With our seasons being as mild as they are without leaves coloring or any real discernible weather change, we’ve come to discover other ways of marking the transition from one to the next. One way we do it is fruit picking. Strawberries in Spring, blueberries in Summer, and apples in Fall. Winter is celebrated in other ways. On the first day of the apple harvest in the tiny town of Oak Glen in the San Bernardino Mountains, we found the Willowbrook Farm where we picked Stayman Winesaps from their hundred-year-old trees. The boys favorite part was pressing the cider which they did happily despite the many, many bees that buzzed right near their legs.

Of course the next question is always what do we do with all those apples? Well, they’ve turned out to be a perfect baking and cooking variety, so I’ve made apple crumbles with vanilla ice cream, and apple crostada with puff pastry, and these little fritters that came right on time from Mark Bittman in yesterday’s New York Times. They were crazy good! And what to do with a gallon of cider? Make some iced tea, of course, and freeze the rest. We made some with dried hibiscus flowers and one with Tazo’s Wild Orange Tea, which was totally refreshing.

Apple Fritters

by Mark Bittman

Grate 4 medium-sized apples. Beat 1 egg and add 1/2 cup of grated Fontina cheese. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup flour. Shape into walnut-size balls.

Heat 2 inches of neutral oil (grapeseed or corn) in a deep pan to 350 degrees.

Fry fritters until golden brown.

Mark used lemon wedges, which were good, but we also tried sprinkling a some cinnamon sugar on them and that was even better.


Wild Orange-Apple Cider Iced Tea

6 bags of Tazo Wild Orange Tea

4 cups filtered water

3 cups apple cider (as fresh as possible)

Juice of one orange

1/4 sugar

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, then take pan off heat. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Place tea bags into the water and let them steep for about 5-7 minutes.  Remove the tea bags. Pour tea into a glass container or pitcher, pour in apple cider and fresh orange juice, then shake. Let tea cool then put in the refrigerator until cold.