North Haven Idyll + A Crumble Recipe

Going to Maine, in my mind, to finish up the last posts on my recent trip there. The timing's good because my friend Frances Palmer is going to be giving a lecture about her pottery at Waterman's Community Center on Sunday, August 15th; there will be a show and sale, for a week, of her work at the North Haven gallery. Waterman's must be one of the great places on the East coast for a lecture--I spoke there last month--because it is hanging out over the harbor, and the gentle whisper of the tide underlines your voice.

I was invited to North Haven by the indomitable Bobbie Callahan--who served lunch below the deck of her splendid house, a modern version of a boathouse. (Hanging over the water seems to have been a theme of the trip.) I love the warm, wood-lined kitchen, with the oxblood Aga purring at its heart. In the audience when I spoke at Waterman's was Josie Iselin, whose book, Beach Stones, is one of my favorite house gifts. For those of us who cannot go home without rocks in our pockets, the book gives solid information about the different kinds of stone, how and when they were formed. She's got a new book out called Beach: A Book of Treasures.

I had never met her; she raised her hand to ask how a mother with a crazy schedule and small children could experience moments of slow love. Of course, they are the ones who most need to learn to carve out times of mindfulness, to stop multi-tasking and focus on mono-tasking, to simply bask in the kinetic energy kids bring to the party. How many times did I sit at the table, working on a manuscript, while my kids were talking, and I was only half-paying attention? I REGRET IT NOW--and regretted it as soon as they became teenagers who didn't want to talk except to ask for car keys or pocket money. Well, I mustn't be too hard on myself; after all, there were also deadlines and paychecks to consider. But I've learned enough about the slow love discipline by now that when I'm lucky enough to be in the same room with one of my sons, I close the laptop and pay full attention.

While North Haven is on my mind, I want to share with you David Hopkins' Fruit Crumble recipe--because the peaches from Karla Young's Family Farm stand here in Rhode Island are gorgeous this week. I think of David as the unofficial mayor of North Haven. He helps his mother June run their gallery and shop; his brother is the artist Eric Hopkins. David lives near Waterman's in a similar sort of house that hangs over the water, and having worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for many years, he has a refined but quirky eye for design. His house is a wonder, pulling off the neat trick of being cozy and exciting at the same time.

David is a terrific cook--lately he's been obsessed with seaweed as a thickener for his puddings, and he gave me a bag of the stuff to take home. The thickening ingredient is carrageenan (with a hard "g") extracted from Chondrus crispus--the seaweed is a vegetarian and vegan alternative to gelatin. Frances said, how about a blancmange? which suggestion sent me straight to the beloved wikipedia. There I learned that a Turkish dish, Tavuk gogsu (with apologies, as I don't have the accent capabilities on my keyboard) is still made with shredded chicken, as was the medieval European dish--are you there, Aaron? You and Fergus might enjoy that...

As I haven't tried crushing and baking with my seaweed yet, I thought I would give you a way to enjoy the bounty of peaches. Our beloved Toad, over at To the Manner Born, dropped a line telling me that his peaches are in too; he doesn't usually eat peaches in the summer-- "Each August, we pick peel and freeze about 80 pounds per week.  Unusually we rarely eat them fresh, save for a cobbler or occasional pie.  They are a staple of our holiday table and are regularly served over what passes for girl type breakfast cereal, twigs, sticks, gravel.  What did women eat before Kashi?"

You funny Toad. Honey, we ate granola. His family has been in a frenzy of canning all week. Perhaps the recipe below will be an excuse to break out the baking dish and enjoy the peaches immediately. By the way, the picture at the top of Toad's blog these days is heart stopping--at least, that's the effect on me of the multi-colored lineup of men's seersucker jackets. So, for the gent who wants to surprise his hostess by sending around a crumble...

David Hopkins' Fruit Crumble [with interruptions from Dominique, who cannot help herself. Readers of Slow Love will recognize the propensity for figuring out how to make any recipe even more fattening--but delicious.]

Pre-heat oven to 375

8 cups blueberries or a mixture of berries, peaches or nectarines. [I prefer blueberries and peaches.]

1 cup sugar or to taste [I cut the sugar way down when it has been a hot, dry summer, as the fruit itself is so sweet.]

1/4 cup quick-cooking Tapioca

Juice of 1/2 lime

Pinch of salt

Toss the fruit with above ingredients and spoon into a 2 quart baking dish.[Now here I will make a plug for Frances Palmer's Pearl Collection; this dish can be cooked right in the piece she calls a square serving bowl--the end result looks gorgeous. Hey! We have to support our friends, no?!]


[Let me start right off by saying that I always double this part. And David recently confided that he does the same thing. I happen to like lots of crust. But I'll give the recipe to you in the original form.]

1 cup flour
1 cup sweetened coconut (or more to taste)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg

Except for egg, combine all other ingredients, using your fingers to combine, until the mixture is crumbly. [Theo did this for me, as my hands were aching from too long a swim.] Then blend in the egg, also with fingers. [Theo drew the line at this. Too yucky. Still young, that one. When you're my age, nothing is too yucky.]
Arrange over and cover top of berry mixture

Bake for 45-55 minutes in 375 oven....Voila!

This can be served with creme fraiche (mixed with a small bit of sugar and some vanilla extract) or coconut or vanilla ice cream [ginger too!], or creme anglaise.


Unknown said...

Thank you for this beautiful recipe. We are about to celebrate a weekend of the peach in Nigarara on the Lake...we actually close down mainstreet...so I will be sure to give this a go!

pve design said...

Did you know that it takes 7 years for a peach tree to bear fruit? I love peaches just knowing that.
Lovely home and yukky yumminess here.
Hopping over to Toad.

Anonymous said...

As always a delightful and yummy read.

Deana Sidney said...

I love the Aga over the water... how wonderful that must be. The recipe is splendid too... a great granola-ish topping that I would double as well. I have been making such scrumptious fruit desserts with the bounty of the season, this will be a lovely addition to my fruit file!

Lovely photos, Dominique... I could reach out and pick one of those peaches.

Lucindaville said...

I do love a fine blancmange! And one rarely sees them mentioned in blogs. Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book (one of my favorites) has 5 different recipes including a calf's foot blancmange which I must admit, I have never tried.

Toad said...

I stopped whatever I'd planned for the day to try this recipe. I'll need to substitute raspberries for blue but i cannot wait for the finished results. Thank you.

Lauren Vujosevic said...

"Beach Stones" is a book I now must own!
My son brings back the most beautiful rocks from the Adriatic Sea while visiting Montenegro every summer. There is something so beautiful in a simple rock.

Sara Ingrassia said...

While I was reading your very line about the lap top and your sons, my 8year old son came into the room and wanted to snuggle. I closed my laptop and snuggled with him right away. Thanks for the advice.
Also I loved "Slow Love"!, and I enjoyed your columns. I hope you write another book soon.

Josie Iselin said...

Dominique..it was great to see you..how do I find your e-mail address....will try facebook I guess.

Josie Iselin

Fran Ginn said...

This recipe was fabulous. I did double the topping.. ..and also increased the amount of pecans. I used white peaches and blueberries. It was as good cold the next day as it was hot. Thanks for sharing it. I can't wait to try different fruits.