Today’s overcast weather is fitting for our tired selves today. We returned yesterday from a little road trip through New England - read: tAlex needed to go on some interviews, so I decided to tag along. We started in Boston, which was even greater of a city than I had imagined it. The architecture alone was STUNNING, especially in some of the older parts of the city where there were cobblestone streets. The downside about traveling through New England in mid-January is that the air is cold and filled with static. Seriously, I thought that the Midwest was very staticky, but my gosh, New England is static central. I had to plaster my hair with anti-frizz serum to prevent it from sticking up in every direction, Alex and I got shocked upon touching everything, and you could physically hear the static every time you changed clothes. Exploring outside wasn’t as enjoyable as it could be with wind-chills and below freezing weather, so I would LOVE to explore the city again in a warmer month. But nevertheless, we dragged our butts out into the cold in order to explore the Beacon Hill neighborhood, walk the Freedom Trail, and hit up some delicious pastry shops.
We headed west the next day to Worcester for Alex’s interview, then came back to Boston the next day to stay in Cambridge in the smallest guest room known to man. Alex’s dad attended Harvard Business School so we naturally had to explore all of Harvard. I’ll admit, I felt kind of intimidated walking around the Harvard campus, passing by the Harvard students, who are all probably super duper smart.
The next morning, we traveled southwest to New Haven, Connecticut for Alex’s next interview. Now this is one of the main reasons (besides seeing Boston) why I wanted to tag along on these particular interviews. YALE. Naturally my Gilmore Girl obsessed self wanted to see the school that Rory Gilmore attended, regardless of the fact that they never actually did any of the filming there.
Guys, from the moment I saw the towers of Yale, my heart was exploding with joy. We started at the Visitor's Center, where we randomly found Handsome Dan!!! In one of the episodes, there is a stuffed bulldog (Handsome Dan) in a Yale courtyard that the Gilmores toast to before the Harvard vs Yale game. I thought the show made this up, but no. There is actually a real Handsome Dan that “lives” at Yale. We explored the Old Campus and some of the nearby dorms. We found Durfee Hall and Branford Hall, which is where Rory lived in the show during her freshman and sophomore years, respectfully. (Again, completely surprised that the show used the names of real-life dorm rooms).
We toured through one of the free art museums on campus, naturally pretending that we were Yale students (well at least I was). Sadly, there were zero coffee carts on campus, so I wasn’t able to truly get the real Rory Gilmore experience. But that’s okay, because I made it up by going to a Yale coffee shop the next day.
Touring both Harvard and Yale was a wonderful experience, but I was amazed at how visually different they were. Harvard is filled with red brick, colonial buildings; whereas, Yale’s campus is composed of gothic architecture. I admit, I found Yale to be more beautiful of a campus than Harvard, but I would love to see both campuses when the surrounding trees and greenery are in full bloom!
Now that we are back home, I am so excited that I can stay inside and be cozy on this overcast, freezing day, instead of feeling the need to get out and explore a new city. Today calls for a warm treat, and this Cozy Winter Fruit Crisp is exactly what I need. This dessert is filled with pears and apples and topped with a walnut oat streusel. This recipe is gluten free and uses minimal amounts of added sugars. Seasoned with maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, and cloves truly makes this the perfect winter treat! Top with some vanilla ice cream to add some additional flavoring and sweetness!
Cozy Winter Fruit Crisp
Wait time:Serves: 12
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 1/2 Granny Smith apples
- 4 Bartlett pears
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon maple syrup, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 1/4 cups oats
- 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter, SOFTENED
- 1/2 cup oat flour*
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- Pinch of salt
- (Optional) Vanilla ice cream
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 10" cast iron pan or a 10" pie dish. Set aside.
- On a small baking sheet, bake the chopped walnuts for 15 minutes, until golden brown and toasted. Set aside.
- Peel the apples and pears. Slice the fruit into thin, bitesize pieces (~1/8 inch thick, 1 inch length). The apple slices should make 2 cups worth, and the pear slices should make 4 cups worth. Transfer to a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, 1 Tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, orange zest, lemon juice, and nutmeg. Mixture will be relatively thick. Transfer to the fruit bowl. Gently mix together, using two utensils (as if you were tossing a salad), until the fruit is well coated.
- Transfer to the cast iron pan or pie dish. Gently pat down until flat and even.
- Make the streusel topping. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, butter, oat flour, toasted walnuts, brown sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, and salt until well combined. Top the fruit with the streusel.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the streusel is golden and the fruit produces little resistance with cut with a knife.
- (Optional) Serve with vanilla ice cream.
- To store: if you used a cast iron pan, transfer the winter crisp to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
If you don’t have oat flour on hand, blend a heaping 1/2 cup of oats until they have turned into a fine grain, resembling flour.