Again with Monday, how did it get here so fast? Another busy weekend disappeared too fast! As usual I had a long list I wanted to get to from paperwork to listing things on eBay that didn’t happen. Oh well, maybe next. And this week is already off to a turbulent start with two co-workers out sick with symptoms that sound suspiciously like the flu. Note to self: must check work supply of Lysol wipes!
Saturday night we had an impromptu family gathering at my sister’s house which is pretty common lately. It was a great night of drinking, eating and watching hubby teach our nephew how to play softball and clarify the dog poop patches were out-of-bounds in the backyard. We also had a pretty good feast that she swore up and down was going to be simple and we don’t need to bring anything this time. Well, my sister, bless her, is still grasping what vegan protein is because this was my feast.
Being last minute, I didn’t have time to throw something together for the gathering spending most of the day scrambling on house projects and running errands. But I need to next time because this just wasn’t filling. I usually take a big salad, but in this case I should have brought a TJ’s high protein tofu chunk to slice and throw on the grill with the rest of the veggies. Next time.
Yesterday my mom and I did something I’ve been itching to do since the first hints of fall – made a trip to Apple Hill. Problem is everyone and their brother goes on weekend days because Apple Hill basically a fall theme park for families with hay and corn mazes, apple picking, beautiful fall scenery and other fall events. We gambled because it was overcast and rainy and we figured the crowds wouldn’t be as bad. Another lesson learned. Last year, we went after Halloween. While there weren’t nearly the festivities going on, the lack of crowds, perfect weather and free pumpkins made it a great trip and what I should have done this year too. Oh well, we’ll also be making another trip this year for a Christmas tree again.
On the way there, we made a pit stop for lunch in Placerville at the Buttercup Pantry. It was either that, KFC or overpriced food and long lines in the rain at Apple Hill. I was a little unsure about the place walking in, it looked like a traditional, old time breakfast/slash BBQ place with tons of antique pictures and goodies all over the walls and a stench of bacon and eggs. But I relaxed when I saw the salad bar and that the all you can eat soup, salad and cornbread was one of the cheapest things on the menu for $9. I started with a lovely vegan minestrone loaded with tomatoes, squash, broccoli, onions, beans, carrots and much more.
Then I went back to create a monster salad plate with spinach, a bean pico mixture, sprouts and just about every vegan veggie option. I couldn’t resist the banana chips either since I can’t remember the last time I had those. Then I remembered why because they didn’t have much banana flavor and weren’t that sweet.
So it ended up being a delightfully cheap and high-raw vegan lunch that I can’t complain about. If you’re ever passing Placerville on 50, check this place out.
After we headed into Apple Hill where it was raining much harder and considerably colder. Nothing like freezing and tromping around in the mud looking for pumpkins! Few times in my life have I ever wished for waterproof boots, but yesterday was one of them!
The first ranch we stopped at was kind of a bust because it was still packed with kids who were cold, wet and cranky. The pumpkin selection was weak with mainly puny wet and dirty options. And the animals on display weren’t stupid opting to take shelter from the cold hiding in their pens. Can’t blame them. So we moved on to High Hill Ranch where there were more indoor food and craft shopping options and a huge selection of apples in more varieties than I knew existed. Problem was everyone else had the same idea, so it was too crowded to move around and juggle a huge umbrella, smart me didn’t bring my rain jacket and had to lug it around. I grabbed a couple of apples and jars of local fruit and nut butters before we decided to move on to the crafts area.
I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I have a huge obsession with pumpkins. They represent Halloween fun, tasty treats and the start of a season of cooling temps, family fun and holiday traditions. This year I have not had a chance to visit the monstrous pumpkin farm I usually do, so I was hoping to find a good selection while in Apple Hill. Freezing cold rain did put a damper on that, I wasn’t about to lug a huge one back to the car in the mud and rain, nor did I feel like browsing. Oh well.
We made our final stop Boeger Winery and a little wine tasting was in order to warm up. :-)
I ended up with a bottle of Muscat because that’s one of my favorite sweeter white wines and a bottle of Primitivo because it’s a mellow, rich zin-like blend.
They also had an olive oil sample station in the tasting room and people were actually doing shots of olive oil to try the various flavors. I just couldn’t do it, I suppose after a few more wine tasting rounds it would be more appealing.
The grounds were full of these aging and fruitful pear trees that I wanted to see how many I could collect, but didn’t.
It was cold, rainy and gloomy the entire time, but we still had a good time without spending too much money. And that can happen easily at Apple Hill if you’re not careful. I did grab a few fun things.
Never tried either of these before, the sweet potato butter is fabulous spread on apple slices. The apple spice pecan honey butter an interesting combo that has about half the calories and fat of traditional nut butters because it’s blended with fruit and sinfully good! It’s rich, sweet, chunky and creamy all at once. A touch of it would be perfect in oatmeal.
I did grab one pumpkin because it was so ugly it was cute. It’s so misshapen that it can only sit on it’s side, carving it is going to be interesting.
After such a long day in freezing rain with soaked shoes, all I wanted when I got home was a hot dinner and caved into those cravings. In my early days of a high-raw vegan diet, I worked too hard to stay raw on cold, nasty winter nights which burned me out a bit. This year I’m going to opt for more whole food cooked vegan dishes on those nights. Like tofu and spaghetti squash marinara I had last night.
I added Trader Joe’s frozen organic chopped spinach to this batch for more color and texture and used up a lot of ripe tomatoes making the marinara sauce in the Vita-Mix. It hit the spot after such a chilly day. Non-stop drizzling rain always makes it seem so much colder.
Overall an awesome weekend packing in plenty of fun and family time before another long week. Maybe next weekend I’ll be able to get more done. :-)