I am aware that the general public has already moved on to the pumpkin-flavored craze that happens this time of year, but here at the farm, I’m into the apples. I’m partial to Wolf River apples. They are beautiful, tart and perfect for baking, though their claim to fame is truly their size. They can be as big as a man’s hand, to the point where it only takes two or three to make a pie. We have a very old, towering Wolf River apple tree right out the door at the farm along with a miniature beside it. When we were young, Dad would put the elevator up into the tree (then shimmy up it) and coerce us kids to stand on the ground with baseball gloves and gunny sacks, ready to load up. It was a clever apple-picking strategy. This past summer, the farm invested in a boom truck, and I’m already planning to make good use of it for picking those high-flying fruits at the top of the tree.
Our Wolf River tree only produces heavy every other year. During the off year, there are apples just not near as many. This year is the on year, and boy, oh boy, do we have a bumper crop. One of the first wicked storms this summer split the ancient tree in half, but to our joy, the tree is connected enough to keep producing apples.
What follows are some of our favorite apple recipes. I promise they will not disappoint. There’s something about the smell of apple treats baking that fills a house and brings about a feeling of comfort no candle can come close to. Perhaps instead of making a treat and taking it to a friend, assemble and deliver it to their house to bake and warm both their heart and home.
Happy apple season.

Betty’s apple cake
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup oil (for a twist do half applesauce and half oil)
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
3-4 peeled, sliced apples (for big apples, use 2-3)
Dash of cinnamon

Combine first three ingredients, add the dry ingredients. Mixture will be thick. Gently stir in apples. Grease and flour a 9-by-13 pan. Pour into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When cool, dust top with powdered sugar. This cake lasts less than 24 hours at our farm. Definitely a crowd favorite.
 
Fresh apple cookies or bars
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup peeled, chopped apple
1 cup raisins, craisins or nuts (optional)

Mix sugar, butter, milk and egg by hand in large bowl. Combine flour, salt, soda and spices. Add to wet mixture and mix well. Add oats, raisins and apples. It will be thick to stir. I encourage you to mix it by hand; it will end with thicker results. If mixture seems dry, add a bit more milk. I prefer to make these in bar form, using a greased jellyroll pan, baking at 375 degrees for 15-17 minutes. This recipe was adapted from a Wisconsin Apple Growers 1965 cookbook, which is a real treasure.
 
Flavored homemade applesauce
Grease a slow cooker. Wash and quarter apples. Peeling is optional. Place apples in slow cooker, and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent some browning. My mom’s trick to making delicious flavored applesauce was using a box of Jell-O. A cranberry Jell-O packet (add in some real cranberries too), strawberry or raspberry all make delicious smelling and tasting applesauce. I tend not to add additional sugar when using a large box of Jell-O. Sprinkle your chosen flavor on the apples and pour just under a cup of water over the top. Cover and set slow cooker to low. They soften nicely on low for about eight hours or on high for four. Of course, this timeline is dependent on the type of apples you use. Some have more water content and make for runny sauce; the Jell-O will assist in thickening. If sauce is too watery when done, cook with the lid off to help some water evaporate. An immersion blender or food mill will make your apples into nice, smooth sauce.

Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wisconsin. Her children, Ira, Dane, Henry and Cora, help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos, and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.