My first time: A Blueberry Apple Crumble Recipe.
I said these exact words to my mum as I stared out that oval window and looked down on the world from above. I was 12 years old. I’m not sure if this was my first time in an airport, but it was my first time on a plane. I loved flying from the get go. I was in love with everything about it.
The romance began many years beforehand in my grandmother’s spare bedroom. In this room was a framed black and white photo of my auntie Kay. Kay is my auntie who gave me my first ever camera. Kay was dressed in her air hostess uniform with sexy little pointy hat and she was in the cockpit with another air hostess and the pilot. What a threesome I thought. I believe it was the cockpit of a Concord.
That photo made me want to be an air hostess and to this day, I still want a threesome, I mean to be one. That photo was in my mind as I bounded up those metal steps and boarded my first ever ramjet. I was fascinated by the air hostesses and watched them with such intensity as they demonstrated the use of life vests, seat belts, and my nearest emergency exit. To this day, I still insist on a window seat and can recite the whole safety procedure with jaunty hand gestures too.
I looked out that window for the whole journey, ignoring everybody apart from the air hostesses whom I admired from my seat. One day I was going to be just like them.
Getting on a plane at that time was quite a novelty too. This was no budget flight. Flying was a luxury back then, especially with two kids in tow. This was a big deal and planned for a long time. I was also missing school. I was in sixth class and I was missing a week of school to get on a flying machine and go to a sunny country. Travelling was the best thing ever, even better than New Kids on the Block, and that is huge.
Touchdown! And straight away, I got with the Spanish culture;
I bought a sombrero, and wore it everywhere, much to the amusement of the locals.
The hat was bigger than me. I soaked up the local customs by learning how to shoot pool in the local Irish bar called the Copper Kettle. Yes folks, come to a foreign country and hang out in places that remind you of home. This was cultural emersion at its best. A real education.
I also hung out a lot in waterparks, another cornerstone of Spanish culture. I love waterparks and theme parks and try to go to as many as possible when I am away.
Here am I looking terrified on a water slide called Kamikaze. It was so steep and fast that the water felt like razor blades on my skin and the force of the water actually gave me an enema, I shit you not.
Regarding the food, the only memory I have is of the hotel buffet;
yet again another educational experience. This was the first time I had access to an unlimited amount of food. What I learned here was that I have a huge appetite and unless I am told to stop eating and physically removed from the food, I will continue to eat, as I seemingly have no satiation point. I really do take the ‘all you can eat’ concept to its limit.
This is still true today. I am a bottomless pit. Nobody can out eat me. I even had one ex-boyfriend tell me it was embarrassing how much I ate, especially when we were out in public. I would have thought most guys would see it as a challenge to rise up too (but let’s just say he couldn’t ‘rise’ up to much anyways).
The following year I had another educational trip, again with all my cousins, this time to London where we stayed with my air hostess auntie Kay. Kay took us to the National Portrait Gallery and asked us which painting we liked best. I loved how she engaged us like that and tried to involve us in meaningful conversation. I chose An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump 1768, by Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’. Even back then, I was really into science and tried to look for it in everything, including art.
Shame I didn’t look for style or fashion, though. Spot the 90’s chic. X-works anyone?
Obviously my mam was using the pudding bowl to cut my hair again.
In terms of food…
…it was here that I first experienced the idea of rituals when eating and how to turn food into an enjoyable meal. For example, my uncle Bob would bring Kay breakfast in bed and he would pick a rose from the garden and put it on the tray beside the food. I thought this was such a lovely gesture and way to make an ordinary meal that little bit more special. In addition, we all went to a rib shack, where I had ribs for the first time. I loved the ritual of putting on the plastic bib and then dipping your fingers in the bowl to clean them and using the wet wipes afterwards. I really got off on all these little touches and I still enjoy bringing these elements into my cooking and mealtimes nowadays. It’s so playful and makes food fun.
It was also here that I first tried yoghurt on fruit for breakfast, this was just not the type of food we had back in my house in Dublin. Tea, toast, and Weetabix were our standard fayre. This yoghurt and fruit combination was so posh and I felt like such a lady as I sat there with my glamorous auntie eating this delicate meal off her good china, again, making an ordinary meal something very special and memorable. My auntie Kay didn’t keep her good china just for guests, she used it every day, something that I do myself now.
Later that same year, I went to Edinburgh.
I went with my friend and her sister and mother. My first ever holiday without a member of my family in sight. Freedom! I was off to Edinburgh to see the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to celebrate my 14th birthday. My food memory from this trip was buying food off the cart on the train. I had only ever been on a train once before when I was a lot younger, so being on a train was super cool to me, and the fact that they served food on it was mind blowing.
At 14 years old, I was already a coffee fiend and I remember I ordered coffee and a ploughman’s sandwich. I had never heard of a ploughman’s lunch and it sounded interesting and exotic. My love for trying new foods was getting more adventurous with each passing year. I was right; it was exotic. It had this brown stuff called pickle on it and was on a funny type of brown coloured bread with nutty things in it, I believe they called it granary. Wow! Another dimension of my food world had just been opened up. British food was amazing. Scotland was amazing. Trains were amazing, everything was just amazing, and I knew my food world would never be the same again. How on Earth could I ever go back to eating plain white bread and white sugar sandwiches now, not after all this yummy brown food?
Celebrating my 14th birthday with a cast member of Joseph. Go Go Go Joe!
On my 14th birthday, we went out for dinner in a pub.
A pub! I was raised in pubs in Dublin and I hated them, the only food they sold was crisps and bacon and scampi fries. Yet here in Scotland they served full scrumptious home cooked meals. The pubs were light and bright and not full of drunks asleep at the bar with their tired kids trying to shake them awake so they could go home and let their mammies feed them something that wasn’t made from fried potato (it was usually boiled potato at home).
I remember I had a dessert called Eve’s pudding and it was delicious. It had apples baked into this sponge pudding mixture. I think the pudding was served with the most British of accompaniments, custard, but I can’t stand custard so I would have left that off. Custard makes me wretch, an important fact to note as there are many more encounters with custard ahead.
Returning back from my trip to Scotland I really missed that warm fruity pudding but my mum just seemed to like crumble for dessert so I never got to have anything like that pudding for 20 years until I made it this year. However, to make sure my mum enjoyed the dessert too I made it with a crumble topping. In addition, blueberries were on sale so I bought a punnet and added them to the mixture.
Therefore, with the crunchy topping, this recipe is more like an American style cobbler than a traditional Eve’s Pudding.
I am still perfecting my Eve’s pudding recipe, so until I do…
Blueberry Apple Crumble Recipe
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook time:55 minutes
Yield: 1 Cake
- 55 grams of unsalted butter
- 340 grams of cooking apples (about 3 large ones)
- 175 grams of brown sugar
- 150 grams of self-rising flour
- 240 millilitres of milk
- 100 grams of blueberries (or whatever berries you have to hand)
For the crumble
- 75 grams of brown sugar
- 55 grams of butter
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 vanilla pod
- 100 grams of oats (use any leftover oats to make my Spelt and oat bread)
Grease a pie dish. I used a 1.5 litre Pyrex dish.
Pre-heat oven to 190°C / 170°C for fan assisted ovens / 375°F / gas mark 5.
Chop up the butter into little pieces and scatter on the bottom of the dish.
Peel and chop the apples into thin slices and set aside.
In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, flour, and milk to make a batter.
Pour the batter on top of the butter in the dish.
Place the sliced apples and whole blueberries on top of the batter.
Cream together the sugar, butter, cinnamon and the inside of the vanilla pod.
Stir in the oats and combine until mixture looks like granola.
Sprinkle the oat mixture on top of the apples and blueberries.
Place on a middle shelf in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes.
My mam likes her Blueberry Apple Crumble Recipe extra crispy so I left mine in the oven for a little longer to get everything nice and toasty on top. The blueberries burst into the cake batter and the apples retain a slight bite but when you get a big spoon of the cake batter, it is so light and creamy and just like a proper British pudding. However, there is no need for custard! But perhaps some ice-cream.
So, what do you think of my Blueberry Apple Crumble Recipe? Did you try it out? Did you like it? What improvements would you make? Share a photo of your own attempt at this recipe or leave any feedback and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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