Rhubarb Strawberry Cherry Crisp + 5 Delicious Fruit Crisp Links!

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The last thing Eloise ate the day she died? A piece of rhubarb pie.  It was an ordinary day, really, nothing extraordinary to note.  She sat at the kitchen at table alone, the sound of the grandfather clock ticking away, taunting her, so many minutes in the day ahead.  Or so she thought.  The Russian Blue cat she inherited from her granddaughter many years ago sat on the kitchen table, within a short leap of her slice of rhubarb pie.  The cat gazed at her with what seemed like concern, but likely hunger. [Though she fed the cat plenty, he seemed to crave food more since Russell died.  Fancy Feast soothed his broken heart. Nothing soothed her heart.]

“Shoo!”

He remained, as he sensed he should.  He wouldn’t budge, so she took a big bite of her slice of rhubarb pie.  Delicious, as always, Russell’s favorite.  A flaky, buttery crust filled with slightly tart and perfectly sweet rhubarb from their garden.  A recipe passed down from her mother.  [A difficult woman to love.  And yet.  She was loved.]

“Damn cat!  Bringing me a dead mouse at 5 in the morning.  Some companion you are!  Russell, you should be here!” she hollered into muggy morning air.

[She called to him often.  Talked to  him in her head.  Dreamt of him at night. Occasionally, he did appear to her in the quiet blue-black stillness of night;  sleeping, his chest heaving up and down, the sound of his breath lulling her to sleep.  Russell had always been enough for her.  In sixty-two years of marriage she never entertained the idea of another man.  He thought of other women, as men do, yet never sought a thrill.  She was enough.]

Eloise stood from the table, opened the front door and stepped into the damp morning air, barefoot.  [Unlike her to be barefoot, wet grass between her toes.  She loved her slippers, but she was not herself today.]

As she made her way across the yard to her jungly garden, she marveled at how good the dewy grass felt underneath her feet, the warm sun on her back, penetrating her bones. She stared at her garden, the tomatoes heavy on the vines, raspberry bushes growing wildly, engulfing the zucchini and Blackeyed Susans.  A few stalks of rhubarb remained, enough for another pie.

And with a moan, she howled  “Russell, you should be here!”

[Neighbors thought for sure the old woman was loosing her mind, calling out for a dead man.  And when they saw her skitter across the lawn faster than she had moved in years, arms held out, smiling, well they made a quick call to her son.  An hour later he would find her, curled up on the summer grass as if asleep, her body turning cold.]

It was the sound of a lawn mower that made Eloise turn.  He stood a few yards away: khakis, white t-shirt wet with perspiration, smiling, the lawnmower now at rest. “Russell?”  She walked towards him, her pale blue nightgown skimming the damp grass, her ninety-year old body outlined by the sun, visible through the thin cotton.  Eloise reached for Russell and he smiled. His damp face, his slight stubble, his dry lips all in her hands once again, the blue eyes she looked into for sixty-two years, again, looking at her.

She felt light-headed, her breath slowed and she fell to her knees.

Eloise lay on her back in the emerald grass, Russell lay on his side right next to her.  She stared at the hazy sky, the large elm beginning to sway, the wind mercifully picking up on this oppressive summer day.  She understood what was happening and a single tear fell down her cheek.  What relief!  No more marking of days, minutes too long to bare without him.  She would miss a few souls and that damn cat.  She thought of the half-eaten pie sitting on the kitchen table and wondered if the cat would eat it.  She didn’t care.  Ready now, Eloise turned her body to Russell, curled up into space between them and let go.

 

Rhubarb Strawberry Cherry Crisp

Serves 6

Recipe Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients:

2 stalks rhubarb, 1/2 inch slice

2 cups of cherries, pits removed and halved

2 cups strawberries, quartered

1/3 cup raw sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

For the Crisp Topping:

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup quick cooking oats

3/4 raw sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 stick + 4 tablespoons, chilled, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces

generous pinch of kosher salt

vanilla ice cream for serving

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.  Butter a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and toss sliced rhubarb with cut cherries and strawberries.  Add sugar and cornstarch and mix gently to coat.  Next, add the orange juice and stir again.  Pour the berries into the prepared baking dish.

Grab another mixing bowl and stir together the flour, oats, sugar and salt.  Add the almond extract and butter.  Using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until the ingredients are clumpy and resemble wet sand, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the topping over the fruit.  Place on the middle rack of your oven and bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is a deep golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.  Allow the crisp to cool for 15 minutes or so before serving.  Serve with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

**The crisp topping can be made a few days ahead.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  The fruit should be prepared just before baking.  The baked crisp is best the day it is made.  If you have leftovers, re-heat in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes or the microwave for a few minutes.**

5 Delicious Fruit Crisp Links

Memorial Day and 4th of July are just around the corner so why not make Joan Nathan’s Red, White and Blue Fruit Crisp?

I can’t wait for peach season!  Dolly + Oatmeal’s peach, hazelnut, shiso crisp with ginger ice cream and Minimalist Baker’s easy peach crisp are on my must make list this summer.  Oh and they are both gluten-free!

Can’t get enough of sour cherry desserts?  Check out my cherry oat crisp.  It is the perfect summertime treat.

Want to know how to many any fruit crisp in just 5 easy-peasy steps?  Head to Food 52 for some tips.

 

Pear + Apple Breakfast Granola Crisp + 5 Feel Good Fall Breakfast Recipes!

 

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I can see my breath in the cold, fall air.  The field is dark except for a small area in the east where the sun just begins to warm the dew covered grass.  I walk slowly over to the light and turn my face to the sun, bright spots dance underneath my eye lids.  The sun feels warm, but the wind is brisk and unrelenting.  My running shoes are wet, my toes numb.  The numbness creeps up to my thighs and settles in.  When I open my eyes I see the others undressing, shoving warm layers into clear plastic bags.  They nervously eat Power Bars, set their watches and stretch.  I stare blankly at the grass, not fully present.

“Time to head over.” Who said that? I remove my jacket, shove it into my bag and re-tie my running shoes.  I follow the crowd to the starting line.  I’m not ready.

“Oh c’mon, Kel.”  I hear you Papa.  Three long years later and I still hear you on my runs.

The blow horn sounds, ready or not, my legs are moving.  I feel ok. The numbness is subsiding.  Suddenly I feel great, I am cruising…then I hit mile 5 and I feel a stabbing pain in my knee; my thoughts snowball, my mind takes over.  I can’t do this.  This is too painful.  What am I trying to prove?  Stop!

Breathe.

One foot in front of the other. Finish what you started. “C’mon you old donkey.” Papa…again.

Mile 10.

Almost there. 3 miles is nothing compared to the 10 I just ran.  One foot in front of the other…Bubba and the kids stand near the finish line.  I smile, relieved to see their sweet, familiar faces cheering me on.  The gnawing pain in my knee remains, but my mind is stronger.  I keep going.

Finish line. 

I hear Papa laugh, a proud laugh and then he is gone…again.

The race is over and I have a medal to show for it, a medal and some dam strong determination.  I hobble past the Gatorade and food stations.  Bagels, bananas and Power bars are everywhere. I don’t want any of it.  Anxious to head home, I stop and look for my favorites.

“Mama! Good job Mama!” Bubba gives me a kiss.  I hug the kids.  We head home. The race is over, one foot in front of the other, and I finished.

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I took a few days off from running and attempted to make caramel apples. I failed.  My first attempt the caramel tasted like sugar soup.  Gross!  My second attempt I overcooked the caramel, but coated the apples anyway.  I thought for sure caramel would pull out C’s slightly loose tooth. “Mama this tastes good, but I can’t eat it. It is too hard!” Failed again.

My thoughts snowball: Why am I keeping this blog? Who cares? There are too many food blogs out there! What do I have to say that is fresh? Nothing! 

Breathe.

I move on and attempt to make a whole grain cookie.  I fail. The cookie is flavorful, but way to moist; it’s texture like a dense, squat muffin.

Try something else. Don’t give up!

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I find a recipe for a breakfast granola crisp and feel inspired.  I see perfectly ripe pears and apples sitting in our fruit bowl.  I make the crisp, adapting it slightly: maple syrup instead of honey, brown sugar in place of white sugar and white whole wheat flour and oats for the topping.  I pull the crisp from the oven, the juices still bubbling.  The granola topping is golden brown and crisp.  The ambrosial smell of baked apples, pears and cinnamon fill the kitchen.

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After the crisp has cooled a bit, I take a bite.  Success!  The granola topping is crisp and subtly sweet with hints of maple.  The fruit is warm and syrupy.  I add some Greek yogurt for protein, but could have just as easily eaten straight from the pan.  I feel satisfied with the recipe and ready to share it.  I’m so glad didn’t give up! One foot in front of the other…

Pear + Apple Breakfast Granola Crisp

A slightly sweet fall fruit crisp with a crunchy granola topping makes breakfast feel like a treat.  

recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

serves 6-8               

1 1/2 pounds of apples, (apples you like to bake with) peeled, cored and cut into medium size chunks

1 1/2 pounds of Bartlett pears cored and cut into medium size chunks

2 tablespoons  lemon juice

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

A pinch of kosher salt

1 stick/8 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 cups oats ( I used Bob’s 7 grain hot cereal mix.)
optional: ( I did not use the ingredients listed below because we have a nut-allergy in our family, but I bet they are a delicious addition.)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 shredded coconut sweetened or unsweetened

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 400°F.

Using a large bowl mix together apple and pear chunks with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and pinch of salt until evenly coated. Scoop the fruit into an 8×8 metal baking pan and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the flour and oats (almonds and coconut too, if using). Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the maple syrup.

Stir the dry ingredients into the melted butter and maple syrup, add a pinch of salt and continue to stir until clumps form. Sprinkle granola evenly over the apple and pear mixture.

Bake in the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and soft.***Check the granola topping at 40 minutes. If the granola browns too fast, place a piece of aluminum foil over the dish.  Remove the foil the last few minutes of baking to allow the granola to crisp.***

Allow to cool to room temperature. Serve with yogurt and a bit of honey or agave nectar. Enjoy!

The crisp will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

5 Feel Good Fall Breakfast Links

Looking for a healthy, slightly sweet pumpkin bread?  Head to Sprouted Kitchen for Sarah’s recipe: pumpkin bread with toasted walnuts and cinnamon swirl.  I can’t wait to make this!

I love pears and I have a container of steel cut oats sitting in my pantry.  Minimalist Baker’s recipe for caramelized pear steel cut oats is on my must make list this week!

If eggs is more your thing at breakfast, try an apple omelet with cheddar and thyme. Be sure to check out What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today? other recipes too!

Want to eat waffles, but need an easy gluten-free option?  Cookie + Kate has the recipe for you!

Check out my pumpkin streusel millet muffins! They are sure to be a crowd pleaser!

 

 

Cherry Oat Crisp + 5 Summer Fruit Crisp Links Perfect for 4th of July!

 

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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.

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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.

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A scoop of vanilla ice cream is necessary. Grab a spoon, dig and enjoy the season while it lasts.

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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.)

Assembly:

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!