My mom just sent me this photo of a recipe for eggnog. It must have been tucked away in a cookbook somewhere. And judging from the spelling, I probably had yet to reach the golden and much-lusted after teen years.
I actually remember making this eggnog! I liked to experiment in the kitchen when I was younger - often making breakfasts (nothing fancy! Poptarts or cereal), salads and a couple of failed baking episodes. My parents were out of town and we had a babysitter. She made us her famed spaghetti casserole for dinner and then we had my special eggnog for dessert, or maybe alongside. My uncle and aunt kindly choked it down, but I'm sure it was atrocious. It was hot out and this drink was probably far from refreshing! Sadly, I've never developed a real taste or love for the stuff. Give me a Bailey's Irish Cream any day.
But what I do love, besides the amount of vanilla (twice listed!), is the simplicity of directions. A recipe really doesn't have to be that complicated, does it? I've started challenging myself. I'll read through a recipe once - and that's it! I have to either remember, or experiment, until I've reached a happy result. This is easier than it sounds. Recipes are guidelines, not strict instructions. In the beginning of learning to cook, I used recipes religiously. And why not? They're a wonderful teaching tool, especially if you're just getting started. But now, I use them as inspiration and rough guidelines, preferring to hone my instincts.
This is where fruit crisps come in. I've been trying to buy as many peaches and plums as possible recently before the fall really approaches. They're delicious cut up with breakfast or slumped together under the buttery streusel topping of a crisp. Recently, I tossed 5 sliced peaches with fresh raspberries, the juice of a lemon and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. It's important to taste your fruit - my peaches and raspberries were sweet, so I stopped at 1/4 cup.
I then made a topping using flour, brown sugar, old fashioned oats, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and 1/2 stick of cold, cubed butter. I didn't use precise measurements. So add just a sprinkle of the cinnamon, salt and nutmeg and maybe a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. I would start with 1/4 cup each of the flour and oats. Crumble everything together with your hands until the butter is worked in and clumps begin to appear. If the streusel feels to wet with the butter, add more oats and flour. It should be sandy but not totally disparate. I had some chopped pecans in the freezer, so I used these too. Top your fruit mixture evenly with the streusel.
I baked my crisp for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Make sure you check it throughout so that the topping doesn't burn. You want the streusel to be crunchy and golden brown and the fruit to be pooling with sticky and sweet juices. Delicious served with vanilla ice cream on top.