Smaller plates; butterscotch apple crisp in the slow cooker

I have a friend who says all she did to lose weight was use small plates at suppertime.

These little blossoms have a powerful fragrance.
These little blossoms have a powerful fragrance.

I’m married to a former farmer who recognizes small plates as suitable only for dessert — it runs in the genes. In January we were at a convention of farmers at Asheville’s famed Grove Park Inn, and as we were craning our necks at Saturday night’s banquet to see what was on the menu, the dairy farmer next to Stoic said with intense disgust: “There’s more plate than food.”

Sadly, he was right. This was a banquet for supermodels, not for farmers: Half a “Cornish game hen” and an undernourished one at that, two (small) spoonfuls of grits and an artistic spray of roasted vegetables.

redbuds 200
Korean spice viburnum — also fabulously fragrant.

We knew that really was plenty for those not doing actual lumberjacking, but the white plate sure screamed “famine.” (Luckily, we had wine and snacks in our overpriced room.)

And that screaming plate is not my imagination, according to Dr. Paul Bloom’s article in the March issue of  The Atlantic magazine: “The War on Reason.” Bloom is responding to “some scholars, (who say) the neural basis of mental life suggests that rational deliberation and free choice are illusions,” that we are mere “biochemical puppets.”

Disputing this as an iron-clad rule, however, he does say that “Sometimes small influences can be important. . . It’s relevant that . . . people serve themselves more food when using a large plate.” Ah-hah!

So I had a little plate under my lunch of toasted garlic bread and egg salad with curry, raisins and celery. And then I put an orange on that plate and refilled my water bottle and left the table. So far, so good.

It’s almost 80 here today, but the cold is coming back so we can enjoy one more batch of this slow-cooker apple crisp with butterscotch. I cut the sugar from 3/4 cup to 1/2. If you use sweet and not tart apples, you could easily take it down to 1/3. I also added fat pinches of nutmeg and salt and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. The recipe comes from the Prairie Oats Growers Association of Western Canada.

Crock Pot Butterscotch Apple Crisp

6 cups sliced peeled tart apples (about 5 large apples)
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup quick cooking oats
1 package (3 ½ oz.) cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter 
Vanilla ice cream

Place apples in a 3-quart slow cooker. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, pudding mix and cinnamon (nutmeg, salt and walnuts if you’re using — you could throw in a handful of raisins as well). Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the apples. Cover crock pot with a double thickness of paper towels (to absorb moisture) and hold them taut with lid. Cook on low for 5 hours or until apples are tender. Serve with ice cream if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

Talk about a great perfume -- apples, butterscotch, cinnamon and brown sugar!
Talk about a great perfume — apples, butterscotch, cinnamon and brown sugar!




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