Make the time to be thankful - Catholic Courier
Apple pie oat bars Apple pie oat bars by Capuchin Franciscan Brother Andrew Corriente are seen in this photo. (CNS photo by John Livingston)

Make the time to be thankful

It’s a relentless juggling act of consolidating kitchen space, frantically searching for that tool you use only once a year, and pacing back and forth because you don’t know if the turkey still needs more time.

Many things can go wrong, and no one wants to sit with the uncomfortable silence of guests gnawing through your dry turkey.

However, Thanksgiving is different this time around. After all, this past year has taught us to cherish moments together.

In a sense, we’ve collectively shifted our priorities from just getting things done to enjoying our time together. In a way, this year is calling us to be extra thankful.

I’m currently rereading a favorite, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection’s The Practice of the Presence of God. Essentially, this Carmelite friar and cook says we don’t have to wait to be in the chapel to encounter God; he is always present.

In the busyness of Brother Lawrence’s life in the kitchen, he always took a moment to say thanks to God. Every moment is an opportunity to enter a sacred space.

So, I designed a simple recipe so we could enter a moment of thanksgiving during Thanksgiving preparation. It’s without fuss and can be made the day before.

The crust is earthy, buttery and finishes with a hint of salt. Molasses and a healthy dose of cinnamon provoke cozy autumn vibes. The apple filling is bright and sweet with a luscious glaze. Feel free to do a mixture of apples but ensure the apples are firm!

Sisters and brothers, this Thanksgiving is different. Instead of a manic frenzy to get things done in the kitchen, we could enter a sacred space of thanksgiving to God.

After all, if the turkey comes out dry, just cover it with gravy.


Start to finish: 60-70 active minutes and 3-plus hours for cooling

Servings: 12


1 cup or 220 grams unsalted butter

1 tablespoon molasses

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

2 cups or 200 grams old-fashioned oats

2 cups or 240 grams all-purpose flour

1/2 cup or 100 grams light brown sugar or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup or 100 grams sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or table salt)

Powder sugar (for dusting)

Apple mixture:

2 pounds (3-5) firm baking apples (Honeycrisp works best, but Gala, Pink Lady, Granny, Golden Delicious or Ambrosia work)

2/3 cup or 140 grams sugar (or add to taste)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or table salt)

2 tablespoon or 20 grams cornstarch

Juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 F and position rack in the middle.

Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with foil with enough overhang to help lift out the finished bake.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with the molasses, cinnamon and optional nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk oats, flour, brown and white sugars, baking powder and salt.

Pour in melted butter and stir until combined (the saucepan will be used later for the apples).

Evenly pat approximately two-thirds of the dough into the foil-lined baking dish; set aside the other third.

Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes until puffy.

While that’s baking, peel, core and slice apples about a 1/4 inch thick.

In the used saucepan, cook apples, sugar and salt over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes until sugar is melted and apples start to soften.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk cornstarch and lemon juice until dissolved.

Add this to the apples and stir over medium high heat.

Cook until a translucent glaze forms around the apples (5-10 minutes); it should adhere to the apples and not be watery.

Spread hot apples evenly on top of the hot crust.

Crumble the remaining dough on top.

Bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes (rotate pan halfway through baking) until the crumble is browned and the entire bake is bubbling.

Let cool in room temperature for 3-plus hours.

Carefully lift out the bake and cut edges with a very sharp knife.

Slice into 12 squares and sift powdered sugar on top.

Brother Andrew Corriente is a Capuchin Franciscan friar stationed in Indiana, Pa., serving as a deacon. He hopes to be ordained into the priesthood next summer. He is the winner of the fifth season of ABC’s “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition.”

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