When I was in middle school, my friend asked if I wanted to work with her at a produce farm close to my hometown of Roanoke, Indiana for a summer. This was a stand off of highway 24 between the two towns that I know best. I don’t recall how many acres and I don’t believe they had any animals beyond a few dogs. Their house and buildings were “green” before it was popular (or whatever you’d like to call it) and I thought they were cool.
I drove by this place on my way to school and town for many years, probably will go by it a few more times while I’m home for the holidays. They have since expanded and I bet they wouldn’t remember me but I am tempted to stop by if the gate is open.
Jean and her husband have lived there for some time and operate this stand. I’ve heard that they hired some managers as it grew but that could be a rumor. I am not sure what careers they have/had outside of this, it seemed to me that they had some money and were well-respected in the community but I simply picked green beans, strawberries, raspberries and a few other things for some of that summer for the two of them to sell.
The work was hard and hurt my body, especially my back. I came home dirty and tired every night. We were paid by the bucket, a small amount that only in middle school, in the ‘90’s, seemed worthwhile. Actually I take that back, I enjoyed this regardless and perhaps because of the hard work. I wish I would’ve paid more attention to the horticulture and business aspects because now, that kind of stand is exactly what I would love to have.
If I recall correctly, I was too busy trying to make my friend get on track and stop “horsing around.” Whether it was rotten strawberry fights or tossing green beans at me, she was into having fun. I have to thank her because I was rather serious and she broke me down and made me laugh. I wonder what Jean thought when we came up with strawberry stains covering our clothes and in our hair. I swear they were rotten and nothing that could be sold.
However, one day my friend decided to go down a huge hill on the tractor, beside the strawberry fields, with a wagon attached carrying the tools, buckets and myself. She was not a child of the country and wanted to see what she could do with this tractor. What she did was detach the wagon, a very heavy one, and I fell out. It was at this point that my head met up with the side of the wagon while we both, the wagon and I, tumbled down the hill.
I’m pretty sure I had a concussion but we didn’t want Steph to be in trouble so we said nothing. I told her not to right before she did whatever it was that made me tumble-I can’t recall because of my head injury, I’m guessing. I am against anyone trying anything with farm equipment that they aren’t used to. That hurt and might explain some of the brain damage I swear I have today. She felt bad and oddly is now a nurse so I hear. Kidding, I bet she’s a great nurse. I had some times with Steph; she was a vivacious person that improved my young days and took me from my comfort zone. I wonder if she remembers that. I have many stories that involve her.
I think the orchard and apple cider in this recipe brings me back. The orchard in town provided the cider and some of the inspiration because they also make sweet treats like these apple cider doughnuts. Greg was all about me making these and helped so some credit is due to him. We followed the foodloveswriting.com recipe. I think the doughnut holes came out more like an elephant ear than an actual doughnut but that could be the cider, I don’t know. Delicious still but not quite what I was expecting. I’m not an avid fan of making doughnuts with all the grease but I do enjoy trying new things.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Makes20-30 small holes
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup butter (softened)
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose flour (may need more)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Vegetable oil for frying (quite a bit)
1/2 cup cinnamon and ½ sugar, mixed
Boil the apple cider until it reduces to about a quarter cup in size and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar with the butter until smooth, add the eggs, buttermilk and reduced apple cider. In another bowl, mix together the remaining dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
Add the flour mixture slowly to the liquid mixture, and mix just to combine. You want the dough not to be sticky. Add flour to counter and knead slightly just to combine without overworking the dough. Roll or pat the dough to a 1/2 inch thickness. You can either use two circular cookie cutters (one larger than the other) to create doughnut circles or roll into small balls for holes. Place a few at a time into a deep pan (I used my dutch oven) that’s been filled and heated with enough oil, approximately three inches deep.
Fry a few doughnuts at a time, turning once or twice until they are browned and fully cooked through. Allow the hot doughnuts to drain on some paper towel. While the doughnuts are still warm, coat them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. You have to work pretty fast if you want the cinnamon-sugar mix to stick, we had some difficulty with this.