Monday, November 8, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Crisp with Coffee: Chickens Coming Home to Roost

I came across an apple sale on 9th Avenue the other day. 43rd Street Kids Preschool were raising money with a fine selection of New York States apples - Macoun, Macinstosh, Honey Crisp and Empire. I am a sucker for apples generally and the New York State varieties are terrific in season. I staggered home with plenty (watch the elbow!) and now need a recipe. I am still dreaming about a dish of hot apple crisp and a hearty cup of coffee I had with it at the 165th Annual Dutchess County Fair not too long ago.

Cup of the Day #43
Strutting Cup by Gwyneth Leech
Colored ink on white cup, 2010

I was there at the tail end of the summer with my sister, her husband Scot and my younger daughter. Kitty and Scot have a farm in Dutchess (Scot is a Timothy Hay farmer among other things, but that is another story) and they go every year. There are animals, agricultural exhibits, carnival rides and food, food food. Where to begin? How could anyone eat their way through it? We did our best, and here I am two months later still thinking about that apple crisp. 

On the animal front, there were cows, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits. All highly entertaining to the seven year old member of the party. Being a city kid, Grace usually only sees these in books.

Cup of the Day #43
Strutting Cup, Verso by Gwyneth Leech
Colored ink on white cup, 2010

Towards the end of the animal exhibits we entered a large hall - chickens and roosters! The fancy breed poultry!! The cages in rank upon rank took me straight back to the first time I saw this type of exhibit - 1983, the Royal Highland Show outside Edinburgh, Scotland. I was an art student. Those birds were heaven-sent. At least five years of poultry-inspired art ensued: paintings, drawings, sculpture and videos. There is something in the shape of a rooster as it cranes and struts that has persistently fascinated me. Generally, I don't use chickens as subject matter anymore but an underlying form is still lurking in my artwork and pops out when I least expect it. Why, a veritable flock of chickens appeared unexpectedly on this cup drawing just the other day.

They reckon dinosaurs looked a lot and walked a lot like chickens (and ostriches and Emus). I like that thought.

La Poule, Video Installation by Gwyneth Leech 1988
With a 2008 Soundtrack by Martha Sullivan
inspired by Jean Phillipe Rameau's 
18th Century harpsichord piece, La Poule
(Paolo Bordignon on harpsichord)


  1. Love these cups! Yes it seems we'ee on the same astral plane!

  2. I remember your chicken paintings in your studio in Glasgow :)

  3. I LOVE your chicken paintings! I wish I had one. Of course that would require a wall big enough to hang it on! How about a retrospective show on your web page?

  4. Thanks Rebecca,
    The chicken paintings were all purchased, long before digital images.
    I reckon I have slides. Could scan. Now that's a project!

  5. hilariously fun video....hope those chickens had some "free range" time out of those the chicken cup too...chicken paintings would love to see

  6. And here is a great recipe for Apple Crumble from the blog, "If you can Make That You Can Make This". Thank you chef Katherine!
    If You Can Make That You Can Make This

    Apple Crumble (serves 6 – 8 – or 2 for dinner in its entirety)

    6 apples – tart ones – not golden delicious
    3 tbsp sugar
    Squeeze of lemon juice
    4 tsp cinnamon
    1 stick of cold butter (75g)
    1 ½ cups of flour
    ½ cup oats or chopped nuts
    ½ cup of sugar plus 1 tbsp

    Pre heat the oven to 400 (200 if you’re in Britain)
    Peel and core the apples, cutting into bite sized chunks
    Squeeze lemon juice over to stop them from browning and place in a baking dish
    Mix with 1tbsp sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon
    Cut the cold butter into cubes and mix with the flour either in a processor or by hand until the mixture resembles sand
    Add in 2 tsp cinnamon, the ½ cup of sugar and the ½ cup of oats or chopped nuts
    Scatter the crumble mixture over the apples
    Bake for 35 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes before serving with cream of vanilla ice cream