Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Berry Crisp

A Secret Vacation

If you could take a secret vacation for a day without telling a soul, where would you go?  

Every August since I wrote this book I take a secret vacation to Portland, Oregon.  I get up early and drive to the Hillsdale Farmers' Market.  I don't usually tell anyone before I go, because I'm on a mission to fill my little box freezer with Chester and Triple Crown Berries from Ayers Creek.   Check out how they're pampered.   

If I stock up on fresh berries now, I'll save money because we eat berries so frequently.  The local crop comes and goes too fast, and I miss the berries when they're gone.  So we extend the season for as long as we can by freezing berries.  The alternative is  buy cheaper, less flavorful frozen berries from who knows where at the grocery store or buy expensive organic berries from the natural foods store.  The latter isn't in my budget plan anymore, and this past year, CostCo had a recall on their organic mixed berry blends.  It makes me nervous to buy berries from who knows where.  

I'll just take my summer berry vacation.  I don't need a melon vacation but a berry trip is essential.

I wasn't the only one making a journey for these berries. Farmer Anthony Boutard said someone was driving from Eugene to pick up Chester berries the same day.   

I also look for bargains like red peppers, eggplant and garlic that cost twice as much at farmers' markets in Seattle.  Why? Is it that much harder to grow food in Washington?  Or are markets, permits and regulations strangling Washington farmers?  

As I ponder that question, I splurge on things that I can't get in Washington, like artichokes from DeNoble Farms in Tillamook.  There aren't any artichokes that match that here.  "Why don't you just move to Oregon?" a friend asked.   The truth is, I like my secret vacation.

There isn't any better place to be than the Northwest in the summer.  No where else has perfect summer weather.  And the berries . . . don't get me started.  Other people go sailing, camping or to the beach.  They go to movies, concerts, theme parks and Europe,  but I'll take a good farmers' market vacation any day.

When I finally arrive back home, someone is at the door to greet me.   

But he runs past me.  Turns out, he can't wait for the Chester berries either.

A blackberry smoothie--I wonder how it would taste with a hint of mint or lavender?

I think I bought too many. But I'm sure I can make them all fit eventually.  We live in a tiny house,  have a tiny refrigerator and a tiny box freezer. Five flats of berries and I used every space I could find to freeze them.  Even my husband's beer refrigerator outside. I learned how to freeze them from a post on Good Stuff Northwest. Amazing after using the cookie sheet method for years. When the berries are frozen, I'm putting them in bags using my Food Sealer.  That way I don't get freezer burn on the berries.

The Recipe 

I wanted make a crisp.  I have to make one crisp with berries every summer, so I got out this old cookbook--one the first cookbooks I bought long ago.  I've made other recipes but always come back to this one.  In the book, it's called Apple Crunch and it has three different versions--Apple, Rhubarb and Blueberry.

If you want a really crisp topping, add some maple syrup, the texture is amazing.   If you like your topping crumbly and less sweet, use 1/2 cup brown sugar.  I find, too much sugar detracts from the blackberries. 

I mixed blueberries and blackberries in this crisp.

Here's my modified version:

The Best Berry Crisp
(Serves 4 to 6)
The original recipe didn't list any sugar at all.  I didn't add any this time, but I have added it in the past.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance 
1 heaping pint blackberries
1/2 pint blueberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon tapioca

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Place flour, oats, sugar, and baking soda in a bowl and stir, blending all ingredients.  Cut in the butter or Earth Balance.

3. Place the berries in a baking dish.  Add sugar if desired and the tapioca.  Stir it in.  Add less sugar for more berry flavor.

4. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes or until top is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and enjoy.  I like coconut sorbet, but choose your own topping.

Maybe I'm pushing my luck using my Cooking Assistant as a food model


Joan said...

Ohhh I love secret vacations! A few years ago I took a 3 day jaunt, solo, visiting little family owned plant nurseries in Oregon. I had so much fun nurseryhopping all by myself!

And I love crisps too! I discovered how much better they are than a crust version (since I can't seem to master the art of crust making :) This recipe looks delish! Thanks for posting it! Happy Travels!

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Hi Joan. Love the idea of visiting nurseries, I'm going to have to put that on my dream vacation list. The crisp is so perfect with berries, the topping always so easy.

Miz Helen said...

Thank you so much for sharing this awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you have a great week and come back soon!
Miz Helen