Apple Picking At Russell Orchard in Ispwich, MA

Two weeknds ago I went apple picking with some coworkers and had a fantastic time together getting bags full of apples. We went up to Russell Orchards in Ispwich as it is one of the closest places to go apple picking around Boston. It was my first time going there for apple picking (Price and I had been there for berry picking years ago). The day was beautiful and we had so much fun picking bags of varieties of apples.

Prior to my friends’ arrival I took part in a wine & cider tasting in their general store from their own winery. For $5 I sampled 2 hard ciders, 2 fruit wines, and received a branded glass. They sample different ciders and wines (11% alcohol)every week. This week they sampled their Apple Cider, Perry, Jostaberry, and Dry Blueberry.

Apple Cider- “A very sweet and fruity dessert cider, great with apple pie” … This was very enjoyable. I liked the sweet subtle flavor.

Perry- “A slightly sweet hard pear drink” … I wouldn’t have even guessed this was pear. It was lovely but was not very fruity, esp pear like.

Jostaberry- “The berry is a cross between the gooseberry and the black currant. This wine has a tart, fruity taste.” … I loved this red fruit wine. It was tart but not pucker inducing. I liked the flavors, specifically the currant flavor,

Dry Blueberry- “Similar to the Blueberry, except this wine is aged in French oak. Bold like a Cabernet with a subtle berry flavor” … I didn’t finish my sample of this, neither did the 2 women next to me. They must not have been a fan of the smokey flavor. Had it been described as smokey I would have not had it as I for like smokey flavors, esp wine. If you like very dry and smokey then this is a great wine for you.

I’m glad my coworker picked Russell Orchard as it was convenient to get to, packed full of apples, and was a beautiful place.

Beautiful, beautiful apples.

It’s hard to go wrong with acres of apples, but they organize their PYO (pick your own) fields well. Everything was labeled with clear signs on each end of the row. Having gone to other orchards that just use flags as boundaries I found that Russell’s fields were very easy to navigate.

The fields are a short walk from the entrance so they offer hayrides to get to and from the fields. We deicded not to do this as the lines was l-o-n-g but it looked like a lot of fun. Personally, I think you should walk to the fields and take the hayride back after you (and your kids) are tired from walking around and carring a bag of apples.

For $15 you get a peck sized bag, which holds about 10-12 lbs of apples. I wanted a wheel barrel full but that was not an option nor, I assume, in my budget. I stuck with only picking apples that were good for baking, which were Cortland, Empire, Jonagold, and Honeycrisp. Their chart was helpful for picking which apples were best for baking, sauce, dessert (eating??), and juice. Their site says that it is cash only for weekends and Monday holidays but they did accept debit cards by the general store. You just need to buy your bag there at the store instead of getting it at the orchards

Before we left I got a loaf of cinnamon bread that we enjoyed for breakfast the following week. While there were long lines for their cider donuts I did not get any. I much prefer cider donuts that are coated in cinnamon and sugar while they are fresh from the fryer. Russell makes a plain donut and I just can’t justify the calories on something I don’t love.

I think this is great orchard to visit in the summer for berry picking and in the fall for apple picking. Don’t miss out on picking local fruit at the peak of season!

Gotta go get a pumpkin next, dontcha think?

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Russell Orchards

143 Argilla Road

Ipswich, MA

(978) 356-5366

open 9-6 daily

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A Freixenet Friday Giveaway & MINI Mobile Tour Stops

When Freixenet approached me about hosting a giveaway I was excited to be able to pass along a fun gift set. Plus, I get to share with my Boston area readers about The MINI Mobile Freixenet tour is in Boston this weekend. Did you know you can win a MINI Cooper from Freixenet?!? That is so awesome.

I am a big fan of Freixinet for making cocktails. I was introduced to the sparking wine when I went to a Freixenet last summer and had a great time trying different cocktail. Then last November I hosted Freixenet giveaways as well as shared some great cocktail recipes. I really suggest that you grab a bottle of Freixenet and give the Agua de Valencia  or Pom Vivant Cocktails try.

So go to one of the MINI Mobile tour stops in Springfield and Boston this weekend to give them a try, play games for fun prizes, and enter the Freixenet Drive a MINI Cooper Giveaway!

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Friday, September 28, 4:00pm-7:00pm – Table and Vine at 119 Riverdale St, Route 5 in W. Springfield, MA (http://www.tableandvine.com/)

Friday, September 28, 10:00pm-2:00am – Storyville on 90 Exeter St in Boston, MA  (www.storyvilleboston.com)

Saturday, September 29, 8:00pm-12:00pm – 28 Degrees at 1 Appleton Street in Boston, MA (www.28degrees-boston.com)

And the fun stuff… the Giveaway!

The prize package includes:

  • Freixenet Chiller Bag
  • 4 Stemless Govino Acrylic Flutes
  • 2 Freixenet Cordon Negro Mini Bottles
  • Cocktail Recipe Booklet
  • 4 Cocktail Stirrers
  • Plus 10 sweepstakes entries for the Freixenet Drive a MINI Cooper Giveaway!

How to Enter:

Mandatory: Leave a comment telling me what’s your favorite sparkling wine cocktail?

Extra Entries: 

Spread the word- Tweet: “I want to win a @freixenetusa Friday Package that includes a chiller bag from @iamahoneybee http://wp.me/pzEAP-2EX” OR share on Facebook. Come back here and leave me a comment telling me what you did.

Follow Freixenet- you can follow the Freixenet truck as it hops around the country @FreixentUSA OR like them on Facebook. Come back here and leave me a comment telling me what you did.

Contest Ends Monday night at Midnight EST and is open to US residents. Residents of MA can’t receive shipments of alcohol so please only enter if you can coordinate shipment to a neighboring state. Good luck!

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Be sure to head to FindtheBubbles.com to enter in the code above to get 5 entries for the  “Freixenet Drive a MINI Cooper Giveaway” for a 2-year MINI Cooper lease!!!!!!

We saw Puffins!!!! {Seal Island Puffin Cruise}

When Price and I were on our annual trip up to Maine this summer, we went on the Seal Island Puffin Cruise through The Isle au Haut Ferry for Price’s mom’s birthday. Back in February we told her about the gift and we were able to enjoy it during our August trip.

The weather was a bit crummy that morning and we hoped that it would clear & burn off as that day went on, sadly it did not. But we still really enjoyed ourselves on the boat ride and watching the puffins bob around in the water and fly around. It was amazing to see the puffins in their natural habitat. Plus they are cute as hell!

We left Stonington on the 47 foot long Mink and headed to Isle au Haut to pick up a few more people and naturalist Kathie Fiveash. Kathie spoke about the preservation efforts for the islands in the area and about the avian and ocean wildlife that we saw along the way. She was able to point out an eagles nest on Isle au Haut, identify the different terns that we saw flying all around, and point out a seal we saw in the harbor. She brought several books as well people to browse thorugh for additional information. In addition to her work with the puffin cruise, she can be hired to be a tour on Isle au Haut to walk around that lush island.

We then headed about 12 miles south to Seal Island to see a summer colony of nesting puffins there. It took us about an hour & half to get from Isle au Haut to Seal Island. Once there we got along side the the East face of the island & carefully looped around the puffins that were bobbing along in the water. Nobody is permitted to land on Seal Island, so we were thankful that so many where in the water for us to see so well.

puffins!!!!!!!

We stuck around Seal Island for awhile watching the puffins float around in the water and fly around. I was very excited about the puffins flying around.  I do have to admit that I didn’t know puffins could fly very well. I thought they were like penguins since every photo I saw of them showed them standing around with fish stuffed in their mouth. Plus they are shaped like squat little footballs so I didn’t think of them as being very aerodynamic. So every time one took off I would snap a dozen pictures.

We had such a great time on the Seal Island Puffin Cruise. I highly recommend checking out their 2013 schedule to plan for a visit as they only go out a few times a summer. I hope that you guys have better weather than us too!

Suggestions to enjoy the Seal Island Puffin Cruise:

  • Dress in layers- better to be able to take something off if it gets hot than being cold for hours
  • Bring sunblock- you don’t want to burn
  • Bring a book or a game with you- it’s a long trip back and forth to Stonington and Seal Island so I suggest something to keep you occupied
  • Bring drinks and snack- the tour is at lunch time so it’s best to have something to eat and drink on the boat
  • Use a zoom lens- if you have a camera that allows you to change is lens then I suggest you bring your zoom lens, if you have one

Seal Island Puffin Cruise

Seabreeze Avenue

Stonington, Maine 04681

(207) 367-5193

Spiced Black Bean, Grilled Avocado, and Goat Cheese Tacos- SRC

For my Secret Recipe Club post this month I had Melissa’s blog. She shares great sounding and looking recipes on her blog called Fried Ice and Donut Holes. While her blog is not a vegetarian blog she does have a great number of veggie friendly posts that look mouth watering. I have several recipes bookmarked for some healthy comfort food eating this fall and winter.

When it came time to pick a make a recipe I had a very hard time because I had a whole list of great things like, Barbecue Chicken PizzaBaked Pumpkin Donuts, and Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie. In the end I picked the Spiced Black Bean, Grilled Avocado, and Goat Cheese Tacos. I simply picked these tacos to make because I was having a crappy, super busy week. I had these bookmarked since I loved how they could be a great recipe to use when I didn’t feel like cooking. Well, that is exactly what happened. I had just about everything at home so I just ran out for an avocado and some wine (since I really needed that as well) and was quickly on my way to dinner once I got back home.

 

 

I made a few changes to the original recipe but I think you have to do what works best for you and you taste preferences/ingredients on hand/sanity. For example, I could not find coriander seeds at our grocery store so omitted them and decided to amp up the other flavors I did have. I switche using olive oil out for corn oil as corn has a more subtle flavor as a higher smoking point, which I figured would be best for the grilled avocados. I added some cilantro since I love it and always have it around (for us and the rabbits). I mashed my black beans as I like that texture and I figured that it would more easily stay in the taco to eat (while balancing a glass of wine on my lap and watching Parenthood). I really enjoyed these and since I typically have the ingredients around on hand I know I can always have a great dinner at the ready with some easy adaption.

Spiced Black Bean, Grilled Avocado, and Goat Cheese Tacos

makes 4 tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, preferably low sodium
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon corn oil
  • juice and zest from 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 oz from a goat cheese log
  • fresh cilantro
  • 4 Flour Tortillas or 8 Corn Tortillas

Process

  1. Rinse the black beans, reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.
  2. In a small skillet, warm the corn oil over medium heat. Add the cumin and pepper flakes. Once the spices have ‘toasted’ and are fragrant, add the black beans and liquids. Cook for 5-10 minutes on medium-low heat to reduce the liquids. Prior to preparing the tacos, mash up the black beans with a potato masher.
  3. Cut the avocado in half, gently score to create slices, and brush with some oil. Put on a grill or grill pan on high heat just to char the outside of the avocado.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the juice and zest of 1 lime, the honey, and salt and pepper.
  5. To assemble the tacos, place 1/4 each of the beans, avocado, and goat cheese into 1 flour tortilla or 2 layered corn tortillas. To finish add fresh chopped cilantro and a drizzle the lime-honey mixture over the filling and serve

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Secret Recipe Club

Check out my previous Secret Recipe Club Posts:

August: Birthday Cake Oreo Truffles

July: Tropical Pork Pineapple Kebabs

June: Cheesy Garlic Knots

May: Berry Brownie Torte

April: Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

March: Sauteed Green Beans with Lemon and Almonds

February: Fried Pickles

Jan: No SRC postings

December: Shrimp Sriracha Stir Fry

November: Vegetable Enchiladas

October: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Check out the rest of the reveal day posts!

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Thanks for visiting. Please leave me a comment to provide some feedback. I appreciate all the comments I receive.

9.20-23: long weekend recap in Chicago

{Thursday night} make a quick dinner | pack | trip to Walgreens for gum, jelly beans, & cash | bed early

{Friday} 4.30am alarm | get ready | cab ride to the airport | starbucks | Boston> Chicago | shuttle to The Acme Hotel Company | architectural boat cruise | lunch at The Billy Goat Tavern | check in at the hotel | nap | get ready for dinner | Frontera Grill – drinks at the bar & apps at the chefs table area | run back to the hotel in the rain (2+ total miles)

{Saturday} PRICE’S 30th BIRTHDAY!!! Woke up early | coffee delivery to the room | get ready for the day | breakfast at the hotel | started on our day of exploring | walk down to Millienum Park | pictures at the The Bean | Crown Fountain | walk through Lurie Garden | Buckingham Fountain | walk to the skip the aquarium- too long of a line | water taxi to Navy Pier | walk to Pizano’s for deep dish pizza | walk back to hotel | nap | get ready to go out | Signature Room at John Hancock Tower | drinks and guac | Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop & Soda Fountain for a birthday banana split | walk back to Acme | SNL and lounging around  (7+ total miles)

{Sunday} wake up with the alarm | get ready & pack up | breakfast at the hotel | check out & store our luggage | take the L from Grand to Addison | tour Wrigley Field @ 9.30 | walk to Ann Sather’s & split an omelet lunch | walk to the Lincon Park Zoo- saw a baby zebra! | sticky bun | walk through Lincoln Park to get to Magnificent Mile | Disney store for a gift for Cara | beers at the Weber Grill bar | shuttle pick up at the hotel | fell asleep in traffic | chicago dog for dinner | flight home (7.5 total miles)