Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

(by poet Annie Finch, 1997)

In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.

Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil

that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.

I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and when I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother's mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
self, I find her, and she brings

arms that carry answers for me,
intimate, a waiting bounty.
"Carry me." She leaves this trail
through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Leaf Obsession

I admit it, I have a leaf problem. I've become obsessed by them. After spending much of my life living in Los Angeles where autumn is some what ho-hum at best, I now find myself overcome with the beauty of autumn in the Pacific Northwest and Portland, OR in particular. In spring and summer, I am in love with the glorious colors and varieties of the flowers and other plants around me. Now, that fall is here, I  am again in love but with the visual feast that this season offers. Though taking images of the trees in their fiery, fall finest is what we think of when having an image of this time of year, I prefer to look down and see the fallen beauty at my feet. It is everywhere, if only we would look down and appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apple Crisp

Autumn finally arrived last week with the October rains. And, to celebrate the change of seasons I decided to make an apple crisp. I have been playing around with the recipe off-and-on for a couple of years but I feel that I have finally gotten it right. 

Some apple varieties are better than others for baking. You want to find ones that will hold their shape and not inadvertently turn into apple sauce. I'm a big fan of Fuji apples for baking. But, for traditionalists, you can always use Granny Smiths. I did have the good fortune of making this latest version with an heirloom variety called Orleans Reinette and it was amazing. If you have access to heirloom apples either through a farmers market or your local grocery store or food co-op, I suggest giving them a try. You might be very pleasantly surprised.

I certainly hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know.

(adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

Prep: Approx. 25-30 minutes
Cook: Approx. 55 minutes
Equipment: 2-quart earthenware or glass baking dish, 2” deep.

¾ cup of all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup of  brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground powdered ginger
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

8 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced (about 6 cups)
Juice of 1 orange
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground powdered ginger
¼ cup of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375°. Position rack in the lower third of the oven. Have an unbuttered 2-quart baking dish ready.

For the filling, place your apples in a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the bowl and toss together. Then spread mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

For the topping, combine all of the ingredients together into a mixing bowl. Then use a pastry blender, 2 knives or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Scatter the topping evenly over the fillling.  Gently tap the topping down on top the filling.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Approximately 50 to 55 minutes.

When done remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Tips & Suggestions:
  • Serve with either fresh whipped cream or ice cream. I think that ice cream is the best and vanilla is a reliable choice. But, if you can find it or want to make it yourself, this would be delicious with salted caramel ice cream.
  • Make Ahead Tip:  Make the topping and filling ahead of time and store separately in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
  • You can add ½ cup of coarsely chopped and toasted walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans to the topping.
  • Can make individual crisps using oven-safe ramekins or other earthenware dishes. This takes this homey dessert and elevates it to something more sophisticated.