Okay, boys, I’m going to let you in on a little secret of relationships. And it revolves around food. If we are smart, we understand that food can speak for us, especially to those we love.

It’s a pretty simple rule to remember: entrees are for romance, but dessert is for love. That is something to take with you forever. I hope that when you are 80 year-old men you’re still firing up the brulee torch for the love of your life.

Your mother has, on occasion, made me crème brulee. She does it, even though she is horrifically lactose intolerant.

If you want to show your mother how much you love her, make her Apple Crisp. She would eat it until her stomach explodes. She loves it that much.

There is a bit of psychology to it, which is really where dessert lays in the whole thing. Dessert usually sends ups back to childhood, which, hopefully, is a comfortable, nostalgic, warming place.

Apple crisp is her youth. But it’s also yours. You make her apple crisp and she will remember the happiness of us on one of our fall apple picking excursions. Of you picking your first apples and eating the red balls with the blinding white flesh in the sunlight of a crisp autumn breeze. And she will be overcome with her love for you. For her, Apple Crisp is a beautiful thing, like her boys.

Your Mama’s Apple Crisp Love

Ingredients

Topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick melted unsalted butter

Filling

3 lbs. apples (about 7 medium), peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges *
1/4 cup sugar **
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup applejack/apple liqueur or apple cider
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

FOR THE TOPPING

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine everything but flour in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter until mixture is thoroughly moistened and crumbly.

FOR THE FILLING

Stir the apples, vanilla sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Simmer applejack/liqueur or cider in a 12-inch iron skillet over medium heat. Cook it until it’s reduced to about ½ cup. Pour the reduced liquid into a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice.

Using the now empty iron skillet, eat butter over medium heat. When it stops foaming add the apple mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples begin to just soften and become. You can’t cook them all the way here, because you’re gong to toss them in the oven, too. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the liquid.

Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apples. Place the iron skillet on the center rack and bake until the topping is golden brown and delicious, about 20 minutes.

Let it cool a little. Serve to the one you love.

*I like to use a variety of apples, some sour like Granny Smith, and some sweet like Braeburns.

**For this I like to use vanilla sugar because your mother likes it.•

•Vanilla Sugar: Two cups white sugar. One vanilla bean. Put the sugar in an airtight container. Split the bean lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and put those in with the sugar. Cut the split beans in half widthwise and throw those into the sugar too. Toss everything around. Use after two weeks. Taste nirvana.