As much as I try to appear youthful and "with-it", I'm afraid my name reveals the dark truth: I'm a refugee from the 1960's. Yes, I was born in that turbulent decade and am a child of the 70's. "Karen" is a dead giveaway-- nobody names their daughters Karen today. No, today it's more likely to be Emma, Madison, or Olivia.
Growing up, there were so many Karens in every classroom, we had to go by initials: I was Karen B. (for Brown). A problem arose when I moved to a new school that already had a Karen B. (Karen Blankenship). Thence forward I was called by first AND last name.
Several years ago I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of a gracious and lovely lady, Elizabeth Alexander (Betty), who was born in the 1920's and grew up in "Los Angle-les." (Betty always pronounced it with a hard g, which I found interesting.) Over a cup of tea, Betty remarked how sad it was that no one goes by the name Betty nowadays. It struck me how right she was-- and how surely our names can anchor us to a particular time in history.
I heard recently that the gemstone names so popular in the early 20th century may enjoy a resurgence: there may be a whole new generation of little Pearls, Beryls, and Rubys! I love the show "Ugly Betty" and I think a large part of that character's charm is that she is so anachronistically named Betty. We immediately know she's a bubbly, sunny girl with old-fashioned values.
Of course, as with names, foods circle in and out of popularity as well. One of the most interesting food books I've ever read is Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads.
"Antique" food interests me. While some of it deserves to be forgotten (Banana and Popcorn Salad, anyone? This was an actual dish from the 1920's), I think that the uncomplicated, oh, get over yourself! foods of decades past could be just what is needed to get people cooking at home again.
I agree with Marion Cunningham that a return to the idea of "supper," a simple evening meal consisting of one or two plain items plus dessert, is a strategy not only to encourage novice home cooks, but sure to take some of the stress out of everyone's day! The simplest meal, cooked at home with care, and shared with those we love, is more delicious, nutritious, and satisfying, than many restaurant meals (especially fast food or takeout).
One such dish that we've recently begun enjoying in our house is Apple Brown Betty (very "old-skool"). I've mentioned that DC is crazy for apples, so I'm always on the lookout for a "new" apple dessert.
We are quite fond of Apple Brown Betty. To my taste, it is the best of the crisp and crumble style desserts we've tried. The interesting thing about Apple Brown Betty is that rather than being made with oatmeal or flour, leftover cake crumbs add the crunch to the dish. Not only is it a delicious dessert on its own, it's a great way to use up leftovers! I love the fact that something I would ordinarily toss (stale cake) can be used to make a really yummy dessert! In fact, I made an orange pound cake earlier in the week just so I could make Apple Brown Betty when it got stale!
The another thing about this particular Apple Brown Betty is that you don't have to DO anything to the apples, aside from peeling, coring, slicing and tossing them with some fresh lemon juice. For this reason, I find it one of the easiest, quickest, fresh apple desserts to make. It is perfect for dressing up a plain meal.
Today, thanks to Nuria's Spanish Food blog, I stumbled across A Southern Grace's wonderful blog. It turns out that Grace is having a Cinnamon Celebration. Today is the deadline for the contest, so I decided to submit the recipe below to Grace. If you haven't been to Grace's blog, you should definitely check it out!
Apple Brown Betty
These are some of my apples. I used2 Golden Delicious,
a Granny Smith, and 2 Arkansas Blacks.
a Granny Smith, and 2 Arkansas Blacks.
6 assorted medium apples (about 2 1/2 lbs)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. "cloudy" apple cider
2 c. stale plain cake crumbs (from an unfrosted cake such as a pound cake or angel food cake)
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. white (granulated cane) sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. mace
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 c.), softened
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Grease a 2 qt. shallow glass baking pan generously with some of the butter, then spray with non-stick spray.
3. Peel, core, and slice the apples (about 1/4 in. thick.) Place in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the cake crumbs, brown and white sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, and salt. Toss to mix well.
5. Cover the bottom of the baking pan lightly with some of the crumb mixture, about 1/4 c.
6. Add half of the apples.
7. Pour all of the cider over the apples.
8. Sprinkle the apples with half of the remaining crumbs.
9. Dot the crumbs with half of the butter.
10. Add the rest of apples.
11. Add the rest of the crumbs.
12. Dot with the remaining butter.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crumbs are browned and the apples are tender and bubbling.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Now here's one Betty that will never go out of vogue!