This past weekend John, Shelby and I drove down to PA; John spent the weekend with some friends for their annual fantasy baseball draft and I stayed at my parents’ with the pooch.
At a breezy 70°, the weather on Saturday couldn’t have been more perfect, and we took advantage of the spring-like temperatures by taking a walk over to the pond abutting my folks’ property.
Shelby had a blast chasing Zack – my parents’ Bichon – around the pond…
… as well as wading into the mucky pond water. It was a hassle to clean her up, but she had so much fun that I couldn’t really be angry!
We stumbled upon some early signs of Spring along our walk, including this little guy. Does anyone else call these furry brown & black caterpillars “fuzzy wuzzies”?
Other sightings included a patch of eggplant-colored skunk cabbage:
A random animal bone:
A horseshoe (horseback riding is huge around where I grew up):
And a dried stalk of fluffy milkweed:
It was so nice to get outside and enjoy the glorious weather, especially since it is now snowing back up in Boston!
A couple of other items from my trip home worth mentioning are these two books given to me by my dad:
The first book is the story of Chef Grant Achatz (of Chicago restaurant Alinea) – awarded the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in America title – and his battle with tongue cancer. After undergoing aggressive chemo therapy, Grant lost all sense of taste. Rather than allowing this misfortune to force an early retirement from his culinary profession, Grant embraced his remaining senses to create unique and incredibly creative dishes. I’m intrigued to read about some of his concoctions!
The second book is a memoir by Chef Gabrielle Hamilton (of New York restaurant Prune). The book follows Gabrielle as she grows up in a multitude of culinary settings throughout the years. From what I’ve heard, she’s as prolific an author as she is a talented chef.
I’m excited to read both of these books, but can’t decide which one to crack open first!
Another highlight of my trip home was a delicious homemade belated birthday dinner, which concluded with my Mom’s apple crisp. She offered to bake a cake or other celebratory dessert, but I absolutely love her healthy apple crisp, so that was my request :).
The recipe is adapted from this cookbook from the ’70s, which has become well-worn over the years. The apple crisp recipe is categorized under a section entitled “Desserts Can Contribute to Health” – which is clearly right up my alley!
I love the stains on these pages; my mom has made this crisp countless times over the past few decades, and here is the visible proof. Most of my cookbooks are in pristine condition, as I rarely use them. The Internet generation has completely changed the way we retrieve recipes, and I’m counting this book as a reminder to flip through my cookbooks more often.
My mom uses the Apple Crisp variation to the Apple Betty recipe, and adds walnuts into the topping for added crunch and flavor.
This crisp embodies home to me.
Tender tart apples are topped with a healthy mixture of wheat germ, whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and a touch of butter.
I enjoyed a hearty serving for dessert topped with vanilla ice cream, as well as a few spoonfuls with Greek yogurt the next morning for breakfast.
Thanks for a wonderful weekend, Mom and Dad. I love you :).
Mom’s Apple Crisp
adapted from Adelle Davis’ Let’s Cook It Right
- 5 tart baking apples (we used unpeeled Granny Smith), cored
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Thinly slice apples and lay them – in an even layer – in a buttered/greased baking pan (we used a 9 x 13 inch pan, but I think an 8 x 8 inch pan is preferable as it will yield a thicker apple crisp). Pour water over sliced apples.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the wheat germ, flour, cinnamon, both sugars, and walnuts. Whisk until combined.
- Sprinkle crisp topping evenly over the apples and dot with pieces of butter.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the crisp topping is golden brown.