Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cider and Doughnuts -- It's Autumn In Michigan

(Photo courtesy of
It’s getting to be that time in Michigan.  The leaves on the trees are changing colors and it’s cool enough to turn off the central air and open the windows and let Mother Nature keep you cool with her cool summer breeze.  After a summer what seemed like non-stop ninety to ninety-five degree heat and humidity – these cool temperatures are a welcome relief and something of a reward from having to endure all that we had to this the summer. 

The cool temperatures aren’t the only reward that us Michigan folks get to enjoy right around this time every year and just thinking about it is enough to put a smile on your face.  What am I talking about?  It’s apple harvest time and there’s nothing like popping the wife and kids into the family sedan and going to an apple orchard for a gallon of freshly squeezed apply cider and a dozen or so of those apple cinnamon doughnuts with the sprinkled sugar that are greasy as all get out – but worth every delicious bite of them that you take.

The big box stores – Meijer, Wal-Mart and Kroger – try to capitalize on this time of year by offering apple cider and apple doughnuts from their bakery – but it’s just not the same.  For one thing – the apple cider that they usually offer has been pasteurized and distilled enough that by the time that they put it in the plastic gallon – you’d better off just going down their frozen food aisle and grabbing a can of frozen concentrated apple juice.  If you want really true apple cider – you have got to go to an apple orchard – there are no cutting corners here. And the apple cider doughnuts at the big box stores are same league as the jelly filled pastries that they masquerade as paczkis right before Fat Tuesday --- they’re about as close as Kool-Aid is to Coca-Cola…it might be tasty, but it’s not the real thing.

I’m a little choosy when it comes to apple orchards, too.  There are about six or so apple orchards in the area where I now live in Michigan and they are as varied as a Wal-Mart store is to some Mom and Pop grocery store or as Cedar Point is to a traveling amusement company.  When it comes to orchards – I prefer the orchard that is close to a Mom and Pop/fruit stand – farmer’s market kind of operation.  All you need is an area where there’s delicious apple cider that they squeeze and keep cold in a big cooler and they have got to have those apple cider doughnuts – fried before your eyes and served hot with a tall Styrofoam cup filled with cider.  If all the orchard has is just apples, apple cider and doughnuts – I’m there – looking for seconds and thirds.

There’s one apple orchard in this area that tries too damn hard.  They have classed the joint up to become a tourist destination for people visiting the area and when you class something up – you can expect to pay big ticket prices, too.  I go to an apple orchard for apple cider and donuts – I don’t go there for little knick-knacks and the kind of candy and trinkets that you can find a Cracker Barrel.  Give me cider, damn it! 

When my Mother was alive – I took her to this “fancy” apple orchard thinking that she might enjoy it, boy was I wrong.  When she came face-to-face with a caramel apple that was priced at nearly two bucks (and this was something like ten years ago), my Mom said, “I wouldn’t pay two dollars and I won’t let you pay two dollars for a god-damn caramel apple,” I knew then and there that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree between my Mother and me when it comes to how we choose our apple orchards. 

Most of my life I have lived in an urban area and I never thought that I would ever find myself living, as well as enjoying, life in a rural setting and it was about six or seven years ago that I knew that I have finally adjusted to living in a rural area – and it took an apple orchard in the area to make me realize that I had made the change.  An out of town friend of mine was visiting his sister in the area and I had him follow me to one of the apple orchards in the area.  After enjoying some cider and doughnuts, he needed directions on how to get back to Detroit and I surprised myself that I actually knew how he could hook up to M-25 and the freeway back home – because I had only been to this orchard once or twice myself – and I’m usually not that great with directions.  But, when I could tell him how to get back to Detroit from this orchard – I realized that I was finally comfortable with my new rural lifestyle. 

Well, I should be going and don’t be surprised if you see me enjoying a nice tall glass of apple cider over the next few weekends….because it’s that time of year in Michigan....let’s enjoy it while we can.

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