apples from the teacher: mary lee hahn!

#12 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

Apple and chocolate-covered espresso bean smiley face by Mary Lee Hahn.

Class, did you bring an apple for the teacher today?

What, your dog ate it?

Have no fear: Mary Lee Hahn is here! It’s way cool to have an apple from the teacher today, especially from this teacher. Every time I read another one of Mary Lee’s blog posts, I wish I could be in her class. She always seems to be cooking up such fun and interesting projects for her students. Mmmmmmm! Do I smell cinnamon?



Sour apples,
thinly sliced.
Butter, sugar,

From hot oven,
smells entice
and titillate your

Tart is sweet now,
slightly spiced,
Add heavy cream, hear

© 2010 Mary Lee Hahn. All rights reserved.


Don’t you love the “sliced,” “entice” and “spiced” tucked in the middle of each stanza? Kind of like sweet filling in a pie. ☺

Apple Crisp is one of those classic heart-and-home kind of desserts that instantly makes guests feel welcome. It’s like the gift of grandma, crisp fall days, and happy school times rolled into one. It’s never pretentious, easy to prepare, and always satisfying. It also allows one to be creative and experimental. Everyone seems to have his/her own version of crisp — nuts? oatmeal? raisins? honey or brown sugar? And then, of course, is the all-important topping — whipped cream? vanilla ice cream? warm caramel sauce? or like in Mary Lee’s poem, heavy cream?

Mary Lee’s recipe comes from the Pillsbury Kitchens’ Family Cookbook (1979). In true teacher style, she’s added some wonderful footnotes (love, love them!). Read over carefully because there might be a quiz at the end. Enjoy! ☺



6 cups (6 medium) peeled1, sliced cooking apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup Pillsbury’s Best® All Purpose, Unbleached or Self Rising Flour2
½ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired3
½ cup margarine or butter4 

Heat oven to 375°F. Place apples in 8 or 9-inch square pan5. Sprinkle with lemon juice and water. In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle over apples. Bake at 375°F. for 40-45 minutes or until apples are tender. 6 servings.6  


1 I never bother peeling the apples. 2 I’m a flour snob; I use King Arthur®. 3Are they kidding? Of course you’ll use at least 1 tsp cinnamon! (Mine was Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia from Penzeys Spices – we’re lucky enough to have a store here.) 4 It’s not really a choice is it? As Julia Child says, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”  I say, use both! I serve the warm apple crisp with heavy cream drizzled over it. 5 Or whatever size pan your sliced apples fit best in – I used a 9×13 3qt Pyrex®. 6 Depending, of course, on the sizes of your servings!

“Did someone say HEAVY CREAM? I’ll take mine straight, no crisp.”

Mary Lee’s cat Jack!


Mary Lee Hahn is the author of Reconsidering Read-Aloud (Stenhouse, 2002), and has been teaching elementary school for close to 30 years. Her favorite grades to teach are fourth and fifth (yet another reason I want to be in her class), and she’s been known to bake sinfully delicious chocolate cakes and pass out special treat bags full of homemade candy during the Christmas holidays. She enjoys swimming, fly fishing, and takes wonderful photos that capture the highlights of her life, month by month. I was thrilled to be able to meet her in person at the October 2009 Kidlit Conference. 

Despite the Apple Crisp and chocolate cakes, Mary Lee’s favorite dessert is actually crème brûlée — something she never makes at home, preferring to order it in restaurants. She blogs with fellow teacher Franki Sibberson at A Year of Reading, where they continue to try to predict and/or read each year’s Newbery Award winner. In celebration of National Poetry Month, Mary Lee is writing and posting a new poem every day about teaching and/or learning.

“Did someone say Crème Brûlée? I’ll take at least two. After you tell me how beautiful I am.”

Mr. Will lounging on his favorite fleece blanket.


*All photos, with the exception of the crème brûlée, © 2010 Mary Lee Hahn. All rights reserved.


Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.


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