Lakeside Farms - Ballston Lake, NY

Lakeside Farms - Ballston Lake, NY

There's something about childhood memories...they get stronger yet more inaccurate as we age. I could swear things happened one way when really the events were entirely different than I remember. I tend to remember the emotion around events more than the details. I have one sister who is the same way, while the other sister can remember even the most minute detail from 30 years ago. Having emotionally-driven memories is OK until I find myself buying books I've already read (I don't realize I've read it already until about the 3rd chapter when things seem awfully familiar) and I can't describe much about a movie I saw other than whether I liked it or not.

My memories of visiting Lakeside Farms in Ballston Lake as a kid are no exception. The early part of my life was lived in upstate NY. First WAY upstate (I swear every family picture from then has 3 feet of snow in it), and then a little farther south, near Albany for a few years. During that time, my parents let us stop for a treat a few times at Lakeside Farms. Along with getting cider and donuts, we were each allowed to choose a piece of stick candy at the store. In my embellished memories, we stopped there every Sunday after church. But, according to my mother and siblings, it was only a total of a few occasions that we stopped there. That's what happens to memories you cherish - they flourish in the space you allow them to fill. (I actually asked my family for their memories because mine were clearly faulty).

I still get giddy looking at this array of stick candy at Lakeside Farms.

I still get giddy looking at this array of stick candy at Lakeside Farms.

Apple Barn

When I visited my mother recently in the area, I stopped off at Lakeside Farms for some apples and a little nostalgia. There's something about farm stands, cider mills and the like that just bring a warm happy feeling. I can't really place it, but there's something "honest" about the hard work that goes into farming to produce the food we eat. It feels good to support the small-scale farmer. Lakeside Farms is a family-owned business that has had four generations working the farm. The Pearce family purchased what was then "Ballston Lake Farm" in 1948 for the barn and cider press. They had great success from the cider, which allowed them to expand as Lakeside Cider Mill and Farm Store. Since then, long after my family visited there, they added a small restaurant that boasts breakfast, lunch and pie menus. They even have a gift shop now they started last year (great place for holiday shopping) where I purchased a locally-made candle. Today, family, relatives and friends run Lakeside Farms.

I visited the "Apple Barn," which has fresh apples and other produce for sale. Picking out apples as an adult is just as much fun as picking out a flavor of stick candy as a kid. I didn't want to leave. But, I did eventually go and took some Honeycrisps (for snacking) and Golden Delicious (for baking) and a container of cider. Mr. Wine Box Gardener and I were in awe of the Honeycrisps. Big, juicy and crisp. Nothing like what we find in the grocery store. We haven't had apples this good in a while.  (And my apple pie turned out delicious.)

I guess you can't really go home again, but I feel fortunate enough to be able to walk down memory lane and pick up some fresh farm produce while I'm at it. Check out the recipe for the apple pie I made, along with why I chose golden delicious apples for baking and what secret ingredient I added to my pie dough to make it extra moist and flaky. 

A sea of apples in the Apple Barn

A sea of apples in the Apple Barn

Golden Delicious that went into my pie

Golden Delicious that went into my pie

If you are lucky enough to live nearby or are just driving on the Northway (Route 87) in NY state, stop off exit 11, you won't regret it. The farm isn't far from the exit - easy on/off.  For more information about visiting Lakeside Farms, check out their website.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine