Mixed Berry Cobbler Recipe

This time of year, the fruit selection at the stores are at their peak! While we are fortunate enough to get berries all year round, there is something about late spring going into summer that yearns for a sweet bowl of mixed fruit. What better way to serve up that craving than in a delicious oatmeal crumble topped cobbler with a warm, flaky pie crust? I vowed when I began blogging, none of my recipe blogs would start off with paragraphs about my great aunt Martha and how she won the county fair seventeen years in a row with this recipe, so here is what you need to make my version of an old favorite. 

Ingredients:

Crust (makes one pie crust):

1 cup flour

⅓ cup shortening

¼ cup  cold water 

A pinch of salt 

Filling:

1 ½ cup strawberries

1 ⅓ cup blueberries

1 cup blackberries (one 6 oz container)

1 cup raspberries (one 6 oz container) 

Juice and zest from ½ a lemon

¼-⅓ cup sugar

4 tbsp instant tapioca 

Topping:

1 cup of quick oats 

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp softened butter 

**You can also use 3 packets of instant oatmeal if you don’t have the quick oats, just leave out the brown sugar and you’re good to go!

Mix the flour, salt and shortening together in a large mixing bowl until well combined and clumped together. Add in the water and mix well. This is where I eyeball the dough (honestly, I never use recipes, so be patient with me). You want to pie crust to form a firm ball in the mixer, if the dough is sticking to the sides then it has too much water and needs a bit of flour to even out. If the dough is still clumpy looking or you can still see bits of flour, add a tiny bit more water and mix well. It’s all a balancing act but homemade pie crust is much easier than it appears! Be confident and use your instinct.

Once the dough is well mixed, put some flour on your clean counter top and roll out with dough using a rolling pin. Make sure to flour the rolling pin too so it won’t stick. Roll the dough into a square and transfer, very carefully, into a 9 x 9 baking pan. Form the pie crust into the shape of the pan, making sure it goes all the way up the sides of the pan so the crust holds in all the delicious cobbler filling. Poke a few holes in the crust with a fork to prevent bubbles. Put the crust into the oven at 350 until the crust is a light golden brown, about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. 

While the crust is in the oven, start on the filling. Wash the berries thoroughly and transfer them into a large pot. The raspberries, blueberries and blackberries can go in whole. Cut up the strawberries into quarters. Taste the berries to see how sweet they are, the sweeter they are, the less sugar you need to add. It all depends on your personal taste. Cook the berries on a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The berries will begin to break down on their own, releasing juices. Zest a lemon into the berry mixture and then cut the lemon in half, squeezing the juice in. Careful not to get any seeds into the mix!

While you want the berries in the filling to cook down, you don’t want it to all be juice. Pay attention to the filling and turn the heat off while there are still chunks of berry. This is when you add in the instant tapioca to thicken the filling. You can also use a cornstarch slurry if you don’t have tapioca, but it’s not as good. Take the filling off the heat and let sit until the crust is ready. 

Pull the crust out of the oven once it gets to that light golden brown color, if it’s done before you finish the filling, no worries. Just set it aside until you need it. Once the crust and filling are both finished, pour the berry filling over the warm crust. The tapioca will make it thicker, like a half set jello. Make sure the filling is evenly spread out. 

In a bowl, add the instant oatmeal (or oats and brown sugar) to the softened butter and mix well. The butter will make the oats stick together. Sprinkle the oatmeal crumble on top of the filling evenly. Put the cobbler back into the oven until the oatmeal crumble bakes to a light brown and the filling begins to bubble, about 15-20 minutes. Pull out of the oven and let cool in the counter for 10 or so minutes. Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and store leftovers in the refrigerator. 

my Secret to time management

This current shelter in place has taught us many things, good and bad, but one major thing that has been brought to light is the idea that we don’t do many things we intend to because we simply don’t have time? That’s a total lie, and that’s okay! There’s only so many hours in the day, every day isn’t going to be perfect or awful. It’s a roller coaster ride of balancing out the good and the bad. A healthy heart rate beeping on a monitor. When I first decided to shelter in place at home (like two months ago), I thought about all the things I was going to get done. Excitedly, I made a list of all the things in the house I was going to clean. All the writing I was going to get done. All the projects I’d catch up on. It’s comical looking back on it, seeing how many of my to do lists still sit half finished, and normally that would make me feel like an unproductive failure. When I sat down and really thought about what was keeping me from getting all the things I want done, I realized my problem was time management. 

Every other job has a daily schedule. Specific hours in the day that you tell yourself you’ll be productive. The juggle is, as artists, we can’t always flip a switch and turn our inspiration on and off. My compromise, a daily schedule that is strict enough to get some work done but loose enough that I am allowed some wiggle room. To begin, I made a list of things I absolutely wanted to get done each day in order of priority and some ideas to fill those time slots. Not every item on this list is a must do every single day, but just ideas on what I can do to fill the time I have set aside for each category. Don’t get over ambitious here. If your list is only three items long, that’s perfectly fine. The last thing I wanted to do was create things that I could live without just to fill up a schedule but end up overwhelming myself and not getting anything done. My main topics of interest were writing, blogging and my family. 

Photo by Александар Цветановић from Pexels

To do list:

Writing:

Character profiles

Background/Plot 

Meet word count for the day (700-1,000?)

Blogging:

Write/edit future blog posts

Check on analysys views and comments

Post on social media

Pick up around the house

Laundry

Take kids outside to play

Prep for dinner

SCHEDULE

MON-FRI

8 AM: Wake up. Breakfast. Kid’s screen time

9-Noon: Pick up house, laundry. Take kids outside to play. Dinner prep

Noon-12:30 PM: Kid’s name time. Mom’s meditation. 

12:30-3:30 PM: Write/Blogging

3:30 PM: Husband gets home

4-6 PM: Family time and dinner

6-7 PM: Exercise. Go for a walk

7:30 PM: Shower

8-11 PM: Write/Blogging

Writing/Blogging hours: 6

Total: 30 hours

SAT-SUN

Set aside two hours to write/blog. More relaxation and downtime. 

Total writing/blogging hours: 4 hours 

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

When I first looked over my daily schedule, I thought, “Wow, I don’t have any time during the day to write.” But in reality, there’s six hours in the day set aside to work on whatever is currently inspiring me, and four hours on the weekend. In reality, that’s a full time job. 36 hours a week. And if I end up only being able to do three or four hours instead of six during the week, at least I’m getting work done! I am incredibly fortunate to be able to have this time to set aside for myself as a mother. I talk to so many women who don’t have a free moment during the day to think, let alone be creative at home. When my husband gets home from work, he immediately switches over from soldier to father, without even thinking twice about it. He has been at work all day and understands that I need that time to get my work done, just like he has been able to do. It’s a true partnership and while not impossible, it would be difficult to get anything done writing wise if I was in this alone. 

The reality is, everyone’s situation differs with varying needs. The point isn’t to take someone else’s priorities and schedule as your own, but to use it as inspiration to create your own timeline that fits your personal needs and lifestyle. The best thing about making your own schedule for being productive at home, if you need a mental day off to veg in front of the television, then take it! Not every single day of your life needs to be measured in what work you did that day. Americans take less vacation time than any other country in the world. We already overwork ourselves to the bone, but how we are feeling is just as important as what we are doing. It all begins with a positive and inspired mindset! 

Aligned af

Aligned AF. I don’t know about you, but I tend to go the extra mile making sure my soul is aligned and I am centered in my own energy. Alas, I’m a human and sometimes I fall short. In those cases, AF stands for anxiety and forgiveness. Two of the things I struggle with the most. 

Mental health has a huge stigma behind it, and even in this current social climate where we are being as open and honest as ever, we still get judged for the chemicals our brain is releasing. Like we have any control over it. I’ve had anxiety my entire existence. Stories of how I would stress myself out so badly I’d get sick has sprinkled my childhood. Most of those stories are told with humor rather than thinking I could ever be anything other than what was perceived as “normal.” I’ve been called emotional, mean, and controlling all because of my anxiety. The times where my anxiety has literally caused me to shut down and internally panic, I’ve been called spoiled and lazy. Pretty much every negative adjective you can think of, all because I’ve been constantly stressed. It’s a struggle to balance out what my brain perceives as reality and what is just me overthinking everything. What people’s actual intentions are over what I assume they are doing. As a Libra, balance is EVERYTHING. It’s enough to make a person go insane, and because of all of this confusion and stress, some sticky situations have arisen. That brings up the next big issue in staying aligned AF. Forgiveness. 

Photo by Tina Nord on Pexels

Forgiveness is tricky. Sometimes we have to accept that in life there will be times that we will have to forgive and move on, even when an apology isn’t offered. Not because those who wronged us deserve forgiveness, some of them genuinely don’t. But that doesn’t mean that we deserve to carry about hate in our hearts. All it does is keep us awake at night while the people who hurt us probably sleep soundly. Wrapped up in a blanket with the fan on, nice and comfortable while they dream of who cares. So why don’t we deserve to sleep soundly, cozy and safe on our mattresses? Why do we get hurt, but carry the weight of that on our shoulders when we didn’t ask for it? We may not be the ones who put the burden there, but we are the ones holding onto it. And sometimes we need to, we cling to it like a shackle, waiting for the cut to scab over. But long after the scar tissue has set in, we still hold onto those boulders. We act like songbirds trapped in a cage, but the door is wide open. All we have to do is step out. All we have to do is drop the boulder and stretch out our poor, overworked muscles. It’s amazing to see how much better we can breathe when we aren’t hunched over. But that’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, especially when it comes to freedom. 

The reality of anxiety and forgiveness that I have come to is, I’m not responsible for other people. Not how they act. Not how they interpret my good intentions. Not how they perceive my life choices. None of it. And I’m not here to impress them anyway. At the end of it all, what truly matters is that I am happy with myself and my family. What matters is that my relationship is strong and healthy, and that my children are happy and healthy. Everything else is just background noise. And yes sometimes the background noise gets way too loud, but the good thing about that is, we hold the remote. We can turn down the volume. Distance ourselves from the bullshit, get some noise cancelling headphones, whatever you need to do to align yourself. 

Photo by Benjamin Suton on Pexels

It’s taken me a long time to get here and some people never do, because it takes an immense amount of energy and work to get to this milestone. Hard work isn’t for everyone, but good news is, you are a gem. You are a unique snowflake with a design that never has and never will be repeated again. You are not like everyone else, and thank the universe for that. Being your own shade of rich color is one of life’s greatest blessings. Once you see your own worth, a whole new color pallet opens up. Imagine what beautiful portraits you can create with an array of hues designed just for you. 

Hidden uses for your herb garden

Recently, I signed up for an herbalist course online through Groupon. One, to get closer to nature but also to head in the direction of a more natural medicine cabinet. So many of us use chemical compositions from the pharmacy shelves to help cure common colds or a skin rash when we can just as easily turn to Mother Earth. We have been provided such a wide variety of natural cures in our own backyards, it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Of course, modern medicine has its place and there’s a reason we developed it, but there are many instances in daily life where herbalism can assist our healing and help promote a healthier lifestyle. 

Many of these herbs have medicinal and spiritual purposes that are miles long, so I just listed the ones that I felt most relevant. It’s amazing all the various uses for these common kitchen herbs aside from making our dinners more delicious. It’s always important for me, personally, to have representation of the four elements in my sacred space. Herbs are a wonderful way to honor the earth. 

The herbalist course was a great beginners introduction into herbal medicine. Another great source, as always, are our beloved books. The first herbalist book I picked up was medicinal, Herbal Remedies by Andrew Chevallier, and it’s a great source with easy to identify photos and references. If a plant has even a shred of medicinal uses, it’s in this book with an instruction on how and when to use them. 

Spiritually, my favorite that I’ve picked up is the Green Witch by Arin Hiscock-Murphy. I stumbled upon several reviews on pagan instagram accounts and blogs, and it’s currently a favorite among the community. I loved it because it helps establish the mindset and lifestyle of a green witch beyond keeping a simple herb garden. I picked up Hiscock-Murphy’s trilogy of pagan books and they are all fantastic. 

These are the six herbs that I landed on after doing my research. Not only are they the most used herbs in my kitchen, but they all have amazing medicinal purposes that I had no idea existed before embarking on this journey. I have been using white sage smudging sticks to cleanse sacred spaces or new apartments that I moved into for over a decade, but I was amazed to learn that the additional herbs that had been sitting in my space cabinet all along could enhance my craft as well. I got a bit of a late start in planting these herbs with the shelter in place orders, but since I’m working with an indoor garden, I don’t have to worry too much about the weather outside. I just have to worry about keeping my cat from eating them when they sprout. 

The best thing about these six herbs, they all require similar sun light each day as well as similar watering schedules. Since I’m keeping these plants indoors and the ceramic pots I picked up were on the smaller side (four inches), I only put a few seeds in each pot. Plenty of seeds left over in case some don’t sprout or if I have to start over for any reason.

Rosemary

Culinary– Rosemary is one of the most versatile herbs, used primarily in pork and chicken dishes, as well as potatoes. One of my personal favorites is in bread, dipping oils, and herbal butter. Rosemary is also a great addition to soups, salads, and surprisingly desserts. 

Medicinal– Rosemary essential oil is commonly used for stress relief, anxiety, aches and pains. Rosemary tea also has all the same benefits and is incredibly easy to make by steeping rosemary leaves in hot water for about ten minutes, strain and drink up. 

Spiritual– Rosemary represents cleansing and purification, it can be used to make smudge sticks alone or mixes with sage. Burn a few leaves to purify your space before meditations. 

Basil

Culinary– Basil is good for tomato base sauces, making pesto or eating raw in caprese, salads and pizza. If it’s Italian cuisine, basil is the perfect spice. 

Medicinal– Basil naturally boosts the immune system and promotes healthy liver function. It can also relieve stress and lower cholesterol. Basil tea can help calm nerves and settle the stomach. 

Spiritual– Basil symbolizes luck, peace, protection and success. Plant this in your garden to bring prosperity to your home. 

Cilantro (Coriander)

Culinary– Cilantro is the perfect addition to salads, wraps, sandwiches, guacamole, salsas and most Mexican cuisine. It can also be used to elevate rice, chicken and seafood. 

Medicinal– Cilantro is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, as well as a sleep aid. 

Spiritual– Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and has its own spiritual uses. Coriander oil can be used to bless candles and put in a satchel above your bed for a peaceful sleep. 

Parsley

Culinary– Parsley is a rich, versatile herb that can transform salads, soups, sauces and Mediterranean dishes. I put parsley in the majority of dishes I make. Used fresh or dried, it’s the perfect elevation of flavor. Parsley can also be used in dipping oils and herbal butter. 

Medicinal– Parsley reduces inflammation and assists in cleansing the liver. It can also be used to strengthen the immune system, aid digestion, and is rich in Vitamin K and C. 

Spiritual– Parsley is considered the herb of the dead, used in ancient cultures to honor those who have passed on. 

Sage

Culinary– Sage marries well with pork, poultry, sausage, and seafood. I also put a bit of sage in homemade alfredo sauce, which surprisingly is the perfect addition. 

Medicinal– Sage helps when dealing with digestive problems. It can also assist to relieve stress, lower cholesterol levels, reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Sage can be used as an essential oil or drank as a tea made from sage leaves using the same method as making rosemary tea. 

Spiritual– Sage represents purification and protection. White sage smudge sticks can be used to cleanse a meditation area or your entire house, just make sure to open up a window or five depending on the size space you’re working with. Other herbs and flowers can be tied into a smudge stick to assist in cleansing negative energy. 

Oregano

Culinary– Oregano pairs well with chicken, beef, and pork. It’s another herb that is made for Italian cuisine, especially pasta and pizza. Bread, dipping oils, and herbal butter. 

Medicinal- Oregano is great for promoting respiratory and immune system health. Oregano is also rich in vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and a great source of fiber and antioxidants. It helps reduce inflammation and ease minor aches and pains. 

Spiritual– Oregano can assist to calm nerves and grant clarity and courage. Oregano can be added to charms and meditation to invoke joy and promote letting go of old habits or lovers. It’s also a great addition to a herbal protection sachet or an herb infused bath. 

Herb garden photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.