With every passing week, more days are added to the time we spent in our mountain lair. Tucked in tents or a tiny room each night, side by side, laughing till we sleep, laughing the moment we open our eyes, this group has built strong ties. It’s no longer just about being out in nature with random strangers, it’s about being with these once-strangers folks and sharing our time wherever we were.
Over the past 3 months, we went for at least 8 camping/picnic trips together. We shared tents, beds, blankets, food, drinks, stories, laughs, and emotions. Whenever one of us is away due to other commitments or travels, their absence is always felt. Each one has his unique place to fill. Every night under the star studded sky, which for almost one week per month is lit by a magnificent full moon, we share food we cooked by the fire with a few drinks in hand and jugs of laughs pouring all over us and extraordinary humor that sometimes it’s just inside jokes no one outside the group would understand. On some nights, the metal swing and the floor is our locale with a breathtakingly panoramic view of the mountains across, the nearby hills, and the few lit houses and street lamps of the neighboring villages. As the case with The Little Prince, we await the sunset to feast upon the colors of dusk. But unlike him, we get to have only one sunset pet day.
Sunset announces the need for fire. Or in case we were preparing for the next day’s Autumn Secret event, sunset is an announcement that we need to relocate our work space to where electricity is available. We throw ourselves into Jean and Hanan’s home, the land owners which we were occupying for the past couple of months, who welcomed us as their children, into their house, and their land as well. We feel their love, for us and for what we’re doing, and their passion for what they do, for the land and the carefully planted varieties the generous lands can produce at such altitude. Seasons changed. The land looks different. The once green climbing bush has turned red before shedding its leaves exposing the view. Some fruit trees gave their last treasures while others just started. During the first trips up there, Hanan entrusted me and granted me full access to the herbs, greens, and bushes to pick whatever we needed for our daily use. Jean showed me the summer apple tree, the figs, the nectarines, the apricots, the strawberry bushes, the vines, and the rest of the land. As Autumn unfolded, the tomatoes started to give their last pearls and giving center stage to apples. From the Golden Delicious, to the Red, all preparing for the widely adored Granny Smith. The appealing green color, its crispy bite, and its tangy zing is what makes me love this apple. Fresh or baked.
The land is generous. The land owners grow to this philosophy. The more you are generous to the land, the more it gives you. The land owners grow to be like their lands. There was never a time when Jean and Hanan let us leave without offering a meal or at least ask us to pick whatever we need and take home. I took home loads of apples; fresh spotless ones for biting into, and bumped ones for cooking. Mom and I spent hours, separately, cleaning, peeling, and chopping apples. We made apple pies and crumbles, and we froze loads of them for later use.
On one night, I took out my long forgotten skills, put on my apron, and made a lattice apple pie and a large dish of apple crumble for a sweets night in at on of our friend’s place. I love my pie, but the crumble was a MASSIVE CROWD PLEASER. It was gone!
Autumn Apple Crumble
For the filling
- 7 cups mixed chopped apples (I used red and yellow delicious)
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- A pinch of ground cloves
For the crumble
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup oats
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 200g cold butter (diced)
- A pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180ºc
- In a food processor, place the flour, sugar, and oats and pulse until the oats are slightly chopped. Mix in the butter and pulse for 10-12 times until the mixture looks like sand. Set aside
- In a large bowl, mix the apples with the sugar, corn flour, and spices. Toss well until the apples are coated. If the mixture is dry, add a liquid of your choice. I added dessert wine I had on hand
- In a large glass baking dish, layer the apples evenly and throw the crumble on top without pressing it to cover the top
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and the tops are golden
- Cool for 10 minutes and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce