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Delicious Autumn Recipes Inspired by Steilacoom’s Apple Squeeze

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

apple harvest

apple harvest

A Journey Back to Long Ago

The distance from Seattle, Washington to the Town of Steilacoom (pronounced STILL-a-come), is about 45 miles…and 80 years.

That’s not to say that Steilacoom is a backwards, unenlightened town. Once a bustling frontier port, Steilacoom is the State of Washington’s oldest incorporated town (Its 150th birthday was celebrated in 2004).

However, in Steilacoom you will not find a Wal-Mart or Walgreens. There is a small library, but no gas station, a Town Hall but no traffic light. There is no bank, but there are two parks (one with a bandstand). We do not have a hotel, or even a grocery store, but you will find a small restaurant, a coffee shop, and two pubs.

A candy-cane pole in front of the two-chair barbershop beckons to those in need of a shave and a haircut.

Bair Drug and Hardware

Bair Drug and Hardware

A historic building (Bair Drug and Hardware), once home to an apothecary and the post office, serves breakfast, lunch, and the world's best malts from a century-old marble-topped soda fountain.

Don’t worry—you don’t need a time machine to visit this historic town. Getting here is easy. Leaving? Well, that’s another story.

the-annual-apple-squeeze-in-the-town-of-steilacoom

I drove around the corner through a tunnel of trees, and saw amazing blue water and every inch of the Olympic Mountains.

— Joan Shalikashvili (widow of Gen. John Shalikashvili , Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff 1973-1977.)

At each turn in this tiny hamlet of 6,000 people, Joan found another engaging vista. The town's appeal inspired her to move here in 1998.

However, this sleepy little town wasn't always so serene. An old newspaper clipping warned of “wild and woolly” Steilacoom. It is said that saloons outnumbered everything else. Today, the only night crawlers are sold as bait near the ferry landing, and the speed limit never tops 30.

Apple Squeeze?

To celebrate the history of the town, and the transition into Autumn, the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association sponsors the "Steilacoom Apple Squeeze" every year on the 1st Sunday of October.

Why is it called an apple squeeze? Well, you can actually use the antique apple presses to turn apples into cider and take one of autumn's delicious beverages home to enjoy. (By the way, due to the potential for disease or worms, no homegrown apples are allowed in the presses, but apples are available for purchase to help make a delicious batch of cider.)

Of course, there is also apple pie and ice cream (with warm cinnamon sauce) for sale in Town Hall. The kids can enjoy pony rides, birdhouse building, face painting, and bouncy houses.

There are activities for the "big kids" as well—live local music, food vendors, craft demonstrations, experts to provide advice about your own apple tree (if you bring a leaf and an apple from your tree), and apple cider floats.

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Recipes

At the end of the day, the Carb Diva family is tired and hungry (that mile-long trek from downtown to our house is all uphill). So we need a hearty meal. And the focus, of course, is apples.

Recipes in this Article

  • Main Dish: Cider-braised turkey thighs or legs
  • Side Dish: Apple cranberry stuffed acorn squash
  • Dessert: Apple cinnamon cake with apple cider glaze
  • Snack: Roasted acorn squash seeds

Cider-Braised Turkey Thighs or Drumsticks (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 4 slices turkey bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 large turkey thighs or 3 turkey drumsticks (2 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Dry the turkey parts with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Add the turkey bacon and olive oil to a large Dutch oven; heat over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add garlic cloves to the pan and sauté until it begins to turn golden, remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add turkey to pan, skin-side down; increase heat to medium-high and cook until well-browned, about 5 minutes. Turn to the other side and continue to cook, about another 5 minutes, or until browned on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
  6. Add carrots and onion to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the thyme and apple cider to the pan. Bring to a boil and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to release brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Boil until the cider is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the chicken stock; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and add the bacon and turkey.
  9. Cover the pan and place it in the oven. Cook for 45 minutes, then flip the turkey. Continue to roast (without the cover) until tender, about 45 minutes. The turkey should have an internal temperature of 170 to 175 degrees F. Remove from pan, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Serve the turkey with the vegetables and braising liquid.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Turkey bacon is leaner than traditional (porky) bacon, but still provides that smoky flavor that we love.
  • Browning the vegetables (carrot, onion, and garlic) provides another layer of flavor.
  • Bringing the apple cider to a boil and reducing concentrates the apple flavor
  • Slow cooking at 300 degrees F (rather than the traditional 350 degrees F) ensures a tender and juicy meat.

Apple-Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 small acorn squash
  • apple cider (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 apples, pared, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the squash. Cut each squash in half lengthwise (from tip to stem end). Use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds. (Save them! See my recipe below for "Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds" on how to use these leftovers to make a tasty snack!)
  2. Place the prepared squash halves in a large baking dish, cut-side down. Add some apple cider to the dish—enough to bring the level of liquid to 1/4 inch in the pan.
  3. Place in the oven with the turkey (see recipe above).
  4. Bake for 45 minutes.
  5. Turn squash up (skin side down). Fill with apples and dried cranberries. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle butter on top.
  6. Return to the oven and bake 45 minutes.

Why This Recipe Works

  • The squash (side dish) is baked with the main course (turkey). Energy saving!
  • Lots of flavor AND fiber!
  • The "leftovers" (i.e. seeds) can be used for a tasty snack.

Apple Cinnamon Cake With Apple Cider Glaze (Serves 12, or 8 People If My Husband Is Slicing the Cake)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar (divided)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon (divided)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons apple cider

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside.
  3. Mix flour, 1 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, salt, and ginger in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and stir until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a small bowl. Stir the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon into this reserved mixture and set aside. This will be the topping on the cake.
  4. Mix baking soda and baking powder into the remaining flour mixture. Add the apples. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in another bowl. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the apple mixture and stir just until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved topping evenly over the batter.
  6. Bake until the tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
  7. To make the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar and apple cider and drizzle over the cake.

Why This Recipe Works

  • This is a 'quick-to-mix' recipe. All of the basic ingredients are combined in one step; a portion of that mix is set aside for the final topping.
  • This cake doesn't need to be layered and frosted.
roasted squash seeds

roasted squash seeds

P.S. Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup squash seeds (remove excess pulp and strings)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Toss squash seeds with olive oil and spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden.
  4. Salt to taste.

© 2015 Linda Lum

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