A 4th of July memory
I’m 10 and I’m bored. It’s 4th of July; my father’s favorite holiday to celebrate, and my mother’s favorite holiday to work. Mom is not home. She is covering the night shift at a nearby ER where she works as a nurse. (The next morning she’ll tell me stories about what she dealt with, stories meant to scare the hell out of me so I don’t make the same choices and end up in ER.) We spent the day swimming at my grandparents’ pool and now we are home with no plans to see fireworks. Dad doesn’t like crowds.
I sneak upstairs to my parents bathroom and slowly open the closet door. Inside sits an old army chest. They told me not to open the chest, but I am so curious to see what is inside and for some reason I’m not worried about getting trouble, mainly because mom isn’t home. My brother (R) and sister (J) are downstairs watching TV with Dad who is about a six-pack deep. He doesn’t notice I’m not with them. I open the chest and see brightly colored packages of all sizes and shapes. My dad’s fireworks collection, his most prized possession. I’m about to grab a handful of fireworks when he walks into the bathroom and asks: “Want to light off some fireworks?” I was so excited… and relieved he wasn’t angry. I’m such a big kid now! I can light off fireworks, myself! I race downstairs to tell J and R. Dad races to the fridge and grabs another beer. We begin to follow him outside when he stops and tells us to wait inside and look out the back window.
But, I want to light the fireworks!” “Absolutely not, ya mothah will kill me,” he says in his thick Boston accent. I’m disappointed. I walk over to the window where J and R are excitedly waiting for the fireworks show. I watch him hang what looks like a pin wheel from our wooden swing set. (That’s right. Wooden. Swing. Set. Fireworks and wood. I’m guessing the 6 pack made that decision.) I see a flash of light. The pin wheel whirls, spins and whistles. Bits of pink, green, gold and blue explode in the night sky. Dad is illuminated by the flashing light, beer in one hand, a smile on his face, laughing. He is happy.
His happiness, like the bursts of color from the fireworks, was fleeting.
As an ode to the impermanence, including summer and cherry season, I made a cherry oat crisp. I love cherries. This crisp has a great balance of sweet and tart. A couple of squeezes of fresh lime juice compliments the natural cherry flavor. You can add a bit of sugar, but if your cherries are sweet enough, leave it out. The topping contains white whole wheat flour and oats. The whole wheat flour adds a subtle nuttiness and the oats give great texture.
A scoop of vanilla ice cream is necessary. Grab a spoon, dig and enjoy the season while it lasts.
Cherry Oat Crisp
Serves 6, 4 very generously
Recipe inspired by Brown Eyed Baker, Crisp Topping adapted from Bon Appétit July 2014
Ingredients for cherry filling:
4 cups pitted and sliced cherries (I used Bing cherries.)
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. sugar, if needed
1 tbsp. flour
pinch of kosher salt
Ingredients for Oat Topping:
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup old fashion oats, divided
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted, chilled butter, cut into small pieces
Optional: vanilla ice cream
Directions for filling:
Pit and slice 4 cups of cherries. Place cherries in a medium-sized bowl and add sugar, flour, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Gently mix together and set aside.
Directions for oat topping:
Using a food processor, pulse together flour, brown sugar, salt and 3/4 old fashion oats. Add butter and pulse until no dry pieces remain. The mixture should look like wet sand. Transfer mixture to bowl and using your finger tips, mix in remaining oats. Set aside or chill in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. (It will last for a couple of days.)
Pre-heat your oven to 375F. Spoon cherry mixture into 6, 5 ounce ramekins or 1 8×8 glass baking dish. Sprinkle topping on top of cherries. Place ramekins on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pop into the oven. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until cherry mixture is bubbling and the crisp topping is golden brown. Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving. Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
5 Fruit Crisp Links For 4th of July
Looking for the perfect red, white and blue dessert for the 4th? Head to Food 52 for Joan Nathan’s fantastic mixed berry crisp.
Can’t decide between ice cream or a fruit crisp? How about Blackberry Crisp Ice Cream? Naturally Ella has the recipe for you. I love blackberries so I need to try this!
If love blueberries more than any other summer berry, you should check out Lemon Blueberry Crisp by Alexandra Cooks. I need to email this recipe to my sister. She loves blueberries.
Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars sounds like the perfect 4th of July picnic dessert.
5 steps for making any fruit crisp or crumble is here. Get creative!