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Woodstock Country Orchard

senshu apples on the tree at woodstock country orchard, il
Yesterday we decided to go pick apples. After looking around on Yelp!, reading reviews and scanning the map, we decided on Woodstock Country Orchard. There is no admission, no rides, no petting zoos, no gimmicks… Just what we were looking for! They have a tent at the entrance where you can buy some pre-picked apples, local honey, garlic and maple syrup from Wisconsin. There you can pick up bags to gather your apples and pint containers in little tubs for raspberries.

2014 fall price list, woodstock country orchard

apple picking schedule, woodstock country orchard, il
There’s no guessing how many pounds you’ve picked, which was not the case at some places we looked at. I like to be able to have a rough idea of how much I’m getting while picking fruit. It was nice to relax, pick fruit with the family and take photos on a beautiful day among the rows and rows of apple trees and raspberry bushes!

raspberries sign, arrow sign, raspberry bushes, woodstock country orchard
Oh, I know, I was thinking raspberry season was over too! But their bushes were just full of gorgeous and delicious berries!

cloudy skies, raspberry picking, woodstock country orchards, mc henry county, IL
Yep, that’s the Mr picking berries! We started out thinking we’d just get a pint, but after seeing how nice they were and Squishy tasting a few, we decided to get 2 pints.

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Once we had enough berries we moved on to apples. And did I mention they have wagons? Squishy loved helping to pull ours and rode in it for a bit too.
They were picking Cortland and Senshu apples this past weekend. (You can call ahead to ask what is ready for picking the day you plan to go.) Cortland are great for baking while the senshu is a nice snacking apple. They have signs at the ends of the rows that let you know what is ready to pick and what is growing in that row.

senshu apple tree, woodstock country orchard, mc henry county, IL
After sampling each type we decided senshu was our favorite. Tart, sweet and crisp! Just what my little family loves the best. They are the perfect size for snacking. Seriously, these little apples couldn’t get much cuter.

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We had a great time picking apples and sampling them, along with a few snacks we brought from home, while we walked among the trees.

fall leaves, apple tree, senshu apple tree, cloudy sky, orchard, woodstock country orchard, IL

senshu apples, woodstock country orchard, IL

senshu apple tree, apples, woodstock country orchard
After filling our bag, we headed back up to the front tent where we picked out a few heads of garlic and a jar of honey to take home with our fruit.

homegrown garlic, siberian garlic, market basket, woodstock country orchard
The prices are very reasonable. We got a peck of senshu apples, 2 pints of raspberries, a jar of honey and 3 heads of garlic for $30.00! Tax is included, just be sure to bring cash, they do not accept cards. Below is just a sampling of what we brought home. One pint of raspberries is already washed and in the freezer. A whole peck of apples would never fit in that bowl…but I’ve been waiting all year to get it back out.

apples in a hall bowl, raspberries, local honey, garlic, vintage hutch, girlsavage
Woodstock Country Orchard is an easy, just under an hour drive for us from St Charles. Google Maps says it’s about 1.5 hours from our old neighborhood (Lincoln Square) in the city and only about 40 minutes from Lake Geneva, WI. If you’re looking for a spot for lunch or dinner, Woodstock IL is only 7 miles up the road. If you didn’t know, Woodstock is where Ground Hog Day was filmed.

woodstock opera house, woodstock IL
In case you’re wondering, I am not being compensated in any way by Woodstock Country Orchard for writing this post. We just really enjoyed their beautiful orchard, the friendly staff and the fact that it was all about the fruit, not rides and petting zoos. Do not be fooled by the look on Squishy’s face, he had a blast, but it’s hard to smile while your cheeks are packed with apple.

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Thank you Woodstock Country Orchard! We’ll be back soon!

Zucchini Casserole

Homemade zucchini casserole made with homemade cream of mushroom soup

This is my 1st year to have our very own garden. We were having great luck with or zucchini and yellow squash plants, until we had a squash leaf fungus float into our yard. I was able to kill the fungus with a spray of 9:1 parts water and milk. After that I cut out the affected parts and sprayed the healthy parts with 1 tsp baking soda to 4 cups of water. This will make the leaf surface too acidic for fungus to thrive. Everything looks to be growing back healthy now, so hopefully we’ll have more squashes soon! We were happy to harvest these right before the mess.

Zucchini, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden

The zucchini was seriously the size of my forearm! I made three loaves of bread with 1/2 of it.
Last week we had an unseasonably cool day. I was craving comfort food and my brother-in-law, who is a vegetarian, was coming over later so I decided to make a casserole. One of his favorite dishes is green bean casserole. You know that dish that is a thanksgiving dinner requirement, with the crispy onions on top? Yeah, that one! Well my mom has a zucchini stuffing casserole recipe that I decided to play around with. This is what I came up with. If you think ‘eww ick’ after the green bean casserole comparison, trust me, this is good! You can use a can of cream of mushroom soup, but homemade is much better! If you choose to use canned soup, you will need to also add a 1/2-3/4 cup of milk. The soup may be made ahead of time and split into to portions. It can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for a few months! You’ll notice that I use yellow squash with my zucchini in the casserole. I had it on hand and needed to use it. If you only have zucchini, that’s fine. If you have other summer squashes on hand, those will work nicely too!
First for the soup;

Cream of Mushroom Soup

5 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small chopped onion
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream*
1/2 c milk*

In a large heavy saucepan, sauté mushrooms, onion and thyme in olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
In blender or food processor, puree the mixture. I poured mine into a Pyrex bowl and buzzed with my immersion blender. Don’t purée it to fine, you want to see some of those mushroom chucks. Set aside.
In the saucepan, melt the butter, whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook flour until it’s a sandy color and smells nutty. Add the salt, pepper. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream mixture. Stir in vegetable puree. Stirring constantly, bring soup to a boil and cook until thickened. Adjust seasonings to taste.

*you could use 1 cup of soy milk in this. Additional thinking time may be needed.

And now for the Casserole;

Zucchini casserole made with homemade cream of mushroom soup and topped with ritz crackers, ready to go into the oven

Zucchini Casserole

1 sleeve ritz crackers, crushed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium sliced zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups cream of mushroom soup (see additional recipe)
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter, crush crackers and combine the 2 in a small bowl. Set aside.
Slice squashes into 1/8-1/4 inch slices and set aside.
In a medium sauté pan cook onion, celery and carrot on medium/low heat until tender, about 9 minutes. Add in garlic and continue to cook for a couple minutes.
In a medium bowl combine the sliced squashes, cooked onion mixture, sour cream and soup with 1/2 of the crushed crackers. Adjust seasoning if needed. Spread in a 9 x 13 casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining crackers over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 5-7 minutes. Casserole should be bubbly and golden brown on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving, unless you like a burned tongue.

Zucchini casserole Made with yellow squash and homemade cream of mushroom soup

Enjoy!

Southwest Baked Stuffed Squash Recipe

Baked stuffed zucchini and yellow squash topped with sour cream, cherry tomatoes and salsa verde

This past weekend I accomplished my 1st solo road trip with Squishy and Bean! The Mr was heading into the city to go to Pitchfork with his brother, so the rest of us took a mini vacation! Saturday morning Squishy, Bean and I loaded up the car, dropped of the Mr at the train station and drove to my parents house. It’s a nice 2 hour drive across northern Illinois through countless corn and bean fields. We spent the weekend hanging out in mom & dad’s back yard and deck, celebrating my nephews’ 13th birthday(!) at my sisters’ house and investigating mom’s garden. Squishy even got to take a swing at a piñata for the 1st time!

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Life is messy!

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This is the current state of our living room. I could have picked up toys and put away books, vacuumed the rug and hung up the diaper bag…but that wouldn’t be real. Life is messy!
I think I’ve had a hard time coming here and posting because of all of these lifestyle blogs that make everything look so perfect all the time. I start thinking if that I must not be good enough if my life doesn’t look perfect. I have an awesome kid who’s happy most of the time. Hey, he’s 11 months old and teething so yeah he screams when he’s frustrated or in pain. That’s just how life is. We had a fun time this morning eating apple muffins, watching Thomas and playing with toys. He’s down for his nap now. I could pick up all the toys and clean but you know what? It’s Saturday and I’m going to sit here for just a few more minutes.
As a challenge this week I want you all to take a picture of your “real” life, not the perfect clean and edited blog life photos. If you don’t have a blog, post it to twitter, facespace, instagram or where ever. Because life is real and life is messy!
I hope you all enjoy your weekend. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Farmers Market Season

I’ve been waiting for 7 months for the local farmers market season to begin again. Last night was the 1st of the season. We loaded Squishy into his stroller, leashed up Bean and went!

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There wasn’t a huge selection yet, but we found some beautiful veggies and bread! I can’t wait for more fruits to be ready. Oh, and corn!!!
It was a gorgeous evening for a walk!
Today we have Squishy’s 9 month wellness check and we need to go to the grocery store. Hopefully we’ll be able to fit in an afternoon walk too!
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