My husband cannot understand why we still need a landline. There are several reasons, but one is that I have a message saved in the voicemail system from October 1, 2014.
It is my friend, Barb, calling about my fruit crisp recipe. Apparently, I had written it on a piece of graph paper at least a decade prior, which sends us back to the very early 2000s.
"Every time I make the crisp," she said in the message, "I pull out this piece of paper you wrote the crisp topping recipe on, and there's your handwriting and it's so lovely."
Barb suggested that I write something about "the recipes that we get from our friends that are scrawled on pieces of paper."
She also said that when I first wrote the crisp recipe down, I reassured her how easy and basic it was in a way that was both encouraging and, as she put it, implied, "Be braver, young cook!"
It made me think that I rarely hand-write a recipe to give anyone these days, though I am constantly giving recipes to people. I'm usually printing out a copy of something I've written up for publication, or maybe sending a photo of a spattered page with some scrawled suggestions or changes I've made over the years.
Rhubarb fresh cut from the garden
This recipe for strawberry-rhubarb crisp is one of those that I've scrawled, published and printed out for more than a dozen friends and family members over the years.
In October, 2014, Barb was making an apple crisp. The topping works for any fruit, of course, but my rhubarb plants are still producing abundantly, local strawberries are ripe and the pairing is classic for a very good reason.
I hope the recipe serves you as well as it has served Barb.
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing (sub: non-dairy butter for vegan)
- 4 cups hulled and halved strawberries (about 3 pints) (sub: pretty much any fruit for a total of 8 cups. If using anything other than rhubarb or sour cherries, ½-¾ cups sugar should be plenty)
- 4 cups sliced rhubarb (about 1 pound)
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour (sub: for gluten-free crisp, 2 tablespoons cornstarch for the flour tossed with the fruit, and oat or almond flour for the topping)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch (or equivalent) baking dish with butter.
- In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, rhubarb, granulated sugar and ¼ cup of the flour. Evenly spread the fruit mixture in the prepared baking dish.
- In the same bowl, stir together the remaining 1 cup flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the chopped nuts if using. Using your hands, smush the butter into the mixture and squeeze it together until it clumps. Evenly spread the clumps over the fruit, pressing down lightly.
- Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any juicy spills and bake until the topping is golden brown and the fruit juices bubble, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool about 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve warm with ice cream if desired.
Source: The Little Local Vermont Cookbook: Recipes for Classic Dishes by Melissa Pasanen (W.W. Norton, 2020)
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