You-Pick Blueberry Crisp, Faux Pho & Laptop Lunches

My friend Jackie asked last week if I wanted to go blueberry picking on Saturday, and of course my answer was yes.  We wanted to pick blueberries a month or two ago but it was too early in the season.  So Saturday around 12:30 we set out to meet her friend Jenny at a local blueberry farm.  Why we went during the hottest part of the day I’m not sure, it just seemed like the time to go.

The blueberry farm turned out to be not so much a farm setup, but a house with a little sign in the front that said “for berries go around to back porch and ring the bell”.  With trepidation we walked toward these people’s backyard, and the lady was on the porch finishing up with another customer.  She then turned her attention to us and said “You guys ready to pick some blueberries?”.  I kind of felt like a kindergartner being psyched up to go on a field trip, but I appreciated her pep.  She gave us some insect repellent and warned about snakes.  Eep!  We set off toward the farthest field where we had been advised there were plentiful ripe berries, and after about a half hour in the hot, hot sun we came back sweaty, tired, non snake-attacked, and each with 1 1/2 – 2 pounds blueberries.  My haul only cost three dollars!

blueberries

I was glad when Jenny suggested lunch at Satchel’s, a trendy little pizza place that I like but never go to because bf doesn’t care for it.  They have a killer salad of lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, apples and nuts with their secret dressing.  I also ordered an “indy” pizza with mushrooms and spinach.  Their sauce is just a bit spicy.  According to the menu the small salad feeds 2-4 (as a side I assume), but I was famished – I ate my whole salad and half of the 10-inch-or-so pizza, only stopping because I wanted to save the rest of the pizza for dinner.

Soon as I got home I jumped in the shower, a cool shower since I had gotten a little too much sun while berry picking.  When I came out, Jake the monster was being super adorable, so I had to stop and take some pictures.  First he had decided to use my backpack as a bed.  Cats really do love to lay on things.

jake

Then somehow he got himself through the strap.

jake

Such a handsome man.  Then while I was getting dressed he tried to eat the Target bag.

jake

And again managed to get semi-tangled in it.

jake

Yes, those are a couple new melamine plates from Target under the fat boy.  I needed some other supplies from there (gigantic Method laundry detergent, anyone?) and the plates were only like two dollars!  Hi, my name is Erin and I’m addicted to buying cute, cheap plates.

Back to the food.  I didn’t have any specific plans for my blueberries, but we were having a few people over to grill that night so I decided a crisp was in order.  For tried and true Southern style recipes I turn to the Betty Crocker Cookbook, and it really never fails me.  I went with blueberries and peaches for the fruit layer.

blueberry crisp

I patted the crust on and packed it up to bake later at bf’s house.

blueberry crisp

At this point I was a bit wary of the recipe because I thought that most pie/crisp/crumble recipes added stuff to the fruit, like sugar or flour, and this recipe called for the fruit to be naked.  But like I said, I trust Betty Crocker.

BF and co. were grilling mostly meats that night, so I took along the rest of my pizza from lunch.  Tom did bring over some zucchini and squash though, so I sliced it fairly thick and dressed it simply with olive oil, sliced garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.

pizza & squash

The squash was AMAZING.  I assume it was the combo of prep and cooking it in foil directly over the coals that had died down a bit, and I also assume we’ll never achieve this squash nirvana again.  They were soft but not falling apart, and tasted almost buttery.  I was sad there weren’t leftovers.

Meanwhile I baked the crisp, then forgot to take a picture until I had dished out many servings.

blueberry crisp

Verdict:  Everyone loved this.  I liked that all the sugary sweetness resided in the crust, and the fruits were left to speak for themselves.  The blueberries made this amazing syrup.  I even reduced the original amount of sugar called for, so to me it was perfectly sweet.  I ate mine with a dollop of vanilla soy yogurt.  Before…

blueberry crisp

…and after.  (But before I licked the plate.)

blueberry crisp

Fruit Crisp
adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

4 cups of sliced or chopped fruit (apples, blueberries, peaches, etc)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup margarine, softened
heaping tsp cinnamon
heaping tsp nutmeg

Heat oven to 375.  Grease an 8×8″ baking dish.

Spread fruit in dish. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients until well mixed; sprinkle over fruit and pat down gently.

Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fruit is tender. Serve warm with ice cream or soy yogurt. 

Sunday night bf was in the mood for “big soup”.  There is a Vietnamese place called Taste of Saigon II that we go to every once in a while, and pretty much only order the huge bowls of pho.  Two or three meats for bf, vegetarian with oyster mushrooms and tofu for me, and everybody’s happy.  But we’re both trying to save money right now, and I got to thinking that it shouldn’t be too hard to at least make an unauthentic dumbed-down version of pho.  After some help from the internets and a trip to the store this is what we came up with.

pho

I’m not going to write up a recipe because it wasn’t that great, but it definitely hit the spot for what we were craving, made four meals instead of two for about the same price, and saved us from a drive across town.

The general method is to bring the veggie broth, some water, half a sliced onion, 1/2 lb mushrooms, lime juice, a dash of sugar, and salt, soy sauce and five spice powder to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the rice noodles according to the package, and cook any proteins you want to add.

Make a pretty plate of condiments:  bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro, sliced jalapeno, scallions, sriracha and hoisin sauce.  Basil probably would’ve been good too.

pho

Put some broth in a huge bowl and add some noodles and optional protein.

pho

Yes, I ate out of a casserole dish  That’s why it’s “big soup”.  Add your garnishes, stir, and eat with chopsticks and a big spoon.

pho

And finally, a wrap up of last week’s lunches.

6-2 lunch

6-2-08  spaghetti, steamed kale, grilled marinated portobello, corn off the cob,
garlic bread, choco-choco chip-walnut cookie

6-3 lunch

6-3-08  wheat toast, green beans, eggplant parmesan, roasted red pepper-lentil-basil sauce, cherries

6-4 lunch

6-4-08  stir-fried eggplant, carrot, kale & basil, sweet & sour peanut sauce,
white rice w/ toasted peanuts, cherries

6-5 lunch

6-5-08  pb&j on wheat, half strawberry jam half peach spread, baby carrots,
two dill pickles, pickled mushrooms, cherries

Friday I was mostly out of fresh food so I grabbed an Amy’s non-dairy pot pie and the rest of the green beans.  I actually microwaved it and ate a hot lunch for a change.

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18 Comments »

  1. celine said

    blueberry picking sounds like a blast! I don’t think I’ve ever had that opportunity.

  2. VeggieGirl said

    Ahh, I LOVE berry-picking!! I haven’t done that in years.

    Haha, your cat is too cute :0D

    Mmm, the crisp, pizza, pho and all of the contents of the lunch bentos look FABULOUS!!!

  3. Romina said

    Nothing compares to freshly picked berries, that crisp must have been heavenly!

  4. I want one of those cute bento boxes!! And though I’ve never had Pho, it looks delicious. My friend Tim, whose not veg, always orders Pho when we go out for Vietnamese food.

    Your cat is super cute! I love how he’s all posing for the first picture. My cats eat Target bags too. Sometimes the get stuck inside them and it’s hilarious.

  5. So much delicious food. That faux pho looks amazing. 🙂

  6. Lauren said

    oh blueberry picking, soo much better than the ones you get in the store..same with picking strawberries, plus its so much fun to be out there and munch on them as well 🙂
    and wow..the entire post looks delicious.. and i’m really jealous of you having cherries in your lunch! they’re one of my favorite snack foods of summer but I haven’t been able to pick any up yet! ill have to fix that haha.

  7. Monika K said

    I don’t even know where to start – this post is brilliant! Our rhubarb is ready to pick, but blueberries, raspberries and cranberries won’t be ready until much later in the season. Fruit crisps are so lovely and simple – they’re the perfect spring/summer dessert.

  8. Jennifer said

    Wow, I don’t know where to begin!

    Bluberrry picking sounds like a lot of fun, and you got an awful lot of blueberries for just a few dollars. I have to admit though, the story sounded like it was going to have some sort of creepy ending at first – the ominous house and all.

    Your kitty is too cute, ours do that too, anytime we bring something home, they either lay on or in it.

    Can you send me even just a little bit of your creativity? I’d really love to have your lunches!

  9. Carrie said

    Everything looks so good!! And your cat is so handsome. 🙂

  10. Marni said

    The fruit crisp looks and sounds amazing. I may give that one a go real soon.

    Berry picking sounds fun! Now I’m wondering if there’s anything like that around here.

    Also … I think I have lunch box envy. I love all the little containers. Where did you get it?

  11. Man, I gotta make some fruit cobbler/crisp soon! It just doesn’t feel like summer without fresh fruit-filled desserts and your blueberry crisp looks absolutely delicious!

  12. Mihl said

    What an assortment of great foods! Berry picking is great, over here most people go and pick their own strawberries, but I’ve also seen some blueberry fields around.

  13. I wish I had one of those great laptop lunches… Sadly, I think I have only arugula and baby tomatoes for tomorrow! aaargh!

  14. Kelleen said

    That crisp sounds delicious and I love the fact that there is no sugar mixed into the fruit. I, too, love the salads at Satchel’s, but some words of warning, their salad dressing has honey in it, so if you are a strict vegan you probably won’t want it. The first time I went, the wait staff said told me it was vegan but then they also confirmed that there was honey in it…seems they didn’t realize most vegans don’t eat honey. They sell it by the bottle at Lightning Salvage and the ingredients are on the label, which is what initially clued me in. Fortunately they offer oil and vinegar on the side as an alternative Also, they told me they butter their pizza crusts so one must request no butter one one’s crust even if it is ordered without cheese, in order for it to be made vegan. I think their food is great, but I also think they need to be more forthcoming with their ingredients since they have a Vegan Food label on their door.

  15. Your lunches look absolutely gourmet! So impressive.

  16. Can you make my lunch everyday? And be sure to include some of that crisp!

  17. I must make that crisp…I too, would lick my plate! Thanks for posting all the photos of your lunches for the week, it gives me ideas beyond my usual yogurt, fruit, and nuts. I’d love to know where you got that lunch box container/set, it seems perfect for toting just about anything! Also, berry picking is my most anticipated summer activity…and summer still hasn’t come close to arriving in Portland!

  18. veganhomemade said

    Bianca – That’s how I found him! I think he was sleeping and when I came in and woke him up he was too groggy to lift his head. He crosses his arms all the time, it’s bizarre. It’s actually tough to get a good picture of him because he looks straight into the camera and gets crazy eyes.

    Jennifer – The berry picking was a little creepy at first. I’m not accustomed to walking into people’s back yards unannounced. And I’m sending you creative brain waves right now!

    Marni and Vegan Addict – It’s a Laptop Lunchbox from http://www.laptoplunches.com/. I love it.

    Kelleen – Noooooooooo! Guess I won’t be going to Satchel’s anymore, the dressing is the best part.

    Vegan_Noodle – How much you offering? 🙂

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