meatless monday: chickpea cider stew

I have said it before, but I will say it again, Fall is my favorite season.  The weather is perfect and the flavors are the best.  Apples and pumpkin are definitely high on my list of favorite flavors and they both make an appearance throughout my eats the entire year.  You know what they say, “An apple a day…”.  One thing that I don’t quite have the appetite for in summer is thick soups and stews.  It’s just not the same eating it in the air conditioning than it is when you’re eating it to help stay warm ;).

Well, today is an air-conditioning type day, but last week fall was upon us and my craving for all things apple came on full force!  Luckily we made a trip to a local apple orchard this weekend to stock up and we have our first bushel of apples in the kitchen.  Since it’s Meatless Monday, I thought (well, this was actually Kinley’s idea but I made it haha) that having apples as the center of a meal would be delicious.  In the past, we’ve made a crockpot stew featuring meat, but chickpeas became the star of the show tonight and they were incredible.

Chickpea Cider Stew

  • 1 1/2 c dry chickpeas, rinsed and picked through in case of small stones
  • 2 apples, cored and chopped
  • 6-8 yukon gold potatoes, chunked into large pieces
  • 5-6 whole carrots, sliced
  • 2t salt
  • 3 c apple cider
  • 2 c vegetable broth
1. In a large crockpot, layer all ingredients from top-down.  I left the peels on everything and you would never notice.
2. Place crockpot on low for 8-10 hours, or until chickpeas are tender.

The chickpeas cook in the cider and soak up the delicious, sweet flavor.  The apples completely cook down so just their flavor is left and the potatoes and carrots are perfectly tender.  It was nice to start off with dry chickpeas (read: no prep) and end up with a deliciously cooked and flavored meal!  I was worried before I left that it was going to end up boiling over since it was so full – I even drove home at lunchtime to take a peek!  Luckily, it was for nothing (well, I got to see Croz for a couple minutes 😉 ).  The stew didn’t cook over, the chickpeas just displaced some of the liquid.  It was a perfect weeknight meal!  Extremely easy prep in the morning as well – you can even have everything chopped up and ready to throw together in the morning!   (Just be sure to NOT soak the beans in anything overnight – the cooking process is enough to rehydrate the dry beans).

friday night at the fair

August means one thing in Wisconsin.  The State Fair.  It’s basically a competition of how many foods can be served on a stick, deep fried, and covered in cheese.  Oh, and you’ve got to have a cream puff – it’s a give-in.  Only two problems in that whole scenario – gluten and dairy.  Gluten is a bigger issue for me right now – I have managed to have yogurt a couple times and feel alright after it but I’ll probably just stick with yogurt and not have it too often (the frozen variety as well, but more on that later 😉 ).

This is yet another photo-filled post, but I don’t want any of you non-Wisconsinites out there to miss out on this very Midwest celebration of the Dairy State.

This is a barn.  With a milk jug out front.  This is a barn where you can go and get 30597458 different flavors of milk.  Well, that’s obviously a lie but there are way too many flavors and I don’t even want to know the ingredient list or color additives in any of them haha.

Here are some of the wonderful stuffed animals you can win for the low low price of a ton of money per game.  Of course as a child I always fantasized getting a giant Tweety Bird… but my luck was never there.

First food stop of the afternoon – some fresh-cut fries.  So good!  Not the healthiest, but not the worst either, right?

We went into the 4H pavilion where they have all of the homemade crafts 4H-ers make throughout the year and display for the state to see.  I did love these photographs – especially the one of the pepper on the left hand side!

They had a ton of beautiful Dahlias as well as other floral creations.

Vegetable display.  What’s surrounding the veggies you ask?  Beer bottles of course!  How else do you expect us to grow vegetables here?

Fake flower displays.  Only the best :).  I actually loved the balls of flowers tho – they would make a really good centerpiece!

I even broke out my jean jacket for the occasion.  Cream Puff building behind me.

Kinley may or may not have bought a little something at the expo… more on that later as well :).

Last but certainly not least – cinnamon nuts!  Oh so delicious, this was a combo of pecans, almonds and cashews.

I wasn’t actually expecting to go to the fair this year because Kinley, Mom and Dad went last weekend when I was in Sonoma, but we got free tickets and free parking so how could I resist?!  I also got out of work at 2 today – my first summer hours!  It’s a pretty sweet deal, as long as we have (enough) of our work done, we can leave at 2 on Fridays between Memorial Day & Labor Day.  And for the other part of the year we can leave at 3.  Pretty nice!  My first week I was obviously loaded with work to do so I didn’t even think of taking them (plus I only found out about them that day), and then the next week I was traveling and practically working 24/7 ;).  The third week however… it went really well.  I actually feel like I know (kind of) what’s going on and am comfortable making changes and updating things without asking someone how to do it.  It’s a great feeling!  As of right now I don’t feel like I’m over my head with anything, although I get even more jobs and responsibilities next week!  I have been told I will never be bored and I truly believe that.  It’s a good thing I’m loving it so far :).

If you happen to be in the Milwaukee area this weekend – you really should check out the fair.  Just make sure you eat a cream puff and something on a stick… or covered in cheese.  Even though I didn’t.