Peach and blackberry crisp.

flag-mini-American Oh no, summer is almost over! Did you enjoy lots of seasonal fruits while they were available? We did -- plenty of ripe nectarines (my favorite), blueberries, at least one watermelon, some cantaloupe, and most recently peaches and blackberries baked into a nutty, juicy fruit crisp.
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Fruit crisps and cobblers seem to be uniquely American desserts -- who doesn’t associate peach cobbler with southern cuisine? And in my childhood we made applesauce and ate endless apple crisps after a day of early fall apple picking.
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According to What’s Cooking America, crisps and cobblers evolved from early settlers, who adapted their favorite Old World meat-and-pastry dishes to New World produce and cooking methods. The Brits brought recipes of sweet or savory fillings cooked (or "cobbled") together with a crust or biscuity topping (which some say resembled cobblestones), from which we Yanks created some of our familiar pot pies and cobblers. And their fruit "crumbles" became our crisps.
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Variations on the fruit-and-dough theme can be found in recipe boxes and church cookbooks throughout our fair land, with folksy names like brown Betty, buckle, grunt, pandowdy, slump and sonker. Say, how about a generous helping of blueberry sonker!
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To enjoy summertime fruit without a lot of preparation, there is (almost) nothing easier than the fruit crisp, or “crumble” to my U.K. relations. Unlike fruit pies, which require two thinly rolled crusts, crisps need only a sweet crumbly oatmeal-butter-flour mixture which is sprinkled over the fruit -- much easier for casual cooks than rolling circles of dough, then draping, pinching, poking, and praying the bottom doesn’t come out soggy and the top doesn’t brown too quickly. Okay, it’s not that tricky, but crisps are, by comparison, much easier!
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Peeling and slicing fresh peaches is easy, and tossing them with a little sugar and whole blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or whatever else strikes your fancy is even easier.
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You’ll have to put a wee bit of elbow grease into the topping, but not much. Cutting butter into flour can be satisfying, in a repetitive-motion sort of way. I use a pastry blender, but you can slice at it with two knives, a fork, or just dig in with your hands and work it together with your fingers. Then stir in sugar, oats, nuts (I like toasted almond slivers) and spices, and you’ll have a nice mixture that is either crumbly or might resemble loose oatmeal cookie dough, depending on how soft your butter is. Sprinkle evenly on the fruit, or pull off small globs and plop them around the fruit as evenly as possible. (I popped a few of those globs into my mouth first, for testing purposes. Yum.)
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In 30 minutes it will cook into a beautifully golden, crispy top with juicy stewed fruit underneath. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream go wonderfully with fruit crisp, but we ate it straight up, with some tea on the side.
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If you want to savor the last weeks of summer, make some crisp with whatever summery fruits are still available at your farmer’s market or grocery. Or try pears and apples, to acknowledge the coming of fall. And in a few weeks, as we wave down the sun on the Autumnal Equinox, we can start thinking about heartier cold-weather fare ... like anything with pumpkin! But for now, summer.
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Peach and Blackberry Fruit Crisp
Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Be creative with fruits and spices in this recipe -- fruit crisp is very versatile!

4 cups sliced peeled peaches (about 4 medium peaches)
1 cup blackberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix fruit gently with 2 tablespoons sugar in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Pour into an 8- or 9-inch round pie plate or baking dish.

Combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon/spices in a medium bowl. Work butter into flour until mixture resembles course crumbs (or, in my case, until it resembles cookie dough). Mix in oats and nuts until well combined. Sprinkle over top of fruit until evenly distributed.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden and ... crisp. Serve warm, with ice cream or whipped cream if you're feeling naughty.