Caramel Apple Upside Down Noodle Kugel and Part 18December 14, 2012 at 7:04 am | Posted in Dessert, Dinner, Fruit, Giveaway, Holiday, Lunch, Pasta, Puddings | 47 Comments
Tags: apples, caramel, cottage cheese, Egg Noodles, Hanukkah, noodle kugel, sour cream, upside-down noodle kugel
So, it’s the 7th night of Hanukkah and I’m finally putting a Hanukkah post up. Why so late, you ask? (as if ‘late’ isn’t the norm for me). I’m late because Thursday night was the first Hanukkah dinner we had at home and I didn’t cook or bake anything prior to that.
I hate this photo because the cottage cheese-sour cream custard looks almost curdled. No idea why because it wasn’t. I’m blaming it on my crappy artificial lighting. Nonetheless, I was short on photos, so this had to make the cut. Focus on the beautiful caramel apples! Oh, and the dreidel..yeah, the dreidel!
Yes, I know.. Hanukkah is associated with foods fried in oil, such as latkes and sfganiyot (jelly or whatever filling suits your fancy filled doughnuts) to commemorate the miracle of a one-day supply of oil miraculously burning and giving light for eight days. Obviously we don’t just eat fried foods to celebrate Hanukkah, a misconception a former coworker of mine had for years, culminating in her scolding me for ordering a tuna salad sandwich for lunch several years ago.
“Lisa, give me that sandwich..you’re only supposed to eat fried foods during Hanukkah – get some fries!”
I’m dead serious.
One treat my family always served during Hanukkah is sweet noodle kugel, also called Lokshen kugel or noodle pudding. We enjoyed a good noodle kugel several times a year, but for some reason, it seemed the best noodle kugel always came at Hanukkah, the big one in the 13 x 9 pan, loaded with apples and/or raisins.
I don’t like raisins in my noodle kugel, so I was the one with the pile of raisins on the side of my plate, picking them out one by one, annihilating my perfect, little square of kugel.
I never said I was blessed with grace and etiquette.
It was usually served alongside a brisket or roast chicken, the sweet and savory always a treat, like candied sweet potatoes with turkey. Those are two holiday dinner pairings I crave every.single.year and then some.
With that being said, there are so many variations for sweet noodle kugel, I wouldn’t even know where to start, so I’ll keep it brief. Some only use eggs as a binder, some use eggs plus pot or cottage cheese, some use eggs plus pot or cottage cheese and sour cream, and some use eggs plus pot or cottage cheese, sour cream AND cream cheese. Some even add a corn flake, brown sugar and butter crumble on top.
Whew! Did I cover ‘em all?
I don’t know if there’s an ongoing debate about which version is the most authentic, but I always make mine the way my maternal grandma did, with eggs plus cottage cheese and sour cream. The addition of fruit and/or nuts and, err..a corn flake crumble topping, is entirely up to you.
So, I took my grandma’s recipe and added a pretty amazing twist to it..melted butter, brown sugar and sliced apples on the bottom of the pan, noodles on top – the same method used to make an upside-down cake. The cream in the custard seeps into the butter soaked brown sugar, giving the apples a wonderful caramel/butterscotch flavor. Come to Mama, you sweet thing you!
I’m never making it any other way again, unless someone doesn’t like apples, but let’s be real, who doesn’t like apples? I have yet to meet them.
Three final words – make this kugel.
Caramel Apple Upside-Down Noodle Kugel
1 pound wide egg noodles
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (I prefer small curd)
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Granny Smith or cooking/baking apples of your choice, peeled, cored and sliced
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1. Grease the sides of a 13 x 9 baking dish with butter.
2. Boil the noodles in salted water for about 4 minutes. Strain noodles and shake until dry. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients before the apples. I use a food processor to make a smooth custard, but mixing it with any mixer or a spoon or whisk is fine.
3. Pour the custard over the noodles, mix well, and set aside. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Pour the stick of melted butter over the bottom of the baking dish then top with the cup of brown sugar, pressing it down so it soaks up the butter. Arrange the sliced apples on top of the brown sugar.
5. Give the noodles another toss to make sure the custard covers them all and pour over apples. Distribute them evenly. Cover top of dish with buttered tin foil. Since it’s an upside-down kugel..if you don’t cover it the whole hour, the usual crunchy noodle top, which is traditional, would be on the bottom and get soggy.
6. Bake until the custard is set, about 1 hour.
7. If you have a platter larger than 13 x 9 inches, flip the noodle kugel on to the platter, as you would an upside down cake. If not, let cool, then cut slices and flip them over on to plates. Tastes great warm or cold.
Bad Boy First Love, Part 18 is finally here..and, as expected, it isn’t the end. You see, when I originally started BBFL, it was only supposed to be to two or three parts at most, but then something sad happened and I extended it because writing it helped quell my grief immensely. Once the grief subsided, and a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while said to me..
“LISA..what the hell are you doing? You just aired a very private, precious memory to anyone and everyone! Are you crazy??”
Then he added..
“..PLUS, just think of some of the people from your past and present who will be reading it! You’re letting these bad people into a deep, personal moment from your life!”
…and then the hurricane .or super storm, rather. I suddenly had a hard time writing it. I couldn’t get back into that zone.
Well..I finally got back into that zone and I could care less if creeple from my past and/or present read it. Who knows? Maybe it will ‘uncreeple’ them.
If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, Part 12 is HERE, Part 13A is HERE, Part 13B is HERE, Part 14A is HERE, Part 14B is HERE , Part 15 is HERE, Part 16 is HERE and Part 17 is HERE.
He dragged the box across my cheek into my waiting hand, which I’d lifted to my cheek to feel the box. Then I asked the stupid question we all ask with gift in hand, turning it over and over, shaking it..
“What is it?”
Why do we always ask this question with gift in hand? Why on earth would the gifter tell us what it is before we open it?
I still ask this question, while shaking the gift, to this day.
He gave the usual reply to the stupid question..
“Open it and see.”
I slowly opened the box. For some strange reason, I wasn’t even thinking ‘ring’ or ‘marriage proposal’.
I opened the box slowly. It was a delicate gold band with a very, very small diamond and two even tinier diamonds on each side of it.
Before I could say anything..he spoke first;
“Look, this isn’t the real ring, I can’t afford that now, but it’s a ring to let you know what my intentions are. We’ll move in together once you finish college, then get married, or get married first, whichever you want.” He said, his eyes saturated with anticipation.
Oh, a promise ring.
Boy, he had it all planned out, didn’t he? Did I even have a say? It was the strangest duality of feelings. Part of me was excited since I did want to marry him one day, but the other part of me was scared. I was too young to be saddled with such an assertive, definitive life plan.
Then I remembered what he told me his father said to him the summer before my freshman year of college..
“You can’t expect her not to meet and date others at such a young age, unless you put a ring on her finger.”
Was this ring a ‘stay faithful to me’ ring?
It didn’t matter, it wasn’t an official engagement ring, so I told no one. I wore it when I was with him, but when I got back to school, I took it off and pushed into a velvety ring slot in my jewelry box for a long slumber, until I went home again. The last thing I needed was questions, especially from hockey guy, who I’d been seeing on and off again. There was a pull between us that just wouldn’t quit.
I knew that Dreamboat was probably seeing others, promise ring or not. It was so hard to maintain a long distance relationship, especially due to his disdain for long phone conversations. Short and sweet is best, but not always best for a long distance relationship.
When I came home for Christmas/Winter break, I told him of my plan to head to Florida for spring break – a decision made just 2 weeks prior. He wasn’t happy..
“So that means I won’t see you for 5 months?” He asked solemnly, searching my eyes for glints of cute boys with six-packs.
“No, I can probably come home one or two weekends..” I started to say before he interrupted.
“But that’s two days at a clip, sweetheart.”
“Yeah, but we have two weeks together now!” I said, choosing to remain positive. I really wanted to experience spring break, regardless of how much I loved him.
He hugged me and smiled. We had an amazing winter break together and like always, my love for him deepened. The ‘home me’ was a starry-eyed 15-year old girl. I was always a starry-eyed young girl with him once the ‘college me’ wore off after being in his presence for a few minutes. I always tried SO hard to hold onto that burgeoning adulthood, but it was nearly impossible.
Before leaving for spring break, a good friend from home, who also went to my school and whom I was going to Florida with, drove home with me for the weekend to get our bathing suits and summer clothes. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to see Dreamboat. As soon as I got home I called him and he said he was on his way.
Hmm..he sounded a little weird. Very short and rushed. I blew it off, thinking it was just my imagination. I seemed to blow off a lot of things at that time in my life.
When he pulled up, before he could even beep, I ran to the car, flung open the door and dove into his arms. Yeah, I was a diver. The type of diver that knocked my diver recipients backwards. I couldn’t help myself, and it didn’t matter what position the recipient was in. Sitting, standing, there was always a way to dive.
After the usual loud “OOMPH!” my dive elicited, he hugged me back tight.like he always did, but something still felt off. I blew it off again because I didn’t want to think. Just breathing him in and being in his arms was all I needed.
He said something, but I was so immersed in the hug..I barely heard his voice. He broke the hug and repeated himself..
“Let’s go somewhere and talk..okay?”
I smiled..yeah, talk. We’ll be making out, without coming up for air, for some time before we talk, I thought to myself, the butterflies zipping left to right – front to back.
While he drove, I chatted animatedly about my winter classes, which I knew I’d aced, all depending on one last essay for a class I chose to fill my curriculum that semester, which dealt with teaching autistic children. I loved it so much that I must have rattled on about for 10 minutes straight about it, then told him how I planned on finishing the essay that weekend, so he may have to give me a two hour break in between all the lurve. Then I rambled on about how my professor said I could drop off the essay in her office mailbox in case we didn’t make it back before she left for home that coming Monday, before we left for the airport to catch our flight to Florida. Everything was falling into place perfectly! I exclaimed excitedly.
But, I wasn’t finished. I continued on and on about this incredible class and then on and on about how much I was looking forward to experiencing an actual ‘spring break’. I was still in ‘college Lisa’ mode’..full-throttle. I felt so mature and intellectual, and I couldn’t let go of ‘her’, not even asking where we were going as he drove, not even asking about him.
He pulled into a lookout in Alpine, a place I’d shown him my senior year in high school, where we’d park once in a while and kiss.talk.kiss.talk, when hanging out in my area. It was our usual ‘we want to be alone’ activity since we couldn’t be alone at either of our homes.
“Come on, let’s take a walk” he said, grabbing my hand when I got out of the car. We walked half way down an embankment to a small wall, overlooking the glittery lights of northern valley NJ. He straddled the wall, and I did the same facing him. He picked up my left hand, but didn’t bring it to his lips as I thought he might.
“You’re not wearing the ring” he said, lifting my ring finger, then letting go abruptly.. like it was a slimy, rotted carrot.
Oh, shit…the ring was 200 miles away, nestled in the velvet slot in my jewelry box. How could I forget it?
I started rattling off excuses like a married man caught with his pants down in a brothel.
“I worked out at the school gym before I left..I..I.. always take off my jewelry to work out. I was running late when C came to get me, just out of the shower, and I forgot to put it back on!” I said, grabbing at as many straws as I could at once.
He interrupted and in a very monotone voice said the words I’d always dreaded hearing from him.
“Lisa” Uh oh..no, sweetheart or baby.
“…I think we should take a break.”
I heard myself ask “Why?”, but didn’t feel it leave my lips.
“Because this is too hard for me…” he paused for a moment and ran his fingers through his beautiful hair – then cracked his knuckles. He was an ace knuckle cracker, he never missed a knuckle, I figured he would probably end up with bulging, deformed knuckles one day. Oh, please make him just mad at me, not end it forever.
Nope, that wasn’t the case. He continued on..
“…I can never get in touch with you and when you do call me, you’re just… I dunno, different.”
Then the whammy.
“Look..I can’t really date anyone because of the guilt and my feelings for you, no matter what kind of ‘agreement’ we have, but you can – it’s obvious, and that says a lot. I wasn’t sure I could do this, but once I saw that you weren’t wearing the ring….” his voice suddenly softened..
“…I knew for sure it was time for a break.”
I just stared at him. I didn’t know what to say. I kept replaying his words in my head..trying to jumble them into something that wasn’t a breakup (A break? A break is short..it’s not forever, right?), and then my heart fell like a souffle at a Stomp revival. This was for real – he was ending ‘us’, but it still hadn’t sunk in completely. I thought I could change his mind, or so I convinced myself.
I started to shiver. It was mildly chilly, but not enough to produce a shiver like that. This was a devastation/shock shiver. He rubbed my arms with his warm hands. He’s touching me affectionately..it’s NOT over! I kept trying to convince myself.
“Come on..let’s go back to the car, you’re cold” he said softly, taking my hand in his. A Ha..more BF-GF physical contact, there’s still a chance I can change his mind, right?
We got into the car and I tried to speak, but I couldn’t. My mouth was full of sawdust and my tongue had morphed into a thick, woolly sock . I was parched from the suddenness and enormity of it all. His love always saturated me and now I was drying up like a piece of driftwood washed ashore and beneath a hot sun for days. Somehow, I managed to choke out;
“I need something to drink.”
He opened a bottle of cold beer for me. I never liked beer that much, but at that moment, with one sip, it was the best thing I’d ever tasted in my life. I was so dehydrated, I could feel the cold path it took to my stomach, like a liquid, evil serpent waiting to slither up into my heart and bite it. It was already breaking, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
He couldn’t believe the way I was guzzling the beer, his eyes wide, a huge, incredulous smile breaking across his face That hurt even more because that was a look he always gave me when I said something inappropriate or did something kooky or off the wall…a look that said he loved it.
“WOW, look at you!” He exclaimed, as if nothing happened and it was just like any other night we spent together before this nightmare.
When I was fully hydrated and could speak properly, I reached deep into my imagined super intellect and went to work.
“Baby, we’re apart for such long periods of time, isn’t that enough of a break? Why can’t we still see each other when I come home? It doesn’t have to be this drastic, unless you’ve already met someone…”
“NO, I haven’t met someone, it’s not about dating someone else…”
Bullshit, I thought
“….it’s about not being able to deal with missing you and feeling like you don’t care when you’re up at school. I need to do this for myself.” He said. in the coldest voice ever.
“But, I do miss you” I uttered weakly, but I knew he could see a bit of insincerity in my eyes – two crystal clear windows to every emotion that ever comes over me. Remember, I had to sort of forget about him to ease the pain of missing him. Apparently, he couldn’t do the same, but, he wasn’t constantly around peers, socializing, partying and just enjoying college life..and err,,hockey players.
A sharp stab of guilt made me cringe at the latter. Then I did the worst thing I could do in this situation..
I went all psychoanalytical on his ass – for three hours.
I explained, in detail ,mind you, the virtues of not breaking up, using references from books and classes like Sociology. Every damn thing I learned and could remember was pouring out of my mouth. I couldn’t drop the ‘academic’ facade, making matters even worse..and worst of all, I couldn’t cry.
I knew he needed to see some emotion, but no matter how hard I tried to jackhammer through the cement wall of protection I put up, it remained solid..not even one tiny fissure. It wasn’t budging, and neither was he.
“I think I better get you home” He said, again, coldly.
Nooooo..this night can’t end because once it does..it will be the end of us forever, I thought, in a panic
As a last-ditch effort, I resorted to what none of us ever want to resort to;
“Please don’t do this, baby..I love you..I need you!” Cry dammit!
Why couldn’t I cry? What was wrong with me? I was feeling the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life, but the tears refused to budge. It was like my tear ducts had shriveled up into raisins and I’d never taste a salty gusher again. I could see it in his eyes as he stared into mine..icy, blue steel almost willing me to cry. He needed to see my mushy inner core, which is usually front and center; to make even the slightest dent in his wall, but it was as if a cement truck pulled up and poured another load on my wall.
Although there was no guarantee, I could feel it. No tears = No Dreamboat.
I leaned in to kiss him. another last-ditch effort, but he stiffened up when our lips met. Now I knew it was really over. I let him take me home, not saying a word the whole drive.
When he pulled up to my house, he tried to give me a hug. I pulled away and got out of the car. He waited until I got to my door..
Please make him change his mind and come running to me, I prayed, as I took the longest walk of my life. I wanted to hear his car door open and slam shut, quick footsteps, then feel him grab me from behind and tell me he loved me and made a mistake.
When I got to the door..I heard the soft rumble of his engine as he pulled away.
I couldn’t stay home..I didn’t want to be alone. I went inside and grabbed the keys to the car. I drove aimlessly for a few minutes, not sure where I was going, but then found myself taking the familiar route to my blonde friend’s house..the one who Dreamboat’s friend and brother had a crush on, the one who l spent two wondrous summers down the shore with..my best friend at that time.
It was after 2 am, so I threw pennies at her bedroom window. She opened it..clearly annoyed.
“What are you doing, Lisa? You scared the crap out of me!” She said groggily. I’d woken her up.
I could barely get the words out, but somehow she heard enough because she shut the window and came running down before I could say it in full..
“Dreamboat broke up…”
She opened door.
“…with me” then the tears came. They crashed down on my cheeks like a tidal wave and once it started it didn’t stop. My nose was running within seconds. I was sobbing as she pulled me into her house and hugged me – long, hard sobs that that actually hurt my chest and tore at my guts. I could barely breathe in between each sob. I soaked the shoulder of her t-shirt, but she held on until I was steady enough to walk over to the couch with her.
Where were these tears when I needed them??, I thought angrily. My emotions had betrayed me completely.
I finally calmed down enough to tell her everything. She was such a good friend, she listened and soothed me, then made what had become our favorite late-night pig-out whenever I was home from school, for us. Pasta with melted butter, ricotta and black pepper.
I couldn’t eat a thing, but she made me taste one spoonful, pushing it against my mouth like a mother would her baby..making me laugh. Her blue eyes beamed.
“Good, huh? Eff him, Lisa..seriously. There are so many opportunities up at school and you’re going to Florida Monday! Spring Break! Hot guys!” She said with the kind of conviction I wish I could have had at that very moment.
Somehow, that didn’t make me feel any better..but I pretended it did. I spent the night..well the rest of the morning, at her house, sleeping until almost 1 pm. When I woke, it all came flooding back, and I nearly threw up, but then it was as if the rain clouds of the breakup parted and a laser beam of sunshine poked through the gray gloom, enveloping me in its warmth.
“F%^k him” I said out loud to no one in particular.
I suddenly felt stronger and couldn’t wait to get back to school and head to Florida for spring break.
I was going to get through this – I had to.
I spent the rest of that weekend with my friends, trying to forget, trying not to cry. I was relieved when Monday morning came and we headed back to Boston. I hadn’t finished my paper for the class on teaching autistic children, so I scribbled it out the last two hours of the drive. A half-ass effort that would surely merit a half-ass grade.
I couldn’t help thinking that if he hadn’t broken up with me, I would have gotten this paper done at home and it would have been amazing. Blaming him helped dull the pain..the anger, soothing as hell. I dropped it off in my professor’s office mailbox, then ran home to pack. Our flight was at 5 pm.
I’ll spare you all the gory details, but, I had one of the best ‘crazy youth’ times of my life that spring break. I got really drunk for the first time without feeling nauseous or throwing up. I even heard myself slur for the first time, and ironically, it was when my friend and I stumbled out of one of the clubs on the strip and fell at the same time..laughing hysterically. A few guys came over to help us up.
The one holding out his hand to me looked like Dreamboat, so much so, they could have been brothers. I felt pain for a moment…then in my first and last ever slur, I said..
“You look liiiiikkkke my exsh-boyfriend..go away, itsh over.”
That made me and my friend laugh even harder. We were utterly pathetic and disgusting, but hey, it was fun in the moment, and I needed those moments to block the severe pain that continued to hit me hard when least expected..
I also hooked up with a good friend from school..a good friend who looked like me, or I looked like him..whichever. People on campus always thought we were brother and sister. I chalked it up to kissing myself, a moment of narcissism, perhaps? However, I heavily regretted it when we got back to school and he wanted something more. I rode the relationship coaster with him for a little over a week, but then broke down crying one night when we were hanging out, telling him I was still in love with Dreamboat and I was not ready for a new relationship. In other words, I told him the truth.
Sadly, our friendship was never the same after that.
To add insult to injury, two weeks back from spring break, I found out the friend I went to Florida with hooked up with hockey guy one night. I wasn’t seeing him at the time, so he could be with whomever he wanted, and to be fair, he didn’t know she was my friend from home. When we started college, we ventured out and made lots of new friends, hanging out only sporadically, (but she knew I dated him on and off), so I really had no reason to not date him. BUT, somehow, that put an ick factor on dating him again. I tried, but whenever I was with him, all I could think of was the two of them humping in a drunken stupor..and it skeeved me.
I tried dating other guys, but except for a brief relationship with a sweet guy named Sean, who used to eat frozen pizza frozen and whom I had to end it with because my roommate had a crush on (that’s a whole other story in itself, with lots of drama), there was no one that gave me the butterflies like Dreamboat did.
The pain I’d sealed off was now seeping through the cracks. It started to come back in small waves, usually when I was doing something totally unrelated to anything that would remind me of him. Washing dishes, suddenly my heart would hurt and my eyes would well up. Washing my hair, tears, brushing my teeth..quiet sobs. I’d immediately shove the pain back into the cracks and slather it with putty, but the putty began to crumble and wear away, especially once I found out I needed to go home one weekend for a family thing.
The thought of being back in North Jersey without him made me sick to my stomach. SO, I called him….
Part 19, coming soon.
The winner of the Peapod Gift Card is Dorothy Hubbard! If there is no response to my email within two days, I’ll be randomly choosing another winner. Congratulations, Dorothy!
I’d like to extend my prayers and deepest condolences to the families of the shooting victims at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. I’m completely sickened, shocked and heartbroken over this.