Boy, have I got a sweet treat for you. No, really. I spent the weekend making Applesauce Doughnut Holes, a miniature version of the Applesauce Doughnut recipe in GRIT’s Comfort Food Cookbook. And I want to give you one, or two, or maybe all 400 of them. All you have to do is join GRIT this weekend at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Topeka, Kansas.
Those springy, sweet treats will reside in Quarto Publishing Group’s booth (No. 4505). Quarto is the publisher of the GRIT Comfort Food Cookbook, and they’re a great group of folks to chat with, too.
The Road to 400 Doughnut Holes Was Paved With a Few Potholes
I love to bake, and this recipe is a keeper. (I’ve yet to run across one in the cookbook that isn’t …) I even made a separate batch for my son’s school party, and they’re kid-approved. However, I learned a few things along the way. You probably already knew these, but sometimes I have to try things myself before the aha moment sinks in!
Whole wheat flour doesn’t cut it with this recipe. I wanted to make a test batch, mostly to figure out whether the taste and texture would be compromised by freezing them ahead of time. (I like to procrastinate as much as the next person, but I didn’t want to start this project the night before our big event.) So, I used the whole wheat flour I had on hand. Bad, bad call. The wonderful apple and cinnamon flavors were barely noticeable. Also, the doughnut holes ended up being way too dry and dense, not that light, springy texture I was banking on. They would’ve been a perfect substitute if you ran out of golf balls.
If you’re baking versus frying, noodle with the time and temperature. I have these cool little cake pop/doughnut hole pans that work great for projects like this. However, the original recipe called for the standard-size doughnuts to be fried in lard. After researching the temperatures and times used in my other baked doughnut hole recipes, I baked the first batch for 15 minutes at 350 F. Between the whole wheat flour and the too-long time, I was starting to panic! I took the baking time down each subsequent batch, finally settling on 9 minutes. That seemed to do the trick. Your oven, altitude and other factors might affect the baking time, so I suggest watching from about 8 minutes into a batch.
Chill out. The recipe calls for the batter to be chilled in the fridge for an hour. The batter is pretty sticky, like a cross between a bread dough and cookie dough, so chilling it helps when it’s time to cut doughnuts or spoon out the batter into the pans. Don’t skip this step. There were a few times I needed to chill the dough longer. That didn’t seem to be an issue, thankfully. I just added one minute on to the baking time.
Yields 3 1/2 dozen doughnuts or approximately 60 doughnut holes.
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup lard, softened, plus more for frying
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup apple cider
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, cream together lard, sugar and eggs. Beat in the vanilla, applesauce and buttermilk. Add the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, beating the dough smooth after each addition. The dough will be tacky and moist – a cross between quick bread batter and cookie dough. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and roll out to 3/8-inch thickness. Cut into pieces with a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter. (I skipped this step for the doughnut holes.)
In a cast-iron kettle, heat lard to 2 inches deep and 350 F. Using a metal spatula, slide 3 or 4 doughnuts at a time into the lard and fry for 1 minute on each side, until golden brown all over. Remove from the fat with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Bring the lard back to temperature between each batch.
To prepare the glaze, whisk together the apple cider and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. After the doughnuts have cooled for 5 to 10 minutes, dip the tops in the glaze.
The next time you need a sweet treat – whether it’s for a chilly winter morning, a bake sale or just because – I encourage you to give this recipe a try. They’re tasty right out of the oven with a cold glass of milk, or at room temperature. You’ll definitely have a few more friends after sharing these guys. Hopefully I’ll have a few more after this weekend’s FAIR, too.
Do you have a favorite baked treat that is your go-to comfort food? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Please share your favorites in the comments section below.
Delaware has one of the longest continuous bowhunting seasons in the U.S., stretching from September 1 through January every year. But those 30 weeks in between can seem like an eternity for the avid hunter wanting to stay sharp at his craft.
The hunting offseason should be regarded like any other sport's downtime. These are the months that will decide whether you remain an average hunter or become a master marksman. These four activities are sure to improve your next hunting trip from both ballistic and schematic standpoints.
Rifle hunting seasons typically end around mid-to-late December in most states. But winter is the perfect time to scout and track deer movements. A fresh blanket of snow means anything that moves through the woods has to leave tracks leading to their current locations and sleeping areas.
Head out to your favorite hunting spot the morning after a decent snowfall. Any deer tracks you see indicate recent movement either the night before, or pre-daybreak wandering. Use the GPS on your smartphone or draw an old fashioned map to remember these patterns in the summer.
The typical "home" of East and Midwest whitetails covers less than 4 square miles of land, according to a 2013 study by the state of Washington Fish and Wildlife Department. This method may not be as useful in the Northwest, as researchers observed a doe that traveled 20 miles between summer and winter homes.
Photo: Shutterstock/Jari Hindstroem
Beagles and Retrievers are born hunters particularly for rabbits and fowl, respectively. But just like you need practice shooting at the range, a gun dog needs to get repetitions in as well.
There are two characteristics that make dogs bad hunting companions: being gun shy and/or gun anxious. David DiBenedetto, writing for Field & Stream, chronicled a duck hunt during which he realized (too late) that his dog Pritch had not been through a full dress rehearsal. The dog would whimper when multiple individuals were working their calls, culminating with Pritch bucking around anxiously when the first shots went off.
Make certain you expose your gun dog not only to the sound of your rifle, but also the calls and any potential distractions. You can teach them to swim as early as 8 weeks old. Toss a tumble bumper into swallow water and gradually throw it farther until the dog actually swims. Never force a dog into the water, or you could potentially scare it into never learning to swim.
State and federal governments constantly update hunting regulations and its your responsibility to know the latest details. Log onto your state's Game and Fish Department for the most up to date information. You could also stop into a physical office and pick up any pamphlets or brochures they have available. Most states require a hunter safety course before issuance of a license, but you can take practice tests online to prepare.
Lose A Few Pounds
Let's face it. The older we get, the less agile we become. Further, the more weight we carry, the more difficult it will be to climb up (and down) a tree stand. Being overweight will also make it difficult to cover several square miles of land on foot to increase your chances of a successful harvest.
Those who don't like the gym environment can start out by taking the stairs at work, walking, and even jogging. Subtle changes to your diet, like replacing sugary sodas and beer with water, will likely drop several pounds off you with no further effort.
The hunting offseason is your opportunity to be better than you were the previous year. Don't forget to head to the shooting range a few times as well.
Steve Hartford is a dog trainer, travel blogger and BBQ connoisseur.
Contrary to popular belief, there are some women who are not that into shopping. This is true especially when it comes down to work gear.
Choosing your outfits for work may seem like a full-time job by itself. Often it comes down to what you feel is more important - looking fresh or being comfortable? Well, why not have both?
It’s important to look put-together and professional. Like many working women, you might also like to keep your look fresh and trendy. How can you do that? Check out the sample outfit we’ve put together below – it will give you specific clothing options, plus a discussion of what to look for in similar items.
Women’s Solid Pique Polo by Dickies
Let’s begin with the basics of a structured outfit: the shirt. It is important that your work shirts are well-tailored and flattering. However, you need to bear in mind that it’s also important to feel comfortable, otherwise your work day can easily become torturous.
When it comes down to shirts of all types, we recommend Dickies. This company started making work gear for both women and men in 1922. Since then, they have become one of the leading US-based companies in the work apparel and accessories sector.
Let’s face it – Polo shirts never go out of fashion, especially in trendy colors like burgundy. Dickies’ Women’s Solid Plaque Polo is moisture wicking, which is an important thing to consider, especially with summer quickly approaching. In addition to the classic fit, the longer length of the shirt provides comfort and coverage. Dickies has also included side vents for additional heat relief.
The interior twill tape detailing, and the fact that the shirt is tagless, add to the already comfortable design of this work clothing item. As a bonus, logo imprinted buttons and a longer-than-standard placket give this shirt a truly unique character.
Women’s Sibley Denim Cropped Pants by Carhartt
Who said that one can’t be fashionable, professional and comfortable? The pants we have selected as a part of a woman’s work gear outfit prove exactly that.
Carhartt is a family-owned work gear company. Founded in 1889 in Dearborn, Michigan, Carhartt is one of the most trusted work apparel brands. What’s interesting is that they use their own workers to field test the clothes and give feedback to the designers.
The company’s Sibley Denim Cropped Pants are made from 10.5-ounce, 77-percent cotton/21-percent polyester/2-percent spandex. This work apparel item features Rugged Flex™ technology that allows women to comfortably stretch, reach, and crouch. It’s a mid-rise and sits just below the waist. The contoured waistband prevents gaping in the back. The 22-inch inseam is cuffed at the hem. In addition, cropped pants are in season, so that makes them trendy in addition to extremely comfortable.
Syracuse Cut-Out Clogs #SYRACUSE by Klogs
Summer is approaching fast and your footwear also needs to be suited for the season. Not only does a woman need to feel comfortable in her shoes, but this work gear item has to match the rest of her outfit.
All Klogs products stay true to the brand’s slogan “WOW” Komfort. “WOW” is what their customers say as soon as they slip into any one of their stylish pairs. Klogs are a brand dedicated to offering a better-than-barefoot approach to comfort.
The Syracuse Cut-Out Clogs #SYRACUSE are not only comfortable, but they would also perfectly match many women’s work gear outfits. Intricate cut-outs and detail stitching add flair to this shoe. These clogs can be dressed up or dressed down; a staple for every closet.
The contoured outsole and footbed provide excellent arch support for all day comfort. In addition, the polyurethane sole is slip-resistant, oil-resistant, and non-marking.The removable footbed is latex-free, antimicrobial, odor-resistant and orthotic friendly. All the features of this great work gear item make it extremely comfortable and easy to match with the rest of your outfit.
So what work gear items would you select now?. We’d love to hear from you and see your next great work gear outfit! Share your picks in the comment section below.
Lachezar Stamatov is a recent psychology graduate with interests spanning across various fields – health, food, technology, sustainable farming, you name it. He loves blogging about his outdoor experiences, so follow his articles to give your motivation a kick. He’s also a regular contributor to the Work N’ Gear blog.
Here at GRIT, we don’t need much of an excuse to belly up to a well-stocked table. So what do we do when we launch a cookbook filled with down-home, tasty comfort-in-every-bite recipes? We host an officewide potluck that shows off the offerings found in GRIT’s Comfort Food Cookbook!
Coworkers from our editorial, customer care, ad sales and marketing departments brought in everything from Irish Honey Pot Roast to German Potato Salad to Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. Needless to say, variety was the name of the game today.
The GRIT Staff in line for our Comfort Food Cookbook potluck.
And who doesn’t love a little friendly competition when it comes to cooking and baking? We awarded three prizes: the Big Kahuna Award, chosen by our general manager; the Editor’s Pick, selected by GRIT Managing Editor Caleb Regan; and a People’s Choice Award voted on by employees.
We’ve provided these award-winning recipes for you to try at home, plus a bonus recipe. So, when you’re trying to decide what to take to your next potluck, check these out. For even more crowd-pleasing goodies – like Barbecued Baked Beans, Southern Fried Chicken, and Applesauce Doughnuts, order your copy of GRIT’s Comfort Food Cookbook today!
Big Kahuna Award & Editor’s Choice Award
Sweet and Smoky Slow Beef Stew
Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds beef stew meat
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups tomato salsa
2 cups beef stock
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef in batches and cook until browned. Transfer to a slow cooker.
Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker, mixing to combine. Cook on High for 6 to 8 hours, until beef is fall-apart tender.
People’s Choice Award
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 ccups sliced fresh strawberries (about 1 pound)
3 ccups rhubarb, diced (about 5 stalks or 1 pound)
3/4 cup all-pupose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, cut into small chunks
Heat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, mix the white sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, strawberries and rhubarb. Let it sit for a few minutes to draw out the juices, and then mix well again. Pour into an 8x8-inch baking dish.
To make the topping, put the remaining ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until the mixture is crumbly. Pour the crumbly mixture on top of the fruit, and spread it out evenly. Bake for 45 minutes, or until crispy and golden.
Irish Honey Pot Roast
Serves 8 to 10
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4- to 5-pound pot roast, 7-blade, rump
2 tablespoons olive oil
14 ounces beef broth
1/2 cup honey
1 cup Irish ale or apple cider
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 ccups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped parsnips
2 cups chopped potatoes
2 cups chopped leeks
1/2 cup cold water
Heat oven to 375 F.
In a medium blow, combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the roast through the flour mixture, coating all sides. Reserve remaining flour mixture.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the roast and sear on all sides. Then sear and brown the top and bottom of the roast, about 4 to 5 minutes each. Add broth, honey, ale, garlic and thyme. Cover and roast in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
Add the vegetables. Cover and cook for an additional hour, or until the meat is fork tender. Remove the meat and vegetables to a platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
Add cold water to the reserved flour mixture; whisk into the juices in the Dutch oven. Place the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil. Continue to cook stirring constantly, until gravy is thickened. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve with meat and vegetables.
If desired, you may cook the roast in a slow cooker. Follow directions above through browning of the pot roast. Place the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker and place the meat on top, cutting as necessary to fit. Add the remaining ingredients, except water. Cover and cook on Low to 8 to 10 hours. Prepare gravy as directed above.
Photo by Lynn Ketchum
Your trees may still need attention even in the coldest days of winter.
In the life cycle of a tree, winter is the time when trees go dormant and growth slows down, said Paul Ries, an urban forester with the Oregon State University Extension Service. The strongest parts of a tree are its trunk, branches and roots, so they normally survive winter weather quite well. In the spring, new growth emerges in the form of twigs, buds and leaves.
But the success of this new growth depends in part on the tree over-wintering well, Ries said. That makes winter a great time to take action on pruning and other maintenance tasks – particularly for deciduous trees, he added.
"It's a good time of year for winter tree care because Oregon doesn't have the same freeze and thaw cycles that happen regularly in places like the Midwest," Ries said. "Frequent thawing out can be hard on trees."
In the various ecological regions around the state, trees face different challenges in winter. Coastal trees endure the force of strong winds and salt damage. Strong enough winds can cause trees to adapt their growth to deal with the extreme conditions, Ries said. That's why you'll see trees surviving in a bent position in windier environments.
In eastern Oregon, trees are fairly well adapted to lengthy cold spells – provided they're native trees or landscape trees that can tolerate tougher conditions, Ries said. But the same winter care tips apply to trees on the eastern side of the state. Tasks such as mulching become even more important, Ries said.
Below are some tips on caring for your landscape trees during winter.
Pruning – Now is a good time to prune to develop an appropriate branch structure on trees that you have planted in the last three or four years. Remove any crossing branches, broken branches and branches that are touching or too close to other branches. Also pay attention to "double leaders," branches growing in competition to the main trunk. If you're nervous about cutting, Ries advised that you should hire a certified arborist. Be aware that trees don't "heal" like humans do; they don't regenerate tissue but instead "wall off" a wound to keep the damage from spreading, Ries said. If you open up a cross section of a tree that was damaged years ago, the old scar will still be there.
Mulch – Place bark or wood chips around your tree in early winter to help retain water and reduce temperature extremes. A thin layer of mulch acts like a blanket and helps give the tree's roots extra winter protection. But be careful not to overdo it. Too much material can cause other problems, such as providing a hiding place for rodents.
Remove stakes – Now is a good time to remove any stakes still in the ground if you planted new trees within the last few years. Leaving stakes too long increases the risk of damage to the trunk. The tree can grow around the guide wires.
Water – Give your trees a drink. Winter droughts can be as severe as those in summer. When there's not enough rain or snowfall, an occasional watering during the winter can be a lifesaver for a young tree. But water only when the soil and the trees are cool, but not frozen.
Plant – When the ground isn't frozen, winter is a great time to plant trees. In western Oregon in particular, winter rains will help a new tree get established. Plant trees suited for the cold hardiness zone in which you live.
"Oregon is a very diverse state ecologically and it's important to pay attention to ecological zones when deciding what to plant," Ries advised. Find your plant hardiness zone on a map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb.
For more information, see the OSU Extension guide "Selecting, Planting and Caring for a New Tree" at http://bit.ly/OSU_NewTree. For more tree care advice, visit the International Society of Arboriculture's website at www.treesaregood.com.
About Gardening News From the OSU Extension Service: The Extension Service provides a variety of gardening information on its website at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/community/gardening. Resources include gardening tips, videos, podcasts, monthly calendars of outdoor chores, how-to publications, information about the Master Gardener program, and a monthly emailed newsletter.
There’s been no greater benefit to the global world in recent years than the growing popularity of the Internet. Connectivity has allowed a huge rise in exchange of information, for every outlet from news and politics to informational sources like GRIT to discuss the best advice for living in rural America. Where once rural residents were isolated from those outside their immediate surroundings, they now have access to any knowledge they desire. Just as GRIT has examined the benefits of and given some tips for installing solar panels and weatherproofing, understanding and setting up your own system to receive satellite Internet can provide you with all the benefits of high speed Internet access while preserving your autonomy and requiring only a minimal investment of time and money.
Photo: iStockphoto.com/Andreas Weber
For many rural dwellers, it’s not easy finding a connection to the web at all, and high speed Internet has been nearly impossible to access in many areas. Cable companies often won’t have lines running far enough from urban locations to provide Internet for users more than a few miles away, and the cost of having cable lines run from the closest service area to your location can run in the thousands. Unlike cable, satellite Internet can reach any home in the world that has a clear view of the sky, and can provide many rural residents with a great alternative to settling for the only other option of slower, dial-up based Internet that uses telephone lines.
If opting for satellite Internet, it’s important to be selective. Look for providers like StarBand, ViaSat or Satellite Star Internet that will walk you through various plan options, and work with compatible Windows and Mac systems. No matter the plan, you’ll need to double check that your computer is capable of connecting -this means a Windows 2000 PE or higher, or a Mac OS 10.1 or higher, as well as network capability. Newer computers generally come with these prerequisites, but double checking never hurts. Ideally, your provider should also supply an installer in order to ensure the dish is mounted according to FCC regulations.
If opting out of an installer, or located where an installer is unable to reach, your dish must be placed at least 4 feet off the ground and orientated to the south. The best satellite provider in the world won’t do much good if the dish is out of the satellite’s line of site. It’s best to stay away from trees, as satellites signals do NOT go through them. Look for a spot that is unlikely to be disturbed by overgrown foliage or animals that might knock the dish over. You’ll likely need a screwdriver, electric drill with multiple sizes of drill bits, and pliers to complete a full assembly of both the dish and its stand.The dish should arrive with a meter that notes exactly when a connection is found during the final steps of installation.
Most installers won’t provide custom work for free – meaning you might need to put in extra effort to hide cables with moldings. The easiest route is to take a quick staple gun to the wall, running the cable around the edge of a room and behind furniture. Some companies will also refuse to mount the dish to a roof surface exceeding one story in height, so expect to install the equipment on your own if a two-story roof is your sole option for dish location. Finally, home networks and wireless routers aren’t generally supported by satellite installers, you’ll either want to set up additional equipment up earlier or inquire prior to the technician's arrival if the installers will set up routers as well. Otherwise, the technicians will be unable to check your Internet is working fully.
Once your dish and router are fully functional, begin to enjoy the many benefits of high-speed Internet, including increased business opportunities and more easily maintained connections with family and friends!
This year I was lucky enough to find the Heirloom Tomato Festival being held near Nebraska City, only an hour away from where I live! We decided to head down over the Labor Day weekend so we could expand our heirloom tomato horizons. This year in our own garden we are growing two heirloom varieties, Brandywine and Sun Gold, but we are always on the lookout for new and delicious varieties to grow.
The festival was being hosted by the Wostrel Family’s Union Orchard, just outside of Union, Nebraska. We drove up to a charming red painted farm store to the tune of live music provided by the Blozen Beer Band.
They were very enthusiastic.
Their store itself was beautiful and laid out so that the delicious looking vegetables produced in the fields behind the store were the first things you saw entering the door. Everything there looked and smelled delicious; it was hard to tear ourselves away from the products the orchard offered long enough to go seek out the tomatoes!
I want all of you.
We easily found the long table full of tomato samples. The display was very stylish, plates full of sliced tomatoes rested on a white tablecloth, with whole tomatoes being proudly presented on top of overturned wine glasses.
All of these fresh heirloom tomatoes were absolutely delicious, not one tasted exactly the same and all of them were miles ahead of the standard store bought tomato. My favorite tomato was the disconcertingly name Bloody Butcher tomato, which was resting on the table near one of the largest tomatoes I’ve ever seen labeled, appropriately enough, the Bear Claw tomato.
It barely even fits on that wine glass!
While I was there I was lucky enough to have a chat with Terry Wostrel, who answered a few questions for me about the Festival.
Sarah Johnson: Is this the first year you’re hosting the Heirloom tomato Festival?
Terry Wostrel: Yes, we’ve only owned this orchard for about a year and a half, and it was pretty run down so we’re trying to bring it back to life. We’ve had to replant a lot of fruit trees so that takes time, but our thought was that we could do the tomatoes, and expose people to some vegetables, especially tomatoes, that they had just never experienced before.
SJ: Can you tell us about what benefits heirloom tomatoes have compared to the hybrid varieties you usually see in grocery stores?
TW: I’ve grown them in my own backyard for years and years. The basic gist of the tomatoes that you buy in the grocery store is that they often contain a mutation that keeps them from ripening completely, so heirlooms, one, they have the history and two, they have a taste that many people haven’t experienced, and it’s fun to see the vegetables that have a more diverse genetic background and come from different sources and have stories from various parts of the country, especially the Amish people. It’s fun to see these seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation.
SJ: How many types of tomatoes are you growing here this year?
TW: We have 33. I spoke with Laurel, who has a business, she’s in southern California. Laurel has a website HeirloomTomatoPlants.com. She sells about 200 varieties of tomato plants, and I bought plants from her for my own personal garden for five to seven years. She has a wonderful diversity of colors of tomatoes, and she has a story on each plant.
SJ: What would you say is your most popular variety that you sell here this year?
TW: You know, that’s hard to say. We are struggling with getting people to realize that all tomatoes aren’t red. And that they come in different shapes and sizes, they’re not all globe shaped. So that’s a cultural barrier that many people have.
SJ: Do you have a favorite?
TW: Well I’m a Nebraska native and when we hear the Nebraska Wedding Tomato and realize the story of that. When you imagine on the plains a hundred years ago on your wedding day, getting gifts of seeds and you can grow them for your own personal use, to sell or to feed your family here in Nebraska, I think that should be my favorite, the Nebraska Wedding Tomato. Those seeds have been passed down for at least a hundred years.
SJ: What made you want to go into the farming business?
TW: Well, farming has been a big part of my family legacy since 1875; it’s when my Great Grandfather Anton harvested his first crop. So, that’s close to 140 years. However, I was the third son of a farmer so I was told at a very young age that I needed to do something else. My older brother, 16 years older than me, was being groomed to be the farmer. So I went and took another path, I’ve practiced dentistry for a number of years. But the biggest issue here is my youngest son, who wanted to work outside more. We had spoken about having an orchard at some point, and he graduated from college six years ago so two years ago he was really pushing to get this, we had talked about the orchard so here we are. We found this orchard that was quite run down and we needed to rejuvenate it, to bring it back to life, and I’ve always enjoyed challenges. Plus it allowed me to spend a lot of extra time with Clint, my son.
SJ: What do you feel is the most challenging thing you’ve encountered refurbishing this old orchard?
TW: Well, just the organization and managing from a distance is the biggest issue for me. I don’t have the opportunity to be with Clint on a day-to-day basis here, but we’ve been fortunate with communication we can do emails and telephone calls, but it takes time. I’m kind of an impatient kind of guy, but I know that those trees need to get in the ground and it’ll just take time. We had planted close to 6,000 new fruit trees this year.
SJ: How many acres do you grow on?
TW: We only have 60 but 5,000 of the trees are planted high density, which means they’re planted at 907 trees per acre and that is a cultural change from what most people imagine. You imagine these big apple trees that are 30 feet tall, but they have many disadvantages. One is that they’re hard to pick, the apples are up along the canopy on the very edge of tree and you have to use ladders. Secondly, for the full-size trees it takes seven years to bring those trees into production. So you have difficulty harvesting, the long time until production, and also they’re more prone to disease because with this big canopy the moisture gathers there and they’re more prone to fungus. So when you have the smaller trees, the dwarf trees, they come in production starting in year two. You don’t have to get on ladders, and if you have a u-pick, people can come out and harvest them themselves. Even a 3-year-old who comes with their parents can reach up and grab an apple and be a part of that. So that I think is a real treat.
SJ: Do you have any advice for people who want to grow heirloom tomatoes themselves in their home gardens?
TW: Feel free to experiment, there are hundreds of different varieties to experiment with, and follow the directions. Don’t try to cram them into too small a space, give them room to breathe. That is really the best advice. They may be prone to blight and things if they’re condensed in too small of a space but it’s an adventure. It’s an adventure in gardening to try something different and to really experiment with that, and to share that with your children, and then celebrate when they learn the tastes, and shapes et cetera. Our society as a group has become very dependent on a small number of plants, and the heirloom plants have a wide variety of genetic diversity. It’s an adventure, maybe not for everybody but we certainly enjoy it.
SJ: Do you plan on hosting the Heirloom Tomato Festival in upcoming years?
TW: Time will tell. Whether we plant as many varieties as what we have in subsequent years, I don’t know. But we’ll work to bring these varieties in front of people so that they can experience some different tastes.
After I thanked Terry for taking the time to tell us a bit his tomatoes (and sample some of their delicious fried green tomatoes), I had to make the difficult decision on which of their products I wanted to take home with me. After collecting a generous armful, I said goodbye to Terry and his wonderful wife, Carla, and headed home. The Heirloom Tomato Festival of Nebraska was a wonderful experience and well worth the trip. I’d happily recommend it to anyone who wants to try new varieties of tomatoes, or anyone who just wants high quality farm fresh products. If they decide to host a festival next year, I plan to bring my whole family!
I came for the tomatoes, but I left addicted to the apple pie.