Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fall! Fairs, Fruit and Fun!

Although I've been bemoaning the fact that this summer seemed super short, and not all that summery...I have to admit, fall is a fun season. There's a bit of chill in the air, especially in the morning, the trees are already starting to change colors...and some of my favorite foods are in season! Pumpkin everything! Apples galore! Soups, bread, comfort foods! I just love it! 

I couldn't believe the Pumpkin Spice Coffees had been at Dunkin and Starbucks for like a week before I finally got one! They are my favorite!!! I've already made pumpkin pancakes (except, shockingly, I was out of pumpkin and wound up using a can of squash that I had...still yummy!). I also made pumpkin (that's why I was out of pumpkin for the pancakes, I used it in the cookies) oatmeal cookies filled with toffee and chocolate chips. They were good too! ;) And yes, I found them both on Pinterest...hahaha!

Since we missed out on the fair we normally go to on Labor Day Weekend, we were hoping to check out a different fair closer to home that we'd never been to. I also wanted to go apple picking, as Honeycrisps were in season (they're my fave!). David had to work Saturaday...and wound up being too tired (and sore from work) to go anywhere on Sunday anyways...but we decided to go apple picking on Saturday and then the Hebron Fair on Sunday. 

Not only did I forget my camera going to the orchard, but so did Red Two (she got one for her birthday). Plus, when we got there I realized that my phone was just about to die. Oh well...you'll just have to live with my crappy cell pics and my skill in descriptive narrative :P

Suffice it to say, it was an absolutely gorgeous, windy day. The orchard we usually go to is Belltown Orchard in S. Glastonbury. Everyone is super friendly, there is a fun tractor ride that takes you to the different parts of the farm that are picking. They have wonderful apple fritters, apple cider donuts (blueberry in the summer and pumpkin later in the fall) and a neat farm stand. They also do berry picking in the summertime, as well as pears, peaches and plums seasonally. Last year we went the last weekend the Honeycrisps were available and hardly got any...I was so bummed. The trees had been pretty much picked clean. This time around, we went as soon as they were ready! lol

One of the things I didn't realize until we moved here was just how hilly New England is. For some reason that surprised me. The tractor ride (which Buddy loves!) around the orchard has a lot of ups and downs...some of them fairly steep. It was almost a little scary...made sure that someone had a hold of Buddy! We even saw a crane by one of the ponds. We decided to get a few pears as well...I don't really know the difference, but I think we wound up with Bosc. Still need to wait for them to ripen before we can eat them though. Then we got to the Honeycrisps...woohoo! We wound up with about 18 pounds of apples. Not only have we been snacking on just the yummy apples, but Red One made apple pie, I made caramel apple muffins, and even some Mulligatawny Soup (with apples in it...so good!) I've got more delicious plans for the rest of them ;) We were running a little late, but managed to sneak in at 4:30, 30 minutes before closing time. By the time we were done picking, the concession stand was already shut down. Luckily, the main farm stand was open until 6:00...and they had donuts left! Papa bought everyone donuts and apple cider (fresh!) Scrumptious! I don't know how they do it, but the donuts are pillowy, cakey, fluffy perfection doused in cinnamon sugar!

BTW, if you've never checked out Pioneer Woman's blog, I highly recommend it! I've been hooked on her cooking and the rest of the site for years! I love how practical and yet completely delicious her stuff is! Plus, she's just plain ole funny and awesome! That soup I was talking about, Mulligatawny, is from her site. It's seriously one of my favorite soups. I always double the recipe, just cause with our family we need to, and add a bit more apple than the recipe calls for. :) Try it, you'll like it! (haha, what's that from?)

Easy Mulligatawny by the Pioneer Woman

Sunday after church we headed to the Hebron Fair. David passed, like I said, he was so done. He was wiped out and totally sore...he basically did squats all day Saturday, ductoring (whatever the heck that is...I just know it's something to do with electricity and testing, maybe resistance...I totally cheated and googled! He'll be so ashamed...lol). Anyways, he was done for. But Papa was up for it, so off we went...couldn't wait for some fair food!!! Apparently, we weren't the only ones with the idea...a drive that should have taken about 20 minutes wound up taking an hour! The last 3 miles was just mostly stopped traffic. For whatever reason, there was no flow into the parking lots...it was aggravating. I think a lot of it had to do with the band that was playing on Sunday, Florida Georgia Line...I've only heard the name, but apparently they are a popular new country act. Then, when we finally did get into the parking lot, we were ALLLLLLL the way in the very back, so we still had a hike to the fairgrounds. ;) Walking up we saw some people way up on a dirt pile with their camp chairs just chilling...I have no idea what they were doing up there. At first we thought maybe they were watching the concert without going in the fairgrounds...but they were too far away to see anything. Weird!

 Once we got in, we set out hunting for food, and boy, was there a plethora! We started off with some fried dough with marinara and cheese, then Papa got all the kids corn dogs. We went to look at some of the animals..goats, sheep, bunnies, chickens and various other fowl. We even saw a sheep being sheared. Walking into the cow barn we saw a few...but it was right behind the concert, so it was jam packed. Apparently those guys are popular...I think that might have been why the traffic was so bad.

 This is the look of a sheep that is 100% done!
 These cows were cool...all the black spots were outlined in gray!

We found the stand with awesome old time sodas; if you buy the cup you can bring it back to fairs every year for refills. We definitely look for them every fair! They have root beer, sarsaparilla, birch beer, etc (seriously, so GOOD!) After hydrating, we looked through some of the showcase barns then headed towards the rides. Some teens gave us their leftover tickets...so nice!

 These tractors have roll cages! Wish we'd seen them race or whatever it is they do...;)

Red Three decided she wanted to ride the swing. Red One and Two went for the Zipper! They had to wait a while because someone threw up on the turn before them...hahaha! Buddy decided on the fun-house (#3 got to go with him).

 I had to tell Buddy to slide down...he just wanted to hang out up there :)
 Then he tried to go back on it again!
 Billows of smoke from the tractors revving up...they were SO loud! Look at that face...she could barely contain herself. She loved it so much! Red Two on the other hand, was simultaneously shocked and proud, but don't know if she'd go on it again.

 Can you tell which kid is my comedian?

After hunting for funnel cake (what fair is complete without funnel cake?) and Papa decided we needed fried Oreos too, we decided to call it a day. Which, btw, fried Oreos are crazy good! It was about 6:00...so we hiked back to the van, feeling trepidation, as the line of cars stretched all the way back to the end of the parking lot where we were. Then, Buddy had a bathroom emergency, so I had to get out of line so he could go in the woods...lol...then back in line (which hadn't moved!). I didn't move for probably 20 min...then it went about 10 yards. It literally took us about an hour and 15 minutes to get out of the parking lot! Not home, just off the fairgrounds!!! Insane! Oh well...we had fun and the kids of course loved it. I don't know that we'd go back to that particular fair next year though. The Woodstock Fair and the Brooklyn Fair are the ones we usually alternate between...they are at least the same if not bigger, and the traffic/parking is a breeze! I don't know if it was just because of the concert or what, but while it was nice, I think it wasn't worth the aggravation of trying to get in and out. However, we got the mandatory fall fair checked off the list...and we did have a good time!