From there to here

Archived | September 19, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. First show of the season, the opener, and I got home just in time after picking up Mr. Sundberg at the airport. I’d planned a bit ahead and had his favorite dessert waiting for him on the counter, still nearly warm, and he was so happy about that. Apple Caramel Crisp, with a little extra cinnamon, and some vanilla ice cream on the side.
Mr. Sundberg is not what I’d call ebullient when it comes to sharing his innermost feelings, but he came close that evening as we sat listening to the show — saying over and over again how good that cake was, and how it was worth the long layover in Chicago and how good it felt to be home and how every time he smelled cinnamon he thought of me. “You’re my Spice Girl,” he said and I threw a pillow at him and he got up and chased me around the living room. (Which looks much different than it might have twenty years ago, but a chase is a chase.) And then he caught me because I let him and we hugged awhile, pressing our cheeks together, not saying much of anything.
Sometimes words don’t work so well. Sometimes they get old, or disappear, and then what do you do? I read a quote a while back, something Sophia Loren said about how cooking is an act of love, “a gift, a way of sharing with others the little secrets — “piccoli segreti” — that are simmering on the burners.” She’s got something there. “Here’s a dessert I made for you,” can change the course of someone’s day. It says “I love you,” yes, but it says other things, too, the little secrets. Like, “I have time for you” and “I know what your favorite things are” and “I want you to experience apple intoxication.” And so we busy ourselves in the kitchen, and drive to the airport and home again, and take out the garbage, and play chase. And press our cheeks together, and all that takes us from there to here. And back again.
Here’s the dessert that resulted in a broken lamp and a bump on my forehead because if a cabinet is open, I’ll find it with my head, especially during a game of chase, where Mr. Sundberg thinks he is the Grand Champion, and we’ll simply let him believe so. Try this dessert over the weekend, especially if it’s overcast and you’re planning orchard time. It’ll warm you right on up after apple-picking.
Apple Caramel Crisp
1 1/3 cup oats
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup toasted almonds
1-2 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
6 green apples (peeled and sliced)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 T cornstarch mixed with 2 T cold water
For the topping, combine the oats, flour, sugars, nuts, and salt. Stir until blended. Pour the melted butter over and mix with a fork. Chill until ready to use.
To make the filling, whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium heat without whisking until you see an amber colored syrup. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream. Return to the heat and add the apples, cooking them until they’ve softened a bit. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook until thick. Pour into a square baking dish, and crumble the topping over the fruit filling. Bake at 400 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Serve warm with ice cream.