Ranger Apple Crisp
The RRR helped tonight with the production of the World's Best Apple Crisp. This evening I was puttering about the cabin... ok, I was curled up with a good book, the classic Two Years Before The Mast by Dana. Mrs. RRR had gone out to the shop. She came in from the frosty out of doors breathing out vapor and with her glasses fogging. She was carrying a 5 gallon bucket of apples. "It's time for more apple crisp." She announced. I did NOT argue. I took our nifty apple peeler/corer/slicer from it's box and clamped it to the kitchen table. It is a wonderfully mechanical device whose design hasn't changed in over a hundred years. My 1906 Sears catalog reprint shows one just like it. We put a cup of lemon juice into a large bowl and added enough water to make a quart. Actually we save the mix from one apple peeling session to another, keeping it in a jar in the refrigerator and adding water or a little juice as needed. The juice is an important part of the recipe. It prevents the slices from turning brown and adds a tangy tartness to the taste of the apples. By that bowl I sat another with a strainer in it. And next to that, Mrs. RRR put a large stainless steel dishpan. I sat the cutting board by the peeler and sharpened my homemade paring knife with my EZ Lap diamond sharpening stone. EZ Lap stones are the best I've found. I have a short one I carry on river and desert trips and a tiny fountain pen sized one for backpacking. My father made the paring knife from an old broken one. It fits my hand just right.
I reached down into the bucket on my right and took the top apple, a Golden Delicious. The stem twisted off easily and I impaled the fruit on the prongs and turned the crank. THIS is where technology should be going. The crank moves the apple toward the peeling arm and engages it. The arm swivels as it peels and being spring loaded follows the shape of the apple. As the apple moves past the peeling blade, it engages another circular blade that cores it and the support blade which spiral slices it. If all goes well, the newly peeled apple slides off the core and I had only to slice it in half to make about 20 apple slices. These I dropped into the lemon juice mixture to prevent browning.
Mrs. RRR let them soak a little and dropped them into the strainer to drain. Then she checked for bad spots I'd missed and dumped them in the dishpan. There were plenty of scraps not quite right for baking for us to gobble as we went along. Soon the bucket was empty and the dishpan full. Mrs. RRR divided the slice between three glass cake pans she had greased with butter. Then she covered the apples completely plus a little more with her premixed apple crisp topping. Here is her recipe:
3 1/2 Cups of dark brown sugar, 2 Teaspoons Salt, 1 1/2 cups of butter, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, 4 Cups of oatmeal, 1 1/2 Cups of whole wheat flour.
She mixes these all together in multiple quantities and freezes until needed. She takes it out to thaw while we slice and soak the apples.
When the apples are in the dish and covered with topping, they go in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes. Set out to cool.
While they were cooking Bay Toe Ven and I walked down the lane through the icy mist to get the mail. We took the apple peelings and cores along and left them for the four legged clean up crew down by the bridge. It was pitch dark in the woods along the lane so I used my miniature flashlight and my walking stick to keep from slipping. As we came back down, another flashlight bobbed towards us.. Mrs. RRR coming to meet us and escort us home. Back in the snug cabin the wonderful appley sugary smell greeted us. When the bell on the timer rang she set the pans out to cool. After 15" she covered the pans with waxed paper to keep the moisture in. But FIRST she cut out two pieces and placed on plates, each with a scoop of ice cream on it. She brought mine into the great room, the apple crisp steaming and the ice cream melting. Heaven wasn't half a mile from here.
Now, as the warmth from the oven leaks away into the cold night, I'll light the gas fireplace and we'll crawl under the blankets on the pallet in front of the fire. Life is good.