Easy Recipe: Toaster Oven Berry Crumble

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Life without a real kitchen is frustrating, especially with food allergies.  Since I am allergic to eggs, I can’t go grab any dessert somewhere if I get a craving for something sweet.  I have had to make do with whatever I can bake in my little toaster oven.  Variations of this berry crumble have become my new easy go-to dessert.  I’m assuming it can probably also be made in a regular oven as well, but do not have that luxury at the moment to be able to test the theory. 🙂

Here’s my recipe:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 individual serving size packet of instant oatmeal (I use cranberry oatmeal)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup fresh berries (I use whatever is ripe that day, a variety of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
3 tablespoons cherry preserves

Mix all the dry ingredients in mixing bowl, and cut in butter.  Layer half of the mixture in the bottom of a baking dish.  Spoon in mixed berries, then cherry preserves.  Spread on remaining sugar/oatmeal mixture.  Bake in toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (time may need to be adjusted for a regular oven).

White Raspberry & Strawberry Tartlet Recipe

I made my little mini pie crusts in the toaster oven again (see last post here).  This time, I wanted the filling to be primarily fresh berries from our garden.  I cut the pie crust recipe in half since I was only planning to make two medium sized tartlets.  While the crusts were cooking, I removed the stems from all of the berries and hulled and sliced the strawberries.  I added two tablespoons of honey to about 1 1/2 cups of fresh berries and mixed well.  When the pie crusts were almost finished, I added in the berry mixture and baked for another 10 minutes.  Super easy and so good!

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Oatmeal with Garden Fresh Berries

A great addition to our morning oatmeal routine:  fresh berries from our garden!  So simple, and so easy…it makes the oatmeal so good, with no extra flavoring or sweeteners needed. 🙂

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My Experience with Growing Strawberries

Strawberries have not always been my strongest success in my gardening experiences.  It took me a while to find my niche with successfully growing strawberries.  It is really not all that difficult, but I found a few tricks that have helped me tremendously.

I remember seeing my grandmother growing rows and rows of strawberries in little mounds in her country backyard garden, making it seem so easy.  In my first attempt with growing strawberries, I tried to replicate that with my one little strawberry plant, but with failed results.  I had selected a variety of strawberries with very small fruit, and they were getting mushy on the ground before they ripened.

I was discouraged and almost gave up.  Seeing how much my husband buys strawberries at the store, I was determined to keep trying.  I took the same little strawberry plant up out of the ground and put it with some potting soil in a little container.  Right away, it started to perk up.  I did this transplanting in the middle of the winter, so I didn’t see any immediate results right away.  I had it inside my greenhouse in the winter, and I kept tripping on the container.  I put it on one of the little metal chair style plant stands that I had lying around (just so I would stop tripping on it), and within a few days I started seeing tons of strawberry flowers coming.  I suddenly understood why people often recommend planting strawberries in hanging containers.  Getting the container up off the ground really allowed the drainage they were hoping for.

I don’t like the idea of putting strawberries in hanging containers for a few reasons.  First, the most likely place I would hang them would be from our pergola, which is covered with shade fabric.  Not an ideal place for growing non-shade plants.  Second, I am very short.  I hate having plants hanging up high out of my reach. 🙂  Third, this is just a theory, but I have a feeling that putting them up high would just make them more enticing to the local birds!

For me, this accidental combination of the tiny strawberries in the container on the plant stand has been working amazingly well.  They are up off the ground, getting drainage the need, and still within reach for me.

I saw a larger variety of strawberry plant recently and we were dying to try those out now that I had finally gotten success with my other varieties.  For these strawberries, I decided to try them using the mound method I had seen my grandmother use.  These plants are bigger, and it didn’t look like they would hang on the ground as much as the smaller varieties.

I started with my usual method of prepping the soil, but digging up everything in the area to loosen any compaction, and putting the loosened soil back in with the addition of some compost.  I will do another post soon with pictures on how I do my soil prep.

Then I went on with my method of new plant welcome kit, explained here.  This time however, instead of starting the welcome kit at the bottom of a hole, I started with flat soil.  Then I made little mounds of soil above that, where I started planting the new strawberry plants.  I topped them off with fertilizer, compost and mulch.  The two new strawberry plants have been doing really well!  The little mounds of dirt allow the strawberries to gracefully hang down off the plant until they are ripe and ready for picking.  I am so happy that I have finally gotten the hang of growing strawberries. 🙂

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