Sunday, November 9, 2014

Autumnal Smells, Autumnal Memories

It's an overcast morning--much on my brain, but not much of great import, except for anniversaries of historical events :

--Still turning cell phone plans over and over in my head.  Do I really need one more computer, one more screen?  I'm never too far away from the computers I have, from the phones that I hate to use anyway.  I will likely start with a pay-as-you-go plan and upgrade if that's the route I go.

--It's gloomy, and I had apples that were a few days away from spoiling--no, not my mountain apples!  I have some cider that needs to be used up.  So, in my oven at this very moment, this recipe for carrot apple cider cake/bread/loaf.

An update:  the bread is wonderful!  I made the cream cheese spread and tried them side by side.  I think that I prefer it without the spread.  The spread overpowers the other tastes.

--I'm also making an apple crisp with some shreds of carrots; I grated too many for the above recipe.  It will be a combination of breakfast and dessert tastes.  My crisp has only oats and pecans and brown sugar for the topping--it's not like a crumble or a brown betty or a cobbler--no batter.

--These items in the oven are making the house smell autumnal.

--Autumnal.  My favorite smell!

--Last week-end, we grilled a lot of bone-in chicken.  I thought I would boil the bones down for stock this week-end, but when I opened the pot where I'd been storing them, I decided that they smelled strange.  Strange chicken smells--not my favorite.  I threw them out.

--I hated the waste, but I would hate food poisoning more.

--I usually don't have trouble adapting to the end of Daylight Savings Time, but this year, darkness crashes in early, and I feel a bit of a struggle to maintain a good mood.

--Yesterday's release of the North Korean hostages took me back to the Iranian hostages of November 1979.  Yesterday I watched Argo again.  What a great movie.  I thought I'd just watch the first part while I ate lunch, but I couldn't stop.  And I've seen the movie several times before.

--I also have the fall of the Berlin Wall on my brain:  25 years ago today.  A victory for non-violent resistance.  You could argue that it was just public officials who misspoke and border guards who were afraid to shoot.  I will go to my grave feeling happy about that event, regardless.  More in this news story.

--I'm happy to report that the apple crisp with carrot sheds works!  In case you want to make something similar, since many of you have cold weather headed your way, here's a recipe for one of the simplest apple crisps you'd ever want to make, and you can vary it, depending on the fruit you have and your preference for ratio of topping to fruit:

Apple Crisp (based on a recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food Book Cookbook)

2 or more apples* cut in bite size chunks
carrot shreds to taste or not at all
cranberries, fresh or dried, chopped or not--or not at all:  1/2 C. to 1 C.
blueberries, fresh or frozen, would probably work nicely too

At this point, you can toss the fruit with a few T. of white or brown sugar, but it works well without it.

Put the fruit in your pan:  a greased pie plate or a square dish or a casserole pan or a 9 x 13 pan.  In the same bowl mix the following:

Topping (can be varied, depending on whether you like a lot of crispy topping or little)
1-2 C. whole oats (quick cooking works too)
a few T. brown sugar - 1/2 Cup --1 C. if you're making a big pan or want a very sweet crisp
1-2 T. cinnamon
nuts:  anything from a handful of chopped nuts to 1 C. or more.  I prefer pecans, but walnuts work too.  I imagine that hazlenuts or almonds would be nice.
a few T. of flour--or not

Spread the fruit on the bottom of the pan and the topping on top.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until nicely brownish on top or less brown, if you prefer.  Enjoy for dessert (goes great with vanilla ice cream!), breakfast, or a healthy snack.

*If you're filling a pie pan, 2 will probably do.  If you like more topping and less fruit, 2 will do.  If you're filling a 9 x 13 pan, you'll probably need 4-6, again, depending on your preference of fruit to topping.

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