Picking berries has always been one of the best of summertime pleasures. I remember long summer days when my ten year old friends and I would run the woods that bordered our neighborhood housing development. We'd ram back and forth along the pounded down paths playing hide and seek, having honeysuckle berry and acorn fights, and spending long hours building woodland forts, climbing trees, and looking for the next place to attempt the best ever Swiss Family Robinson tree fort. When banana bikes became the rage, we'd ride the paths and build 'jumps'. I was the builder and sometimes borrower of a friend's bike, as my family could never afford the latest craze. I never had my own bike until I was twelve, and then it was a traditional Schwinn. But who cared when I had a raft of friends with the latest, a thirty acre woodland to play in, and plentiful summertime berries ?!?
During berry season, we'd scope out the best wild raspberry and blackberry patches. Oftentimes, we'd not tell Moms about the plentiful berries, so that we could pick and eat them with our PB&J picnic sandwiches that were made early in the morning and packed into bike baskets or sacks and stowed for eating with friends come noontime.
One summer, I happened to step deep into a patch of blackberries and right into a ground wasp nest. My hard-earned berries went flying into the air, as I turned tail and pounded my way out of the patch, up the path, and out of the woods. I was so full of adrenaline that several of the wasps were stuck by their stingers in my legs and arms when I slammed into the kitchen at 30 King Street. My mother screamed and hollered to get my butt out to the back yard, as she grabbed the box of baking soda, a kitchen towel, and a glass of water. She pulled the wasps off me, squashing them in the towel and slathered me up with baking soda paste. Then she shook the wasps clear of the towel and used it to wipe my sweaty face,scratched arms and legs, and teary eyes, all the while muttering about tomboys and rammin' and tearin' and foolish kids.
I was thinking about that escapade today, as I tromped next door to ask my neighbor, Jeff if I could pick a dish of blackberries to make this dessert crumble. Thankfully, I came away with my berries intact, a few mosquito bites, and the sounds of Nat King Cole's song 'Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer' echoing in my memories ... oh, and a nice dessert plan for dinner tonight ...
Summer Berry Crumble
adapted from a Diana Henry recipe
2 c. fresh blackberries
1 c. fresh or frozen wild blueberries
2 fresh fully ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
⅓ c. sugar
¼ c. blackberry cordial or crème de cassis
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
5 tbsp. whole wheat flour
⅓ c. dark brown sugar
7 tbsp. cold butter, cut into chunks
½ c. old-fashioned oats
Two sprinkles cinnamon
½ c. chopped hazelnuts
Making the Crumble:
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter a shallow baking dish.
- Place the apple and peaches in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the black and blueberries over top. Sprinkle on the sugar and drizzle the cordial over all. Use two spoons to gently lift the mix and distribute the sugar and cordial down through the layer. Set aside.
- Place the flours, brown sugar, cinnamon and cold butter chunks in the bowl of a food processor and whiz to make a crumbly mix.
- Add the oats and hazelnuts and pulse just to distribute.
- Turn the crumble mix onto the top of the berry mix. Gently press down a bit and then make a few holes around the surface for the juice to bubble through.
- Place on the center rack in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
- Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.