Thursday, December 13, 2018

Cranberry Pear Crumble

Let me tell you a story about the time Matthew conquered the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.

Our little neighborhood association, like so many others, puts on a largely informal Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving. I enjoy running as my workout of choice. I enjoy the challenge of increasing mileage and bettering my pace. Paul hates running. To his credit, he did try to run with me a couple of times and concluded that he, unlike every other person on the planet, was not built for running. He could be an awesome runner, but his genetics prohibit him from realizing his potential. So, I'm used to running alone for the most part.

Then, Matthew grew up and decided that he wanted to run with me. We would go for jogs here and there and even did a few races together. At his school, he joined the running club and did very well there. His coach even called him out as being one of the better distance runners in his grade. So when I decided to do a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, I assumed that Matthew would have no problem running it with me. I signed him up and told him about it later.

Matthew was very excited to hear about the race. But, his excitement quickly turned to concern: "But...I haven't practiced running around here."

He had a reason to be worried. We live in a very hilly area. We have lots of high ridges and very little flat ground. The race course around the neighborhood looked to be quite difficult with all its elevation changes. Matthew was used to running flat courses for the most part.

"You'll be fine!" I assured him. And I really thought he would be.

So, bright and early on Thanksgiving morning, we registered and got a free t-shirt and did a few stretches in preparation for the great race. There were a couple hundred other people gathering by the starting line and Matthew excitedly began pointing to each and every person, "We are going to beat that guy, and that lady with the weird hat, and that guy and that guy and those kids...."

I cut him off and told him not to be overconfident. I'm certainly not the fastest person in the neighborhood and I'm pretty sure he's not either.

When it was time to start, Matthew and I lined up towards the front and then...we were OFF! We flew through the first half mile, well ahead of the rest of the pack. I was so proud at how hard Matthew was working. His arms were pumping, his legs were flying, and he was chatting, laughing, and having a grand old time. Then, suddenly he fell silent and his pace began to slow. I slowed right along with him but continued talking to him to try to encourage him. Suddenly, he burst into tears: "I HATE this! This is horrible! Why would anyone do this for fun?"

I told him that he's done this before and reminded him that he enjoys running. He spat back: "Yeah, but I HATE all these hills!! They are so hard!"

I told him to walk if he needed to, but he didn't really slow. He just kept going, complaining about how much his lungs hurt (although he was talking really well so I could tell that he was hardly gasping for breath) and how cold it was outside. The whining continued for the next mile or so until Matthew announced flat out that he wanted to quit. I told him that we were still a ways from home so we would have to walk a fair distance to get back there anyway, so he might as well finish the race, walking, running or otherwise. He decided to stop and walk for a bit at that point. Only his definition of walking was akin to a very slow crawl. It was at this point that I grabbed his arm and began pulling him along with me up the last big hill. And he had the audacity to ask: "Mommy, can you carry me? I can't move any more!"

I told him he had to be joking. Besides, the finish line was less than a quarter mile away. So, I made a deal with him. Let's run as hard as we can to the finish line. The faster we go, the sooner this perceived ordeal will be over.

"Ok...." he sniffed. Then, we began to sprint. We sprinted down the block and circled around our neighborhood park. Matthew began whimpering again but I egged him onward. When he saw the finish line, he suddenly regained his enthusiasm and triumphantly ran across. When his time was read, I informed him that he had beat his last 5k by nearly five minutes.

"WOOO-HOO! I did AWESOME Mom! That was so much fun! Let's do it again! Oh, and I BEAT you Mom because I crossed the finish line FIRST!" Matthew crowed as he fist pumped the air.

What a difference 20 seconds makes. He went from being defeated, beaten, and exhausted to cocky, triumphant, and arrogant. He had beaten incredible odds to become a running legend in his own mind. He actually asked me if he had earned a trophy. No trophy, but he did earn a banana and a bottle of water.

And that is how Matthew conquered the Turkey Trot and secured his new PR in a 5K of 31  minutes and 33 seconds. I also managed to secure my worst time in a 5K. It was a historic day for all.

Since this monumental feat of athleticism occurred on Thanksgiving Day, it seems fitting to share with you a new dessert I tried for our post-turkey sugar binge: Cranberry Pear Crumble. This recipe was so good, so delicious, so refreshing, so festive that it will most certainly make an appearance at future Thanksgivings. I'm actually debating about serving it as part of our Christmas dinner. There is just something magical and festive about the combination of sweet pears and tart cranberries. I love the light pink color the cranberries lend to the dish - so pretty to look at as you scoop individual portions. I loved this slightly warm with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream but it honestly didn't even need it as it was so delicious on its own. I baked the crumble in pie pans to make it look like pie since I didn't make an actual pie this year - I simply ran out of time! Thank goodness this recipe was easy and quick to prepare or we might not have had a dessert for Thanksgiving this year.

BUT, the single best part about this crumble was the leftovers! We enjoyed them for breakfast in the days following Thanksgiving. I was so sad when it was finally all gone. But like I said, I might be making another batch for Christmas.

If you love pears or just want to try a different dessert this Christmas season, give this easy crumble a try!

Cranberry Pear Crumble
adapted slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

2 to 3 pounds ripe pears, peeled and diced (6-7 cups, about 5 medium pears)
12 ounces (about 3 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped in half or lightly pulsed in food processor or blender
1 cup (7.5 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup orange juice (can use fresh juice from orange), apple juice or cranberry juice

For the Crumble Topping:
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
14 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pears, cranberries, sugar, tapioca flour or cornstarch, orange zest, and cinnamon. Stir well. Add the juice. Stir to combine.

Spread the fruit mixture evenly in the pan.

For the crumble topping, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add the melted butter and stir until the mixture forms pea-size and slightly larger clumps.

Crumble the topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden. Once removed from the oven, let the crumble rest for 15 minutes (the filling will thicken a bit as it sits). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

1 comment:

  1. Matthew's running story genuinely made me laugh out loud. My Matthew, like Paul, claims to hate running and that he can't. Well, then he decided he could but not in the summer (when I do most of my running) because it's too hot, so he ran about twice in the fall and then declared it too cold. Yet, he keeps buying running clothes. It's my workout of choice, when it's nice, I usually don't run November - February. And Luke claims to like it, but only about the first 1/4 mile.