Here in the Northeast the air is turning cool, which signals apple harvest time. Like any dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, this is my favorite time of year. I much prefer my fall/winter cooking and baking recipes over my spring/summer barbecue fare. Two weeks ago my husband and I went apple picking to get some apples for eating as well as for making delicious apple recipes. We traveled an hour to Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury specifically for their fabulous apple cider donuts. You can watch them being made, and then snatch them while they are still warm and sugary!
This one didn't even make it out of the parking lot.
They have a beautiful property all decked out with the season's bounty.
We walked up the hill to pick Honey Crisp and Macintosh.
They have a small petting zoo with farm animals like goats,
and a big tom turkey
We brought home two enormous bags of apples and a
dozen eleven apple cider donuts. I planned on making some kind of dessert with some of the apples the following weekend....
Later on that week, I was walking my dog in the neighborhood, when I saw a couple of boxes sitting by the curb. Of course my inner dialogue said "there could be something I could use in an art project over there", so I walked over to check it out. In the first box I saw a bunch of empty glass spice jars. I rationalized that these could either be used for storage or could be part of a mixed media project. I gathered as many as I could and stuffed them in every pocket I had. In the last box, I found three cast iron skillets. There were two small ones and a larger skillet that all looked like they were in fairly good condition but entirely too heavy to carry home with the spice jars and a dog on a leash. I quickly finished my walk with the dog so I could take my car back over there to retrieve the skillets.
I knew they just needed a little cleaning, but being cast iron I thought it was a good idea to find out how to clean them. Whenever I need to learn something, I immediately turn to my new favorite instructional guide: You Tube. Sure enough, I found quite a few videos on how to clean and season rusty cast iron cookware. I followed the instructions to wash in soapy water (after all they were living outside), scrub them with a warm oil and salt mixture, and finally season them by buffing in a little oil. After about 1 1/2 hours of elbow grease later, I had three velvety black skillets.
I passed on the two smaller skillets to my sons, and kept the large one for myself. The great thing about cast iron cookware is that it is the original "non-stick" cookware and using it regularly actually supplements your daily iron intake! It cooks as well on top of the stove as it does in the oven, and it's practically indestructible. I say "practically" because my mother, who was know in my family as the "destructor-bot" broke the handle off of her large black iron skillet.
For my first foray into cast iron cooking, I found a Skillet Apple Cobbler recipe on the blog "The Other Side Of Fifty". I made it as shown with the exception of the boiled cider and as I always do, I substituted half of the white flour with half wheat flour. It filled the house with the sweet scent of cinnamon and it was delicious with a little vanilla bean ice cream on the side.
So if you have a cast iron skillet in the back recesses of your kitchen cabinet, get it out and try this recipe with some of this season's bounty.