Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Whaaaat's on the Menu?

Every few weeks I try to plan the menu for upcoming meals and therefore, every few weeks I attempt to discover just what particular meals members of my family are hungry for. One would think that being given the opportunity to have significant input about such vital matters would be an honor and a privilege.  

Apparently this is not the case. 

It seems that giving one's mother or wife the slightest inkling of just which meal would hit the spot is NEITHER an honor, NOR a privilege. In fact, when the family hears me ask the question they look at me much like they look at the lady in the center of the mall who's holding the clipboard. 

They have, over the years, settled into one word answers to my question, hoping to send me on my way as fast as possible.

"Cole, I'm working on the menu, what do you want to eat sometime soon?"



Looks at me like I'm keeping him from catching his flight, "that's good...burritos."

"Meg, how about you?"

"Pasta. I can't think of anything else at all. Pasta will be super."


"Nothing with white cheese."

"Darrin, help me out here. What are you hungry for?"


Often at this point I just give up but today, today I decided to ask Molly hoping she'd not yet learned the ways of the rest of her siblings.

"Molly, what do YOU want to eat in the next few days?"

Her big brown eyes opened wide, excited to have finally been included.

"Come on Molly, what do you want to eat?" 

"Out!" she said with great enthusiasm.

My man, sitting opposite, ducked behind his book trying to stifle a snort.

"Really, what do you like eating kiddo?"

Undeterred, she answered "SONIC!!"

"Molly, we are not eating out. What do you want to eat at home?"

"Ummmmmm, macaroni and spaghetti and pizza."

It was a start at least. Pushing my luck a bit, I asked, "and for breakfast, what sounds good?"

"Blueberry pie."

"You may not have pie for breakfast Molly...how about blueberry oatmeal?"

"Mom," she said slowly and a notch louder, "pie...blue...berry...pie with ice cream."

"Molly," I answer back, my voice exactly matching her slow deliberate pitch, "there will be no...pie...for breakfast.  We will have blueberry crisp."

"With ice cream?" eyebrows raised in last ditch effort.

"With milk." I answered, ending the negotiation sounding much more victorious than I felt. I'd played right into her little four-year-old hands...again. Blueberry crisp for breakfast? Chalk up another win in the Molly column!

Our favorite blueberry crisp recipe is from the book Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist  who shares the recipe from a chapter in which she writes of her experience every Sunday night of her childhood as a pastor's kid...

...part of being a church family means that your weekly calendar runs on a different rhythm than other families'. Sunday mornings were weekdays, and often Saturdays too, so the weekend really began for us on Sundays after church.

And THAT's when the blueberry crisp was served. I read this chapter out loud to the kids one evening while their dad was still at church. They totally related. They also totally related to the blueberry crisp which I served one Wednesday night WITH ice cream after we'd all arrived home from church. It was a wonderful, cozy comfort that filled us up and sent us to bed feeling like we'd splurged a little, but not too much, as the recipe falls well within the bounds of virtue with all of its healthy ingredients.

I've adjusted the recipe slightly so that the blueberry part of the crisp is on the thicker side. If you need to go gluten-free OR if you like the fruit part to be a bit runnier, leave out the flour completely.

Here's what you'll need:

For the filling:

  • 4 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen, also just about any fruit will do! I sometimes mix blackberries with the blueberries)
  • 1 tablespoon flour (optional)

For the topping:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (I make this by putting a few handfuls of almonds into my food processor and chopping them until they are a fine, pebbly consistency. Alternatively, you can purchase this in most grocery stores in the baking aisle.)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or brown sugar in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the blueberries in an 8 inch square baking dish and sprinkle them with the flour (if using) making sure to stir the berries around so they all get coated.

In a separate bowl, mix all of the crisp ingredients and place evenly on top of the berries. Bake @ 350 for 30-40 minutes (or a little longer if berries were frozen) until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is crisp.

This recipe doubles well in a 9x13 dish. 

As Molly indicates, blueberry crisp begs to be served with vanilla bean ice cream, but if you are eating it for breakfast, pouring a bit of milk over it seems a more responsible way of handling things.

"After we got home from the early service, my mom and my brother and I would wait to hear my day's heavy footsteps coming down the long, tiled hallway after the last service. He always went straight to his closet to change from his church clothes into his Chicago Bears sweatshirt, and when he walked through the study door, the weekend began. He was tired but happy, loose, easygoing." ~Shauna Niequist Bread and Wine
You can see a video of Shauna making this delicious dish here on the (in)courage.me website.

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