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Michigan Apple Committee Official Blog

Rachel Cooks – A great healthy snack for all ages!

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Rachel, food blogger from Rachel Cooks, tries healthy Ginger Cinnamon Apple Chips with Michigan Apples

I’m always on the search for healthy snacks that the kids, my husband and I can enjoy. Bonus points if said snack is easy to prepare. Huge bonus points. As a mom of two toddlers, quick snacks are a must. These ginger cinnamon apple chips fit the description of healthy, delicious and easy to make. They do take some time to bake and transform into chips but almost all of the time is hands-off.ginger-cinnamon-apple-chips-600 (1 of 4)

All you need to do with these chips is slice them super thinly (use a mandoline if you have one). No need to even core them – just grab the seeds out after you slice the apples. If you don’t have a mandoline, you’ll want to slice them as thin as possible. If you don’t have a mandoline, you might want to core the apples so you don’t get of the tough areas surrounding the seeds.

You’ll want a firm apple for these chips – Jonagolds were great – perfect texture and full of flavor.

Lay the apple slices out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with ground ginger and ground cinnamon. Bake at a low temperature for an hour, flip, and bake for another hour. Once they have cooled completely, you’re left with crispy apple chips full of great flavors from the apples themselves plus the cinnamon and ginger. They keep great for at least a week in an airtight container.

Baked Apple Chips

makes about 20 chips

serves 1-2 people

1 Michigan Jonagold apple

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Using a mandolin, slice apples very thinly. Core if desired prior to slicing. Line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spread out the apple slices in a single layer. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and ginger. Sprinkle the apple slices lightly with cinnamon and ginger mixture. Bake for one hour, flip apple slices over, and continue to bake for another hour. Turn off oven and let slices cool in the oven for about an hour before removing from the oven.

Store in an airtight container.

ginger-cinnamon-apple-chips-600 (4 of 4)

Verdict: Loved these addictive chips!

Husband’s take: He loves these chips – maybe even more so than me.

Changes I would make: Non are necessary, but if you don’t like cinnamon or ginger, feel free to leave either out. The apples themselves have plenty of flavor.

Difficulty: Easy.

 

 

RachelGurkRachel Gurk is the creator and author of Rachel Cooks, a food blog that features healthy, delicious recipes that will please the whole family and are easy to prepare. Rachel Cooks has been featured on sites including The Huffington Post, Parents.com, Saveur and The Cooking Channel. Rachel lives in Michigan with her husband, son and daughter.

Michigan Apple Queen enjoys variety in first half of her reign

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By 2014 Michigan Apple Queen Elizabeth WittenbachMichigan Apple Queen Elizabeth Wittenbach_CMYK_4x6_150dpi

It’s hard to believe that my year as the Michigan Apple Queen is nearly half over.  These past few months have been sprinkled with a variety of opportunities to promote the Michigan Apple Industry.  I kicked off my reign with the grand opening of a Kroger Marketplace store in Shelby Township.  I helped pass out 300 bags of Michigan Apples to customers; the apples were gone in less than 8 minutes!  In March, I attended the Chicagoland Kids Expo and had a wonderful time coloring and crafting with bunches of kids at the Michigan Apple booth.  I had the honor of attending Glei’s farm market grand opening in Coldwater.  It was exciting to see people of all ages come out to support local growers, and I even had my first radio interview to promote the market and Michigan Apples!

Tulip TimeEmily Webster, the 2014 Michigan Apple Queen First Runner-Up, and I celebrated the start of summer with the Tulip Time Parade in Holland, Michigan.  Fortunately, the car we rode in only stalled once during the parade, and Emily and I laughed the whole time.  However, I will admit that my waving arm was a little sore afterwards.  The following week, I read a Dr. Seuss book to a kindergarten class at an elementary school in Fowlerville. The kids were thrilled to welcome me to their class and were full of questions.  My personal favorites were, “Is there an apple king?” and “Do you live in a castle?”Fowlerville class

I’ve enjoyed each of these events and am eager to attend more to promote Michigan Apples as we approach harvest season!

This month, Megan’s making a delicious apple and cheese Danish!

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_MG_7659Another tasty guest post from the author of What Megan’s Making!

I’ve been wanting to try an easy homemade breakfast Danish recipe for awhile now, and working with Michigan Apples gave me the perfect excuse! I love baking with apples, but don’t always think to bake with them in the spring and summer.  However, since apples and cheese go so well together, it only seemed natural to make an apple and cheese Danish. I’m so glad I tried this recipe, and you will be too, because it’s absolutely delicious.  I made this recipe for breakfast last weekend, and Mike and I both loved it. We ate it warm out of the oven, with a light glaze icing on top, and we just kept remarking on how good it was. Even Zeke got to try some and kept asking for more bites off my fork.

The crust of the Danish is very light and flaky, and since it makes use of already prepared puff pastry dough, it’s also incredibly easy to work with. The cheesy apple mixture on the inside is quick to mix together and provides plenty of flavor without being heavy or overly rich. The lemon flavor is subtle and adds just the right amount of tartness to counteract the sweetness of the sugar.  The pastry as a whole wasn’t overly sweet, so I served it with a light glaze on top, but you could also just sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Either way, you’re sure to love it.

Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 Tbsp ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water, for egg wash
2 Michigan apples, peeled and cut into thin slices
sugar and cinnamon, for sprinkling

_MG_7667

 Directions:

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined.

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s approximately an 11×8 rectangle.  Slice 1-inch strips diagonally down both sides of the puff pastry, leaving the center uncut.  Spoon half of the cheese filling onto the uncut center of the puff pastry. Layer half of the apple slices on top. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Fold the strips over the filling, alternating sides, until you’ve worked your way down the puff pastry. Fold in the ends so that the apple/cheese mixture is sealed inside. It should look a little bit like a braid. Brush the top with egg wash and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.

*If desired, make a thin icing by mixing ~3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar with 1 Tbsp milk. Drizzle over the warm pastry before serving.

 Adapted from the Food Network

megan A Pennsylvania native, Megan, her husband Mike and their son live in the Grand Rapids area. She blogs about cooking and baking at www.WhatMegansMaking.com and isn’t shy about her love for Michigan apples!

“Abbey the Intern” – Expect the Unexpected

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Recently, I attempted baking one of the winning recipes from this year’s Amateur Recipe Contest — Apple-Grilled Cheese Dessert Sandwiches. I was so excited to try this new recipe, especially since I promised to bring in samples for the Michigan Apple Committee. I just knew that it had to turn out perfect.

I went to my parents’ house so I could use their kitchen to bake. I was set up and ready to go, and that’s when it all began. I should have known… I’m not an expert in the kitchen. As a working college student, I barely spend time in the kitchen since most of my meals are microwaved or “on-the-go”. 

Part of the recipe calls for homemade pound cake. I’ve never made pound cake before, but at the time I thought to myself, how hard could it be? First attempt, fail. Second attempt, again, no success. Third attempt, forget it. I began to get really frustrated. Why couldn’t I make this work? A couple people gave me some baking tips, and many people told me to not give up and keep trying. So I did. Fourth attempt, a little better. At that time, I realized I had used up all of the ingredients in my parents’ house, leaving them with no eggs, butter, sugar, etc. It was time to make a trip to the grocery store.

Frustrated and embarrassed, I thought about what happened on my way to the store. I realized there was a bigger lesson behind this. First of all, I began this task feeling overly confident.  Cooking and baking may come easy for some people, but not for everyone. It takes time and patience, which reminded me that I should never assume that something is easy before actually doing it. This experience gave me a new respect for people who are excellent cooks and bakers, especially the ones who never give up on trying something new.

This experience also reminded me that not everything goes according to plan. I assumed that everything would go smoothly and I would be able to bring in a great-tasting treat for the office to enjoy. However, as an aspiring PR professional, I’m taught to always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. For instance, we can always prepare for the unexpected by having a back-up plan. Looking back, I should have prepared myself for what actually happened so that I would’ve been more efficient with my time and food costs.

Another, yet more extreme, example of how things happen unexpectedly is the 2012 crop loss. It’s hard to predict when a disaster will strike, especially when it’s caused by something out of our control, like the weather. Having a back-up plan helps with knowing what to do next while lowering levels of worry and concern.

While such experiences can cause negative consequences, it’s good to know that there are some positive outcomes to every situation. For instance, for me it was that I gained a new respect for cooks and bakers while learning a valuable lesson about having too high of expectations. Something positive can be said to have come of the devastating crop loss, as well. For instance, if there is one thing people should know about Michigan apple growers, it’s that they are hard workers who do not break under pressure easily. If anything, the tragedy brought the Michigan Apple community closer.

When I spoke to Michigan Apple grower Al Dietrich on the phone last summer, he couldn’t have explained it more perfectly –

“An industry like the Michigan apple industry is hard to find. Although we are competitors of the same market, Michigan apple growers are like a big family who share growing, storing and packing ideas with each other. We all support one another and work together as a whole. We come together for one reason, and that is Michigan apples.”

This Month, Rachel From “Rachel Cooks” Is Cooking Apple Spice Quinoa Pancakes!

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Guest blog from Rachel Gurk of “Rachel Cooks”
apple-quinoa-pancakes-600 (1 of 5)I’m in no rush to get to fall, but one of my favorite things about fall is that it is stereotypically apple season here in Michigan. I love when there is a crisp, cool feeling in the air and we head as a family to the apple orchard to pick apples, drink fresh cider and hot, warm, soft donuts right out of the fryer. It’s one of my all time favorite things to do with my family.

Luckily for us, we can enjoy Michigan apples year-round and the Jonagolds I used for this recipe (in the middle of winter!) were some of the most beautiful apples I have ever laid my eyes on. Not only that, but they were pretty much the perfect apple in my eyes. Crisp but not hard, sweet but still a bit of a tartness, and perfect for these pancakes.

apple-quinoa-pancakes-600 (3 of 5)These pancakes are a phenomenal way to begin your day. They are a twist on my traditional quinoa pancakes (I’m a bit obsessed with quinoa – you can tell by the sheer number of quinoa recipes on my site!).  They are a nutritional power house. The apples lend not only great nutrition but also fabulous flavor. I left the apple peelings on for added flavor and fiber. The apples are teamed up with protein-packed quinoa, whole wheat flour, and flax seed. Naturally, cinnamon and nutmeg are present. The pancakes are sweetened with maple syrup (bonus points for Michigan maple syrup!).

apple-quinoa-pancakes-600 (5 of 5)If you want to make the process even easier – here’s a tip. Buy a bag of quinoa, cook the whole thing, and then freeze it in 2 cup portions. It thaws really quickly at room temperature or in the fridge and then these pancakes come together really quickly. The pancakes themselves freeze great, too. We reheat them in the toaster or the toaster oven and they taste like they are straight off the griddle.

Enjoy!

Apple Spice Quinoa Pancakes
Makes 20-24 pancakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5-6 minutes per batch

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoaapple-quinoa-pancakes-600 (4 of 5)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 Michigan Jonagold apples, diced small (3-4 cups)

Instructions
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flax seed. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, oil, milk, and syrup. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Fold in chopped Michigan apples.

2. Lightly coat a nonstick skillet or griddle with oil and heat over medium to medium-low heat. Drop batter by approximately 1/4 cup portions onto hot skillet. Pat the batter down slightly to flatten (it is a thick batter). Cook for 2-3 minutes (or until bubbles form and stay), flip, and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until golden brown.

3. Serve with butter, more chopped Michigan apples, applesauce, cinnamon or maple syrup.

RachelGurkRachel Gurk is the creator and author of Rachel Cooks, a food blog that features healthy, delicious recipes that will please the whole family and are easy to prepare. Rachel Cooks has been featured on sites including The Huffington Post, Parents.com, Saveur and The Cooking Channel. Rachel lives in Michigan with her husband, son and daughter.

 

“Abbey the Intern” – Oh, the Endless Possibilities!

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Cute kid with 2 applesOne thing I love to do is travel, and the Michigan Apple Committee gave me an awesome opportunity to do just that. Earlier this month, MAC sent me and Theresia, MAC’s office assistant, to Chicago for a weekend to showcase Michigan Apples at the Chicagoland Kids Expo & Fun Fair.

The Expo, which was held from March 8 to March 9, is an annual event for families to enjoy entertainment and learn about kid and family topics, such as nutrition, educational products, apparel, camps, schools, sport teams and more.

I met the 2014 Michigan Apple Queen, Elizabeth Wittenbach, and her family on the first day of the Expo. I was glad to finally meet them as they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever Abbey and Queen Elizabethmet.  The kids were glad to meet Elizabeth, too. Their faces lit up with excitement when they saw the Queen for the first time, and they were even more excited when she sat down to color and interact with them.

That weekend, Theresia and I passed out Michigan Jonagold apples, which were a huge hit! The kids devoured them, and the parents couldn’t believe how fresh and crisp they were. Multiple people (including vendors) approached our booth telling us that they heard about how delicious Michigan Apples were and wanted to try one, too. It was no surprise when we saw familiar faces coming back for seconds.

Queen Elizabeth and Family at Kids tableAdditionally, we set up a small table for the kids to enjoy hands-on activities, such as Michigan Apple coloring books, crayons, pencils, Wikki Stix, temporary tattoos and stickers. We also had a larger table that included recipe cards, brochures and other take-home promotional items for the parents.

Working at the Expo and representing the Michigan Apple Committee was a great learning experience for me. I became comfortable talking with consumers about Michigan Apples, and I even surprised myself with the amount of questions I was able to answer without help. Moreover, I learned how much time and effort goes into planning for an event.Tattooing

I’m thankful to have an internship that has taught me so much and given me so many opportunities to grow. The skills I’ve acquired from interning at MAC will lead me down a path to endless possibilities. Even though all good things must come to an end, I’m eager to see what’s about to begin.

Apples for Breakfast! Author of “The Lemon Bowl” Serves Up Maple Walnut Apple Butter Oatmeal

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Apple Butter Maple Oatmeal - The Lemon BowlLiz Della Croce, author of The Lemon Bowl, creates another healthy recipe with Michigan Apples!

As a child growing up in Michigan, we ate oatmeal for breakfast at least several days a week. Warm, hearty and satisfying, it is the perfect blank canvas that can be turned into something magical with just a few extra ingredients and spices.

Now that I have a family of my own, oatmeal makes an appearance most mornings of the week. In fact, I often whip up a big batch of Homemade Instant Oatmeal Mix for my husband to help himself to throughout the week before work. It saves a lot of time and money, plus we get to control the quality of ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, fruit is one of my favorite ways to add natural sweetness without relying on added sugar. Trust me, my 2 year old has enough energy without it! From blueberries to peaches to bananas and more, oatmeal is a great way to add an extra serving or two of fruit to your day.

After recently creating a delicious batch of Slow Cooker Apple Butter, I decided to add it to oatmeal.  The rich flavor ofOatmeal with Walnut and Apple Butter - The Lemon Bowl slowly cooked apples and cinnamon combined with a drizzle of pure Michigan maple syrup transform plain oats into a breakfast to remember. In fact, my toddler ate 3 bowls himself!  

For an extra boost of protein and omega-3’s, walnuts and flax seed meal are added to the pan before serving. This powerful combination of fiber and protein is the secret to giving your family long lasting energy to get them through the day. 

What is your favorite way to flavor oatmeal? Leave a comment below – we would love to hear from you!

 

Maple Walnut Apple Butter Oatmeal 

IngredientsMaple Syrup Oatmeal with Apple Butter - The Lemon Bowl

  • 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

1. In a medium sauce pan, combine oats, milk and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low to simmer.

2. While oatmeal is simmering, stir in flax seed meal, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Continue stirring until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in apple butter, maple syrup and chopped walnuts. Heat until warmed through then divide into four bowls to serve.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Serves: 4
  • Calories: 461
  • Fat: 14.8 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 10 mg
  • Sodium: 441 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 77 g
  • Fiber: 13.7 g
  • Protein: 12.4 g 

About-Page-Head-Shot-The-Lemon-Bowl-400x400Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog.  Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two sons.

This month, “The Lemon Bowl” is filled with Michigan apples!

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Slow-Cooker-Ginger-Spiced-Apple-Butter-The-Lemon-BowlLiz Della Croce, author of The Lemon Bowl, creates a healthy recipe with Michigan Apples.

Ginger spiced apple butter is made by slowly cooking apples until they caramelize and turn a beautiful, deep brown color. Naturally sweetened with no sugar added, spread on pancakes, stir into oatmeal or serve on toast.

If you followed me on any form of social media last year between the months of May and October you probably noticed that I am mildly obsessed with Michigan grown produce.

Between farmers markets, u-pick orchards and various farm stands, my Facebook and Instagram feeds were pretty much filled to the brim with gorgeous, vibrant Michigan grown fruits and vegetables. #SorryImNotSorry

Apple-Picking-The-Lemon-Bowl

Needless to say, when winter arrives and the ground freezes over, I go into a bit of fresh produce withdrawal. When Michigan Apples surprised me with a giant shipment of Jonagolds, I was beaming from ear to ear. Fresh, crispy, juicy and slightly tart, these apples brought me right back to our apple picking adventures last fall.Apple-Orchard-The-Lemon-Bowl

Since it would take us months to go through the amount of apples they sent us, I decided to whip up a 10 minute bath of Slow Cooker Sugar Free Apple Butter. Yes, SUGAR FREE! The fact is, when you are working with fresh produce you don’t have to add a lot to make it taste delicious. And although I admittedly don’t have a huge sweet tooth, my husband and son devoured this apple butter so I know it passes the sweet tooth test.

You can eat it plain like applesauce but it tastes great spread on pancakes, added to sweeten smoothies or dolloped on top of Greek yogurt. The options are endless.

Your fork is waiting.

Slow Cooker Ginger Spiced Apple Butter {No Sugar Added}

Author: Liz Della Croce | The Lemon Bowl
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Ginger spiced apple butter is made by slowly cooking apples until they caramelize and turn a beautiful, deep brown color. Naturally sweetened with no sugar added, spread on pancakes, stir into oatmeal or serve on toast.

Ingredients
  • 8 large apples – thinly sliced (leave the skin!)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and heat on Low for 8 hours.
  2. Using a handheld immersion blender, gently puree the apples until you reach desired apple butter consistency.
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 16
  • Serving size: ¼ cup
  • Calories: 44
  • Fat: .3 g
  • Saturated fat: .1 g
  • Unsaturated fat: .2 g
  • Trans fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 11.3 g
  • Sugar: 7.1 g
  • Sodium: 0
  • Fiber: 2.4 g
  • Protein: .2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0

About-Page-Head-Shot-The-Lemon-Bowl-400x400

Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog.  Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two sons.

Megan’s Making Broccoli Apple Salad!

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Guest post from Megan of “What Megan’s Making

_MG_6885I have got a treat for you today! This broccoli and apple salad is both healthy and delicious.  When the wonderful people at Michigan Apples asked me to make a healthy apple recipe, this broccoli salad immediately came to mind. I made this salad a few weeks ago, thinking it would be a good thing to keep on hand for a few days to encourage me to eat my vegetables. I love nice crunchy salads that are chock full of delicious add-ins, and this salad is no exception. I couldn’t stop eating it!  I actually didn’t think Mike liked broccoli salad so I was planning on this being all for me. Imagine my disappointment once I realized he loved it as well.  

I’ve never put apples in my broccoli salad before, but you can bet I will from now on. They were the perfect addition.  Crunchy and sweet, they contrasted nicely with the crispy broccoli and tangy dressing.  Plus, they added a nice boost of nutrients and I was able to eat my fruits as well as my vegetables. :) I also threw in some sliced almonds and dried cranberries, but you can play around with this recipe and add in whatever you want. I used plain whole milk yogurt in the dressing, which kept the dressing nice and light, but if you want your dressing a little thicker you may want to try plain Greek yogurt instead. Any way you make it, this broccoli apple salad recipe is a keeper!

_MG_6882

Broccoli Apple Salad
Ingredients:
1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 medium red apple (suggested: Michigan Jonagold), cut into thin slices
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 large red onion, diced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:
Combine the broccoli, apple, cranberries, onion and almonds in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

*Note: You may not need all of the dressing. Start with about 3/4 of the dressing, taste, and go from there.

*Recipe adapted from Taste Love and Nourish

megan

A Pennsylvania native, Megan, her husband Mike and their son live in the Grand Rapids area. She blogs about cooking and baking at www.WhatMegansMaking.com and isn’t shy about her love for Michigan apples!

 

“Abbey the Intern” – Out With the Old, In With the New!

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As the holiday season officially ends and the New Year begins, I can’t help but remember how wonderful the year 2013 has been.

First, it’s hard to believe I’ve been an intern here at the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC) for seven months already. I have learned so much and truly feel like a part of the MAC family.  

Second, I know that the year 2013 has been a big year for Michigan Apples, and I am grateful to have been a part of that. It has been a privilege and eye-opening to see all the hard work that goes into Michigan apples, from the moment they are planted to the moment they reach consumers’ hands.

I also admire working with people who don’t just acknowledge their product alone, but who also work hard to make sure that GL_Expoeveryone is properly recognized for their accomplishments (e.g., growers and shippers). For instance, on Wednesday, Dec. 11th, MAC hosted their 11th annual grower luncheon during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich., as a way to honor and support the Michigan apple industry. The luncheon was a big success, with a record attendance of 290 people and a record in sponsorships of more than $10,000!

A new Michigan Apple Queen and Court were crowned during the luncheon as well, with Elizabeth Wittenbach, 19, from Belding, Mich., to serve as the 2014 Michigan Apple Queen, and Emily Webster, 21, from Paw Paw, Mich., to serve as her court and First Runner-Up. Keep an eye out for these ladies, since they will be spending the next year traveling to various schools, festivals and events representing the Michigan apple industry.

Additionally, the 17th Annual MAC Cider Contest happened that day. Big congratulations to first place winner Plymouth Orchards and Cider Mill, second place winner Jim Hill of Hill Brothers, and third place winners Jim and Becky Engelsma of Engelsma’s Apple Barn and Cider Mill!

And what better way to end the year than watching the MSU Spartans win the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State University (34-24) and earning their spot to play in the 100th Rose Bowl against Stanford University? The last time MSU played in the Rose Bowl was in 1988, when they won against University of Southern California (20-17).

Green RosesTo help nourish our beloved Spartans to victory, MAC sent 200 Jonagold apples with a letter of encouragement to MSU’s football team before the big game against Stanford. And since apples are part of the rose family, we saw this as the perfect way to show our support. Thanks to a beautiful play by MSU’s ranked #1 defense, MSU won against Stanford (24-20), ranking the team #3 in the nation — no wonder why MSU coach Mark Dantonio was smiling so much!

All in all, it’s safe to say that 2013 was good to us here at MAC and MSU. Here’s to another prosperous year in 2014! Go green!