I got so organized, I was inspired to bake
I got so organized this week that I baked up a spicy apple crisp to celebrate. The thrills of middle age, I tell you. Not only did I Kondo my bedroom this past week, but I also cleaned out and reorganized my pantry (full disclosure: the rest of the kitchen remains very much a work in progress). I am most proud of my organized spices, though because I can actually find them now.
The Spice Bin of Despair
This is hard to admit, and I only post my before photo so that you’ll know what a big deal this is to me. For the last two years, my spices have been in an overflowing bin, because I just couldn’t figure out what else to do with them. In my last apartment, I had a little bookshelf that I used as a spice cabinet, but now that’s holding linens and acting as a counter next to my stove. Pantry space is at a premium, and I just couldn’t figure out what to do with them.
So, my spices overflowed from a bin. I had a friend who had a two-bedroom apartment to herself for a time. She didn’t have time to clean it, but she didn’t want to live in clutter, either. To surmount this problem, she designated one of the bedrooms her “bin” and chucked the clutter in there and closed the door. I have thought of her often when I considered my spice situation.
To make matters worse, I’m on the short side, and I could not actually see into the Bin of Despair. So, when I needed a spice or two, I had to go fishing. Spices would sometimes crash down on the dishrack below (how none ever broke, I have no idea), and I’d sometimes have to heft the whole thing out onto the table to find what I was looking for.
Shopped my stuff and found the Spice Rack of Joy
Wouldn’t you know it, the solution was hanging out in another (much more organized) bin above my refrigerator, waiting to be used. I love it when I can shop my stuff! Years ago, I’d bought these stackable closet shelves from Ikea, and the smaller one just never really fit anywhere (the larger one I use in my bedroom closet). I kept thinking that the small shelf would work at some point if I just held onto it. I’m really glad that I did, because, it turns out, it works perfectly as a spice shelf in my pantry.
Friends, I can actually see and access my spices! OH HAPPY SPICE RACK OF JOY!
And, my old bin has found a new home as the warden of my baking pans.
This calls for a celebration! Enter, apple crisp
Inspired by my organizational prowess, I wanted to make something with my spices to celebrate. My overall kitchen is still a work in progress, though, so I needed to make a relatively uncomplicated dish.
Enter apple crisp, the perfect autumn dessert. My mom makes an incredible apple crisp. It’s so, so good. Cinnamony, with a sweet crisp top, I can’t even really describe to you how good it is. She bakes a big ol’ pan of it, and I can be caught sneaking bits of it well after dinner has ended.
This isn’t my mom’s apple crisp
This isn’t my mom’s apple crisp. This one has cardamom and nutmeg, in addition to cinnamon, to punch up the spice. Pecans and dried cranberries get added to the crisp, and, taking a cue from Ina Garten, orange and lemon zest and juice go into the apples. This apple crisp has a bit (but not too much) of an attitude and gets baked up in individual ramekins, more suitable for we single folk (but with leftovers, because, c’mon, it’s apple crisp).
Good lord, does this smell good, and it tastes even better. I didn’t have vanilla ice cream on hand, but I did have some cream and maple syrup, so I made a New England whipped cream and grated a little nutmeg on top. I like it. If you’re feeling a bit Vermont, you might even try this with a bit of extra-sharp cheddar cheese.
From my organized Spice Rack of Joy to yours, please enjoy this recipe.
Individual Apple Crisps with Maple Whipped Cream
- individual ramekins
For the apples
- 2 apples, McIntosh or Macoun You can swap in whatever apple makes you happy, but don't use Red Delicious
- ¼ lemon, zested and juiced
- ¼ orange, zested and juiced
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp cardamom
- 3 grates nutmeg If you don't have whole nutmegs, a dash of ground nutmeg should work fine
- 2½ tsp brown sugar
For the crisp
- ⅓ cup rolled oats not quick oats
- 1½ tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1½ tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp cardamom
- 3-4 grates nutmeg
- 1 tsp dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 tbsp pecans, chopped
- 1 small pinch kosher salt
For the maple whipped cream
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Lightly butter 2-3 ramekins (how many will depend on how big your apples are) and place ramekins on a baking sheet
Prepare the apples
- Peel, core, and slice the apples (not too thin, not too thick) and place in a bowl
- Add the orange and lemon zest and juice, the sugar, and the spices and stir to combine
- Add the apples to the ramekins, being aware that they will settle. Leave the leftover juices in the bowl (maybe dip a spare apple slice or two)
Make the crisp & bake
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine.
- Top the ramekins with the crisp, trying to make sure that all the apples are covered
- Bake for 35-45 minutes until the apples are bubbling and the crisp is ... well, crisp
Make the maple whipped cream
- Add cream and maple syrup to a bowl and whip until peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use
- Apple crisp is best served warm. Top with maple whipped cream and grate a bit of nutmeg over it.