What I forgot to mention in my first blogiversary post is the lovely, warm community of bloggers that this little hobby-whatsit has opened up to me. And what I deliberately left out, partly because I’m only just getting a taste of it and it seems almost too good to be true, and partly because they really are just a bonus, are the experiences I have been opened up to in the world of food.
Last weekend was a perfect combination of both if these fringe benefits, as I and a few other food bloggers headed off on a day trip to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. There, in a town called Bilpin, we got to visit some beautiful apple orchards and meet the growers who bring some of the sweetest, juiciest apples to our fruit bowls.
There is a joy in being able to trace the food we eat from its beginnings, through its journey and finally onto the table. At Saliba Fruits, second generation farmers Joe and Lily Saliba welcomed us warmly and took us through the process of apple farming. We first meandered a little through the orchards, admiring the squat, fruit-laden trees in their fruit-bat proof netting like babies in a nursery. What got us all a little bit excited was what we dubbed the ‘apple day spa’, a conveyor belt system where the crisp red globes were first washed, dried, polished, hand-sorted and packed into baskets for market. And when we found out that the little guys actually get their own sunscreen to protect them from the harsh Aussie sun? Well, we were positively gushing!
From there, we visited Bilpin Springs Orchard, a pick-your-own farm. Cedric greeted us and led us around more apple trees, as well as trees laden with lemons, peaches and navel oranges. He told us about the farm’s preference for organic farming methods whenever possible. He explained to us how to choose a good apple and what to avoid. He then set us loose among the trees and armed with baskets, we set about picking to our heart’s content.
Around us, families were doing exactly the same. Parents filled baskets while their city-slicker kids revelled delightedly in the fresh air and wide open spaces interrupted only by trees whose branches were weighed down by things you could eat. It was good, clean, safe and inexpensive fun and something I would recommend to anyone.
A satisfying day in all, and made even more so by the armfuls of apples that we all went home with. It turns out an apple a day really could…you know, do what they say, as the little guys are packed with vitamins and minerals that help lower the risk of some chronic diseases. Their skin especially is rich in poly-phenols and antioxidants, which we all know is a good thing. Aussies, look for the Aussie Apples sticker as not only are they home-grown, but they are seriously delicious fruit.
Breakfast is an important meal for me and not only does it have to be filling, but also tasty and transportable, given my tendency to be running late at all times, to everything! These breakfast jars incorporate apples, berries and yoghurt, making them an anti-oxidant and protein party in a jar.
Apple, Berry and Yoghurt Breakfast Jars
Makes 2 generous serves
2 small Aussie Apples, diced small
1 tsp coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup frozen berries of your choice
1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rice syrup or honey
Greek yoghurt (about a cup)
Small handful pepitas
Small handful shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 160 C. Place the pepitas on a tray and toast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until they have swelled. Add the coconut and bake for a further minute or so until it has browned slightly. Toss both in a bowl with 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
In a non-stick sauce-pan, warm the coconut oil. Add the apples and cook for about 5 mins. Add the berries, syrup, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and vanilla extract. Stir and cook on low-medium heat, covered for 5-7 mins or until the apples are tender. Allow to cool to room temperature.
In jars or glasses, layer first the fruit layer, then the yoghurt, then fruit again, then yoghurt. Top with the toasted pepita and coconut mixture and drizzle with any leftover sauce from the fruit mixture. Remember to take a spoon and eat in the car whilst stuck in traffic.