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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Supper in a Flash

At 3 o'clock today, I had neither dessert nor a final vegetable ready for supper tonight.  By 3:20, I had dessert in the oven.  The final side was ready in under 15 minutes.  Now that's what I call convenience food.

I receive regular blog updates from SugarCrafter.  Not only does she make fantastic desserts and sweets, she also posts some pretty nifty main course and side dish ideas.  This one definitely caught my eye.

Chop up a few slices of bacon (I used 5).  Fry it up with a roughly chopped onion and then some minced garlic. Half or quarter some brussel sprouts (depending on size) and toss into the mix.  Let it saute up until the sprouts are bright green and slightly browned on the edges.  I finished it with a little balsamic vinegar and bingo, vegetables were served.  The sprouts were neither bitter nor soggy.  My kids, who are brussel sprout eaters to begin with, practically inhaled these.

Now, for some dessert.

Last summer, one of my aunts had a bumper crop of blackberries.  I had never really done much with blackberries per se, but what the heck.  They came picked, packed, and frozen - who was I to argue?

Into the oven safe dish went the berries, some brown sugar, corn starch, and some cinnamon.  Cinnamon gives it a little kick and marries nicely with the crisp topping, as well as offering a continuity of flavour.

I also toss in a little secret ingredient - lemon zest.  Not being one to bother zesting a lemon every time I need some, I just zest up a whole lot of them at once or when I've used the juice from a fresh lemon.

Then I put the zest into these little portion cups and label how much zest I've put in there. Next time I need zest for something, I've got it.

The zest does clump together a bit, but it is easily broken up with your fingers.  I'm sure Martha would tell you that it is not the same as fresh zest and I'm equally sure she would probably be right.  But I'm bettin' it's a ton better than artificial flavouring or bottled juice.  And way cheaper than employing a sous chef.

Give it all a good stir and you are halfway there.  The beauty of making a crisp is that you can use frozen berries.  No need to plan ahead!  Let's hear it for procrastination!

Next, take a little butter.  Please, don't use margarine or attempt to use olive oil.  And this is certainly no place for lard.

Nuke it to melt and then toss in a little brown sugar.  Resist temptation to begin eating now.

Then some oats, flour, chopped pecans and some cinnamon.  Remember what I had said earlier about continuity of flavours?  You don't?  Not to worry.  I'm used to it.  My kids never remember what I say either.  If you want to get fancy schmancy, toast the pecans before adding them in.

Dump it evenly on top of the frozen berry mixture and away you go into a 350 F oven.  With frozen berries, count on about an hour to bake.  You'll know it's done when the juice starts bubbling through the crisp part.

It will look kinda like this.  You can turn off the oven and let it sit in there to stay warm through the main course and then serve it.

Serve it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or even whipped cream out of a can, if you must.  Tonight, we must-ed.  I am plumb out of whipped cream and our ice cream reserves are dangerously low.

So there you have it.  Half your meal is ready for you in less time (and with considerably less expense) than it would be to get take out.  And way tastier, I might add.

Just ask this guy:

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