I love fall in New England. The air is crisp, the leaves are colorful and the kids aren’t tired of going to school yet. Every October I take my boys apple picking. It’s our way of welcoming Autumn.

And each year I have an idyllic plan. I pick a day the sun will be shining. I pull out all of my “apple recipes” and for days the boys and I talk about which apples we want to sample.

Surrounded by near-by apple orchards this should be an easy outing to schedule. Then again, apple picking never seems to work out quite as we expect. And this year was no different.

Although the sun is shining, the wind is gusting.

The lines are long. Apparently, every citizen within 100 miles had picked this Saturday to go apple picking. We wait in line to pay our $52 entry fee. This hefty sum gives us the privilege of picking our own fruit. When we are done we pay twice per pound what our local grocery store charges.

90 minutes and $150 later this simple New England tradition has been anything but simple.

None the less, while I might never have the perfect apple picking adventure, I’d never dream of giving up the tradition. If I had, I might never have giggled with my seven year old as he bit into an unexpectedly bitter apple. Or watched my growing 16 year old reach the perfect Macintosh high up on the tree. And I might never have been inspired to try a new favorite apple recipe (see below).

So go ahead, take the hay ride, dress warmly and enjoy those juicy apples.

Fennel & Apple Salad

Ingredients
2 – 3 green apples – sliced thin
3 bulbs fresh fennel – sliced thin
2 lemons
Pinch of sugar
1 cup orange juice
Salt & pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Fresh shaved Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preparation:
Mix sliced apples and fennel in a bowl
Cover with juice from two lemons
Toss gently with pinch of salt & pepper

In a separate bowl mix orange juice, Dijon mustard and sugar.

Right before serving toss salad with Orange Juice mixture.
Top with shaved cheese & serve