Homemade happiness

6 Feb

I’m lazy, I realized as I edited my Super-Bowl grocery list.

After all, just beneath the catalog of carrots and cream cheese and powdered sugar needed for the complex recipe (i.e., requiring me to wash extra dishes from the food processor and mixer) for carrot cake, I’d added a tentative or . . . and the simple ingredients for a gluten-free version of “Rice Krispies” treats.

Of course, a simple, crunchy dessert would likely make the best football-game finger food, but its Super-Bowl suitability wasn’t its main appeal.

It was easy.

And I’d grown accustomed to the ease of combining an initially promising King Arthur Flour brownie mix with a bit of melted butter or turning some gluten-free Bisquick into a hasty batch of biscuits.

Those products, however, had proven as fast as they were disappointing. In fact, my only truly satisfactory recent dessert had been homemade. And rather easy, I reminded myself as I reconsidered my grocery list.

Yet still, the main ingredient–a five-pound bag of gala apples delivered, along with several other unsolicited groceries, by my father after one of his trademark Trader Joe’s runs before a visit to me–had languished in the fridge for days. Every evening I’d glimpse the daunting bag and envision hours of peeling and slicing.

And then, in 15 minutes, I’d finished–even in spite of (or because of) the distraction of my boyfriend stealing apple skins (and a surreptitious slice or two).

His late-night offer to pick up any needed groceries before his visit to me had inspired me to ask for the dish’s last missing ingredient–milk. And as I poured it into my dry ingredients, while he scrambled eggs and fried bacon for an impromptu 1 A.M. “breakfast for dinner,” I’d never been happier in my tiny kitchen, full of laughter and love . . . and the warm aroma of apples and cinnamon.

Adapted slightly from my mom’s worn ’70s edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, this apple cobbler evoked childhood memories of cozy winter nights when I craved the richness of my favorite apple slices but lacked the time or patience to roll out the lengths of unwieldy dough.

With such an excessive amount of dough unlikely to translate into a flavorful gluten-free version, an apple cobbler is now–as then–the perfect apple-slices or apple-pie substitute.

Combine 1 scant cup sugar (for gala apples, perfectly sweet and firm, 1 cup of sugar may prove a bit too much), 3 tablespoons corn starch (for a thinner filling, reduce to 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 6 cups sliced gala apples over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until sauce thickens and apples soften.

Meanwhile, combine 1 cup Sweet Ali’s gluten-free flour mix, sifted (This instruction had always seemed optional–and ignorable–to me. Then my boyfriend, who rarely follows recipes himself, insisted on the importance of this one rule, and he was to thank for the fluffiest gluten-free pasty ever concocted in my kitchen!), 2 heaping tablespoons sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Beat together 1/4 cup milk and 1 egg, add to dry ingredients, and mix till just moistened.

Place apple filling into 8-inch casserole dish and top with 6 dollops of dough. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Then serve warm, with Edy’s Slow Churned French Vanilla Ice Cream, during today’s Super Bowl. Unless, of course, carrot cake is being served, as it is in my home.


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