Tis apple season. Deliciously, sweet, crunchy, juicy apples. They are such a diverse little fruit adding just the right amount of sweetness with that touch of tanginess. Good as both desserts as well as savory enough to be included in any main dish. I must warn you that I love to cook seasonally and so you may be getting an influx of apple recipes and squash recipes during the course of the next month. I may or may not run them into the ground for you but seriously, eating and cooking seasonal foods gets a big thumbs up in my book.
First up coconut milk (SALTED) caramel sauce. Umm yes, like sticky, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth caramel. Pretty much one of the greatest food inventions ever. Pair caramel with any kind of dessert and you have a winner in my mind. The problem, most caramel is loaded, okay packed, with excess amounts of processed sugar. –>WAH WAH WAH<– The solution this delicious, slightly sweet, salted caramel sauce is everything you ever needed without loads of sugar plus healthy fats. WHAT?!? Caramel without added sugar plus loads of healthy fats? Done!
But before we get to the caramel can we talk about the apples? I mean this is my place to vent right? The hubs and I decided it would be a fun little adventure to take the girls to a local apple orchard to pick some locally grown, deliciously sweet apples. It sounded like a picture perfect way to spend a beautiful Saturday in September. We were attempting to be festive. It started off fantastic with a good car-ride (which is unheard of with three little girls under the age of four, especially when traveling more than 20 minutes) to a local brewery serving farm-fresh, delicious food. Phase one, a success which equals stress-free, happy parents.
Phase two, the apple orchard. Packed, like literally I believe all of Eastern Iowa had the same plan we did. We decided to have a good time regardless. I mean the orchard was big enough to accomodate everyone right? I had even dressed the girls in cute clothes, hair done and camera in tow hoping to get a few good shots of all of them together. What I didn’t realize that September in Iowa means huge temperature fluctuations. Mornings are sweatshirt weather cool and afternoons are hot. So of course being the great mom that I am, I totally overdressed them leaving less than happy kids. Especially the littlest.
Still not willing to waver, demanding that we were going to have fun we loaded onto the wagon where the tractor would pull us out into the orchard to pick apples. Let’s be honest, we should have known problems were coming when the wagon was so packed I was concerned at times that the tractor would literally not be able to pull the load, and at other times the terrain made it seem like the wagon was going to flip onto the side leaving us all in a pile. As the temperatures continued to rise and us being packed like sardines on this little wagon, with over dressed, hungry and now tired little girls things were starting to get a little crazy.
But it didn’t get pushed over the edge until the tractor and wagon with, ahem, said passengers on board did a little off-roading. Yep, he pulled us straight through a creek where the wagon bottomed out on a pile of rocks, flooding the floor with water. As he proceeded to drag us up and out of the water as if that was suppose to happen I now had a child who had become deathly afraid of this tractor ride. Of course we were well into the orchard and a long walk from the car at this point so we made her stay put.
The tractor came to a halt at the opposite end of this massive, hilly orchard giving us the option of getting off to pick apples or staying on to finish the ride back to the barn. My husband and I just looked at each other, trying to survive the chaos that had happened and decided not to even attempt getting off for fear that we were going to have to figure out a way to carry all three girls back to the car ourselves. Hot, tired and grouchy girls + hot, tired and stressed parents is not a great combo.
So we stayed on the tractor, where we proceeded to cross the same terrain, the wagon bottoming out numerous times, me stripping our youngest down to her diaper for fear that she was getting way too hot, all the while holding a screaming 18 month old. We managed to make it back to the barn where we had initially loaded. I had to apologize to all of the other passengers around us who had to experience our children, who were overly hot, tired and grouchy, specifically one who had been screaming nearly half of the way in fear. I’m pretty sure the nice couple next to us, who had no children are probably scarred for life. Yep, we’re that family, the one no one wants to sit next to because you’re never quite sure who is going to lose it both emotionally and physically (we always have the puker).
After apologies for ruining their perfect, festive tractor ride we quickly hoped off into the mass of people where my husband decided just to take the two smallest back to the car to cool off, the oldest and I ran inside to buy already picked apples and then we all packed in the car, turned the air on, blasted the radio and headed home.
Picture perfect right? Oh and those pictures. This is it. Period. The middle child (looking pretty cute in those pig-tails I may add) sitting on the ground refusing to walk, the middle picture of the youngest pretty much sums it all up with that look and the oldest, well this is the only picture we got of her sticking her head through what should be cartoon people standing in front of the orchard. Lovely, just lovely.
Needless to say, we were glad to be home, everyone in tact, happier (after naps in the car) and much, much cooler. Luckily I did get those stinkin’ apples we went for. I made some homemade salted caramel sauce and drizzled the sweet apples with them. This caramel made everything seem okay as my husband and I sat across the table, enjoying every morsel of the very things we got so stressed getting. Was it was worth it, maybe? I guess these are memories right?
So that’s it, our real life maddness that isn’t so picture perfect but unforgettable none-the-less. Note, if you see our family in public, you may want to run the other direction for fear of being that poor couple who has to sit next to us and experience this little thing we call our life. Now go make this caramel, and drizzle it in your mouth. It will make everything seem just a little bit better.
- 1 14oz Can Coconut Milk (BPA Free)
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
- ¼ tsp salt
- In a small saucepan add coconut milk and sugar.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring frequently.
- Once boiling turn down heat until it is at a slow boil and continue stirring frequently begin careful not to burn caramel sauce.
- Continue boiling until sauce has reduced and thickened (it will continue to thicken as it cools) about 25-35 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, oil or butter and salt.
- Let cool to room temperature stirring occasionally to keep the fat immersed.
- Store in a glass container for 1-2 weeks.
- NOTE: Will need to stir before each use as the fat can separate out. Heating will get rid of the clumps that may occur.