A Neighborhood Fall Festival, Pear Cider, and Caramel Apples

Painted and happy kid faces!

We are lucky to have moved to what I consider kid heaven: a dead-end street full of kids who ride bikes until their respective calls to dinner. My daughter, Z, is the eldest of the troupe which ranges in age from two to nine. Z has started "kids club" in which the kids all sit crisscross in the driveway and devise plans to make money from the neighbors mostly through lemonade stands and car washes (they want to buy a club house and a toy car that drives and have saved nearly $40 ;-).

In August, they cooked up an idea for a fall festival for our street. Originally, it consisted of bike expositions, a play, picking apples and pears from our trees, bobbing for apples, face painting, and more. As the Delta variant makes its way across the country we had to negate activities like bobbing for apples. They settled on face painting, tree climbing and shaking (as a means of fruit picking), and caramel apple making followed by an bring-your-own picnic and outdoor movie in our back yard.

The Fall Festival was a big success! The kids made homemade face paint, packed bags of popcorn, and shook the trees! The adult neighbors all got a chance to meet one another and community was built around these little people.

 Homemade face paints were pretty lumpy but fun anyway!

 The kids gloved up to make individual bags of popcorn only to then share them during the movie...so far no one has reported being sick :-I

Bundled up for outdoor movie night!

I love the dangling kids legs!

Post party clean up crew!


Fall Festival Treats

Having already picked and packed many a pear, hoping they would last through October, I discovered that about half of the paper-packed harvest had begun to ferment under my stairs. What better for a fall festival movie night than pear cider? I put all of the bruised and some nearly disintegrating pears into my stock pot, covered them with water and set the flame to low until they began to boil. I added a couple of cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise and let it simmer while I worked for a few hours. The smell was unbelievable. I put the mixture through a mesh strainer and bottled it up for the fall festival. I did the same with the apples that were partially bird eaten and wormy cutting out the unappetizing bits. Delicious!


Pear or Apple Cider Recipe:
    1. Fill a stock pot half to three-quarters of of overripe or bruised pears or apples
    2. Cover with water
    3. Add fall spices of your choice (cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, star anise, vanilla bean, allspice, etc.)
    4. Simmer for 2 - 3 hours
    5. Strain and bottle.
    6. Add bourbon for the adults.  Seriously delicious!


             Caramel for Apples:

        This makes a lot, but can be used to make caramels after the apples have all been dipped.

        1. In in heavy bottomed stock pot combine: 2 cups heavy cream; 1 cup light corn syrup; 2 cups dark brown sugar; 1/4 - 1/2 cup salted butter; Vanilla to taste.
        2. Simmer checking temperature with a meat thermometer until 230 - 240 degrees.
        3. Test for proper stickiness on a test apple.
        4. Enjoy watching the kids eat the caramel while trying not to ingest any apple.

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