Monday, October 25, 2010

"But Mom, We're Hungry!"

I’m not sure if my kids ever really said that to me, but it serves to illustrate what it was like in my house during the fall crafting season. I have been making fabulous candles in my home since somewhere in the beginning of this decade. At first it was just a few melting pots and votive molds, but over the years it has progressed to melting 25 pounds of wax at a time in two turkey roasters. I have cooked turkeys in my adult life, but I have never cooked a turkey in a turkey roaster… and I own two of them. I used to do at least 6 craft boutique shows in the fall with a group of friends. As we all got older, we got tired and the group eventually split up. Craft shows are very hard work, especially with candles because the boxes are heavy. There's the setting up, then standing on your feet for 6-7 hours, and then you pack up and haul everything back home. It can be frustrating because one day you can sell $700 and the next time you might be lucky to break $100. I'm not totally ready to give it up though, now that my knee is fixed I am back to doing 1-2 shows in the fall on my own.

My two sons were in high school when I started making candles, and I remember very clearly one crisp autumn day when I had made my favorite apple crisp recipe. The next day it still sat on the counter untouched, and the response I got when I mentioned that I had made apple crisp was; “Oh, we thought you were making candles.” Occasionally they would come home from school to some delicious aroma coming from the kitchen only to be left disappointed and salivating over several pots of melted wax, so I thought “But Mom, We’re Hungry” would be an appropriate title for this place where I will share my very favorite recipes for actual real food.

Back to the apple crisp… I got this recipe in 1989 from a friend at work named Bill. Bill was a respiratory therapist who also worked as a fire fighter. He brought the cherry version to work one night and I knew the topping would be perfect with apples, it was the best I had ever tasted. It had that perfect combination of brown sugar sweetness with a touch of spice, but not too crunchy. He sometimes made this for dessert at the fire station when it was his turn to help with the cooking. In my opinion the cherry version is a bit too sweet. I would suggest using a sugar-free pie filling if you try it. The apple crisp recipe started quite a stir a few years ago when I posted it on a discussion board where I was once a moderator. One poster complained that it needed something – she suggested adding that caramel stuff you get when you boil down a can of sweetened condensed milk. I replied that I wasn’t looking to induce a diabetic coma anytime soon. Really, don’t mess with this because it’s just that good. I like it with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream, but I am not above eating it for breakfast. Who can argue with fruit and oatmeal?

Thanks, Bill, wherever you are.


(This makes an 8 x 8 square pan. I always double it.)

4 medium sliced tart apples. (I used to use all Jonathans, now I use a mixture. Granny Smiths hold their shape the best, Cortlands and McIntosh turned too mushy)

3/4 cup brown sugar, well packed

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup oats (either quick or whole oats, it doesn’t matter whatever you have on hand is fine)

3/4 tsp cinnamon (I prefer Penzey’s cinnamon, we’ll talk about Penzey’s Spices later!)

3/4 tsp nutmeg (you can also omit the spices and just use 1 1/2 tsp of Apple Pie Spice)

1/3 cup softened butter (if you double this, 2/3 cup = 1 stick + 3 Tbsp. Don't substitute, it has to be real butter!)

Peel, core and slice apples, place in buttered 8 x 8 square pan. Sometimes when I'm feeling a little bit spicy I will sprinkle some cinnamon over the sliced apples before I add the topping. Mix remaining ingredients (a pastry cutter works well for this) and sprinkle over the fruit.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

For CHERRY CRISP: Use 1 21-oz can cherry pie filling, and only add 2/3 cup brown sugar to the topping.

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