Rochester Cider Mill, Van Hoosen Farm, Chomp

21 Oct

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It’s already mid-October and we haven’t nearly had our fill of cider and donuts. Fortunately southeastern Michigan is laden with wonderful apple orchards and cider mills. The Rochester Cider Mill on N Rochester Rd has been treating families to delicious apple cider for over 30 years. When you are here you feel as though you are out in the country, but in reality you are only about 2 miles north of downtown Rochester.

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Inside you are taken with the aroma of fresh apples, cider, and fried donuts, the quintessential perfume of Autumn. They have a lot to choose from; donuts come in plain, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, blueberry, chocolate glazed, and our favorite maple glazed. The maple donuts are so delicious, you have to try one (or a whole dozen) ! They also make apple crisp, and pies, everything is homemade. Caramel apples, Michigan made maple syrup and honey is also available. Be sure and walk around a bit inside; beautiful Autumn displays decorate the space. Haystacks are piled up high and adorned with brightly colored mums in full bloom and gourds in funky shapes and colors. Bunches of Indian corn hang along the wall side by side with antique farm tools. Long tables topped with white paper bags spill over with several varieties of fresh picked apples. A vintage stove holds half gallon containers of home grown popcorn, they have something for everyone. After you have made your purchases have a seat outdoors at one of the picnic tables to enjoy your cider and donuts in the fresh country air.

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The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is located in what was originally Stony Creek Village.  Avon Township, which is now Rochester and Rochester Hills is the oldest community in Oakland County. The first settlers  came from New York and New England, this was a typical farm community made even more attractive with the close proximity of the Clinton River, Stony Creek and Paint Creek, the museum shares with us the history of Rochester. 

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The 16 acres of grounds are lovely, and it doesn’t get better than this time of year with the trees draped in reds, golds and oranges. In early October Van Hoosen farms hosts their annual Stonewall Pumpkin Festival. Everyone is invited out for a day of pumpkin carving and fun. Then from 7-9pm the pumpkins are lit and placed on the stone wall, it is quite a sight!  Many folks leave their work of art on display and the museum leaves them out for all to enjoy, I love going out there and checking them out. You can take a stroll along Stony Creek, or have a seat under the gazebo; the scenery is picturesque any direction you look.

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Start your tour in the museum, for a small fee ($5.00 for adults), you can visit the museum and tour the farmhouse. You have to plan it though, as home tours are given at 1:30 and 3:00 Friday and Saturday only. Located in what once was the dairy barn,the museum is top-notch; gleaming knotty pine floors and wonderful exhibits take you back in time to when mills were water-powered and ground your grain into flour.  A lot went on in this town, can you imagine back in 1907, 8 passenger trains and 25 freight trains stopped in Rochester every day? Van Hoosen Farm produced and sold milk and other dairy products such as ice cream, and cottage cheese. It’s a very interesting museum to visit, no matter what area you are from.  

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The farm house tells the story of 5 generations of the Taylor-Van Hoosen families, the women in this family were amazing! The house itself was built in several stages through the years, it has been maintained perfectly and is simply charming. The building itself has been restored, most of the furnishings are original. Pictures on the walls put faces to the names of the families who lived here, items they picked from travels and from past generations reflect who they were. A tour guide takes you through the timeline of the home and its occupants. Both Bertha and Sarah were strong women; ahead of their time, they changed the world and how it did things. The house is filled with little details; electricity in unexpected places , hidden doorways, and fascinating tales. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

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Downtown Rochester has changed through the years, but still has that old fashioned appeal. Restaurants, shops and galleries line Main Street, so when it comes to eating, you have several options. We chose a place at the south end of town named Chomp. Family owned, this deli, grille, and juice bar has been opened for about a year now. Classified as “healthy” fast food, the menu has tons of choices from soup and salads to sandwiches and burgers, with plenty of vegetarian choices in the mix. Ok, the Avocado Burger sound too good to pass up, so we ordered it. Kris really, really wanted the fries, but I had too much guilt from the donuts we ate earlier in the day, so we had the classic salad instead. The burgers are made from sirloin and cooked to order, ours was topped with avocado, bacon. blue cheese, sauteed onion, lettuce and tomato; thank goodness we got the salad, right!  We enjoyed both items, sitting on stools along the counter facing Main Street. There’s something fun about a window seat where you can look out and see what’s going on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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