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Apricot Boysenberry Crumble

A few days ago, in one of those rare moments of clarity, I realized that I have two very different ambitions inside myself. Ambitions is perhaps the wrong word. More like voices. Sometimes one voice is louder than the other, and sometimes one voice is completely silent. Sometimes, the voices speak in tandem, and that's when I feel this dichotomy most keenly.

One of the voices I will call contentment. The other is ambition. Contentment tells me that I should be happy right now. That I am happy right now. That, while things aren't perfect or even close to perfect, I have so much to be thankful for. That I should revel in the small things.

Ambition tells me that this isn't good enough. That I deserve better or more or that I should be actively searching for something better.

I don't mean to say that ambition is bad. We are all always pushing towards something. But ambition can cloud the present--make things seem less amazing and beautiful than they are. And this is something of a minor tragedy. To not be able to see how beautiful life is or to have that beauty marred by expectation is to live in a state of disappointment.

Of course things could always be better. We could make more money and not have to worry about paying the bills. We could write a new bestselling cookbook. We could start a business and become great successes.

These two voices have been competing for some time, but this week I think one of them won out over the other. More than I desire money and success, I desire to be happy right now, in this moment. I want to notice how lovely the trees look when the wind blows. I want to appreciate the smell of bread toasting. I want to listen to good music.

And right now, at this moment, I want to share this delicious and beautiful dessert with you. It's very simple and full of the flavors of the season, packed with blushing apricots and deeply purple boysenberries. It's an homage to the fruit I've been eating since we moved here--immaculate and wonderful. I'm starting to understand why one would want to cross the country in a covered wagon to get here. It's practically the land of milk and honey as far as I'm concerned.

The crumble is gluten-free, not to be trendy but because almond meal is one of my favorite new ingredients, and it's far more flavorful than plain flour. The crumble is also vegan, not to be countercultural but because a good olive oil's peppery fruitiness compliments the fruit perfectly. It's not exactly your standard crumble, but it's so good that it may replace your old favorite recipe.

There are a number of ways you can modify this dessert. If you can't find good apricots, use peaches. If boysenberries are out of reach, use blackberries. If pistachios are too expensive, use another nut. Almond meal is cheaply and readily available at Trader Joe's (not an endorsement), so I definitely wouldn't substitute something else for that.

But more important than the recipe is that moment when you sit down with people you love and share this dessert with them. Everything else will seem unimportant.

Other articles you might enjoy: Berry Shortcake with Bourbon Hard Sauce Glaze, Apricot and Walnut Sweet Rolls with Orange Icing, Peach Pie

Apricot Boysenberry Crumble
Makes one 9-inch crumble

Note: For a tart crumble, add the smaller amount of sugar. For a sweeter crumble, add the larger amount.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Have a 9-inch pie pan ready.
Combine in a large bowl:
           1 pound apricots, pitted and cut into sixths
            1 pint boysenberries or blackberries
            1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
            1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar 
            2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pour the fruit mixture into the pie pan. In another bowl, combine:
           1/4 cup sugar
            Zest of 1 orange
With your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is tinted light orange. Add to the bowl and combine with the sugar:
           1 cup almond meal
            1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            Pinch cardamom
Add:
           1/4 cup high-quality olive oil
Stir to moisten the crumble topping. When you pinch some of the topping between your fingers, it should hold together but not be wet or oily. Put clumps of the topping over the fruit (you want decently-sized pieces of the crumble, not crumbs). Bake until the crumble is well-browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Place a square of foil over the crumble to keep it from burning and continue to bake, 20 to 30 minutes more, until the filling is bubbling and thickened. Serve warm.

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