“One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood” ~ Agatha Christie
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One of my favorite things about summertime is Saturdays at the farmers market
There's a sweetness to the mornings as parents push little ones in strollers, and couples slowly make their way along, their puppies on leashes beside them.
While it's interesting to eavesdrop on a pitch for the best in tomato fertilizers, it's far more fun to see what everybody is selling. In years gone by I'd largely avoided the plants, but this year (because of the garden) I've found myself lingering, and taking a few home to try.
Admittedly, my resistance is low when it comes to homemade things like jam, or a loaf of banana bread (especially if kids are operating the stand). With a grandson frequently underfoot, it's also a fun excuse to slip in a sweet treat to tuck away in the freezer for him
At our house, if left to our own devices and no alarm clock, neither human nor furry creature will wake until late into the morning. Therefore, by the time I'm returning with hot breakfast burritos and coffee, everybody's just beginning to stir, and we're all pretty hungry
It's a mealtime I look forward to all week
Mostly I limit myself to what my little bag will hold, but sometimes I buy a bit more. Last week, as I passed the beautiful stalks of rhubarb, I simply couldn't resist. They always bring back such happy memories of being a kid
Growing up on our family's farm, rhubarb grew down by the ditch, gallant and lanky amidst the new and delicate green. Whenever stalks began appearing on the kitchen counter, to me, they always meant
As I wandered through the market, I was surprised by the number of people looking right past the rhubarb. Maybe they weren't quite sure what to do with its tartness or withering nobs? Maybe they were waiting instead for the appearance of something more traditional, like strawberries or summer squash?
But then there were the few waiting patiently in line, who talked lovingly of all the tasty recipes they were planning to use it in. Those they looked forward to making all year-long — treasures like compotes, cakes, pies, and crumbles.
My mind drifted to the small stack of rhubarb recipes waiting on the corner of my desk, before returning to the carefree days of childhood. I clutched my produce filled bag a little tighter, a gift from my sister-in-law that goes everywhere with me.
I couldn't help but smile, and think of how very fortunate we are to have families to love. Not only those we come from but those who still choose us now. The people who smile at the mention of our name, and look forward to being with us all year-long
Those who see in us our potential, and take us home anyway. The truly special souls who gussy us up, simmer us down, muddle us with booze, and coat us in sugar and butter
Life doesn't get much better than that
Those who follow The Veggies know I love rustic, family-style desserts. The kind that could be found at church basement potlucks, and really, the list of desserts that fit the bill better than a simple fruit crisp is pretty short
For those who's never attempted a crumble, it couldn't be easier.
Start with fresh seasonal fruit, top it with a crumbled dough, and bake. Before you know it, golden-topped dots of baked goodness will be crisping up over a shallow sea of bubbling fruit.
I love this version. It's one that combines strawberries and rhubarb, along with a healthy splash of port. Finish it off with a little bit of ice cream, or if keeping with our family's tradition, a splash of cream
~ Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
- Crunchy Oat Streusel
- 1 ½ cups spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
- ½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup natural cane sugar (Turbinado or Sugar in the Raw)
- ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, melted
- Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- ⅓ cup natural sugar
- ½ lb. strawberries, cut into quarters
- ¾ - 1 lb rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into ¾" pieces
- ¼ cup port wine (other options: red wine, or sweet dessert wine)
- Preheat the oven to 375° F
- Butter a 9 x 9" square baking dish, or equivalent
- Crunchy Oat Streusel
- In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, pine nuts, oats, sugar, sea salt
- Using a fork, mix in the butter.
- Form the topping into a few patties and put them in the freezer to chill while you're making the filling
- Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
- In a large bowl, add the cornstarch and sugar and whisk until combined
- Add the strawberries and rhubarb, tossing until the pieces are evenly coated
- Let sit a few minutes, add the port and toss again.
- Finish and Bake
- Transfer the filling to the prepared pan, cover with foil and bake 30 minutes
- Remove foil from the pan, and crumble the frozen topping across the top of the baked fruit (make sure you have a variety of sized pieces)
- Bake uncovered for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the topping is deeply golden and the fruit's juices are bubbling vigorously
- Let the crisp cool 20-30 minutes before serving. (The longer it sits, the more liquid it will absorb)