Evidently one of the things that quarantine has resulted in is a renewed interest in or necessity for cooking. I wouldn’t say that has led me to becoming more of a chef, but it did get me to thinking about all the recipes I have gathered through the years and the people and events that are associated with many of the recipes in my recipe box. For instance, our Christmases would not be complete without our making Maris’s Aunt Janet’s German stollen. It is a wonderful yeast bread filled with dried fruits and nuts. As I knead the dough and Maris mixes the fruits and nuts, we recall the warm hospitality and personality quirks of his Aunt Janet. I never saw a pantry so full as Aunt Janet’s who was always ready for company. Most was very delicious, but you had to occasionally endure some alfalfa tea or blenderized vegetables to succumb to her insistence that your health would suffer if you did not.
For more than 25 years, we celebrated every New Year with our college friends Bob and Sally, always marked by Sally’s wonderful Jewish coffee cake. The arrival of grandchildren changed that holiday tradition, but whenever I make that coffee cake it brings back great memories and makes me grateful to still be able to enjoy their friendship.
My Mother was a wonderful cook; the cherished comfort food those of our generation remember. Every Saturday night was homemade baked beans, Sunday was roast beef that had baked all through church, topped off with homemade cherry pie. My Dad always seemed to find the only pit in the pie, but it didn’t slow him down from enjoying it. She made sloppy joes and hot chocolate that were sold at all the home football games to raise money for the marching band. Our treat was to reheat the leftovers after the game. During the basketball season it was homemade fudge.
There is one particular recipe that has a vivid memory associated with it – Warm Apple Crisp. Joining clubs during high school carried with it an initiation event. (Today they would call it hazing!) Our initiation was having to dress in long john underwear, being blindfolded and then paraded out in front of the practicing football team, and the finale - having soft limburger cheese smeared in our faces and up our nose. I absolutely could not get the smell of the limburger out of my nose until I stepped into Mother’s kitchen and the aroma of warm cinnamon apple crisp broke through.
I share that recipe with you as a reminder for all of us that comfort and hope can be found perhaps in something as simple as a recipe box. Enjoy!
Claribel Sidner’s Apple Crisp
Spray a 9” X 9” pan
Place 6 sliced cooking apples in the pan (I use Granny Smith)
Mix together with a fork till crumbly:
1 C. flour
½ - 1 C. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
Sprinkle over the apples
Melt 1/3 C. Crisco and drizzle of the mixture
Sprinkle generously with cinnamon (about ½ tsp)
Bake 30 – 40 minutes at 350 degrees
Delicious warm with ice cream