Grandma, grandpa and aunt joined us to hear Sergeant olderSon speak to our synagogue's congregants and entire religious school about the IDF (Israeli army) special forces basic training, including the famous 50km march to Masada. He didn't go into any great detail of course, due to possible security issues and, more importantly, grandma in attendance, but he did have the students' full and rapt attention.
Afterwards, the students asked questions that only kids could ask, such as "how many times did you throw up during the march?" Others in attendance asked questions as well, including his former teachers.
At this point I have to stop and explain that Sergeant olderSon was not exactly the most attentive student in religious school (or any school for that matter), especially during Hebrew language studies. He barely learned enough biblical Hebrew to get through his bar mitzvah, but that was pretty much it. So when a few years later he made aliyah (emigrated to Israel), his former teachers were all were initially confused, thinking it must have been one of our other children instead.
Anyway, getting back to the present, one of the teachers asked sergeant olderSon something in Hebrew, to which he casually replied in Hebrew. Some people giggled because they knew what kind of student Sergeant olderSon was (see previous paragraph) and couldn't believe that he learned conversational Hebrew in such a short period of time. Others giggled because they understood her question and his answer. He then translated for everyone else:
Teacher: my daughter is also in the IDF ... would you like her name and phone number?
Sergeant olderSon: I have run into her a few times already ... we are Facebook friends.
So what does this all have to do with today's recipe?
Nothing really. Just wanted to share some of my life with you. Just like Kirstin does in her blog Loving Life. I was given Kirstin's blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment. Kirstin describes her blog as a "come sit and be a friend" type place with pictures, recipes and life stories. For example, her post about the recipe below included the goings on during one busy New Year's Eve day, which consisted of attending part of a hockey game, heading off to a most awesome-sounding NYE's party for kids and adults with Bingo and a Wii dance, and more partying the next day with wii football, food, games and more games. I get tired just reading about it all.
Kirstin didn't say what kind of apples she used, so I used what I had on hand -- a couple of large sweet MacIntoshes and a firmer tart granny smith. I roughly chopped the Macs and chopped the granny smith a little finer, figuring it would all even out during the baking.
The casserole can be made a day or two in advance. After that, it still is delicious, but the oatmeal topping will harden up slightly.
Oh, happy bonus #2. the dessert allowed me to use up that 1/2 bag of cranberries stashed deep in the freezer from last Thanksgiving as well as my pecans (exactly a half cup o'nuts left in the bag ... was Kirstin peeking in my pantry?), plus reducing the quantities of other ingredients which made room for Passover groceries. Just 2 weeks away ... eek!
Cranberry Apple Casserole
Lightly Adapted from Loving Life
If you use sweet apples such as MacIntosh, cut back the granulated sugar by 1/4 cup.
3 cups chopped apples (peeled, cored and coarsely chopped)
2 cups fresh cranberries (if frozen, slightly defrosted)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/8 tsp. table salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spritz a 3 quart casserole dish with the cooking spray. Combine the apples, cranberries and sugar in a large bowl; mix well. Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Set aside.
Melt the margarine in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the oats, brown sugar, flour and salt until well blended. Spoon mixture on top of the fruit, spreading well to cover. Top with pecans.