When I started to write a little about the loss of my dad, I had many friends reach out to me. I had people I didn’t even know share a little bit of stories about their loved ones they lost and how they still think about them. The kindness of everyone’s messages touched me and were appreciated immensely. As I continued on with my baking and cooking as I normally do, so many recipes were reminding me of my dad.
I considered how often we are recreating something someone special we lost used to make and we don’t realize that they are still inspiring us in the kitchen. Or maybe we do tackle with a purpose that one recipe that belonged to a grandmother, a mother, a father, a special friend. I realized that every time we make these recipes, we are keeping the memory of that special person alive. We have to keep thinking about them, even though sometimes it will be sad. Baking and cooking a recipe that was theirs or that they loved keeps their memory alive in our hearts.
I reached out to some of my friends to share a recipe that reminds them of someone special that is no longer in their lives. My lovely and talented friend Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes is opening the series. In a few emails back and forth we talked about what the series will entail and what her post could be about. Paula lost her dear brother and wrote several posts about him on her blog. One post in particular is a really beautiful tribute to her brother. He was a cancer fighter and fought it (and survived)twice like my dad did.
For this first Food Memory post, Paula is sharing a recipe that is just calling my name. A delightful apple dessert-oh, Paula…thank you. What would be even better is sharing a crumb bar, a cup of coffee, and some great stories together in Argentina.
BROWN BUTTER APPLE CINNAMON CRUMB BARS
I grew up in an apple and lemon family. There was no particular interest in chocolate, dulce de leche or strawberries and cream, no statuesque layer cakes at birthdays or bowls filled with homemade candy. Give them a good apple or lemon meringue pie. To this day they ask for that above all other desserts. Weird family, but hey, it’s the way they roll. I say they because I was sort of an outsider, preferring dulce de leche above all other flavors, and still my number one choice of sweet.
This post is my contribution to Lora’s food memory series, which she started a few weeks ago in memory of her father. Food makes for strong, palpable family memories. And mine includes apples.
I talked a few times about food that I associate with family memories, and to those that are no longer here with me. My grandmother who taught me my first recipe, an apple crisp, my brother and his unconditional love of my (David Lebovitz’ really) ginger cake and spicy cookies, my grandfather whom I didn’t know but who left some interesting stories about pancakes and going to college in the US at a time when it was a superlative effort (1919) to do so from a rural town in Argentina, my other grandfather for whom I once made meatballs in cream sauce and was outra
ged that they didn’t include tomato sauce, the only way to eat meatballs according to him.
So for today I went back to old fashioned, traditional, and almost simple looking apple cinnamon bars. But these are not plain Jane’s entirely, having brown butter and oats in the crumble and a touch of cardamom in addition to the best Vietnamese cinnamon I could find.
So I leave you with these brown butter apple cinnamon crumb bars, because sometimes all we need is comfort baking, and remembering loved ones that are no longer here with a smile.
Thank you, Paula. It was a pleasure to read a little about your food memories. Comfort baking-yes, indeed.
For the shortbread base
- 1 cup (220g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
For the apples
- 1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter
- 10 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 10 cups)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 cardamom pods, crushed
For the crumble
- 1 cup (220g) unsalted butter, browned and chilled
- 1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
- 1 cup (120g) oats
- ½ cup (100g) sugar