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Easy Rhubarb Crisp

May 23, 2014

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Sometimes when I have a recipe to share it’s almost like going through the motions; I know exactly what I want to say about the recipe, how the flavors are balanced and the recipe’s ingredients shine and the like. But this morning when I sat down to write it was life, more than anything, that felt right to be writing about.

A few people over the last couple weeks have asked how we are doing, a very loaded, complicated and thoughtful question to ask 6 weeks after the fact. It’s a question for which I don’t really have a good answer. We’re moving forward, thinking about the future in all of its uncertainty. There are some days that the sadness and uncertainty hit me like a ton of bricks and just when I think I’m doing really well, I find myself crying on the kitchen floor out of nowhere. We’re celebrating milestones of our yet-to-be-born nephew and niece. And, quite honestly, it’s strange and difficult and hard to navigate juggling feelings of loss and sadness that co-mingle with happiness and anticipation for those around us.

On vacation I re-read Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist and it spoke to me even more than when I read it the first time. If you’ve never read it, I would urge you to run to the bookstore or the e-store and buy/download it today. I’ve been coming back to this quite time and time again:

“…sometimes the happiest ending isn’t the one you keep longing for, but something you absolutely cannot see from where you are.” 

It’s hard for someone like me, who is all about answers and research and knowing the next steps, to do blood test after blood test only to get absolutely zero conclusive answers. Hearing you are absolutely healthy as can be is both a relief and a frustration. Um, have you read my medical record? It doesn’t seem like it to me.

I realize now more than ever that this experience has changed me in the best and deepest of ways. I’ve become more empathetic and noticed people hurting that I never would have noticed before. Instead of feeling like “those are your problems,” my heart genuinely hurts for others in a way I didn’t think possible before. I like this new side of me, even if the journey has not been what I had imagined thus far.

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And now I’ve totally gotten away from the point, haven’t I? Well, our neighbors are the kindest older couple we could have asked for and they regularly bring us little treats, like maple syrup from their trees up north at their cabin and rhubarb from their garden. I’ve never really had a taste for rhubarb personally, but my husband loves rhubarb more than anyone I’ve ever met.

He was so excited when a bag of rhubarb was waiting for us after work one day that I couldn’t resist throwing it into a crisp that very evening. This recipe is inspired by a recipe from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook**still a favorite in my house and has been one of my go-to books since childhood. The crisp is perfect in all sorts of ways, sweet and tart at once and just the right amount of crunchiness. Joe raved about this dessert when he sat down with a giant bowl of it this week, and I have a feeling if you love rhubarb you’ll feel the same.

Easy Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe type: Dessert
This rhubarb crisp is easy to throw together at a moment's notice and tastes delicious when served with vanilla ice cream.
  • 6 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Topping
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the rhubarb, 1 cup granulated sugar and the corn starch. Toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate or an 8x8-inch square baking pan.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir until well-combined. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a fine meal. Sprinkle over the rhubarb mixture.
  4. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool 1 hour before serving.

**I noticed you can buy it for less than $1 online. You guys! Go and do so immediately. I promise you won’t regret it! It can be found HERE.


Gluten-Free Apple Crumble

March 10, 2013


One of the most wonderful parts about moving to Minneapolis has been the fact that we are now, once again, surrounded by plenty of things to do in a city filled with people our age. While we enjoyed our time in Grinnell, it never felt like our long-term home. And while we don’t know how long we will live in Minneapolis, it’s a place we could easily see ourselves living for a long time. A place where we hope to develop deep friendships and really start to build a life.

I’ve never been a huge fan of entertaining or having people over for a meal. Perhaps it was because we didn’t have much extra space and having people over always felt like a huge undertaking to make enough room for everyone to sit comfortably. Another factor might also have had something to do with the fact that I felt the need to pull out all the stops by making a meal that seemed both effortless and impressive. When your title at work is “food editor” it seems like people expect something great.

But lately we’ve been making it a habit to have friends over for dinner once a week, sometimes even more than that, and I absolutely love it! It’s cheaper, friendlier and more casual than going out to eat at a restaurant. There’s something nice about having friends into your home while managing to not go crazy preparing over-the-top dishes. When friends come over, especially on weeknights, I’ve been relying on dishes that are big on flavor and easy to prepare in advance: slow cooker beef stew and buttermilk biscuits, wild rice casserole with lentils and a large salad, my mom’s three bean chili and cornbread. Is this the absolute best work I could do in the kitchen? Absolutely not, but I’m starting to realize that it’s not really the point. It’s secondary to conversation and community.


It seems wrong not to end the meal with a little something sweet when friends are over, doesn’t it? And since I’m not sure my friends would all share my enthusiasm for a piece of dark chocolate and warm almond milk, I’ve taken to preparing fruit crisps and cobblers since they’re super easy and slightly healthier than a piece of cake. The great part is you can tailor the amount of sugar to suit your tastes. I usually cut the sugar in most traditional recipes in half since the fruit is so naturally sweet and too much sugar seems to mask the fruit’s flavor. Last week I made a crisp with frozen mixed berries and this week I used the apples I had on hand.

And since you never know what people are or are not eating these days, I made this crumble gluten-free to err on the safe side. I promise that even if you aren’t eating gluten free (we certainly are not) you will not feel as if you are eating a sub-par version of a traditional fruit crumble. It’s hearty and flavorful thanks to the almond meal used in the topper. If you can’t find almond meal locally, feel free to make your own almond meal by pulsing blanched almonds in your food processor until they are finely ground, just be careful not to over-process and turn your almonds into almond butter.

Gluten-Free Apple Crumble
Makes 4 generous servings
*3 medium gala or granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
*3 tablespoons quinoa flour or other gf flour of your choice
*1/4 cup sugar
*1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2/3 cup rolled oats (certified gf)
*1/4 cup almond meal (I buy mine at Trader Joe’s)
*1/4 cup brown sugar
*4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
*Gluten-free ice cream (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the apples, quinoa flour, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Toss to coat evenly. Spoon into an 8×8-inch baking dish.
*In a second bowl, combine the oats, almond meal and brown sugar. Add butter to flour mixture and combine with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture atop apples in baking dish. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and filling is slightly bubbling around the edges. If you like your apples soft and almond applesauce like (which Joe and I prefer) bake 50 minutes. If you prefer your apples to have a bit of crunch I would suggest taking the crumble out around 40 minutes.
*Cool slightly. Spoon into dishes or plates and top with ice cream, if desired.

Happy Baking!