped ourselves to a few apples while we wandered through the trees. A perfect late morning snack, in my opinion.
Even little Vivian happily munched on more than one apple with her teeny front teeth.
Good old fashioned Midwestern family fun!
We let the kids gather all the apples, which meant we had plenty of bruised and dinged fruit. No worries, though, as homemade apple butter and applesauce and apple pie can be incredibly forgiving. When we came home Vivian and I set out to make a batch of apple butter in our adorable little 1.5 quart slow cooker. It smelled d e l i c i o u s as it gently cooked overnight.
I know most people love apple butter smeared on toast, but Chris and I much prefer a generous dollop atop vanilla ice cream…!
Homemade Slow Cooker Apple Butter
5-6 cups chopped & peeled apples
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
dash of kosher salt
a splash of apple cider
Combine all ingredients in a small 1.5 qt slow cooker. Set on low for 12 hours.
Remove cinnamon stick. Using an immersion blender, blend apples until smooth. Pour into storage jars and keep refrigerated.
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