The second bicycle was tightly strapped onto the rack on the back of the car and our ever loyal companion, China, not the spry pup she once was, was gently lifted into the back of our SUV. One last run through our house to make sure plants were watered and doors and windows were locked, we pointed the car down the hill and our journey began.
Us Americans love our cars and the freedom we enjoy because of them. We take to the roads as a way to get from point A to B, but often, the drive becomes part of the vacation itself. Every time I begin a road trip, memories of childhood family excursions in the back of our station wagon with my older brother and me lying across the sticky-hot vinyl seats with our bare feet propped up on the open windows, harkens the nostalgic in me. Our father would have been behind the wheel, driving us across some southern state that was usually excruciatingly hot, and it always seemed that we didn’t have air conditioning during those drives. As the steamy days faded into the dark of night, far away from the city lights, we could see the starry skies clearly and took pride in picking out the constellations. My father would tell us stories about UFOs and extraterrestrial beings who lived on those planets that were now visible to us. Slowly, we would drift off to sleep and he was finally able to have a respite from our bickering, whining and questions of curiosities. As miserable as some of those excursions could be, they are the source of some wonderful memories and a tradition that my siblings and I have carried on, subjecting our own children to years of such rambles.
There is something soothing and adventuresome about taking the slow route to a destination that gives me a sense of peace. On this particular junket, hours were filled with quiet conversations and easy silences between my husband and me. We watched the scenes from the dashboard panorama of morning pinks and pastels over painted deserts turn into a harshly bright sunshine beating down on the sweltering asphalt roads at the height of the day. Late afternoons were met with a moody greyness and an occasional lashing from a thunderstorm that we could see from miles away as we approached, which only added to the adventure. We passed through miniscule towns and fabulously bright cities – each with its own unique and charming tempo.
This trip brought us through Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Oregon but we spent the majority of our time in Washington visiting with family. As fate would have it, we arrived during one of the hottest weeks that anyone could remember. Dips into the lake and early morning bike rides were refreshing, sitting in the shade under a tree with my father and dog was poignant and special.
Everywhere you turn in the Washington countryside, there are masses of blackberries growing. This easy to make crisp was inspired by those delicious berries and the amazing peaches that are now in season.
|Harvest Peach and Berry Crisp ~ crust and crumble topping|
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with butter.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Add in the butter and pulse the mixture until the butter is cut throughout the dry ingredients.
- Add the eggs and pulse a few more times.
- Take half of the dough and sprinkle it across the prepared pan and then press down to form the crust.
|Harvest Peach and Berry Crisp ~ filling and assembly|
- 3 cups fresh peaches cut in a large dice (leave the peel on)
- 1 ½ cups fresh wild blueberries or Driscoll's Organic Blueberries, washed
- 1 pint fresh wild blackberries or Driscoll's Organic Blackberries
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup peach or apricot jam
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Place the diced peaches, blueberries and about ½ of pint the blackberries (cut them in half if they are very large) in a bowl and toss with lemon juice.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the cornstarch, sugar and cinnamon.
- Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the fruit and gently mix.
- Take the crust out of the fridge.
- Using a brush or the back of a spoon, spread the jam over the crust.
- Distribute the fruit mixture over the crust and then crumble the remaining dough over the fruit layer.
- Note: To get the rough surface that I love on the top, sprinkle half of the remaining dough onto the fruit and lightly press it down. Take the rest dough and pick up a handful squeezing it together gently and then break up larger crumbled pieces it onto the top of the crisp.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover it with a piece of foil and continue to bake.
- Remove the crisp from oven and allow to cool.
- Garnish with the remaining fresh blackberries and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.