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I not been a very active poster lately! So sorry. Here are my excuses:

  • I was gone on vacation for a week to a magical land where I did not have a computer.
  • Dinner this time of year is often a bowl of tomatoes, corn, green beans and/or cucumber– delicious but not exactly a recipe.
  • I have been busy like a bee at work, making jam (or at least procuring fruit to eventually make jam with) and with Backyard Barter.

So, don’t give up on me, because there are recipes in this brain to share. I just need to find make the time to do so. Perhaps I need an assistant? Wouldn’t THAT be fun! Please apply in the comments below– you will be paid in jam and fresh blackberries.

I did make something yesterday that is share-worthy. My mother-in-law came for dinner, bringing with her a precious box of school artwork and pictures of my husband as a young (adorable!) boy, as well as old photos of herself with her brother, parents and grandparents. I can’t tell you how special it was for me to look through these treasures. I have been in love with this man for 17 years and didn’t know until yesterday what he looked like as a child; let’s just say that I cried a tiny bit, but all happy tears. I was so distracted, happy, overcome, whatever you’d like to say, that I forgot to serve these fruit bars I had whipped up for dessert. They’re light and creamy, a good base for fresh summer fruit, with a sturdy bottom layer of graham cracker crust. Not exactly cheesecake bars– I was hoping to get somewhere between cheesecake and custard and think I did pretty well. For the fruit, I used a nectarine and a good handful of blueberries because I had them, but play with the possibilities: plums, blackberries, raspberries or cherries would be equally at home, and a mix is very nice. I like the bars quite a bit better chilled; the texture of the creamy layer is better and they’re easier to pick up. If When you make some, please comment on your successful combination of fruit: I’d love to know for future batches.

Summer Fruit Bars (makes 16)

  • 5 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 stack of graham crackers, crushed (9 full-size crackers; about 1 1/2 c. of crumbs)
  • pinch of cardamom or cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/3 c. + 1 T. sugar, separated
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • approximately 2 c. fresh fruit (I used one medium nectarine, sliced thinly, and 1/2 c. blueberries)
  • 2 – 3 T. brown sugar
  • pinch of cardamom, about 1/8 tsp. (use cinnamon if you prefer)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. First, make the crust: melt the butter and mix in the crushed grahams, 1 T. sugar and cardamom or cinnamon, if using; it should resemble wet sand, the kind that’s good for building castles. Press the graham mixture into the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the fruit and brown sugar (use less if your fruit is wonderfully sweet, more if you’re using tart or slightly underripe fruit). Add the cardamom or cinnamon and let sit while you make the creamy layer.

To make the creamy layer, mix 1/3 c. sugar with the cream cheese until well-combined; add the egg and vanilla and stir or whisk until you have a smooth, somewhat soupyย mixture. Carefully pour this batter over your graham cracker crust and spread into an even layer. Place the fruit in the pattern of your choice, or just toss it on if you like– don’t be shy about adding a few more slices or berries if you want more coverage– and then drizzle the syrup in the bottom of the bowl over the top. Bake for 30-35 mins., until the creamy layer is set and slightly brown. You can serve these warm if you want, with extra fresh fruit as a garnish and whipped cream if you’re feeling decadent; I think they’re much better after being chilled for a few hours.

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