apple picking cooking with cocktail rings alstede farm

Fall is my absolute favorite season, and, since I live and work in California, it also happens to be when I get the most homesick for New Jersey. California doesn’t really have seasons, which is great during the winter, but it makes me miss crisp fall days. My ideal weather is when it’s just chilly enough to wear a light jacket and jeans with boots – an outfit that I usually wear no matter how hot it is out anyway. I’m a big fan of sweater weather – most days while I’m in the kitchen or working on my couch you can find me in a cashmere sweater and leggings. Lately it’s been extremely hot in California and I’m wearing sweaters just to pretend it’s fall (it’s not working).

I recently took a trip back home to New Jersey and made my parents do all of the fall activities I was missing. We live in an area surrounded by lush greenery, and dotted with farms and horses, certainly not what most people think of when they hear the words New Jersey. We went apple picking together at a local farm, Alstede in Chester, NJ – just making it before they closed for the night. Luckily my dad is tall so we got all the good, untouched apples. The next day my mom and I drove around so I could take some photos of the bright fall foliage. We made a stop at Hacklebarney Farms Cider Mill in Long Valley, NJ to pick up some apple cider donuts and freshly made apple cider, both fall favorites of mine. (You can make your own cider donuts using my recipe here!)

After crossing off apple picking and  “leaf peeping” from my New Jersey list, my mom and I used some of the apples we had picked to make pies.

Alas, it was still early in the season for pumpkin picking back home so I had to save that for my return to California. I went to one of the local lots in Santa Monica – they already have the pumpkins picked so its not necessarily “real” pumpkin picking since you choose them from the gravel lot – but either way it gets the job done. When I carve my pumpkins I always save the seeds and roast them with spices for an easy fall snack.

  • What I’m reading:
    • November 22, 1963: A Novel by Adam Braver - This recommendation came from Emma Robert’s book club Belletrist and if you know me then you know that I have an obsession with the Kennedys. This book gives accounts of various people the president and first lady came in contact with on the day of the assassination and the days following. I’m still debating if I go as Jackie Kennedy for Halloween this year, pearls and all.
    • Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik- This biography about badsass Supreme Court justice (and personal hero) Ruth Bader Ginsburg is truly inspiring. She is one incredible woman who has done so many things for women’s rights among other notable achievements. As a proud feminist I loved reading about her life and the cases that she’s weighed in on.
    • A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe – This novel is this month’s “bookworm babes” read (my book club). Set in Australia this book deals with family and the impact of war. I’m only part of the way through but so far it's a good read.


  • What I’m watching:
    • Riverdale – This dark version of Archie comics on the CW is just starting its second season (and the first season is on Netflix for binge watching). It’s a combination of murder mystery, teen drama and the classic comic book characters you’re sure to know. I even made a milkshake with some serious Riverdale vibes
    • Alabama Football – I love football season, especially college football and as of right now the #1 ranked Crimson Tide are undefeated!! I always wear my lucky game day shirt when I watch the games – no matter what. My brother goes to school there and every fall I fly down for a few games. I went to Pepperdine where we didn’t have a football team, so I live vicariously through him for that. Roll tide!


  • Where I’m eating:
    • Katz's Deli – while I was home in NJ I spent the day in New York City with my mom. She’s the best -- she let me take her on a full day food tour. One of our stops was the iconic, Katz Deli, a classic jewish deli made famous by a scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally and known for their pastrami sandwiches on rye bread. It’s set up like a cafeteria, where you order at a specific slicer, get your ticket stamped and pay on your way out.
    • Lil Frankie's – Another NYC hotspot where my mom and I met up with my best friend for an Italian feast. Among my favorites were the burrata, the lemon pasta and the rigatoni.
    • Black Tap - Their newer LES (Lower East Side) location is way bigger than the original (and as of now doesn't have the lengthy lines either). While I wouldn't wait in a line for it, their famous milkshakes were outrageous (i.e. Instagramable) and delicious.