Food You Can Eat: Celebrity Sunday Matinee: Lucille Ball’s Apple John

And the award for Best Celebrity Dessert goes to...

"Did you like the Apple John, dear? It didn't make you too gassy?"

It is Oscar Night! Can you feel the excitement? No? You won’t be watching? Its ratings have been plummeting for a while now; soon enough annual viewing of the Oscars will devolve into a very niche annual tradition, like a New Year’s Day Polar Plunge. 

I’m not a big movie watcher myself but I did manage to watch “Being the Ricardos” and I liked it, and it’s up for three Oscars, and they’re three of the big ones, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. JK Simmons, the hardest working man in show business who is ever-present on second- and third-tier cable programming, is up for BSA for portraying William Frawley, aka Fred Mertz. 

Lucille Ball never got an Oscar, was never even nominated for one, although she appeared in plenty of movies. Throughout the 30s and then during WWII she had bit parts, then appeared in screwball comedies, and then in more serious stuff. She met her husband Desi on the set of “Too Many Girls” (1940) and in Desi Arnaz’s case that would have made a good title for his autobiography. 

Together they not only went on to create the sitcom phenomenon “I Love Lucy.” They founded their own studio to act as the production house (Desilu Studios), filmed in front of a live audience, and filmed on reels, not the cheaper kinescope. When you see those shady, blurry, grainy reruns of game shows from the 1950s, those were shot on kinescope and didn’t age well. The “Lucy” reruns we see today, 70 years later, are pretty much watching what people saw during the original run. “I Love Lucy” was followed by “The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour” which are interesting because in a lot of the shows, which I think are an hour long, they travel, so it is their take on different countries. Then Lucy and Desi split up and Lucy dragged Ethel (Vivian Vance) along to do “The Lucy Show,” then came “Here’s Lucy,” which went off the air in 1974. In 1986 there was one last attempt to milk the cow, “Life With Lucy,” but it was a flop (Ball was 75 at the time) and she died just three years later at Cedar’s Sinai in LA, where countless Hollywood celebs before and since have shaken off their mortal coil.

And with that, heeeeeere’s…Lucy’s Apple John! [Wild applause from studio audience]

This is basically an apple pie filling but instead of having a top and bottom crust you plop a biscuit on top of each portion. 

For the filling:

2 ¾ pounds cooking apples, thinly sliced and peeled

½ cup of sugar

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup of water

For the biscuits:

2 cups Bisquick

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup milk

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish [this is an 8X8].

Fill casserole with apples, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon peel, lemon juice, and water. Toss together with a fork.

Bake, covered, 1 hour or until apples are tender.

Turn oven heat up to 450 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine Bisquick and sugar. Quickly stir in melted butter and milk.

Drop, by rounded tablespoonfuls, around the top edge of casserole, and one in the center of the biscuit ring. [Pretend your 8X8 is the set of “Hollywood Squares” or the opening credits of “The Brady Bunch” and your biscuits are the humans. Three rows, three columns, three biscuits in each.]

Bake, uncovered, 12 to 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden and done.

Cool slightly. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream on top of each serving.



  1. She also produced Star Trek! There are actors who have had real life personalities completely different from their onscreen personalities, but I think she may have had the biggest spread between her ditzy persona and her actual brainpower of anyone in show business.

    • I think you’re right. I can think of other women who made some very shrewd moves.

      1. When she was 11 years old and appearing on the “Brady Bunch” Eve “Jan” Plumb bought a place in Malibu for $53,000 (in 1969.) It’s really modest (it looks like a raised double-wide trailer) and was never much improved and served as a weekend hangout for her and her family. It sold in 2016 for $3.9 million.

      2. Similarly, I know that Julie “Catwoman” Newmar bought up a lot of real estate in LA because two of my friends each had lived in her buildings. [wikipedia: “Newmar is partly responsible for improving the Los Angeles neighborhoods on La Brea Avenue and Fairfax Avenue near the Grove.” That Grove-area real estate must now be worth a fortune.]

      3. Tina “Ginger” Louise only married once, for five years, to a TV and radio guy named Les Crane, but somehow she became a really under-the-radar top-tier New York socialite. Her daughter debuted at the Plaza, for example. She’s the last one left of the “Gilligan’s Island” crew and now, at 88, is pretty much a recluse.

  2. Madeline Kahn was originally supposed to be in the movie Mame with Lucille Ball and Ball had her fired over creative differences.

    My (now deceased) uncle worked on that production and said that Ball had her fired because Kahn was too fucking funny and Ball was not letting someone else steal her thunder.

    Also this apple dish looks easy which is my favorite rule for baked goods. 🙂

    • I recently had the misfortune to watch 1983’s “Yellowbeard.” It has an all-star cast: three Pythons (Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, and John Cleese), Peter Boyle, Peter Cook, Spike Milligan, Marty Feldman (last film appearance for Milligan and Feldman), Cheech & Chong, Susannah York, James Mason, and Madeline Kahn. It was a disaster. It cost $10 million to make and earned $4.3 million. Even Madeline Kahn wasn’t very funny in it. It really should be more widely known as this almost supernatural example of some of the funniest people on the planet not being able to be funny. It’s like it was cursed. In fact it should be called “The Curse of Yellowbeard.”

        • You have at least three sets of people known for comedy ensemble work — (Monty Python) + (Young Frankenstein) + (Cheech and Chong).

          Maybe the lesson is don’t mix ensembles? I can see how maybe the rules for managing one set of egos doesn’t work at all when translated to a different set.

          • After the movie I did a little research. John Cleese claimed many years later that the script was one of the worst he ever read and he only did the movie out of loyalty to Chapman, who wrote the script, along with Peter Cook and a guy named Bernard McKenna. Cook, I know because I have seen it, wrote tons of hilarious stuff. He wrote the screenplay for “Bedazzled” (the 1967 original, not the atrocious remake) and Dudley Moore wrote the story.

            Which only makes “Yellowbeard” even more mysterious and cursed.

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