Like A Freight Train

Our bedroom has become noisy at night and not for the right reasons. We have two owls in the backyard who like to sing at the top of their lungs starting in the wee hours of the night. They are obviously new to our neighborhood but we hear them like clockwork. I love owls so literally don't give a hoot about the sounds. As a little girl in Dallas I had an owl that would visit the courtyard off my bedroom every night. When younger I was a scaredy-cat so at the beginning this visitor terrified me. I am sure my wonderful mother told me an enchanting story and the owl became a much anticipated visitor. Since the advent of Harry Potter, who doesn't love owls? Magical, mystical creatures. At least they are in my book. So hooting aside, I have begun to snore. I think it started a couple of months ago and I blamed it on work related weight gain. I have since lost the weight and the rumor on the street is that my snoring has gotten even worse. Yikes. Snoring is so unladylike. Really it is. I thought snoring was only something men do after a night of tying one on? Ladies, you know what I'm talking about.

I am quite unsure what to do. If I am on my side the snore escapes in the form of a low hum. Apparently it sounds almost like a crying cat. Sometimes it sounds like a whistle. I will blame my retainer for this one. If I am on my back it sounds like a freight train. Matthew has been known to wake up with me close to his face breathing like what he says a dragon. We watch Game of Thrones so can only surmise what they sound like. Each morning Matthew proclaims that I clearly slept well the night before. I once asked where the snores hailed from. Apparently the sound screams from everywhere. Nose, mouth, throat. Shudder. In the past week, I have begun waking up multiple times in the night in hopes of catching myself and putting an end to the pandemonium. I have asked Matthew to film me so I can gain an understanding of how dreadful it sounds. Bless him, I don't think he has the heart. So I am officially a 35 year old woman who snores. It is a pity as I consider myself a marvelous sleeper.  Early to bed and early to rise, I have the most wonderful dreams and am near impossible to disturb but apparently I astound my light sleeping neighbor. I thought snoring didn't creep up until later in life? Alas, here we are. I fear I may be only two sleepless nights away from exile to a guest bedroom. Perish the thought. 

It is hot as Hades here so we have been taking major advantage of the city's local beer haunts in the evenings. I do not usually drink during the week but it is summertime so why not. In the past months not within the corporate world, I have come to some profound realizations and the most important one is that life is short. Have fun, do what you want and create memories. For we are forever together by way of them you know. Last night, we made our ways to the Old Mecklenburg Brewery (OMB), which is a mere stone's throw from our house. I have German friends in Charlotte who assert that OMB is the best and most authentic beer garden they have been to in the States outside of Germany. OMB's acclaimed Copper is an Altbier, which translates from German to English into old beer. This mead is known for its dark copper hue. Altbier was born in the German state of Westphalia and is the speciality of my German city, Dusseldorf. In fact, it is currently brewed at eight breweries in the city. I have fond memories of luxuriously lazy afternoons spent at breweries. The custom is to take a spot at a tall boy with strangers who inevitably over the course of the afternoon - and perhaps thanks to the beers - will become friends. The waiters bring you a coaster and for every .2 Liter "Alt" he or she marks this very same coaster with a pen. When it's time to settle, you simply hand in the coaster. Folks came by with the ubiquitous pretzels and brats. It is at a brewery that I first tried mett, which is ground raw pork sometimes mixed with onions. Meat must be served the same day it is butchered. You smear it on bread. Perfect after a day of boozing. And you thought pizza was good. This evening we are headed to Sycamore Brewing for a fete hosted by my favorite daily email newsletter, CharlotteFive. This newsfeed is an outstanding way by which to stay in the know about the Queen City as well as connected.

This past Saturday evening - after an afternoon at the brewery - we were in the mood for a proper dessert. At home my mother either prepares a bread pudding or apple crisp for dessert. Her recipe is similar to the below but she likes to add apricot jam to the wet mix as well as dried cranberries. And so in lieu of strawberry shortcake or death by chocolate, I made the below. Butter and sugar aside, it isn't too unhealthy. The beautiful thing about crumbles or crisps as my South African relatives call them is that you can substitute any type of fruit you like. The recipe that follows calls for peeled granny smith apples and pears (both were on sale) but the combinations or solo endeavors are endless. Peach, nectarine, plum, apricot, cherry, rhubarb, mango, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry - the list goes on. I take after my mother and serve ours with vanilla ice cream but the options are quite endless. I also recommend a dollop of Greek yoghurt, sour cream or cream. You can present the latter as is or whipped. This delectable dessert makes a fitting grand finale for any dinner party, cookout or as was the case for us, summer supper for two. We have loads of leftovers and the person in the house who does not snore has been enjoying this every night since. 

Apple and Pear Crisp
Adapted from Ina Garten


For the crisp's interior

4 granny smith apples - peeled and chopped into two inch chunks
2 Braeburn pears - peeled and chopped into two inch chunks
1 orange - you will use the zest and its juice
1 lemon - you will use the zest and its juice
2 TBS apricot jam
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

For the lovely topping

3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of flour
1 pinch of kosher salt
1 cup of dried oats
2 sticks of butter - you want this cold, not room temperature
*Optional: You can add nuts to this mix. I like raw almonds and my mother likes walnuts both of which you add in the last ten minutes of cooking. They add a bit more crunch to the bite. Lovely.


1. Peel and chop your apples and pears and place them in a large bowl. Add the zest and juice of the orange, zest and juice of the lemon, apricot jam, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss to coat. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, add your granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, dried oats and butter. The following is key. You must pulse and not mix. Pulse until the mixture resembles crumbles.

3. Pour your apple and pear medley into a large dish. Scatter the food processor medley on top. Bake this in the oven at 350 for approximately one hour. You know it is finished once bubbling. Serve hot and enjoy. 

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