The older I get, the more aware I become of my place in the world, good or bad, as a woman. Being raised in the Midwest (in the 80’s), I was taught, whether advertently or inadvertently, that women were second-class citizens. My sister and I were not encouraged to speak up for ourselves, nor for other girls/women. Perhaps because of this, I found myself interested in the notion of feminism after I left for college, even if I didn’t wholly understand what it meant.
My first job out of college was working as a Women’s Advocate at a domestic violence shelter in southern Minnesota. It was a cause I knew something about, having witnessed it and heard about it throughout much of my childhood. I loved that job, and learned much about the cycle of domestic violence, and why it can be hard for so many women to break that cycle. In my naiveté, I thought “good people” would support this kind of work, and applaud my young idealism. But I was dumbstruck one night at dinner when a distant (female) family member said, “What about domestic violence shelters for men? ” Anger washed over my body, and it took everything in me not to scream at this woman. Did she not know the national statistics on domestic violence? How could she be so ignorant? That was the first time–and thankfully one of the few times–I remember a woman going against the Sisterhood Code. I don’t remember how I responded that night, but I do recall thinking that I needed to remain polite and nice in my response, because I was a young woman and had no right voicing my opinion. Back then, I didn’t have the courage to speak up when I encountered an ignorant, racist, or misogynistic comment.
Fast forward 16 years, and I still struggle with asserting myself when it’s the right thing to do, mainly because I am female. It’s hard to unlearn what you are taught as a child. I love that feminism has taken center stage in recent years. People might disagree on the specifics of the definition, but no one can argue that, in general, it means full social, economic, and civic rights for all women. That said, I think one of the most difficult parts of being a feminist is dealing with the day to day, and often more subtle, situations, comments & behaviors that women encounter and have to navigate. For example, is it ok for me to disagree with a male colleague in a work meeting or will I come across as a loud-mouthed bitch? If I point out a sexist statement made by an acquaintance, will I be labeled an uptight feminist who needs to “relax”?
I recently experienced the latter scenario, but I did not call out the misogynistic behavior and comments. My rationale was that I didn’t want to cause a kerfuffle, but if I’m truly honest with myself, I also didn’t want to be labeled That Girl. That Girl is super-sensitive and prides herself on policing sexist language, etc. I lacked the courage to speak up in a really uncomfortable situation, and I am disappointed in myself. There is still the young, naïve, and idealistic girl inside me who thinks, maybe they just don’t know! I’ll explain why this is offensive to them, and they will take back what they said! But there is also the cynical, frustrated pessimist in me who thinks that misogyny, racism, etc. simply have to die out with the older generations. The next time I encounter language or behavior that doesn’t jive with my values, I hope to be braver.
I am a big lover of fruit crisps. However, some are better than others. The “crisp” part of the dessert can really vary depending on the recipe: sometimes it’s super-sweet, other times it can be very crispy with not a lot of heft to it. The crisp in this recipe is aptly named a crumble, because that’s exactly what it is. And my god, is it delicious, largely due to the brown butter crumble. Browning butter adds so much depth of flavor. I want to start advocating that we brown butter whenever butter is called for in a recipe. Make this asap (peach season is almost over!) and thank me later.
Peach Crisp with Brown Butter Crumble
Adapted from Food and Wine
Unsalted butter, for greasing
2 lbs. ripe peaches, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Brown Butter Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/4 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, toss the peaches with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the peaches have released some of their juices.
3. Drain the peaches in a colander set over a small saucepan, then return them to the bowl.
4. Add 1/4 cup of water and the cornstarch to the peach juices and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and translucent, about 1 minute. Add the thickened juices and the salt to the peaches and toss to coat. Scrape into the prepared baking dish.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the oats, the 3 sugars, the salt and cinnamon. In a small saucepan, cook the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until deep golden and nutty-smelling, about 8 minutes. Scrape the butter and any browned bits at the bottom of the pan into the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
6. Press the topping into small clumps and scatter over the peaches. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the crisp is golden and bubbling. Transfer to a rack and let stand for 15 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream.