Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Delights

In May, Wendy, Avery, and I were invited to do a signing at Salt & Pepper Books in Occoquan, Virginia.  If you have ever zoomed down I-95, you passed it not far outside the Washington, DC beltway.  This riverfront community has a busy history that dates back to the 1700s.  Today, it's a peaceful little town that reminds me of the cozy mysteries we write. There are even ghosts in Occoquan!

Isn't this a gorgeous display?
Imagine a bookstore that only sells cookbooks and culinary mysteries.  The perfect haunt for fans of Mystery Lover's Kitchen!  Salt and Pepper Books is adorable and the owner, Christine, couldn't be more charming and helpful.

If you happen to be traveling on the I-95 corridor, take a break to visit Occoquan.  It's loaded with restaurants and quaint shops.  You might even spot a ghost or two.  And tell Christine we send our best!

So I was thinking about summer vacations and somehow peaches, blueberries, and nectarines came to mind.  Probably because they're abundant right now.  I've been itching to bake something with fruit and tried this recipe that makes use of blueberries.  But I tossed in a couple of nectarines, too.
It's a snap to make with a food processor.  You can also make it entirely by hand, which is always great for beach and mountain rentals when you don't have all the comforts of home in the kitchen.  If you make it by hand, just mix the ingredients and use two knives to cut in the butter until it's all crumbly.

Blueberry Nectarine Crumble Bars

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups fruit (I used 3 cups of blueberries and 2 nectarines)
squeeze of lemon (1/2 teaspoon)

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 sticks (1 cup) butter (plus extra for pan)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter 9x13 baking pan.

Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
Wash blueberries.  Peel and dice nectarines.  Place fruit in large bowl and mix with sugar and cornstarch. Add squeeze of lemon and turn gently until coated.

Place sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour in food processor and pulse to combine.  Add vanilla and egg and pulse.  Cut butter into 1 tablespoon chunks, add to food processor and pulse until crumbly and holds together when pressed.

Press 1/2 of the dough in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Pour the fruit over it and spread evenly.  Crumble the remaining dough over the top.  Bake 45 minutes or until the top is a golden brown.

Cool on a rack.

When cool, squeeze lemon juice over powdered sugar and stir with a fork or mini-whisk.  Add lemon juice slowly, mixing until it reaches a drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over cooled bars.  Cut and serve.


  1. I want all the books!

    Good thing I have three more quarts of blueberries in the fridge. (And that's after making JB's cheesecake pie thingy--yummy!)

  2. Oh yum! Peaches and blueberries must be in the air ... I just bought a half dozen peaches to make ginger peach sorbet. :)

    And so glad you got good pics of Salt & Pepper. That was, hands down, the best time I've ever had at a book signing. And also the most I've ever *bought* at a book signing. I could spend a whole weekend in that store!

  3. Salt and Pepper books looks darling...and blueberries and nectarines sound fantastic! Yum! Those really are some summer delights...thanks for sharing them. :)

  4. Sheila, perfect timing to use those blueberries! If you like shortbread, I think you'll like these crumble bars. Too bad you didn't come with us to Salt & Pepper books. Your books were there!

    ~ Krista

  5. Wendy, I think we all had a wonderful time that afternoon. Poor Christine will have authors knocking at her door, begging to come for signings.

    Ginger peach sorbet sounds wonderful! I really ought to make some . . . .

    ~ Krista

  6. Elizabeth, Wendy was right. I could have spent hours just browsing the selection of cookbooks at Salt & Pepper Books.

    I'm guessing your children would enjoy the crumble bars. And they're not all bad for us -- they're full of fruit!

    ~ Krista

  7. Krista,

    I know where Occoquan is (being an Alexandria native) and i love it. Its been awhile since i went to sight see. I remember as a kid my mom would take me and my brother to their craft fairs. The streets were lined up with lots of craft fair vendors. It was fun. Of course my brother and i were always can we get this or can we get that. lol.

    Great recipe... I love blueberries and nectarines.

  8. Krista, I love this memory. It was such a fun time for all of us, and I think Christine was blown away by the interest of all her fans! Loved the town, the cookbook store. And love this recipe for fruit crumble. Yum!


  9. PS. I put pictures up on Avery Aames facebook page of the trip to Occoquan if anyone is interested. Click the link.

    <a href="</a>

  10. Krista - Salt & Pepper Books is adorable! My kind of store; and if ghosts are residing in quaint Occoquan, I'm there. :)

    Your recipe for us today has my mouth watering. I sometimes make blueberry bars as breakfast treats, and I love your idea of mixing nectarines in there. Thanks for sharing another tasty, easy recipe.

    Have a great day,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  11. Hi Elisa and Abby! I think the craft fairs are still popular in Occoquan. It looks like there will be one in the fall.

    I'm glad you liked the recipe!

    ~ Krista

  12. I'd sure would love to visit Salt and Pepper Love this recipe too: beautiful, delicious and so summery.

  13. Avery, we had such a lovely time. Salt & Pepper Books is a very special place and Christine was simply delightful!

    ~ Krista

  14. Cleo, I'm coming to your house for breakfast! Yum. There's something about cooked and baked blueberries.

    You would love Occoquan! It's like cozy land -- and everyone assured us there are ghosts. They even have special ghost tours!

    ~ Krista

  15. Mary Jane, you would adore Salt & Pepper Books. Cookbooks and mysteries everywhere with some very cute kitchen items in between!

    ~ Krista

  16. Your killin me here - couldn't you at least added a scratch and sniff to the site :) This looks divine.

  17. If we weren't in the midst of a thunderstorm warning and heat advisory I would be heading to the store right now!!! There look srumpdillyumptious!!!
    Thanks, Krista!

  18. As I live just a spit from Salt & Pepper Books (and even had my wedding reception next door at the former Sea & Sea Restaurant now
    Madigan's Waterfront), I think I'll go visit them this weekend since I have a glorious nothing scheduled to do.:)

  19. Salt & Pepper books looks like alot of fun!
    thanks for sharing the photo!
    and your recipe looks so yummy! =)