Some of my best and worst life lessons have come out of experiments in the kitchen. From the best batch of chocolate chip cookies to enduring the worst burns, the kitchen has been an enlightening place for personal growth. While I’ll spare you from my failed recipes, like the time I tried to make a gluten-free vegetarian lasagna for the first time at Christmas-yuck, I will share some of my favorites, with the hope that it encourages you to find your own footing in your kitchen.
Here we go.
Legend has it that in the 1660s, Sir Isaac Newton was sitting in his orchard when he witnessed an apple fall from an apple tree (some even say it fell on his head), leading him to discover the concept of gravity.
I like to imagine that afterwards, he spent the rest of the week watching for falling apples, gathering them, cutting them open for experimentation, and then somehow the cook got involved and decided to make a casserole.
Fast-forward to centuries later, this seemingly ordinary fruit has continued to provide humanity with a bounty of gifts.
You’re probably thinking, did an apple fall on Jen’s head? Why is she writing about apples in the middle of March—isn’t it a Fall fruit? Well, no. Apples are relevant all year because they are around all year because they keep so well. In New York, apples are harvested between September to November and can be commercially stored in a giant refrigerator from four months to a year without going bad, making it one of the most resilient of fruits.
Apple trees often yield a ton of fruit. The last time I went apple picking in an orchard in New Jersey, I had heavy bags full of apples and there was so much more left to pick! The apple is also very convenient because you can literally pick it off the tree, wipe the dust off your shirt and take a bite. An apple is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and provides protein, potassium, fiber and Vitamin A, making it a nutritiously filling snack to pack for an adventure. The apple is simple enough to take in a brown bag lunch or on a hiking trek. No need to wrap it and it also leaves very little carbon footprint.
This biblical fruit is found everywhere. All over the world, the word apple has been translated in many different languages. In Spanish, manzana, German apfel, French pomme, Tagalog mansana, Portuguese maçã, Mandarin ping duo, Japanese ringo, etc. Also the apple species has evolved to include a variety of many colors, tastes and types like Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady or Granny Smith. This versatile ingredient has made it in so many culinary staples, like pies, cakes, sauces, juices and cocktails. Don’t even get me started on the many household uses/health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
Basically if there was a zombie apocalypse, I would definitely want at least a few trees in my yard. And Sir Isaac had a whole orchard of apple trees!
Philosophically I want to double down on the apple. To me there is no other fruit or thingamajig that can be as simple, nutritious, versatile and classic all at the same time.
Let’s make better choices for a crisp + sweet life.
I want to be as resilient as an apple tree. I want to yield a ton of nutritious fruit in the form of good healthy thoughts and ideas to develop in a prosperous mindful way. I want to be as simple as an apple and in this simplicity I will be versatile, able to adapt to any environment. I want to be as ordinary and humble as apple cider vinegar, knowing that with the right attitude and with the right alchemy, I could be something greater and serve a higher purpose.
Too much? Maybe an apple did fall on my head?!
Below is a recipe for my favorite apple experiment gone right: apple crisp. I like to think that it’s what Sir Isaac’s cook would have done. I chose to do a mini version to match my lifestyle. This recipe calls for less sugar than most apple crisp recipes I’ve encountered, letting the apple’s tartness come out and play upon your tastebuds. Feel free to experiment with any type of apple you have on hand. This version asks for the traditional granny smith.
Stay crisp stay sweet,
Crisp + Sweet mini apple crisp
You will need:
6 cup rectangle glass pyrex
3 granny smith apples
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (cold)
1/2 cup of any raw or cane sugar
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of oats
1/2 of a medium lemon for juicing
1 or 2 tsp. cinnamon
optional: a dash of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel, deseed and slice apples to 1/2 inch or less thickness. Option: keep some peel for texture.
In a large mixing bowl, toss sliced apples with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and lemon juice.
Arrange the apple slices to fit into the glass pyrex. Crowd them as much as possible.
For the crumb mix, in a medium sized bowl, mix sugar, flour, oats and 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more if you want). A dash of nutmeg adds body.
Cut up the stick of butter in about 1/4 tbsp pieces and loosely mix up the bits into the crumb mix.
Lay the crumb mix on top of the apples, making sure to arrange the buttery crumb chunks evenly.
Bake for 40 minutes at 350 and then 10 min on 425 or until the top is toasted.
Let cool or serve immediately with a scoop of ice cream or vanilla yogurt, or lay it atop your oatmeal for breakfast. I usually add a final dash of cinnamon for that wow factor. Divide into 4 servings. You can freeze what you don’t eat or reheat the next time you’re feeling’ it. Enjoy!