Without question, one of the greatest lines ever uttered on film was delivered by Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister in the early-90s Christmas classic Home Alone. As he stands on a balcony in his fantastic house, feeling oppressed and ignored by his enormous family, Kevin yells down at them, “When I grow up and get married, I’m living alone! Did you hear me? I’M LIVING ALONE! I’M LIVING ALONE!” I still giggle at that one every time. And I used to think old Kevin was on to something; I once had some very romantic ideas about what it would be like to live by myself as a young, chic twenty-something. (I differed from Kevin in that I didn’t expect to have a husband while also living the solitary life.) But now that Alex has spent about one week out of town every month since December, I’ve changed my mind. Living alone is overrated.
During Alex’s most recent travels, I have been remarkably productive. I finally finished watching 30 Rock (that last season was a bit of a chore). Then, because I felt bad about all the TV watching, I read about half of The Keillor Reader in two days. I filled the kitchen with smoke once. I began a quest to locate the very best everything bagel available in Boston (so far there’s a clear front runner, and some strong contenders for second place). I took Moose on some extra-long walks out of sheer boredom. And, perhaps most importantly, I bought lots of cherries. They were marked way down at Whole Foods, and I got excited, so I bought a two-pound bag, thinking I’d make a pie. Then I realized that I didn’t feel like making a pie, and even if I did… I cannot be trusted alone in an apartment with an entire cherry pie.
Fortunately, it is super easy to make single-serving cherry crisp if you have a ramekin. A muffin tin would also work in a pinch.
For one crisp, you need about 8 cherries, cut in half and pitted. If the cherries are good and sweet, you can use them as they are, but if they’re a little bit on the tart side, toss them with a drizzle of maple syrup, or a couple teaspoons of sugar. Put them in a ramekin and top with a simple mixture of flour, sugar, cinnamon, oats, and butter.
And then you pop it in the oven for 20 minutes– and that’s it. That’s all it takes. You’re welcome for the knowledge that a good, homemade dessert is less than half an hour away at any time.
Cooking for myself in Alex’s absence is always a comfort. It makes me feel like a grownup, knowing that I can fend for myself; it’s also a great method of self care, treating myself to a good meal every night. But there’s just something about a fresh-baked crisp that makes home feel like home… even when I’m the only one there.
Of course, since I only used eight, that means I still have nearly 2 pounds of cherries in my fridge. So maybe I need to make a pie after all. Good thing Alex will be home soon.
Cherry Crisp For One
8-10 sweet cherries, halved and pitted
about 2 teaspoons maple syrup or granulated sugar (optional, or to taste)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a ramekin, toss the cherries and the sugar.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, and cinnamon. Add the butter, and using your fingers, press and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like crumbs.
Top the cherries with a generous amount of topping (you will have some topping left over). Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Let cool slightly, then dig in!