Located north of Northport in Leelanau County, Kilcherman’s is home to 200-plus varieties of antique apples. And while the Kilchermans have long been fascinated by heirloom varieties, they now find themselves on the leading edge of a much broader food movement.
When John and Phyllis Kilcherman began farming in northern Leelanau County nearly six decades ago, they had no idea they would become well known as Northern Michigan historians. But today, apple lovers from around the planet view them as precisely that, as farmers who keep apples of antiquity alive and part of our world.
The Kilchermans are not so interested in Red Delicious, Granny Smiths or Honeycrisps. At Christmas Cove Farm in Northport, the Kilchermans grow apples that harken back to the past, in some cases, the very distant past: Macouns, Snow Apples, Wolf Rivers. Winter Bananas, Golden Russets, Tolman Sweets, Orange Pippins, Kandil Sinaps, and Thomas Jefferson’s favorite, the Spitzenberg, among many, many others.
Apple Vegetable Casserole
- 4 Gravenstein, Mother, or any other tart apples, cut into chunks
- 3 cups zucchini, diced
- 3 cups stewed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 2 cups sliced water chestnuts
- 3 slices bread, toasted and crumbled
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large casserole, combine apples, zucchini, tomatoes, chives, water chestnuts and crumbled toast. In a skillet, brown ground beef and onion over medium heat. Cook until onions are wilted. Drain fat from mixture. Combine meat and vegetable mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.
Top with cheese and some butter if desired. Return to oven and bake until cheese is bubbly. Expect many compliments.