Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

It’s been a bad year for rhubarb. Too warm, I think (about which I am not complaining.) My little plant in the back yard only managed a few thin stalks. Our Lopez crop fared a bit better, though I’ve always worried that its proximity to our drainfield gives it an unfair advantage…

Strawberry rhubarb crisp is the iconic dessert of summer to my memory. Every island potluck seems to have a version laid on the table, some with nuts in the crust, some too watery or too tart, some thick and gooey in deep dishes ready to be topped with melty vanilla ice cream. For some reason I associate my friend Ben’s mom, Molly, with potluck crisp. Maybe she made one for the boat turning party where we all gathered to flip The Loon - a wooden sailboat her husband had built for her parents - and we got to slide down the smooth wooden sides into the handcrafted cabin.

My mom and sister and I picked a flat of strawberries at Crow Foot farm this week. Shuksans. The Tristars ripen early and then again late, so we’re right in the middle. Often the berry farm sells out early, but this week there were plenty. The island is quiet - usually the weather isn’t nice enough by early June to make it really feel like summer, and by the time the sun arrives so have the throngs of tourists that clog the ferry lines and send locals to hole up on their property ’til Labor Day. This weird year of weather, however, was a like a little gift from summers past: long nights, blazing sun, and the slow pace of summer where you stop to talk to the check-out clerk at the library and pull over to chat with friends riding home on their bikes. I had forgotten what summer could be like. 

We took our berries home and ate them fresh. My mom commented how we had only passed one car the whole way home. I decided to make a crisp.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
I prefer to make individual-sized crisps so I don't end up with an entire panful that I feel compelled to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Use a small ramekin or pyrex cup and customize the recipe to the number of servings desired. 

Equal parts strawberries and rhubarb (2-3 stalks to 1 pint)
3T oats, 1T butter, 1T brown sugar per serving (plus a dash of cinnamon)
Vanilla sugar
Flour or cornstarch

NB: When I have it, I throw in some chapped candied ginger into the crumble topping

Slice rhubarb thin and halve or quarter the strawberries
Toss in a bowl with a couple teaspoons of vanilla sugar and a dusting of flour or cornstarch 
Set aside and prepare topping. 
In a bowl, mix together oats, slightly softened butter and brown sugar. Add cinnamon and ginger if using. Blend with your fingers until you have a coarse mixture.
Spoon berry mixture into cups and top with crumble topping.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until liquid is bubbling and topping has started to brown.