“An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but only if thrown hard enough.”
The other day I saw a variation of a famous quote. It read like this: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but only if thrown hard enough.” Of course this made me smile – I know a few crusty old souls who share this view of doctors, and I can picture them winding up and taking aim. My aunt used to always say that if we ate an apple after lunch, we wouldn’t need to brush our teeth until bedtime. I’m sure there is some evidence to support this (after all, there are some pretty neat enzymes in an apple!), but I won’t admit how long I used this logic to support my theory of drinking apple juice before bed. The dentist’s bills can speak for themselves.
Focused on fruit
The truth is good things can be twisted into bad things pretty quickly. Good fruit – both edible and spiritual, can hurt if used as weapons or justifications. It can be so tempting to feel proud and brag about our fruit – after all, they are good things, right? It can be easy to justify sharing about our joy, kindness, patience or self-control as a passive-aggressive way to point out someone else’s lack of it. But when it comes to the fruit of the spirit, we aren’t called to spread it, brag about it or lob it at others. We are simply called to bear it, as fruit that will only grow as a result of the life-giving Spirit within us. If we take our cue from fruit-bearing trees, we should be less concerned about what happens to our fruit and more concerned about how to stay alive and to keep producing that fruit – deepening our roots to soak up more Living Water, and turning our leaves to soak up more of the Son. I have yet to see a tree picking its own fruit to hand out to passersby, or baking it into a pie. Nor do they complain when their fruit goes unnoticed, or perhaps gets used for something less-than-glamourous.
This tree-inspired imagery – of a strong, rooted Christian who faithfully and humbly carries out their daily faith without fanfare or recognition – reminds me very much of my mother. She wouldn’t want me to make a big deal about her here, but to me her life exemplifies the well-known quote by Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” Quietly, and without advertising it, she soaks up the Word each day, prays for those she loves and uses her gifts to bless others. Her fruit, I’m sure, has touched many lives that she does not even know about, in ways she is not aware of and would never brag about. Literally as well, her fruit – in the form of pies, cakes and other goodies – has reached many people too. This recipe for Apple Crisp was the first one of my mom’s recipes I wrote down in my own cookbook when I left for college. I loved it as a child because it didn’t contain any oatmeal, but it is still a favourite today of my oatmeal-loving family, and to everyone else I’ve made it for. Any variety of apple works well in this crisp, but my preference is Gala.
Mom’s apple crisp
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened but not melted
1 cup flour
3/4 cup white sugar
Mix this with a fork in a bowl until crumbly, set aside
5-6 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
3-4 tbsp butter cut into tiny squares or “dots”
1/2 cup sugar (or more)
1 tbsp cinnamon or apple pie spice
Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Place apple slices in a 9x13 baking pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Evenly distribute “dots” of butter. Sprinkle sugar over all, adding more if desired. Sprinkle with cinnamon or apple pie spice. Top with flour mixture, pressing mixture down over apples. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until topping is golden brown and apples are cooked through. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
Tip: Add in 1 cup cranberries, raspberries or blueberries to the apples for brilliant colour and added flavour.
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