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.
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.