summer nectarine berry crisp

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Once a year I stumble upon a cookbook that seizes me, the kind of book I casually thumb through only to realize, hours later, I’m still curling the corners of pages. The kind of book that demands I have a pad nearby because I’ll need to scrawl down lists of ingredients. Even though I’m ensconced in the middle of my living room lamenting the loss of my penmanship {how is that my handwriting has devolved into CHICKEN SCRATCH?}, I’m already making mental notes to send emails inviting friends over for a crumble and a fritter.

Last year a friend invited me to contribute recipe reviews for a new section she’d been curating for Medium. At first I resisted because I typically find recipe reviews a bit dull and formulaic–a staid vivisection of the table of contents with a few photos and adjectives thrown in for good measure. Recipe reviews read cold to me, and I absolved to do something different: merge recipe and story. If you think about, recipes inspire stories. An author becomes somewhat of a surgeon in the way he/she compiles and assembles their food narrative–conjuring memories of love, loss, heartbreak, friendship, success and failure–and in that work we are inspired to forge stories of our own. I never viewed recipes simply as a list of ingredients and a methodology for production, rather I saw a stranger handing a piece of their heart to someone else in hopes that that person will deliver their heart to someone else, and so on and so on. Maybe that sounds trite, but I can’t think of a single great memory that didn’t involve food. For Medium, I only wanted to review that which inspired me to weave a new narrative of my own, or take an existing story in a different direction. Otherwise, the task of making food felt medicinal.

As a result of some of the reviews I’d written for the greater part of last year {I’m really proud of these in particular, as I worked harder on some of those reviews than I have in the short stories I’ve published}, I’ve gotten on a few publisher mailing lists and imagine my glee when I received Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food, I was jubilant. Not only did the hues {the book lives up to the title’s promise} draw me in, I found the simplicity of the dishes inviting. The book focuses on a celebration of seasons, and many of the recipes have already made their way into my repertoire, including this summer crisp, of which I plan to selfishly devour alone. I’m packing the leftovers in jars to give as gifts to a few friends I’m seeing this week. I’m already excited by the kinds of stories, moments and memories I plan to create as a result of falling in love with Hasselbrink’s book {if there’s one cookbook I’d encourage you to buy this year, THIS. IS. IT.}. Much like how I fell deliriously in love with Joanne Chang last year, this year will be the year lived in vibrant, bold color!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe via Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food {modified version of the recipe can be found here, although I used the cookbook version, as written below}, modified slightly based on what I had on hand.
For the filling
2 ripe nectarines, diced
3/4 cup blackberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries, hulled + quartered
1/4 cup raspberries
1/3 cup cane sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp dried ginger

For the crisp
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup mixed pecans + almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup dark rye flour
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cubed

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DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the fruit. Gently fold in the lemon juice, sugar, flour, and ginger. Pour the fruit mixture into a large baking dish + set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl together the rolled oats, coconut, nuts, flour, sugar, ginger, salt, and cinnamon. Using your hands, work the dry mixture together with the cubes of butter–softly squelching the butter so it adheres to the oat mixture–until a loose topping comes together. Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, until crust is browned and edges are bubbling. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. I actually really prefer my crisps cold, so I put this in the fridge for an hour, and then I paired it with salted caramel chunk ice cream from Ample Hills Creamery, and it was EVERYTHING.COM, .EDU. .JP.

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