A few weeks ago, we went apple picking. This seems like a requisite activity for anyone who has ever lived on the East Coast, but, despite my lifetime residency here, it was my first voyage. We went to Russell Orchards in Ipswich, MA on an absolutely gorgeous autumn day and soaked up the sun and the crisp air as we munched and carefully selected our peck of apples.

They don’t even let you walk out to the orchard by yourself, you HAVE to take a hayride… Oh well.

My companion for apple picking and enjoying autumnal activities.

Our hayride driver.

Yours truly, searching for the best of the best. They gave us a map of the orchards and the rows had signs on the end. We picked Empire, Cortland, Gala, Macoun, and Jonagolds.

Al sinks his teeth into an Empire.

And I sink mine into a Jonagold… very sweet, a little tart, good for pie.

Our bounty. And I’m trying to chew and smile simultaneously.

Russell had other seasonal treats in and around their store. (Sadly, their apple picking is done for the season, but their store is open through November- see their calendar here).

We bought and apple corer, which I immediately put to use making a pie for a dear friend (note: episode 15 features an phone interview with ME).

This is actually a DIFFERENT apple pie than the one that started with the above apples. This one was so beautiful that I had to show you. It was a birthday gift for a friend who claims it is “wildly amazing.” I won’t give away my recipe source just yet (because they don’t post it online, mostly), but I will give you my trick– leave the skins on the apples. It makes for an aesthetically pleasing pie eating experience. I also decorated the second pie with a few thin slices on top:

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