(Tornados And) Pear Almond Crisp With Dried Cranberries

Ever since I moved to New York, I've been neglecting my blog something fierce. I'll be the first to admit that. However, it has been an insanely busy month of going on job interviews, training for the new job (man was that exhausting!), hunting for apartments, negotiating with apartment brokers, jumping through multiple bureaucratic hoops until they finally broke down and gave me the place, and finally, learning the art of "schlepping" through life in the big bad city.

Schlepping is a Yiddish term that is commonly used by many New Yorkers. The Urban Dictionary defines it as both a noun and a verb.

Noun: "A long and tiresome walk" 
Verb: "To carry, bring, or otherwise transmit something which is difficult to move."

I am becoming intimately familiar with each of those definitions as the weeks go by and am having to schlep bags of dirty clothes and containers of liquid Tide for several blocks just to get to the nearest laundromat. I find myself schlepping groceries back to my apartment and mentally calculating the cost/ benefit analysis of buying certain products in the produce aisle: It's the end of summer and this is probably the last bit of watermelon I will eat this year, but should I buy it? Is it really going to be worth it . . . ?

Life in NYC has been a major adjustment. There's the general craziness, the fast pace, the learning to adapt, the figuring out where I'm going and how I'm getting there, and most of all, the creating of my own routines that are slowly become familiar. Yet, in the midst of it all, I am beginning to carve out my space, and loving the city more and more each day. I had the past two days in a row off of work, and for the first time since I got here, I didn't have anything major to accomplish. It was a beautiful feeling.

So I kicked back, I read a book, I enjoyed a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, I listened to the new Ray LaMontagne album that my roommate just burned me a copy of, and I experimented in the kitchen.
The soulful sounds of Ray's amazing voice filled the room, while blasts of thunder grumbled through the streets of Brooklyn. At first, I thought it was merely a subway car barreling beneath the streets, but then it kept getting louder.

I remember seeing a bright flash out of the corner of my eye as I was slicing some pears. I glanced out the window and found that it was lightning. Perhaps that wasn't a subway car making all that noise? My eyes widened at the prospect because I didn't even know it was going to rain that day. I set down my knife and walked over to the window to see what might come next.

As I did, an enormous gust of wind proceed to tear through the trees, violently pressing them to one angle, as though an invisible hand was forcing its palm against their branches. This was followed by a sheet of rain so thick I could see nothing else -- not even the trees. The first thought that came to mind was this: Wow, storms are pretty intense on the East Coast.Cool! 

I later found out from my roommates that this was an actual tornado that broke the windows of the Brooklyn Industries boutique that is one block away from our apartment, and sent all the salesgirls to the hospital. Yet, as this ball of wind and energy was whipping through the streets, knocking over trash cans, breaking store windows, and causing all sorts of havoc, I was in my cozy kitchen, baking a pear crumble. They say ignorance is bliss, right?

Pear and Almond Crisp With Dried Cranberries

6 pears, 3 Bosch and 3 Bartlett, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup raw oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
4 Tbsp. butter, cold
7 oz. tube Odense Almond Paste, grated (found at gourmet grocery stores and Italian Delis)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the sliced pears, white sugar, and dried cranberries together in a large bowl and let it sit while you make the crumble/crust.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg until thoroughly mixed. Cut in the butter, then use a butter knife and your hands to mix everything together. The batter should feel crumbly and dry. Next, add in the grated Almond Paste, and continue to mix with your hands.

Divide the batter in half, and use one half to create a bottom crust by coating the bottom and sides of a 10"x10" Pyrex baking dish. (You'll notice in the pictures that I used a round pie plate because that was all we had on hand, so you can technically use either.) Add the pear mixture to the baking dish and then top with the remaining crumble/crust batter. Just sprinkle it on top until all the pears are evenly coated.

Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Take it out and top it with some vanilla ice cream. Festive and delicious!

And some random tornado pics thrown in for good measure: