It's funny how little time it takes to build a family tradition. I don't remember ever going apple-picking when I was a child. We didn't have a car, and it just wasn't a big thing when I was growing up. Or perhaps it had to do with where I grew up.
Here in Montreal, we seem to book-end winter with apple-picking in the autumn, and cabane à sucre in the spring. It may be because our winters are so severe that we feel the need to make the most of the nice weather while we have it. Or it may be because, living in a big city, we feel the need to get back to the land in a way we didn't when I was growing up in a much smaller community.
Regardless, it just doesn't feel like autumn unless we go apple-picking. We're spoiled for choice here, as Montreal is surrounded by apple-growing regions. For instance, Oscar went apple-picking in the Montérégie with his daycare, Ruby went apple-picking in the Laurentians. We normally go as a family to pick apples at a small organic orchard in the Chateauguay Valley.
This year we couldn't make it down to the Chateauguay Valley region, and I found myself scrambling to find an orchard north of Montreal. Luckily, we found a really good one . They aren't certified organic yet, but are working towards certification, and so are using organic farming techniques. They have a large wooden play structure, a picnic area, some very well-cared-for animals (a nice change from some of the depressing menageries which pass themselves off as petting zoos that I've seen in the past.) Oh yeah, and they have a really good selection of apples.
The only downside was the traffic. Yes that's right, traffic. It seems everyone decided to go apple picking the same weekend we did. So, as we drove through this tiny little town, we hit a traffic jam, something you don't expect outside of a bigger city. But once we got to the orchard we had a great afternoon.
We now have a ridiculous amount of apples. Within the past few weeks, ever since Ruby and Oscar's outings, we have had apple pie, apple crumble, apple cake, baked apples, and applesauce. The kids have had apples packed in their lunches and as snacks.
Obviously, I'll be happy to receive any recipes calling for apples.