Sunday, September 20, 2009

Boots and jackets and apples and leaves - my favorite.

Well, way to break my word. “A slew of posts.” Yes, the Walla Walla harvest has been intoxicating, and yes, I’ve been swimming in all kinds of music. Ironically, such inspiration leaves little time for writing.

But between watching the Tudors and passing out in my bed, I must share with you what is my quintessential fall.

August, of course, is characterized by the smell of blackberries under a crusty, creamy biscuit baking in the oven; the heat of the day cooled by that sinful scoop of ice-cream atop the blackish purple cobbler. It has a taste unlike anything, and a fleeting mystique, due to the miniscule season of the ripe blackberry, that rivals anything.

But September – this is when the comforts of the oven are substantially less glamorous. What does the apple hold to the blackberry? It’s large, a patchwork of colors, obnoxious, overly available, tempermental (those bruises are the baine of my existence); the blackberry is delicate, small, the color of royalty, and around only for the sweet last days of Indian summer.

Yet even the glamour of the blackberry cobbler cannot rival the pleasure of my mother’s apple crisp.

It tastes like coming home from school, staying up late when I should be doing my new homework assignments (which I’m still excited for, being at the beginning of the year), thrilled by the prospects of new crushes on new boys in my classes, finally wearing those cozy, outspoken fall fashion ensembles, finally, finally, it’s cold enough to be my favorite season.

The one thing that my mom always found time to bake – and the one thing she unconditionally loved to cook. Even during the last few months of her cancer, in 2008, I remember her sitting there when I was home for fall break, slicing away at the apples, saying, “I may have cancer, I may have chemo brain but God damnit I’m making apple crisp!” And she made it, perfect as ever. Still adamant about “NO OATS” in the crisp part, and equally adamant about the use of ONLY Jonathan apples. Not Jonagold. Just Jonathan. And it tasted like home, like childhood, like new books, like fall, like love.

So, of course, Margaux (my roommate and, essentially, wife) and I stocked up on apples at the Saturday farmers market. Between writing theses and outlines for seminars and reading about elasticity in market economies, we found time to make my mommy’s crisp.

To have a taste of home in my tiny carpeted kitchen is the ultimate comfort.

Pour toi, maman!


5 Jonathan apples, or 2 large Honeycrisp and 2 golden delicious

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon lemon juice


3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the Filling:

Mix all the ingredients together. Place into generously buttered 9 by 13 baking pan.

For topping:

Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea size lumps. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake crisp for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbling and browned. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

A scoop of ice cream is ESSENTIAL.


SusanG said...

Hmmmm...maple syrup. That must be the magic ingredient! I made an apple pie for our speedskating club picnic Sunday. Picked the apples right off my tree. Were they Jonathans? Maybe. The tree is 50+ years old with two grafts...Golden Delicious and a very tart roundish sort of apple that just might be Jonathan. I'll try Janet's recipe Kaley! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Kaley! I loved catching up on your fall activities and hearing about making your mom's apple crisp. 'Tis the season! I picked apples this week and made a crisp--might just have to try your mom's recipe now that I have it. We got to see your dad and the girlfriends at Tawnya's reception in Vancouver a couple weeks ago. It was a great time. I hope life is sweet for you in this wonderful season. Vida

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful recipe but the backstory makes it priceless. Can't wait to try it.
I love how you are keeping her in all of our lives.

Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful!!! I shall give it a try. Also, thanks for sharing some of your mother in this post.