October is a month of some favorite foods that are like forever friends. Autumn foods include apples —a versatile fruit that can be used to make pie, tarts, cake and crisp, an old-fashioned favorite. Apple crisp or “apple crumble” is a dessert made with apples topped with a crumbly crust. Ingredients often include apples, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, flour and oats — budget-smart stuff in a basic pantry. While Indian summer is still hanging around the South Shore, whipping up this hearty and comforting dish is quick and easy, and gives the feel of fall even if the weather is still warm and off for this season around the Lake. Like millions of Californians, I experienced, survived and always will remember the major World Series earthquake that rumbled through the San Francisco Bay Area and was felt as far away as Lake Tahoe on Oct. 17, 1989. I got messages, too, from my seismically sensitive, food-loving cat prior to the shaker as well. He didn’t eat that morning. And that takes me to this month. On Oct. 6, my birthday, my youngest Brittany, Seth, was acting super clingy. I was thinking, “Earthquake.” Several days later, instead of the ground moving, my dog’s well-being rocked our world. His balance was way off. When he walked, he fell. He looked wobbly, like quakes were affecting him. After visits to the vet, tests and meds — his events could be due to a middle ear infection. It was scary.That’s when foods like apple crisp come into play. During challenging times like these, it’s difficult to eat. I try to consume healthful, comfort foods. This time around a warm, apple crisp made with fresh, fall apples seemed to be what the doctor would order. Not only are apples healthy, but topped with all-natural , calcium-rich ice cream, it can be calming. Apple Crisp3-4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced1/2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced1/2 cup white granulated sugar1/2 tablespoon cinnamon1/4 cup water1/2 cup cooking oats1/2 cup whole wheat flower1/2 cup brown sugar1/4 cup European style butterPut apples and strawberries in an 8 inch by 8 inch baking dish. Mix sugar, cinnamon and sprinkle over fruit. Top with water. Mix other dry ingredients with melted butter. Crumble topping over fresh fruit. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly. Cool. Serve with premium French vanilla ice cream or real whipped cream. It pairs nicely with a cup of hot herbal tea. Serves 8.Putting together this dessert that my mom made, and I ate, as a kid helped make me feel a sense of comfort. It didn’t take a long time to create, is perfect for breakfast or dessert, and its familiar down-to-earth flavors made me feel like things have a sense of normalcy again. My mother’s words from the proverb came to me while making the apple crisp and ice cream: “This too shall pass.” And as I look at my sweet-loving, sensitive fur child, I’m sensing we may be moving in the right direction--on even keel.Motto: The human-animal bond is amazing. Both healing foods and companion animals can help humans get through ups and downs in life.A special thanks to Alpine Animal Hospital, dog-loving neighbor and friends.—Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) “Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails” will be released this fall. Her website is www.calorey.com.
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