Food can be a great expression of love. Our fulfillment and the fulfillment of our loved ones depends on the real thing. So, forget the store bought chocolates and flowers and bake up a real treat today.
From the moment I received an easy bake oven as a gift as a young girl, I was enthralled with sharing my baked goods with the ones I loved. When I ran out of the little cake mixes I would create tasteless hockey puck cakes from flour and what ever other ingredients were on hand. My poor father would actually eat them and shower me with praise. Fortunately, I was able to progress in my cooking skills before I gave everyone I loved stomach ailments.
I recently lost my brother and have fond memories of cooking up his favorites whenever I visited our family farm. Everyone in my family had a special dish that I could pour my love into and happily prepare for them. The pure joy and fulfillment I received from watching them enjoy the fresh Saskatoon pie or roasted chicken from the farm allowed me to express the deep love I had for them.
I am still baking and cooking up love today. If my husband is sick I will make up a steaming healthy pot of chicken soup for him. If my daughter has a stressful period in school, nothing but a scratch chocolate sheet cake will make her feel better about life. For Valentine’s Day, I have chosen a desert made with sweet, succulent cherries topped with a golden oatmeal crumble. I wanted to create something other than the traditional heart shaped cake or cookies this year and the brilliant red hues of cherries will represent the ever-popular symbol of the red heart.
I will be preparing this Valentine treat with all the love I hold in my heart for all of my special Valentines.
Valentine Cherry Crumble
For the Topping
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ cup butter cut into pieces
1-cup large flake old-fashioned oats
½ cup pecan pieces [optional]
For the fruit
6 cups frozen pitted cherries
⅓ cup granulated sugar (more or less depending on tartness of the fruit]
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. lemon zest
Heat the oven to 375°F.
Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it is well blended and the mixture has coarse crumbles. Work in the oatmeal and pecans (if using) with your hands until it is well distributed. Set aside.
Place the cherries in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar, for sweet fruit add less or for more tart fruit add more sugar.
In a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice. Pour over the fruit. Add the cinnamon and lemon zest and toss gently.
Spray a 9-inch glass-baking dish with vegetable oil. Place on a baking sheet to catch any overflowing juices.
Pour the fruit mixture into the baking dish and top with half of the topping. Bake for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the remaining topping over the crisp and continue baking until the fruit is tender when pierced with a knife, the topping is crisp, and the juices are bubbling. Usually another 15 to 30 minutes depending on the fruit.