You know how there are those random things in life that always remind you of certain people?
Like for instance, the George Michael song, “I Want Your Sex.” Every time I hear those opening raspy lyrics or see that dangling crucifix earring, I am reminded of my sister Katie and the time she made me perform to that song in a sisterly dance competition.
Jagermeister will always be linked to my best friend Megan and the time I got drunk at her family friend’s cabin on the 4th of July and fell asleep peeing on the toilet.
And when there’s apple crisp, I think of my mother, the one and only Mama Everythingtarian.
I think of the countless fall afternoons we spent at the orchard picking Haralson apples as kids.
I think of the mega drawer of apples overflowing our refrigerator with pounds upon pounds of this most crunchy, tart variety.
I think of how Mama E loved her Haralson apples, and by default, it’s my favorite apple now too.
But mostly I think of how every year without fail, Mama E would patiently let us assist her in the kitchen as she crafted the much-anticipated, yearly pan of apple crisp. Apples…flour…cinnamon…brown sugar…oats…peeling…cutting…mixing…pouring…baking…slicing…devouring.
I have yet to find any apple crisp better than Mama Everythingtarian’s or anyone who doesn’t agree my gregarious, big-haired mama’s recipe is in fact, the ultimate apple crisp.
Now that I’m nearly 27 years old, venturing to the apple orchard is more likely to occur with friends than with my parents and three sisters. The passing of time has made disappear the matching outfits…hair pulling…cartwheels through rows of apple trees…fighting over that one perfectly shiny, unmarred apple on the branch…and communal cups of apple cider.
But as soon as I step into the kitchen and begin following the simple instructions written on a stained piece of scrap paper, I am again an eager 10-year-old perched over the kitchen counter wanting to help her mom.
I steal secret bites of the sugary crumble topping.
I inhale the intoxicating smell of cinnamon, brown sugar, oats and butter.
I add way more cinnamon to the apple mixture than necessary.
I feel the child-like anticipation of seeing the bubbling, golden brown result coming piping hot out of the oven.
And I am reminded that not only do I have the most caring, patient mother in the world, but that I should probably tell her that more often. Say thank you for putting up with my penchant for the dramatic. Tell her I love her more than I do. Shut my loud mouth when she’s trying to give me advice, because like it or not, she’s always right.
Because when she is gone, I’ll want to tell her all of these things.
But when that inevitable day comes, I won’t be able to. Instead, I am going to need to pull up my skirt, tease my hair to Texas-size heights and make a pan of apple crisp to remind myself of her.
The Ultimate Apple Crisp
courtesy of Mama Everythingtarian’s best friend, Cindy
8 large apples, cored and sliced*
1 cup sugar
2 T flour
2 t cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
*preferably Haralsons, of course
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, toss apples, 1 cup sugar, 2 T flour and cinnamon together. Set aside.
In a another bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, oatmeal, 1 1/2 cups flour, soda, powder and salt with your fingers. Cut butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until mixture is crumbly.
In a greased 9×13-inch pan, pour apple mixture into an even layer. Top evenly with crumble topping. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Makes 12 to 16 slices