Baking is a salve to my grief and this apple cider cornflake crisp is a result of that. My grandmother and my mother died, three days apart, three weeks ago. I feel lost. Helpless. Broken. Spending time with my daughter, and baking are the only things that bring relief. Baking, a skill taught to me by my Mum so many years ago, is something I carry with me, a constant reminder that she was real. She existed. And she will continue to live through me and my recipes.
My Mother Is Gone
It’s been a hard month for our family. My grandmother died on September 23, 2019. She was 91 and sick for a long time.
Three days later, on September 26 my mother died. Suddenly. I was driving when the phone call came. A woman firefighter’s voice said, “You need to come right now.” The faces that greeted me when I arrived at my mother’s house told me everything I needed to know.
Inside the house my mother was on the floor. She was warm. I laid next to her, and held her. I begged her not to leave me. Her stillness and glassy eyes are seared into my memory and my soul.
It’s been three weeks and I’m still in a fog, not sure what I am doing or feeling. Spending time outside, with my daughter, and inside my kitchen, are the only things that bring me solace.
The Gift Of Handwritten Recipes & Cookbooks
I’ve been given a gift. Both my Nana’s, and my Mum’s, cookbooks and handwritten recipes have been passed on to me. Some people inherit money or possessions of material value. All I wanted was a few scraps of paper with familiar handwriting. Proof that my life with my mother wasn’t only a dream.
Tucked inside a cardboard box belonging to my grandmother were five community cookbooks. You know the kind. Small, with a spiral plastic spine, filled with recipes submitted by women known only as “Mrs. So And So”. A few days after my Mum died I was thumbing through one of these books. That’s when I first saw a recipe for a blueberry crisp with cornflake topping.
Apple Picking In The Annapolis Valley
A week later, two days after my mother’s funeral, I went apple picking in the Annapolis Valley with Dave, who is my Mum’s husband, his sister Gwen, my partner Chris, and our daughter Elodie. I wore blue jeans, a jean jacket, and my Mum’s taupe and cream cardigan that still smelled like her. Despite our gloom and sadness, the sunshine and fresh air took over. For a few minutes we were revived, renewed, and caught a glimpse of hope. Life truly does go on. And my mother wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Bloggers Sharing Personal Stories
There’s an online trend to mock bloggers for sharing personal stories. A trend that leans toward food blogs as utilitarian, nothing more than recipe machines, forsaking the people behind the posts.
I am here to say that behind this recipe for apple cider cornflake crisp is a real person. A person living a life filled with hopes and dreams, joys and triumphs, tragedy and sorrow. A person just like you.
The Importance Of Storytelling
Storytelling isn’t a nuisance to be dismissed as nothing more than blocks of text scrolled past in annoyance. Telling stories is what connects us, unites us, brings us together as a community. Telling stories elicits emotion, empathy, and if we’re truly lucky, sparks action. Stories are threads woven through the essence of our humanity. And for me? Recipes are just as important.
My Food Blog Is My Story
Sharing raw, personal emotions and details of my life online scares the crap out of me; My heart was pounding as I wrote most of this post. But you see, writing, making pictures, and creating recipes brings me pleasure. And peace.
My Mum was my biggest fan – she was always so proud of me and my creative nature. I think she would be happy that I shared this post with you. Would she have liked my apple cider cornflake crisp? Any actual bets would most likely hedge towards “probably not” since she was a milk chocolate devotee. What I can say, with pure confidence, is my Mum would have loved that I have picked myself up, and am continuing on with my passion and my calling, despite my profound sense of sadness, loss, and grief.
I love you Mum.
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Apple Cider Cornflake Crisp
- 1/4 cup (57g) butter
- 1/2 cup (115g) brown sugar packed
- 1 tablespoon (11g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (100g) cornflakes crushed
- 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
- 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon (1g) cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon (2g) salt
- 1 cup (250ml) apple cider
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
- 4 cups (550g) apples peeled, cored, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and generously butter an 8-inch square baking dish.
- Make The Cornflake Topping – Melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium-sized pot. Mix brown sugar and flour together. Add to butter and cook to dissolve, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add crushed cornflakes, and stir to coat. Set aside.
- Place sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, apple cider, lemon juice, and chopped apples in another pot. Cook together over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid is thick, smooth, and syrupy, about 5-6 minutes.
- Pour apple mixture into prepared buttered pan. Top evenly with cornflake mixture and bake 25-30 minutes, or until topping is golden and apples are cooked to your liking. Serve warm or cold, plain or with a drizzle of heavy cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Did you make this recipe? I would love to see how you made out! Let me know on Instagram by tagging me @baconandbaileys and hashtag it #baconandbaileys so I can take a peek and re-share it in my Instagram stories! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.