Apple Season

September begins the slide toward autumn. The weather may be confused about what season it is, but I’m not. In WNC it is Apple Season.

Late summer gardens continue to gift tomatoes, peppers, and okra. The apple orchards are full families filling their baskets. Potatoes and squash from earlier this summer are cured and waiting to find their way to the table. Next week I’ll be taking a few days off and spending most of the day on a cobble beach along my favorite river, probably practicing crochet stitches ahead of a little fall stitching project to start in a week or two. I’m rusty. The century old cabin has a small but well equipped kitchen, and a large screened in porch where I have gathered on many occasions with friends and family over the years. I look forward to cooking (and eating!) without being in a constant rush toward getting the kids ready for bed, or working around the never-ending construction that is our house renovation. I’ll be making homemade bread for the first time in ages, probably some lentil stew to make the kids happy, and I’m sure some savory breakfast bowls of grits, onions and kale will make an appearance among the s’mores and fireside popcorn snacks. But the star of the cool mornings will be apples. I’ve gathered my ten favorite apple recipes for you all to add to your fall bucket lists. I hope you will make every last one of them – I certainly hope to. This little trip will include the apple crisp, apple caramel nachos, and fried apples. My mother-in-law is the Pie Queen in the family, so I will leave the pie-making to her.

Favorite vegan apple recipes:

  1. Southern Fried Apples! Like any good Southerner, I know these qualified as a vegetable side just like macaroni and hushpuppies. I will probably serve these with some NanaMoo vanilla ice cream and on top of fluffy pancakes.
  2. Apple Hand Pies! Skip the egg wash and sub with Just Egg if you’d prefer this to be a vegan recipe. Peppridge Farm makes a vegan puff pastry that can be found at most grocery stores (but not at Whole Foods).
  3. Apple Crisp! I will make this in a cast iron skillet, and we will definitely eat it for breakfast, not dessert. Switch the butter for your favorite vegan options – I’ll probably use unsalted Earth Balance sticks.
  4. Caramel Apple Nachos! With loose teeth, serving up granny smith apples in nacho style instead of dripped caramel apples is an excellent alternative. I will be making vegan caramel using coconut cream, and letting the kids add from a choice of toppings: toasted coconut, sprinkles, chocolate chips, mini vegan marshmallows, peanut butter sauce and of course, cinnamon.
  5. Kale, Apple and Beat Salad! I’ll be honest, I am probably the only person in the house excited about this. I am very excited!
  6. Apple Cinnamon Energy Falls! If you’ve seen my post about peanut butter energy balls, protein packed snacks are critical to keeping the kids from having miserable afternoon meltdowns.
  7. Apple Butter! I like this recipes because it make enough to use now, and doesn’t require canning. Apple butter on buttered toast, on top of pancakes, ice cream, apple butter everything!
  8. Rustic Apple Cake! Sub for your preferred vegan butter and egg replacer – and voila! I suggest Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer for baking.
  9. Morning Muffins! Okay, these aren’t just for apples, but I am going to make several batches of these for the freezer to make the mornings a little easier.
  10. Apple Chips! I can’t wait to break out my mandolin (is it a weapon or a kitchen gadget? Hard to say.).

Rosetta’s Kitchen

In the before times, no trip to Asheville felt complete if we didn’t stop by Rosetta’s Kitchen for some peanut butter tofu and a pint of kombucha. Like its vegan friendly soul food, the family friendly atmosphere was a source of comfort and relaxation, particularly in the early years of toting a toddler and an infant around town. Rosetta’s became was our go to restaurant because I could always count on my kids eating their food – and nothing makes me quite as irritated as ordering (or cooking!) a meal only to have a small child turn their nose up at it. With a menu full of vegan options, we never felt constrained. It was easy and I am definitely pro-easy right now.

It’s funny how a place can become part of your family narrative. Toward the end of my pregnancy with my son, I had non-stress tests twice each week. The name of these test is misleading, because I found it to be extremely stressful process. After these lengthy appointments I’d waddle my way to Rosetta’s and eat a plate of chili fries or tacos by myself before the lunch crowd arrived. The night before my son was born my husband picked up Family Favorite and late into the evening after our son was born the following day, he brought me The Mountain. We’ve celebrated birthdays, grabbed quick lunches while running errands, and gathered with family on the way to see the Nutcracker.

It’s not just the good food though – it’s also the people. Two staff members (Davey and Pixie – we miss you!) really captured their heart and imagination. They danced together, were surprised with birthday cookies, and had the privilege for feeding the seahorses in the Buchi Bar aquarium. They told my son and daughter they were their favorite regulars – and even though they probably said that to the parade of cute kids who came in every day – it really made mine feel special. As they got older, I could enjoy a few quite moments to myself, because they’d be sitting at the bar, sipping their kombucha and chatting with Davey. It was like a little mini-vacation, and I was so grateful for it. The business is respectful of it’s staff and honors the dignity in work and in the community with fair wages, reasonable work hours, and an every one eats program – really just being so awesome. I am happy to have supported these efforts one plate of vegan tacos at at time.

My two kittens, side by side at the Buchi Bar, living their best life during the “before times.”

As fall approaches, I know it’s about to be gravy season in our house. The best vegan gravy I’ve ever had, is at Rosetta’s. For years I made my own copycat recipe at home, but it wasn’t quite right (not enough water or flour). Then one day I found Rosetta’s published Granny’s Gravy recipe online. I’m sharing it with you so you too can put it on everything you make this fall and winter. I could pour this on an old shoe and my son would eat it, and everyone needs a trick like that for dinnertime. Sometimes I add a little celery seed, rosemary and/or thyme – but it’s totally unnecessary.

Granny’s Gravy published by Rosetta’s Kitchen (via Instagram on Christmas Day, 2019)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup soy sauce

Directions

  • Toast dry ingredients over medium heat in 4 quart pan unti fragrant – don’t burn them! (I can attest that skipping this step is a really bad idea)
  • Add olive oil and whisky together until bubbly
  • Slowly add in water and soy sauce
  • Whisk and simmer
  • Pour on everything (also, skipping this step is a bad idea)