Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Blueberry Crumb Bars
Since she began walking, Lucy has just blossomed into the cutest, most adorable petite person you ever did see. She adds new words to her vocabulary every day. Her current favorite phrase is repeating "All Day" over and over again. The phrase comes from the very last sentence of one of her favorite board books about a little curious little dog - "and they went outside to play all day." For some reason, that line really resonated with Lucy and she has been waddling around here repeating "alllll day"...well, quite frankly all day every day. She's also discovered the wonder of music and has displayed quite the singing voice with a particular penchant for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Old MacDonald." There is nothing cuter than watching Lucy twirl around, swinging her fat little arms, while singing, "E-I-E-I-O!" There is nothing cuter.
Unfortunately, I am beginning to witness a little "sister rivalry" happening between Emma and Lucy. Although she would definitely classify herself as a "big girl", Emma still likes to be cuddled, held, and catered to like a baby at times. Whenever a story is read, she likes to sit in my lap and she will, on occasion, be asked to be spoon fed. No worries, that last request is always refused. Whenever Emma needs a little more attention from me, Lucy immediately becomes enraged. Even if she is perfectly content and playing with a toy on the other side of the room, the moment she sees me cuddling Emma, she gets up and begins her mad dash across the room towards her property, angry little arms flailing, her face all scrunched up in a look of pure disgruntlement, and her tiny little voice loudly wailing, "Mama! Mama!" They regularly fight over me. And while at times I have to stop and marvel at my sudden popularity, most of the time I find it pretty irritating.
Between Matthew and Emma fighting over every nonsensical thing under the sun and Emma and Lucy fighting over who gets to love on Mom more, I often feel as if I am losing my mind. What if we were to suddenly add a pet to that mix? While at times I think having a pet could be nice, I'm really not wild about opening up my home to another creature whose bathroom habits I will need to monitor on a daily basis. Ever since our wonderful cat Riley died suddenly last year, the kids have been petitioning for a new cat. Paul, on the other hand, has sworn that he will never again endorse having a cat as a pet but he is fully willing to adopt a large dog. And everyone knows that dogs are way easier to keep than cats, right? His logic is that he needs a dog to "walk me" so I stop bugging him to take strolls in the evenings. A pretty expensive and time-consuming way to avoid a little bit of exercise.
The kids are still petitioning for a cat. So one day, Paul and I took Emma down to the cat orphanage to pet a few cats. While we were there, I also thought I'd look around and see if any of them seemed to be a good fit for our family. The experience ended up backfiring a bit because Emma, for some reason, started following around the most disgruntled kitty in the whole place. The fur ball kept hissing, spitting, and whipping it's tail at Emma but she just kept on following him around. "Look, Mommy, the kitty likes me! He's talking to me!" she declared as the cat snarled and spat in her direction. Both Paul and I tried our best to direct her towards the other, more friendly animals in the room but we weren't successful and before too long the inevitable happened. The cat scratched and bit Emma.
Emma's feeling were so hurt by this sudden act of violence from her new friend that she began to weep uncontrollably. Paul carried her to the car and we quickly left. On the way home, Emma continued to sob while I spoke to Paul about the other cats we had seen at the sanctuary. I had just finished telling him that none of the cats had the lovable personality Riley displayed and Paul agreed saying, "Yeah, I don't think we're going to have another cat as a pet." From the back seat came Emma's words of agreement: "Yeah! Cats are MEAN!" Guess our little trip cured her of any desire to adopt a new cat.
Other than sibling rivalries, a very destructive toddler, and debating over the pet situation, life has been good! Especially now that blueberries are in season. Blueberries are my favorite fruit to pick and I love that the season lasts nearly two months. The berries at the beginning of the season are more tart, but the berries at the end are the biggest and sweetest you've ever had! Any type of blueberry works well in one of my favorite treats - these blueberry crumb bars. While looking through the archives, I was shocked to see that I have never shared the recipe before on my blog. Obviously, it is time to remedy that.
Make these, You can use any kind of fruit you want really. You just might need to play around with the thickening agent depending on the types of fruit you are using (think peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, or raspberries). However, this blueberry variety is my personal favorite.
Blueberry Crumb Bars
Ever-so-slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 heaping cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan and line with a parchment paper sling.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. (This took an extra 10 to 15 minutes in my oven.) Cool completely before cutting into squares.