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Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Berry Cool For June

As I was mentioning to someone (Leslie?), it is 58 degrees here and quite windy. At least it was an hour ago--the wind seems to have died now. The good news: I sleep better (no central AC), I bake more, I enjoy my walks both morning and afternoon downtown. The bad news: the berries were delayed at least a month, maybe longer. I just learned that the strawberries are ready (looking forward to Saturday and the farmers market!). Probably other produce will be affected by our long, cool spring (not to mention the continuing rain) but I can't help but dance with happiness that it isn't 80 and my house isn't depressingly warm.

A co-worker asked me if I would be willing to bake a dessert for her to take to a family gathering (uh, yeah!). We decided on something "berry". Unfortunately I can only work with frozen but once they are cooked, to be honest, it doesn't really matter. Fresh doesn't taste that much better to me after cooking than frozen. I made her some Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars. A quick and easy recipe using flour, brown sugar, oats and butter mixed together for the crust as well as the crumble top. I used a mixture of blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Hopefully us being berry-deprived longer than usual this year will make her berry crumble a welcome addition to the dessert table.

Crumbles and crisps have to be two of my favorites types of recipes for berries. The lovely contrast between the two parts of the dessert gives both layers of flavors and textures. And they are quick and simple to prepare. No rolling of pie crust or extensive prep work or measuring.

Couldn't resist a close-up of the crumble topping the wonderful berry filling (it's a baker thing)

mmm, that looks delicious!!!!
Jules   Thursday, June 5, 2008
Ok rub it in. It was 95+ today not to mention highly humid. We had to go into an office for a meeting and when we came out I about blisterred my hands on the steering wheel. Just going in and out of the air conditioning about wiped us out. As far as your berry crumble-I visualize it warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice creeam-good stuff!
dannie   Thursday, June 5, 2008
I like your visualization, Dannie! Sounds like summer in MN!! I can't say I miss that part of MN. We can get hot here but it's dry heat. No 100 degrees with 100% humidity. I still wish I could live where it never gets above 80 but I'm getting closer! Hope your heat wave is done soon!!
LGrant   Thursday, June 5, 2008
It doesn't look like we will have relief for a week. I have often wished I could live where it stayed 70 year around but I haven't heard of such a place. The longer I live the less I can tolerate the heat and sun. The guys working on the tudio came at 6am today to work on the roof. They ha dto quit by 11am becasue the shingles were sticking together.
dannie   Thursday, June 5, 2008
I know that one. That's one of the reasons I left the South. I have little to no tolerance for heat, and heat/humidity is so stressful to me. I feel like I'm walking uphill all the time. Exhaustive. I'd like to attribute my aversion to hot weather to age or weight or any number of things but the bottom line is, it is my nature. I've been like this forever. At least in the NW area I'm able to manage better because it is dry heat. As soon as it gets hot, the rain stops. I can count the number of muggy days since I got here--on one hand. Yes, the rain and clouds are hard on some folks but I gladly trade that for a shorter and drier summer. There are areas higher in elevation or closer to the coast (like Astoria) that never get in the 90s--rare 80s--but I don't have the ability to live there and work where I currently work. Then again...who says I have to keep working here?

As to your request for a place like that, I've heard Hawaii is that way--70s most of the time and breezy. Trade off? Humidity still exists, high-cost of living and I guess there are things like volcanos to think about. But, people I have talked to who lived there said it got "boring". Same weather every single day. Even the best day loses its golden glow if it is overdone. I'm happy with a place that has 4 distinct seasons but no great extremes on hot or cold and looks great in the winter and saves me mowing in the summer with dormant grass. LOL
LGrant   Thursday, June 5, 2008
My husband would love the berry crumble. That's his fav. If I'm going to indulge it's got to be chocolate. Only six days until I get to make the turtle brownies for the pot luck. The countdown begins...
Leslie   Thursday, June 5, 2008
The Berry Oatmean Crumble Bars look divine!! Could we please have a recipe? Thank you very much!!
!   Thursday, June 5, 2008
I love crisps and crumbles...the crust is always my favorite part.

And as for weather, I hate even turning on my oven. Even with central air, our kitchen gets so hot!!
Sarah S.   Thursday, June 5, 2008
Glad to oblige, !

Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

3 cups fresh or frozen berries (I used 2 c blueberries, 1 c strawberries)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 oz)
2 tbsp cornstarch

Crumble and Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (7 1/2 oz)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (quick-cooking or regular) (4 1/2 oz)
1 cup brown sugar (8 oz)
3/4 cup butter, softened and cut into 7-9 large chunks (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling: In a medium saucepan, stir together berries and lemon juice and cook medium heat until fruit is tender, about 8-15 minutes, depending on type of berries being used (strawberries take longer than other berries, usually).

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch, then stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, until thick. Scrape berry filling into a medium bowl and set aside.

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 913 baking pan.
In a food processor (or large mixing bowl), combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda , salt and vanilla extract. Pulse until mixture is thoroughly blended and resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of this mixture in a medium bowl. Pour remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, spread evenly and pat down.

Place filling in dollops over crust and carefully spread to cover entire surface. Squeeze reserved crumb mixture into large clumps with your fingers and sprinkle evenly over the top of the fruit filling.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Cut into 20 bars to serve.

The only thing I did different from the recipe as noted: I baked the crust for 15 minuites before putting the filling on top. I don't like soggy. I decided I'd give the crust a little crust before putting the filling on to hopefully seal it a bit so it wouldn't absorb the filling juices. Totally my own decision--nothing that needs to be changed but I always mention any changes I might make when I share the recipe--no secrets kept! :)
LGrant   Friday, June 6, 2008
I know the feeling about the heat, Mrs. Shoo. Imagine me dreading and avoiding the kitchen! That's SERIOUS! LOL

Leslie, can't wait to hear the results after you make your turtles!
LGrant   Friday, June 6, 2008
Looks great. We are going to hit 100 degrees here both Saturday and Sunday. It is a little unbearable and only the beginning of June! Glad we have a pool in our backyard.
niki   Friday, June 6, 2008
We were 48 this AM with a wind-chill that probably dropped it to mid to lower 40s. You know, I could put up with heat in the daytime if the nights really dropped off so things would cool down. I guess the desert is the only place like that. I can't bear sleeping when it is too warm. Sorry to hear it is so hot there but I'm glad you have the pool too!! And lots of opportunities for contest photos there! :)

Keep cool as possible! I hope we don't see one 100 this year!!
LGrant   Friday, June 6, 2008
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