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Delicious Autumn Recipes Inspired by Steilacoom’s Apple Squeeze

Author:

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.

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

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 21, 2019:

Patricia if you ever came here it would be my honor to give you the grand tour. The town also does a very old-fashioned 4th of July parade and each summer hosts a salmon bake. (Look for "The Steilacoom Salmon Bake.") I love living here.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 21, 2019:

The little town sounds delightful much like the one I grew up in Virginia. So glad to hear they have retained their uniqueness. I would love to come to the Steilacoom festive occasion. Will be giving these recipes a try. I am smiling smiling as I finish up because I had just sliced an apple to have for breakfast and came across your article. Angels once again are headed your way ps

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 04, 2019:

Denise, thank you so much. Honestly, it's food like this that makes autumn tolerable. Otherwise, I'd pray for hibernation until springtime.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 04, 2019:

What great recipes. I'm really excited to try the Apple-Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash. I have several of them and was looking for tasty recipes to use them with. This is perfect. Thanks.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 29, 2017:

Shauna - Truth be told I never use vegetable oil either. I have a light-flavored olive oil that I use for everyday cooking. The really primo good-quality stuff I save for drizzling on salad, or on bruschetta or on top of a bowl of ribollita (bread soup).

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 29, 2017:

Diva, the Apple Squeeze certainly sounds like something to look forward to every fall! Your apple cider recipes sound yummy, but then again, all your recipes sound yummy!

Question on the veggie oil used in the cake: can grape seed oil be substituted? I don't use veggie oil anymore. All I keep in the house are olive oil, coconut oil, and grape seed oil.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 23, 2015:

Lawrence - Apples are my favorite fruit as well, and the annual Apple Squeeze is a fun time of year. Thanks for stopping by.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on October 23, 2015:

Linda

I'm an apple lover and can just picture myself munching an apple walking along the seafront!

Loved the hub

Lawrence

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 16, 2015:

Oh Peg, the turkey is really to die for. Very tender, fall-off-the-bone, and the cider imparts a subtle sweet flavor. As for the town--we love this little corner of the world and feel very blessed to have found it. Thanks for stopping by.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on October 16, 2015:

These recipes sound delicious. I really like the turkey one. I'm posting a photo of the apples to Pinterest so I can try these out. Yum.

That little town sounds great. What a wonderful place.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 05, 2015:

Hello Flourish. There is still some cake, but no other leftovers. The turkey disappeared in a flash. I do hope you find the time to fit those recipes into your repertoire.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 05, 2015:

What a fantastic hub combining recipes and local interest, plus great photos and writing. I am soooooo hungry now.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 05, 2015:

Rachel - Thank you so much. Cooking apples changes them--in a good way, doesn't it? Blessings to you.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on October 05, 2015:

Hi Carb Diva, I love that picture of the apples in a basket, it makes me want to jump in the picture. Also your chicken is mouth watering. Anything made with apples or apple juice or cider has to be delicious. The funny thing is I don't particularly love to bite into an apple. Don't ask me why, I don't know, but cooking with apples I love. I will be pinning this whole page, thanks for sharing.

Blessings to you.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 05, 2015:

So I can expect to see you next year? That would be fantastic!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 05, 2015:

Twenty miles down the road and I had no idea they did that.....either they should advertise better or I need to read a newspaper now and again. :) Thanks for the info, Linda.