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Paula plans an apple harvest festival!

Paula plans an apple harvest festival!

Harvesting Good Times

by Paula Deen

With the weather getting as crisp as the apples, I start reminiscing about the harvest festivals from the good ol’ days. They usually took place in barns that seemed big enough to build a city in. Us kids would sit on scratchy bales of hay and chew on caramel apples, watching our mommas and daddies twirl and dance to the live music. Our grandmothers stood watch over the tables weighted down with the most mouth waterin’ spread of apple pies you could ever imagine, protecting them until the judges—our granddaddies—could determine whose pie would win the blue ribbon.

Now I know that times have changed. Many of our children and grandchildren have never stepped foot in a barn, let alone set their behinds on a bale of hay. They think fresh apple cider is something you buy off a store shelf in a plastic jug. But even if the kids act like they don’t give one plug nickel about the harvest, you can have them singing a different tune by planning a fall festival of your very own. You see, I figure that any tradition that brings family, food and fun together is worth resurrectin’. So I’m going whole hog by throwing a festival complete with games, music and comforting dishes—and I invite you to do the same.

My family loves any excuse for horseplay. I can just imagine Jamie and Bobby getting soaked clear down to their underwear during the apple-bobbing contest, and my grandbaby Jack cuttin’ a rug with his momma as soon as the music starts up. I’m sure the whole family will have a good laugh when Michael and I try our luck at the three-legged race, especially since we have a hard enough time getting by on our own two legs!

Along with the fun and games, home cooked dishes made with the season’s finest fruits and vegetables are at the heart of any Harvest Festival. I’m salivating just thinking of the recipes that I’m fixin’ to make, especially those that feature beautiful handpicked apples. Baked Apples, Slow Cooker Apple Onion Soup and Apple Charlotte are some of my favorites that I hope you’ll try. And let me tell you, that store-bought cider can’t hold a candle to my delicious Spiced Lemon Apple Cider recipe. There’s nothing better on a crisp fall day, and one cup of that sweetness will absolutely warm your soul.

Finally, if I’m throwing this Harvest Festival, I sure as heck plan on winning the prize for my Apple Butter Apple Pie. Now I don’t mean to brag, but it’s to die for, and should win first place at any festival or fall bake sale. And if it don’t? Well, I suppose there’s always the three-legged race. Happy fall y’all, it’s the perfect time of year for a party!

Paula’s Favorite Apple Recipes
Grandgirl’s Fresh Apple Cake from Georgia
Moppin Chicken Stuffed with Brie and Apples
Smokey Apple Cinnamon Meatloaf
Apple and Grilled Chicken Pizza
Outrageous Caramel Apples
Donna’s Candied Apples
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Casserole
Apple Dumplings

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Reader Comments:


Ms Paula,
Love all the recipes you send to your fans out here in tv land. I have prepared so many of them out of several of your cook books and the ones on line to my family and friends delight. From one southern girl to another keep them coming.. Terry Appa Cypress TX

Terry Appa of Cypress Texas on September 20, 2010 02:28 PM

Paula, you tell it like it was girl!!! I can still walk into my grannie’s kitchen and smell fresh apple turnovers being fried in a cast iron skillet!!!!!

Pat Byerly of High Point, N.C on September 20, 2010 08:57 PM

I just love your down to earth ideas Paula Dean.  You are my kind of gal.  I’m straight from the country myself and get kidded all the time cause of my country talkin’, but that’s ok, they keep comin’ back for more good food and fun!!! so hey if I had a barn , we’d have a good ole time ourselves.  But i ‘ll just have to do with them smores on the outdoor fire next to the pond with the crickets and frogs singin’ a tune!!!!  haha goota love us country girls!!!!  Be blessed during this winter season in a mighty way!!!  i know u are!!! sincerely, veda

Aveta Hough of kountze, texas on September 20, 2010 10:37 PM

Oh my gosh, I love the idea of a family fall festival.  With 3 teenagers and a husband, there will be alot of laughter!  I’m going to make your apple cinammon oatmeal casserole for breakfast tomorrow morning and surprise the kids.  We normally have eggs n toast or waffles/pancakes, this will be a welcome surprise. I’m sure they’ll know it’s a “Deen” recipe, most of mine are!  Just so you know, we made the broccoli slaw for dinner the other night from the Deen Bro’s magazine, it was a HUGE hit smile 
Thanks for the awesome recipe’s and wonderful stories.  You continue to inspire and impress me.  the Lopez Kids say hi and send love…xoxox
Always, Tracey

deenbrosfan3 of Turlock, CA on September 21, 2010 01:51 PM

Ms. Paula, you are such a delight and as cute as a button.  My family and I truly enjoy you and yours and I hope to meet you some day.  Until then keep smiling and cooking those wonderful dishes…you make us all proud!

Lynn B. of Pleasant Grove, AL on September 21, 2010 04:06 PM

I am looking for a recipe for Candied Crab Apples.  My husband had them as a kid and says they were in a syrup, whole with the stems still attached, just the bottoms were trimmed, and they were canned.

Lynn Walbridge of Groton, Vermont on September 21, 2010 04:57 PM

Hi Paula, Your reminiscing about harvest festivals made me think about the one our high school had, and still has today. It is called the Unionville Community Fair and lasts for 3 days in early November. There are ribbons given for all kinds of baked goods, jams & preserves, vegetables, handmade clothing items, etc., as well as a Harvest Queen Pagent! There is a chicken dinner served on Saturday night, as well as animal judging, sheep to shawl demonstrations and puppet shows for the kids. I have always loved it and always will. Paula, if you are ever in the suburban Philadelphia area at this time of year I know everyone would be excited to have you attend the fair,(and perhaps assist with judging some of the recipes)!

It saddens me to think there are children who haven’t been in barns or played in the hay bales, or had a calf stare at them with it’s soulful eyes while licking their hand with it’s sandpaper-like tongue! So it’s important to keep these traditions alive. Come to Unionville any year during the first week of November and you will be greeted warmly!!!

Barbara Pollock of Lincoln University, PA on September 21, 2010 07:27 PM

Dear Paula,
Here’s a recipe for Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Sauce.Yummm!It was given to me by a dear friend Tonya. This is one of those recipes that will make you swallow hard. Enjoy!!!

Apple Spice Cake
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups of chopped, peeled apples (I use applesauce instead)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

Caramel Sauce
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup whipping cream

Heat oven to 350
Cream butter & sugar in large bowl, beat in egg, add apples.
Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon in small bowl and then add to apple mixture.
Pour into greased 8X8inch square baking dish.
Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

While cake is baking, combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
Serve sauce over cake cut into squares.

Kimberly White of Loganville, Georgia on September 21, 2010 07:57 PM

I grew up on a farm. What a wonderful childhood I had! I remember my grandma sitting for hours peeling apples. I can’t wait to try some of your apple recipes. The apples have been bountious this year. Our neighbors bought an antique cider press and so far together with them we have made 75 gallons of fresh apple cider. We have lots of apples on the trees yet. What fun we’re having!

Donna of Watseka,Il on September 21, 2010 09:04 PM

Hi Paula,

  I have an apple recipe that my family has used for various celebrations. It is an apple salad, and you use 1 apple per person, and we combine granny smith and red delicious apples together. We then chopped peanuts to a fine chop and had tiny marshmellows, and mix it all together with mayonaise, everyone loves it in my family and expects it for our holiday dinners.

Brenda Goins of glendale, az on September 21, 2010 10:21 PM

Paula, I have your pie dishes sold at Wal-Mart, they are quite lovely. I use many different resources to get my pie crusts to be flaky. One of them from the book “Pie” tells me to freeze the crust prior to putting it into the oven. This allows the fat inside the crist to explode, making it flakier. My question is: will the ceramic plate take the fluctuation in temperatures required to do that? I would appreciate your thoughts on this process. Thank you for making an affordable option that is also pleasing to the eye.

Cindy of Omaha on September 22, 2010 10:32 AM

First of all, Ms. Deen, what a beautiful picture of you!! You really are getting me excited for the fall season.  I LOVE your Grandgirl Apple cake and it has become my go-to cake over the years when I am invited over to someone’s house and don’t know what to bring.  It has always been a hit. Thank you for keeping it real “down home”.  I send back to you love and best dishes from my kitchen (and heart) to yours!  Have a great fall season! All the best, Crystal

Crystal Simpkins White of Alexandria, VA on September 22, 2010 10:36 AM

Hay, Paula….Love you, your family and ALL you stand for !! Have ALL of your books, cooking and otherwise.  I’m a sixty+/single gal who really only bakes at the holidays.  Well, last Thanksgiving, I picked your “AppleSauce Apple Pie” to make and OMGosh, it was a hit !!! Now I have to tell you, having on hand, a jar of real homemade/cooked outside/canned applesauce, could have helped giggle..but it truly was all the wonderful spices and ingredients from you that made it so special.  I’ve already had a request to bake it again for this year at Thanksgiving.  Thanks for sharing from your kitchen to mine !!

Jennifer B Tanner of Lesage, WV on September 22, 2010 11:05 AM

Sounds like I’ve gotta make this soon.

Brenda Cook of Seattle Washington,State. on September 23, 2010 03:28 PM

I adore Paula and theres not a day that goes by that she is not in my home, She is the BEST!!!! And her personality just inspires all of us to turn our homes into hers. I just have a little 1 bedroom cabin and work very hard to make ends meet, but Paula makes me feel like the richest woman on earth… We Love you Paula!!!!

Auntsheshe of Pa. on September 24, 2010 07:18 AM

WOW! love to read your articles, on home cook
recipes.I tried so many of them, always been a hit every time i would used one of yours. I was born in Houma La, but raise here in Texas, i have the best of both worlds. My Mother is a great Cajun cook,and i also cook southern foods too here in Tex.We love you Paula, God Bless You & Family, your are the Best, Your Friend Liz

Elizabeth W. of Porter Texas on September 25, 2010 09:17 PM

Paula, several years ago, both my daughters loved this time of year because their grandfather always made appele cider with a very old heirloom cider mill. After he got tired of it, he was going to sell it! My oldest daughter got very upset and called him. She was about 12 at the time. She begged him not to sell it, he agreed but said that it was hers now and for her never to sell it either!  Even at that age, we knew our daughter would be moving to a big city, most likely DC! What would she do with it? Funny think, she now lives in DC in the Capital Hill area on a small street that has a couple of festival type events for charity each year. The street has its own website and old wooden pig spit! How perfect is this for her old cider mill!

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