Apple of My Eye

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Over the weekend, my friends and I made the 2.5 hour drive to Apple Hill, a large co-op of orchards, wineries, and markets that CA and NV locals frequently visit once fall makes its breezy return.  Although I had heard about it many a time in previous seasons, I had never actually made the trip until this year.  And yeah, I’ve been missing out!  It’s the pumpkin-patch-apple-picking-fall-crazed-plaid-scarf-wearing-hard-cider-loving-redhead-fringe-girl’s dream.  Although if we’re being honest, it takes no convincing to get me to go anywhere with beautiful greenery and fresh produce.

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Although there is a whole entire map of places to visit in Apple Hill, we visited a few favorites like Kid’s Inc, Rainbow Orchards, and Jack Russell Brewery (not listed on the map).  Kid’s Inc has the most beautiful, green field overlooking their orchard, and it’s the perfect place to have a picnic and enjoy a hard cider from Delfino Family Farm.  If you’re looking for a good place to buy unique pumpkins and a variety of fruits like apples, pears, and nectarines, Rainbow Farms has so many options at a great price!  They also have the best apple cider donuts and gallons of fresh pressed apple cider.  After our pumpkin-search, we visited a local orchard to grab a few apples – they were pretty picked over, but we still had fun hiking around the orchard with our little picker and buckets!  We ended our day at Jack Russell Brewery, which is not associated with Apple Hill but is right next to all the apple-fun.  There is both a brewery and a “cave” that serves wine, hard apple cider, and mead.  My friends enjoyed the mead-hard apple cider mixed option, but I was more interested in the hard blackberry apple cider.  Everything is made on-premises, and I love that their ciders are dry unlike many store-bought brands.  They have the most lovely patio for relaxing and enjoying your drink overlooking their farm and llamas!

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A happy, little geek with her apple picker.

My only recommendation would be to bring a picnic lunch or some snacks!  Although there are plenty of amazing apple dessert options, the food is pretty limited.  We went on a Friday, so it was a little less busy, but I’ve heard they have lots of food options on the weekends – however, it is pretty standard fair food, and there are so many beautiful places to bring a picnic basket!

For directions, click here.

If you’re looking for a way to use all of your apples, I’ve got you covered 😉

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore by Lucy Dacus

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Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Grits

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I am so, so excited to announce that the people at Serendipity by Sara Lynn (me) will be working with Sanford Ranch Beef, which sells local, steroid-free beef to the Northern Nevada area.  This is my first partnership, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with such a great company!  I first want to start off by promising that I only endorse businesses that I believe are wholesome and provide good quality products that I already use sans-partnership.  I do not believe in advocating products that I do not use regularly; therefore, I can assure you that all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.  I also want to let it be known that I am not being paid to post about Sanford Ranch Beef, although they did give me some all-natural, hormone-free steak, which let’s be real, is better than money anyhow.

And if you didn’t read that long ass paragraph, here’s a summary: I’m not a sellout.  Cool?  Cool!

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Sanford Ranch Beef is a local cattle ranch owned by my cousin, his wife, and their family.  They do not believe in using hormones, steroids, or fillers in their beef, so the product is completely farm-to-mouth.  Their cattle is grass-fed and finished with mash (grain) from a local brewery in town – that means that the beef tastes slightly of hops, but not overwhelmingly so.  They sell boxes of beef to people in the Northern Nevada area – if you live in Reno, Fallon, or other areas of N. Nevada and you like all-natural, ethical food, and supporting local business, visit their Facebook or website and give them a call!

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Even if you do not live in Northern Nevada, I urge you to support local farmers and ranchers that live near you.  By buying local food, you support families in your state and get healthier products (and you know where they’re coming from).  When you buy from a store, you don’t know the distribution process – when you buy local, you can ask the owner yourself!  By visiting farmer’s markets, you can find local produce, dairy, meat, bakers, and the like so you’re always getting the freshest ingredients!  For a list of local farmers in your area, click here.

P.S. Since farmer’s market season is almost over, I recommend looking up local farmers/ranchers on Google or asking people in your community!  Local food is easier to get than you think!

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Over the weekend, I used some short ribs from my box of beef to make braised short ribs with cheddar grits and roasted brussels sprouts.  It’s definitely a Sunday meal, because the braising takes a few hours, but this meal is so easy and impressive if you’re having guests over!

Both recipes are courtesy of Food Network.

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Stay tuned for more beef recipes!

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Morning Dew by The National (cover)

 

7 Magic Mountains

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Signs of fall have slowly been inching into Reno one-by-one.  Many people would disagree with me, as it’s still in the 80s and 90s during the day, but as an early-morning barista, I know the true story.  It begins when I wake up in the morning before anybody else, and grab a sweater on the way out the door, because it’s 6:00 a.m., it’s in the late 50s, and my tank top isn’t cutting it.  I head to work, and still groggy, brew the drip coffee first thing.  I grab a mug, letting it warm my hands as I turn on the grinder.  The sunlight finally appears as I switch on the open sign, and Reno starts to warm steadily.  The kicker of this situation is that Reno is always at least a little bit cool when it’s dark outside.  That’s what makes it the perfect place to host bonfires and sit on the porch late into the night mid-July.  However, there’s a different feel to the air when it starts turning into fall.  It’s slightly colder, and the air smells different.  I don’t know how to explain it, but I know it when it appears.

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Although I absolutely love fall, it also signals the beginning of classes, which I will be attending in just a few, short days.  Naturally, I’m already missing summer and all of my little adventures.  A few weeks ago, I visited Vegas for my brother’s graduation party and to help my parents move some stuff into their new house in Reno.  I had recently been told about the 7 Magic Mountains, an art exhibit by Ugo Rondinone located in the middle of the desert, by a friend from the Nevada Museum of Art where I regularly volunteer.  Hearing about it, I knew I had to go.  Huge, brightly colored boulders in the middle of drab, dry Southern Nevada desert?  Amazing.

The drive out to the 7 Magic Mountains is super easy but a little confusing.  Just take the I-15 South to Sloan Rd., turn left onto Las Vegas Blvd, and drive for about 15-20 minutes.  However, you won’t see the exhibit itself until the last minute – this is the confusing part.  You’re driving and driving, and all you see is flat desert.  Then, a tiny hill, and then…suddenly there’s an enormous, rainbow sculpture right to the left.  Luckily, there’s a parking lot right out front.  After a short walk, you’re looking straight up at overwhelmingly large, neon rocks.

Now, I went to the 7 Magic Mountains in the midst of Vegas summer, when heatwaves radiate off of the pavement late into the afternoon, and you get an instant sunburn walking to your car.  While the exhibit was amazing, it was absolutely not the best summer activity.  But Vegas fall?  Beautiful!  This would be an amazing Sunday afternoon activity in late October/early November.  If you will be traveling there, please take a break from casinos and drinking, and go see this!  Locals of course should take the trip – Nevada culture is flourishing and so important to support!

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Accidental model pose.

Unfortunately, the 7 Magic Mountains have already been vandalized (this is why we can’t have nice things), but they are still breathtaking and worth the visit.  However, because of this, I want to give my little spiel on art: Artists work incredibly hard to improve this world through beauty, whether it’s painting, music, dance, sculpture, or any other medium.  Please be respectful to their art, support it, and love it.  Spread the word.  Help your community by supporting local museums and events.  If Reno can change as drastically as it has in the past few years, many communities can also.

Click here for more information on the 7 Magic Mountains.

Does the dress look familiar?  This might be why.  It’s one of my favorites!

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Full Circle by Half Moon Run