I don’t know who “Grandma” is. Peg never, to my recollection, actually mentioned her. She’s talked about her Pap quite a lot, but I don’t think Peg ever met her Grandmother, at least not her maternal Grandmother. I understand her paternal Grandmother never made Apple Crisp to Peg’s knowledge.
Now, if the recipe had been called “Gram’s Apple Crisp” (and Peggy doesn’t know but maybe the computer autocorrected her…), I’d know it could be attributed to one Ruth Hamel, late of Franklin Maine, who might well be the best cook I’ve ever known. I’ve only eaten her food a few times, but I’ve gone through enough of her jelly and jam to make that proclamation. She was one rarely talented creature in the kitchen, and I was proud to call her “Gram” myself. Now if Gram wasn’t the best cook ever to walk the Earth, that mantle rests squarely on the shoulders of her daughter Teddy, and I’ve eaten a lot of Teddy’s cooking over the nearly 20 years I’ve known her.
So this recipe, whatever its provenance, reminded me on another level of my own Grandma Esther, who was my Dad’s stepmother. I never met his mother, missing her by something on the order of a decade. But I peeled these apples with a knife that is exactly like a couple of knives that my Mom got from Esther back in the 60’s. Not a terribly fancy knife, but it has a sharp, thin blade that is just perfect for sending Macintosh apples to their doom. I was using Cortlands, though, so the knife was just a bit too short for cutting through the center of the apple when quartering them. I peel apples just like my mother taught me – halve, then quarter each apple, then scoop out the core, turn it over and in three quick slices cut off the peel as close as you dare. If you miss a little bit, that’s OK. The peel is where the vitamins are.
Assemble your ingredients:
1 C brown sugar, packed (light or dark, it doesn’t matter)
1 C rolled oats
1 C flour
1/2 C (1 stick) butter, melted
3 C apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (Grandma apparently chopped them – I sliced them, and use Cortlands)
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 t cinnamon
Mix the sugar & cinnamon – set aside
Mix the brown sugar, rolled oats, flour, and butter until it forms a crumbly mixture in the bowl.
Lightly grease or butter an 8-inch baking pan
Evenly spread about half of the oat mixture into the pan.
Evenly spread the apples over the mixture. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the apples.
Top with the remaining mixture.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.
Personally, I’d serve it with ice cream in a few minutes.
Now, I screwed this recipe up, and it still came out good. I’m not one to carefully read instructions (my cross to bear, not yours), so I mixed all of the ingredients save the apples together, and put all of the mixture on top of the apples until I checked to see whether I was supposed to dot the thing with butter. Ooops. I also got to three cups of apples about halfway through the second Cortland, so I ended up with about four cups of sliced apples, not wanting to waste anything. Heaven forbid I waste half an apple. So I tried to mix some of the mixture down under the apples, but that left some of the apples exposed. But still, it turned out OK. I think it was a bit on the sweet side, so next time around I think I’ll cut the brown sugar by about half to see where that gets me. I’ll keep the apples at three cups, too.