Friday, August 22, 2008

Blackberry Jesus Crisp

Last night we were visited--fortunately not by UFO's, but rather by our two pastors from Redeemer Redmond Church. When they called up (actually it was by email) and asked if they could come visit our family, I'll admit it made me a tiny bit nervous. But since they are two of the nicest men around, that nervousness quickly turned into a creative opportunity--what should I serve for dessert?

Now, this is not the South where food hospitality is ingrained from birth. This is the chilly Northwest where we pull our car into our garage, close the door, and hide out in our fully-fenced back yard and never never make eye-contact in the street. Lucky for our pastors that I don't have a garage, and therefore know enough to bake when a pastor comes over.

So, what to serve these servants of Jesus? Nothing pays homage to Creation more than something local and something seasonal. In fact, zero fossil fuels were consumed for the majority of the ingredients. I simply marched myself down the street to the abandoned house with the large blackberry bushes and spent 20 minutes picking plump berries. (By the way, if you live in the Northwest and you actually buy blackberries from the store, you deserve a sucker patch on your shirt!)

As I told a friend earlier in the week, I am not a big cobbler fan. I don't know, maybe it was my grandma's recipe that "left a bad taste in my mouth" for cobbler--too baking-powdery. And homemade pie wasn't going to happen--I've got three little kids including a 3 month old baby! Pie crust is too labor intensive and, frankly, not as tasty as Crisp, in my opinion. I tried out my beta version of this crisp on my aforementioned friend. It turned out soupy and was not nearly covered in enough crisp topping.

But, version 2.0 was fabulous! I combined 6 cups of fresh blackberries with 1/2 cup of sugar, juice from one lemon, and about 1/4 cup of flour (to thicken the juice). Then I literally threw whatever sounded good into the crisp topping. Starting with a stick of butter, I tossed in a good measure of brown sugar, quite a bit of flour, then opened my fridge for some more inspiration. I spied the nuts, grabbed both walnuts and macadamia nuts, chopping them up into fairly small pieces. And crisp wouldn't be complete without oatmeal.

The topping looked like it would barely fit on top of the berries, so I knew I'd made just the right amount. I popped the dessert into a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes until the juice was bubbling and the crisp topping was golden and crunchy. It smelled like summer in my kitchen!

Of course, I served this crisp a la mode. Creamy vanilla ice cream is the perfect companion to blackberry crisp. Not only does it melt its creamy self into the warm berries, but it provides a perfect canvas to showcase the beautiful purple juice of summer berries.

Matthew 25:40 says, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Of course, he was speaking of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the prisoner. I merely fed the pastors dessert. But if I can whip up something tasty for them, couldn't I also invite my neighbor over for pie? First comes pie, next thing you know, people will be bulldozing their fences, and maybe even smiling at each other in the street. A backyard revolution from a simple Blackberry Jesus Crisp.


Anonymous said...

You're right: Crisp is not complete without oatmeal! Golden and crunchy, it happens to be my favorite part. And a nice vehicle for your generosity.

Tom Aarons said...

Julie that's one beautiful blackberry! With food like that, how could we all not be glad in our hearts?

gretchen said...

I heart this story. I also heart some Northwest blackberries, picked from the neighborhood park!
I hope your pie and cobbler bulldozes your fences and makes neighbors into friends. You know this southern girl believes in the power of good food and friendship!

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