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Ollalie Berry Basil Crisp from My Pantry ShelfOne of the things I love most about summer are the fresh berries and one of the things I like most to do with fresh berries is to bake them into sweet bubbly fruity crisps.  Thankfully my kids disappeared into my parents berry patch the other night and came back with buckets of beautiful Ollalie berries.  After devouring them by the handful and scattering them over waffles, there was still enough for a Father’s Day crisp.  The perfect dessert to cap off a perfect summer adventure day in the canoe and swimming in the lagoon.

Berry Crisp ala mode from My Pantry ShelfOllalie Berry Basil Crisp is one of the simplest yet satisfying desserts that summer can afford.  Ollalie berries are similar to boysenberries, so you can use those or blackberries, or even blueberries if that is what you have on hand.  The basil, an unexpected ingredient, blends beautifully with the sweet berries adding just a hint of herb.  The crunchy top is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet saucy berries and of course the dollop of ice cream.  This dessert was a super hit with my family.  EVERYONE had seconds.

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Classic Apple Crisp

October 17, 2011

When I see my children voraciously take down one apple after another, it is hard for me to believe that I hated apples as a child.  But you remember those days, do you not?  Living in a suburban/ urban community before the food revolution, when an apple was a Red Delicious, donning a shiny waxy coat, stored for too long under the wrong conditions.  Apples were mealy and bland with tough skins and I did not want to eat them.  At around age 10, I discovered Granny Smiths.  Ohhh a tart apple, I began to adjust my verdict, but still they were nothing to sing of.  It may have been a long journey, but I have finally learned the virtues of the apple.

We have one apple tree in our backyard, but it supports five varieties of apples, all grafted on different limbs.   These are REAL apples.  Apples with character, flavor, aroma, variations of texture and shape. The apples ripen at different times keeping our family flush with apples through most of the season.  For this we are grateful, because our kids love apples.  No need to tell them the “apple a day” story, left to their own devices they would gladly eat more than that.  Fortunately, my parents have multiple apple trees, so our pantry generally has a large box of apples to choose from through the months of August and September.  We also keep a box full in the fridge for longer storage.  What we can not fit in the refrigerator is cooked down into applesauce, sliced and dried, or cut and bagged for the freezer.  This ensures we can enjoy the taste of our own apples through the winter.

One of the simplest and most delicious ways to treat apples is to prepare a Classic Apple Crisp.  The apples are cored and sliced, then tossed in a bit of sugar.  Lay them down in a buttered baking dish and sprinkle a mixture of flour, butter, oats, and brown sugar.  Sweet, tart, buttery, delicious.  Do not leave out the vanilla ice cream.  In fact if you ask my son, he will straighten his posture, squint his eyes, and tell you, “The rule is: you must have ice cream with apple crisp” in a tone that is frighteningly authoritative for a five year old.  It is best to do what he says.

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