Savoring flavors of fall

The leaves on the trees have changed to a more earthy tone. They fall at our feet, and crunch with each step we take. A mild chill is now in the air, blasting forth with each strong Lake Ontario gust. Our trusty sweatshirt has become our new best friend. This can only mean one thing: fall.

Maybe it was the scent of the fallen leaves leeching into the soon-to-be-frozen ground, or perhaps it was the apple cider that has returned to the dining halls, but I am in a fall sense of mind. Though summer has its sunny days, and winter its share of snow-covered wonderlands, not to mention the occasional snow day, autumn is always my season of choice.

But what is there to do with this new-found fall excitement? Sit back and let it fall into my lap? Certainly not. Fall is the season we must grab by the horns, for here in upstate New York, the gap between warm sunny summers and ice-cold windy winters is a fine line.

For this glorious interruption of hot and cold, no fruit seems to sum up the season better than the apple. What brisk fall day would be complete without a slice of apple pie? Or perhaps you prefer apple cider, a beverage so amazing that it is delicious served both hot and cold.

In order to fulfill my apple craze, I visited Ontario Orchards this weekend. Every Saturday and Sunday, customers are welcomed to their farms to browse among the many varieties of apples they have available. On this particular Sunday afternoon, the sun was high in the sky and the typically strong Oswego winds were seemingly at a standstill. I purchased a bag big enough for half a bushel. As I was clearly thinking with my stomach and not my brain, I realized that this was way too many apples for one person, but who can blame me, I was excited.

While the apples themselves are delicious, it is the experience of it all that makes it exceptional. Bring your special someone along with you, the walk along the fruit tree-lined path is the prettiest you will find. The best part? If you get hungry during the harvest, you are surrounded by an all-you-can-eat buffet of the sweetest and most delicious apples in the area, ripe for the picking.

Now that you have your peck, or if you’re like me, half-bushel, of apples, you now have to do something with them. I have been eating them raw at a fast and delicious pace, but as I stare into the bag, I see I have barely made a dent in the massive supply. Certainly I will not be able to eat these all before their shiny red skin begins to darken and their firm flesh softens.

What should I do? Cook them, of course. One of my favorites is homemade applesauce; delicious, and perhaps most importantly for a college student, it requires few other ingredients. Further adding to the delicious convenience, it can even be made in the microwave. Simply chop up six or eight apples, add a quarter cup of water and microwave it until the apples are very soft. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste and a dash of lemon juice to spruce up the flavor, and you have a delicious and nutritious snack far better than the pre-packaged sauce available in stores.

Now that you have had your fill of tasty applesauce, go outside and appreciate this brief minuet of perfection. Seemingly the shortest of all the seasons, the orange leaves gently falling off the trees mirror the decorative pumpkins that have just now begun to grace the often-drab interiors of our dining halls. Pick some apples, or just take a long walk outdoors. Embrace the autumn moment while it lasts, for sooner than we know it, the first snowflake will fall. But before the piles of snow and the blizzard strength winds, we have the autumn.