Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Crisp for an Autumn Day

My mom made a yummy apple crisp. Such an easy recipe that, well, I never saw her use an actual recipe. After all those years of "crisping" she pretty much had it memorized. Until she was struck by Alzheimer's disease. The first clue for me came when she could no longer make a crisp from memory. We were in the kitchen together. She just smiled and shrugged. The memory was gone.

Of course, there was a time she needed a recipe because she was a new cook just learning her way in the kitchen. As a young bride, my mom wrote out recipes (and clipped them from magazines) that she wanted to make again. 
I recently discovered this recipe for apple crisp in her handwriting dated 1961. She was 21 years old (and six weeks pregnant with me ~ I wonder if she knew?). This recipe was among a box of cookbooks belonging to my aunt and grandmother that recently came into my possession. Did my mom copy out this recipe for them?

Or, now for me? Although this recipe is for apple crisp, it's just as good with rhubarb, as shown here. Rhubarb is more tart than apples ~ I thought about adding extra sugar, but decided against it. It's plenty sweet when served warm with vanilla ice cream.
Rhubarb Crisp
4~5 cups chopped rhubarb (1/4 inch thick)
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
cinnamon for sprinkling

1. Spread rhubarb in baking dish

2. Mix butter, brown sugar and flour. Rub the mixture together with your fingers to ensure the butter is evenly distributed. Spread over the rhubarb

3. Lightly sprinkle the top with cinnamon

4. Bake at 370F for @ 30 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and the topping is crisped.

Astute readers will notice that mom's hand-written recipe says to heat the oven to 350F. This is not hot enough for a crisp imho. Sugar caramelizes to a brown colour and rich flavour between 356~370F. Below that, sugar remains light and unflavourful; above that it becomes dark and bitter. Given my mom's delicious crisps as I remember them, I'm pretty sure she knew that :)

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