When it rains, it pours! We’re so busy at work (not complaining!) and I’ve just gotten a huge freelance project that needs to be completed before we leave for Morocco, AND we’re hosting two dinner parties on the weekend on Saturday and Sunday evening! Call me crazy but I actually get invigorated when things are so hectic!
Here are some pics from past Halloweens – we try to do different pumpkins every year. This one will be a challenge for me as I have a slight tear in my right rotator cuff and I’m right handed! But JT said he would eviscerate my pumpkin for me (gosh, that sounds so ghoulish!)
Here is another scary story: Several years ago JTs elderly Aunt and Uncle had to move from their home of 65 years to a retirement home. They had three children a boy and two girls; sadly the boy, Norman who was very close to JT, unexpectedly died at 18 at home. Because the remaining children were unable to help clean up the house (renamed the “stinky house”) for resale, JT stepped up. It took several weeks and several dump bins to empty the house (read horders) and because JT refused any money for the work he put in, the Aunt generously told him he could have anything he wanted from the house. We fell in love with a couple of things (that were from JTs grandparents) including a small enamel lamp that we put into the guest room upstairs.
As I’ve mentioned before, our home is a craftsman style home that was built in 1928. The front door was original at that time; it had a retrofitted key operated dead bolt but it also had one of those weird locks that operates with a little button on the side that we NEVER used. Here is a photo of a similar lock (our’s was not that ornate), you would push the little button above the dead bolt and it would bolt out. I am illustrating this to show how difficult it is to push the little button in, one would have to intentionally do it!
The day we brought the stuff home we were UNABLE to unlock the front door! Fortunately, I had hidden a key to the back door so we were able to gain access to the house only to discover that somehow, someone had pushed that little button in. Hmmm.
About a week later I awoke in the middle of the night and was unable to sleep, so instead of waking JT I went into the guest room to read; I tried turning on the little enamel light…nothing. I checked the bulb, it was there and it was screwed in well. I had to turn on the overhead light to find that the light had been unplugged! I hadn’t done it, nor JT! I got really creeped out and decided to go back to our bedroom and force myself to sleep. These two coincidences freeked me out a bit (yes, I believe in ghosts!) so the very next morning I stood in the guest room and said out loud: Norman, you’re freaking me out, please stop it.” and nothing weird has happened since. Thanks Norman.
For our first dinner guests this weekend, I needed to keep things simple, so we’re serving the Provençal fish soup that I made last week and froze, and JT has generously offered to make that delicious Moroccan beef recipe. Dessert is an old fashion apple crisp — I’ve taken a few pointers from Chicago John’s from the Bartolini Kitchens so this standard recipe has been modified with his experience. Thanks John.
- 3 Baking apples (we used Royal Gala), peeled and cut into small cubes
- 3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cut into small cubes
- splash of lemon juice
- 2 tbsp brown sugar (we are not sweet eaters, so you may wish to increase this)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 1-2 tsp cognac for each serving (I made these up in ramekins)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup roughly ground walnuts (so they are about the size of the oats)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup room temperature butter
- pinch of salt
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Mix both types of apple cubes with the lemon juice in a bowl.
- Mix the spices, sugar, flour and walnuts in another bowl.
- Toss the apples with the spice mix to coat well.
- Lightly butter 6 ramekins (I used 4oz).
- Evenly distribute the apple mixture in the 6 ramekins.
- Blend the topping mixture with the exception of the butter. Mix well.
- Cut the butter into the dry mixture until mixture forms soft clumps.
- Evenly press this mixture over the apples in the ramekins.
- Place the ramekins onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the topping is golden and the apples are soft.
- Serve with your very best vanilla ice cream.