I am blissfully happy. I’m sorry to rub that in your face if you’re having a rough week, but it’s true. Logan and I made a somewhat last minute road trip up to Maine on Friday, and it was the best idea I’ve had in a while. I grew up coming to Mount Desert Island in the summers, and it is literally the happiest place on earth. I’m sure that you have your own “favorite place in the world,” and I respect that, but mine is better.
Mount Desert Island (specifically Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor), is unbelievably beautiful. In fact, it is the only place that I willingly exercise because the view from the top of each and every mountain is breathtaking. The air is cleaner, food tastes better, and the people I grew up with here are the most loveable group of idiots on the planet. So, it was definitely worth every minute of the 11 hours in the car to spend a few days in paradise. (That’s saying a lot if you know what Logan is like in traffic.)
My Dad is actually out of town this week, which means that Logan and I have had the house entirely to ourselves. This has never happened before, but it is pretty glorious. Had this come to pass
two five years ago, I probably would have thrown a raging party to celebrate, but now that I’m a grown-up and super responsible, the thought barely even crossed my mind. (Plus, the social scene up here isn’t really hopping this early in the season.) Instead, I’ve been hiking, reading, taking baths and having cocktails at sunset with Logan. I’m pleased to report that we’re both very relaxed and my base tan is coming is nicely.
I love many things about my Dad’s house, but the kitchen is by far my favorite. It’s huge and open with a wood-burning fireplace, a giant center island, and tons of natural light. The pantry is always fully stocked, there are FIVE refrigerators, and it has every possible appliance/gadget/cooking apparatus that you can imagine. Basically, it’s my personal heaven, and I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time basking in its glory over the past few days. Logan and I have very much enjoyed preparing our meals in “the fantasy kitchen,” and afterwards, we rejoice at being able to put our dishes in a dishwasher, which is a serious novelty.
Spending time in the fantasy kitchen has even inspired me to bake, which almost never happens because, as I’ve mentioned many times before, I am not particularly blessed in the baking department. Baking requires a certain amount of patience and precision, neither of which are my strong suits. However, the multiple ovens in my dad’s kitchen are magic. Unlike the oven in my humble New York abode, these state of the art beauties don’t cause the entire kitchen to turn into a sauna (you know how I feel about sweating), and they have lots of buttons, timers, and lights that are fun to play with. They also have oversize glass “windows” instead of a solid metal oven door, so I can actually see my creations baking. It’s like the ultimate domestic reality show.
I am proud to say that I have actually baked three things this week. One was an incredibly impressive six-layer birthday cake for my older sister, which was probably the most beautiful thing I have ever made. I considered writing about that today because people are obsessed with looking at cakes on the internet, and I love traffic. However, I used a box mix, which is so money, but not really blog-worthy since the recipe would simply read: “Make three boxes of Duncan Hines moist cake in different flavors. Frost with at least 4 containers of Duncan Hines frosting of your choice.” Not the groundbreaking stuff I’m sure you’ve grown accustomed to from this blog.
Logan and I also baked cookies together on Sunday. I’m not going to share those today either because they were disgusting. The cookies were dry, tasteless, hot messes of baked goods. This may or may not be because we had enjoyed several casual cocktails before attempting the recipe, but I choose to blame the internet. I’m pretty sure I followed a very good-looking cookie recipe to the letter, and my cookies looked nothing like the sexy ones in the photos on the fancy baking blog (that shall remain nameless). Naturally, Logan proceeded to eat several of the hockey puck cookies, while talking about how much he hated them. Dude Diet fail.
After the boxed cake and botched cookies, I decided it was time to bake something crowd-pleasing and rustic. My first inclination was to make a pie. Honestly, I really liked the idea of pulling a pie out of the oven while wearing an apron. I would feel so old-school domestic, and Logan could take pictures! But then I realized that despite the potential success of a pie-themed photo-shoot, pie crust is a lot of work. Since there were mountains to climb and tans to be perfected, I decided to go with an equally delicious, yet slightly less labor-intensive option…Summer Berry Crisp.
I originally thought about making a straight-up blueberry crisp with blueberries that I picked myself, but again that seemed like too much work. Luckily, there was a plethora of fresh berries at the market, so I went with a triple berry blend of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Getting a mix of berries involved was a great choice, and this crisp is bursting with fresh flavor. The berry filling is sweet with a little bit of zippy lemon zest, which is balanced by the crispy topping. Walnuts, oats and brown sugar are the key players that make this crisp so completely addictive. The topping tastes like crumbled oatmeal cookies, but somehow even better.
Summer Berry Crisp is the perfect seasonal dessert. It’s indulgent without being overly heavy, and it’s laughably simple to make. You can easily prep it in advance and then pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat, and it looks and smells unreal. Topped with vanilla ice cream, it’s pure, unadulterated berry bliss. You could also bake Summer Berry Crisp in individual ramekins for a cute dinner party dessert. I wanted to try this, but I could not find any ramekins in the fantasy kitchen. (A deep fryer and three ice cream makers, yes, but no ramekins.) For the record, this crisp also tastes pretty great cold, and I would highly recommend getting after it for breakfast with a little yogurt. Please make it as soon as possible. I need everyone to get on my happiness level.
Preparing your Summer Berry Crisp:
*Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Place the berries in a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain well.
-Pour the berry filling into a 9-inch pie dish (or whatever dish/pan you happen to have close to that size).
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1½ cups raspberries
- 1½ cups blackberries
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¾ cup quick-cooking oats
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup cold butter (1 stick), cubed
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Place the berries in a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain well.
- In a medium bowl, combine berries, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch, and sugar. Gently mix until the berries are well-coated. Set filling aside while you prepare the topping.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, nuts, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add the cold cubed butter to the mixture. You could use a stand-mixer with a paddle attachment to mix everything, but I don’t have one (and I’m guessing you might not either), so just work the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands until the mixture is crumbly. Don’t overwork it, clumps are a good thing! (Keep the topping in the refrigerator if you aren’t using it right away.)
- Pour the berry filling into a 9-inch pie dish (or whatever dish/pan you happen to have close to that size).
- Sprinkle the topping in an even layer over the filling.
- Bake your crisp for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the juices are bubbling up around the sides. Serve warm. I obviously suggest getting some vanilla ice cream involved.