The smell of both hot dogs on a grill and smoke from disappearing fireworks are just two reasons as to why the Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. And although I could argue that these components are what make this day so memorable and comforting, the truth is that celebrating our country’s independence would not be the same without the company of our family and those dear to us. From memories shared of my mom falling fully-clothed into a lake due to a family of passing ducks, to everyone drinking just enough wine to shamelessly hum off-key melodies during a game of Dominoes, my family continues to make this summer holiday a truly blessed and quite hilarious time for me, year after year.
This year I was blessed to spend yet another Fourth of July at our family’s lake house in northern Michigan. My older brother surprised us with a flight in from Texas and our aunt and uncle drove up from Ohio for their traditional holiday visit. My Aunt Terry jokes that we made the mistake of ever inviting her and Uncle Bob, as they have continued to come back every year since. But even if that were true, I’d argue that their calm, cool, and comedic personalities put them at the top of the list for best mistakes ever made.
In addition to bringing stories to share and dominoes to play, my aunt and uncle also bring a cooler of goodies each year. Wine, (most importantly), is usually included in this carry-on, along with a large container of fresh blueberries.
Don’t get me wrong, our family loves blueberries as much as the next, but I knew that assuming we could finish off six cups of perishable berries would be a gamble, especially since most of our week’s fruit intake was expected to be in the form of fermented grapes. It only seemed fitting to incorporate these bright blue berries into a sweet, patriotic dessert.
I did some thinking (which, for a girl wrapped up in the laziness of the holiday spirit, deserves some kudos). Many dessert ideas crossed my mind: blueberry scones…blueberry buckle…blueberry parfaits, tarts, bars, ice cream … the possibilities were overwhelming for my indecisive self. But then the lightbulb appeared. I remembered that apple crisp has always been an ongoing favorite of ours, so I confidently presumed that blueberries would also hold their own when baked beneath the familiar, crisp topping.
I think I was right.
In combination with a creamy vanilla ice cream, our warm, soft, and slightly sweetened blueberries lent a sense of completeness to what was an even sweeter holiday afternoon. This is the kind of dessert that has the ability to bring everyone to the table on a cool summer evening–a place where memories are recalled, laughs are shared, and traditions are created. (If that doesn’t sell you on this recipe, I’m not sure what will!)
(Yields 10 cup-sized servings)
For the filling:
6 cups blueberries (3 pints)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
For the crisp:
1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 cup old-fashioned oats (not the quick-cooking kind)
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbs. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, prepare crisp by mixing together flour, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and granulated sugar. Cut butter into flour using two knives held together in one hand (to resemble a pastry blender), until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, using hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large clumps form. Transfer to freezer to chill while preparing filling.
In a large bowl, toss blueberries with lemon juice, salt, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Transfer to a 9×13 pan (no need to spray) and sprinkle with topping mixture; apply slight pressure and pack the topping, without bruising the berries.Bake until golden and bubbling, 1 hour. Let cool 30 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream or whipped topping, if you desire!
*This can also be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Heat oven to 250 degrees and warm for 15 minutes before serving.