Summer: What does it mean to you?
I feel like such a Vancouverite when I say this, but to me summer feels almost precious. On the west coast, sunshine is ours for 3 months out of the year, so when the weather turns golden, the summer months seem to rush past in a frenzy. Sometimes I find myself holding my breath to try and keep a moment in time still for just a little longer. (I’m such a hopeless romantic!)
Summer is a fleeting gift. It slips past the same way beach sand does as it flows between your fingers while you take in the golden glow of the sun sliding behind a mountain. Or the way the warm summer seabreeze tousles rushingly through your hair as you bike the winding pathways of the seawall. I try to treasure simple moments like these and paste them in my memory almost like a stamp collector sticks postage into a travel journal to keep his journey preserved. I like to keep summer safely stored in this precious state until I nostalgically warm myself with its memory mid-winter!
What are some of your favourite August activities that are unique to wherever you are? Right now, mine include:
— swimming in the warm ocean waters off of Vancouver, walking barefoot through pine needle cushioned forest trails, eating summer broccoli, spinach, onions out of my mother’s garden, picking as many wild berries I can gather while they ripen on the vine.
(Blackberries are so good this time of year, but only for these next few weeks!)
Last weekend I picked pails and tubs of juicy blackberries with a team of friends. We had some scratches as war wounds after we reached our fill, but wound up with enough berries to freeze, make into jam and bake up for dessert! I used my friends’ company as an excuse to throw together my favourite cabin recipe for blackberry-rhubarb cobbler/crisp/crumble. (What is the difference anyway in all of those desserts?)
My recipe for berry crisp is one of the few recipes I have memorized, so when I settled in with my apron the other night, I felt so relaxed and comfortable bringing this delicious treat to fruition. The best part of this berry delight, is that the baker can substitute blackberries for any fruit of their choice. Apple crisp? Peach crisp, anyone?
Blackberry Rhubarb Crisp
Yield: 1 crisp for 7 people. Supplies: 1 large rectangular pan. bake time: 30 mins or until golden. bake temp: 375 degrees F
2 cups blackberries 6-8 large stalks rhubarb, diced into small pieces 2 cups large flake oats 1 cup flour 1 cup packed brown sugar 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp salt A couple grates of lemon rind 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 cup butter 1 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp cold water
Directions:1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash berries gently in a colander. Wash and chop rhubarb then sprinkle alternately with blackberries into bottom of pan. Zest some lemon rind and juice on top. (About 2 tsp of each). Set aside. 2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl: oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon rind. 3. Break butter in small chunks and add to your dry mixture. “Cut” butter into the dry mixture with two knives or forks and mix together until your mixture resembles small peas. You want it to be chunky so that your topping is crumbly and not a glob. At this time, addd vanilla, lemon juice and water to the mixture and mix in with your hands. 4. Clump the crumble into little blobs and crumble it on top of the berry layer. You are ready to bake! 5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden. If your crisp isn’t golden, keep er in the oven for longer! It isn’t ready until it’s golden.
This dessert is both juicy-sweet and tart. The rhubarb and blackberries blend their flavours to create a gorgeous, harmonious taste. The citrusy, spiced crumble topping adds a crunchy, buttery finish to what I would call the most comforting summer dessert I know. I hope you enjoy this crisp recipe as much as I do. Oh! And don’t forget to serve this dessert with a generous scooping of vanilla ice cream. Your guests will be so pleased you did :)
I hope your week is filled with some beach time, adventures and relaxation. Maybe you’ll discover a little patch of blackberries and decide to give this recipe a try! The dessert really is perfect for summer picnics, dinner parties and the general spreading of good cheer. :)
PS: It’s so good to be back. Thanks for your patience! I’ve had a busy summer traveling around Canada, so it’s great to be back on the west coast again soaking up all the goodness that is around me here. It’s so wonderful to be posting again on Blue Owl. So much love to you all!