Spend Less, Eat BetterEat Your Apples - Crisp
What's for dessert?
The World Bank reports food prices up 10 percent globally. The Midwestern drought is already evident on grocery shelves. High oil prices hike transportation costs, the most expensive being meat and dairy.
Commercial baked goods were already exorbitant: $6 pies, $9 cakes and dollar-apiece cupcakes have to go. Yet a still, small voice whispers "something sweet" after dinner.
When that something can be made with a locally grown ingredient, offer reasonable nutrition and simple preparation - go for it.
Apple crisp, the obvious choice, needs reimaging. Restaurant versions are often heavy on butter and sugar. At home, -topping can be made in quantities, in the food processor, refrigerated or frozen until needed. Then peel and slice a few Moore County apples, cover with topping and bake for 45 -minutes.
Almost any apple will do, although red and golden delicious don't yield that piquant cooked-apple flavor. Try to buy apples in quantity from a grower; less-expensive "drops" make a fine crisp.
McIntosh is the classic crisp apple. When in doubt, take a bite. The apple should be crunchy and juicy, bursting with flavor. A very tart apple may need to be tossed with a spoonful of sugar. Sweet apples benefit from lemon juice. Dry apples need a sprinkle of apple juice or cider.
If you have kids but no hand-cranked apple peeler, buy one. Consider it a learning toy. The $20 is better spent than on a Babycakes Rotating Cake Pop Maker.
Topping amounts are adjustable. I process 3 cups flour, ? cup quick oatmeal, 1 cup granulated sugar, ? cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a dash of salt until oats are chopped. Slice a frozen stick (1/2 cup) of butter or regular margarine (label must say margarine, not spread) into pats over the dry ingredients. Pulse just until butter pieces are small but not incorporated. Or mix with a pastry blender or your hands. Transfer to a container with tight-fitting lid.
All that's left is arranging peeled apples in a shallow baking dish, covering with topping and baking at 350-375 degrees until bubbly and brown.
For variety, mix apples with pears, peaches or frozen blueberries.
The aroma: pure autumn.
Easy homemade desserts not only save money but allow the cook to control fat and sugar. A fruit crisp can be made from part or all sugar substitute (in proper equivalents) and part whole wheat flour. Processor-chopped almonds add texture to the topping.
Serve your crisp warm, topped with vanilla ice cream, Greek yogurt or, my favorite, a slab of sharp cheddar.
Crisps can be baked in single-serving cups, keep days in the refrigerator, freeze OK, reheat in the microwave.
In other words, for autumn meals, apple crisp is simply a natural.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story