The Apple Bee – a free, living history event at Hillside Homestead

This is your invitation to visit Hillside Homestead on Sunday October 27 from noon to 5pm for our annual fall event, “The Apple  Bee.” This is free and open to the public and very family friendly! The last public event we had in June was very popular! I hope to see many of you again later this month!

Making apple butter circa 1910

Making apple butter circa 1910

The center piece of the event is the apple butter boil! We will be making apple butter, following the traditional 19th century method. The recipe is really quite simple. Take apple cider and boil it down to half. Add in the prepared apples and boil it hard till the apples break apart. Then cook it down till it is thick and smooth and so that it spreads like butter. This is a real hands on experience. Come give it a try and you can even have a taste! Just for fun here are some of the numbers…

  • 30 gallon copper kettle for the boil
  • 8 foot long paddle for stirring
  • 15 gallons of fresh, sweet cider will sweeten it
  • 3 bushels of apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 9 hours of cooking
  • 6 gallons of apple butter, that is what I hope we make!

There will also be historic cooking demos happening in the farm house and samples to taste! You can take a tour of the farm house and the grounds. The pigs have grown quite large and the chicks you saw in June are nearly mature!

There will be some games to play or just sit back on the porch and enjoy the rolling hills and orchards. Lots of good old fashioned doings. Please come and join us, we would love to see you! Come visit Hillside Homestead and experience early 20th century life at the farmhouse!


Getting ready to make apple butter

Getting ready to make apple butter

Peeling apples, its a big job, but we can do it!

Peeling apples, its a big job, but we can do it!

The apples have just been added and now for the big boil!

The apples have just been added and now for the big boil!




Things to do

This is an ever changing and expanding blog post of a some of my favorite things to do in Leelanau County!

  • Good Harbor Beach, this is my all around favorite beach. A great place to swim and see a sunset. It can be a bit busy sometimes and if it has been windy the water might be rough. But so very beautiful! Map to Good Harbor.

    Good Harbor Beach

    Good Harbor Beach

Strawberry Jam… let the fun begin

Just a quick post to explain how I will be making my jam today. Wish me luck! It is really more of a rule or a technique than a recipe.

Weigh Fruit and use this ratio

  • 1 pound of fruit
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ pound of sugar
  • If you have it….5 -9 tablespoons of homemade pectin made with currant juice or green apples (2 pounds of chopped green apples and 2 cups of water, cook for about an hour and drain in a jelly bag)


Prep all the ingredients. Just hull the strawberries, only half them if they are big. Combine the berries, the lemon juice and the homemade pectin if you have it. Cook over low heat till it comes to low boil. Stir occasionally.Add the sugar and stir till dissolved over medium heat.Cook with very little stirring till setting point. To tell if it is done take some out and let it cool on a plate. If no juice or moisture gathers about it and it looks dry and glistening, it is done thoroughly. Also if you nudge it with your finger tip and it crinkles it is done, after slightly cooled.

These instructions are based on my experience and the reading of many historic cook books, most notably “The New Buckeye Cook Book” published in 1904. A modern cook book that thoroughly explains  the old way of making jam and jelly, “The River Cottage Preserves Handbook” by Pam Corbin has also been most helpful (and I don’t consider that cheating!)

Making Strawberry Jam at Hillside Homestead.

Making Strawberry Jam at Hillside Homestead.

Review of our Suttons Bay Historic Farmstay Dinners

I became familiar with Susan and her passion for historic food when I served on the Board of the Michigan Museums Association. When I heard that she actually opened up her own historic farmstay in Suttons Bay, I couldn’t wait to experience it (since, at the time, I lived in Traverse City).

Every year I and at least seven friends arrange a dinner at Hillside Homestead. Folks come from Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Owosso, and the Suttons Bay/Traverse City area. Prior to the dining experience, Susan sits down with me and we create a personalized menu. Her attention to historic detail and, of course, the yumminess of the options, always makes the menu selection difficult – so many things from which to choose!

The day of the dinner, we usually arrive early. We often help put the finishing touches on things. This hands-on portion of the experience is one of my favorite parts of the whole Hillside experience. Susan is so kind and accommodating – and she just loves to share her passion for food, history, and friendship! There’s always plenty to eat, and always some kind of a surprise option that Susan adds to make sure we all go away STUFFED! Yeast rolls, seasonal veggies, homemade jams and jellies, fresh churned butter, and chicken, beef, or pork usually slow cooked to perfection . . . I’m drooling just thinking about it. I don’t like to choose favorites, but if you made me, I’d probably have to say the fried chicken and yeast rolls. Oh, and have I mentioned the desserts? You’d slap your grandmother for just a taste of the desserts.

Every dining experience has been, in a word, magical. It’s not just the absolutely delicious food, it’s the camaraderie that happens around that table. Each time I’ve gathered folks, there is a different group. And somehow, even though they come to the table just newly introduced, they leave as lifelong friends. I know that sounds corny, but it is really true. The food, the laughter, the learning, and, of course, Susan (and her fabulous assistant Maggie) make Hillside such a special place to spend time.

Some of my guests stay overnight after these dining experiences. Last year, I did for the first time. What a pleasure! The beds were soooooo cozy, it was so quiet and dark, and then we got to wake up to the sound of a rooster’s crow! But then, the piece de resistance, morning breakfast! Overnight guests get to help gather the eggs from the chicken coop and slurp up the greatest coffee in the free world (the secret: it’s made with an egg!). The morning meal is almost as filling as the dinner the night before and could consist of apple coffee cake, fried pork chops, eggs, bacon, and almost anything that was left over the night before. It’s truly hard to roll out of your chair after devouring these gastronomic delights. Burp!

It’s hard to say what the best part of a stay with Susan is, but the least favorite thing is saying goodbye. I look forward all year to our annual get together and had 2013’s December date booked back in 2012! Thank you Susan. You and Hillside are a precious treasure. See you in December!

Lorraine Austin – Owosso, Michigan

Hillside Homestead Featured!

1112_cover_finalHillside Homestead has been featured on! You can read the article here.

Additionally, you can see more in MyNorth’s publication Traverse Magazine, check that out here.

Photo Courtesy of and Traverse Magazine