Blueberry Crumb Bars

Sometimes you have a couple of weeks where you’re running around and barely have time to breathe, much time cook. I’ve had a couple of weeks like that as of late. It’s been fun. There was a wedding. There was a visitor in town who was here for a whole week, bookended by two weekends. There was hiking (a bug pooped on me) and night-time farmer’s markets and a stroll on the beach and many dinners out. There was also a lot of sitting in traffic. In the past few months, I’ve started talking about traffic incessantly. I think this is a true sign that I have adapted to L.A.

Then there were a couple of post-work outings last week, happy hours in Venice and Santa Monica where I ate a ton of yummy tapas. Over the weekend, I spent Saturday returning a purse and then doing some shopping at the Century City mall, and then returning a dress and doing some more shopping at the Third Street Promenade. I bought a $7.50 container of organic cherries at the farmer’s market, which is still giving me heart palpitations because I can’t believe I paid that much for cherries. And I got a sorely needed massage, during which the therapist recommended that I see a chiropractor. I hate my neck and shoulders.

And Sunday…Well, Sunday was the best of all. I woke up at 6am and couldn’t fall back asleep. I was too excited, you see, because I picked up a couple of friends around noon and at 2pm we were pulling into a ranch 50 miles north of LA, where we spend about half an hour playing with tiny, adorable mini dachshund puppies. One of them is coming home with me in mid-July (either the one below or her sister). I’m so excited!

My point with all of this is that even when life is busy and you’re barely home for enough time to shower and your thoughts have been taken over by cute furry four-legged creatures, there’s still time to bake these blueberry crumb bars. The ingredient list is short. The prep time is short. Then you pop them in the oven, and 45 minutes later you have pan of bubbling, jammy, hot crumble that tests your patience to see how long you can wait before cutting into it. Meanwhile, your apartment smells like butter (i.e., heaven). The crumb bars are sweet yet slightly tart, and bursting with blueberry flavor. It’s the perfect start-of-summer dessert. I haven’t tried it myself, but I bet that topping a square with vanilla bean ice cream would be divine. So do yourself a favor and take an hour to make these. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to drooling over puppy pictures on my iPhone.

(Photo credit for picture of me cradling puppy belongs to Steven Hsieh.  Check out his awesome photos at shootforcandy.com)

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes one 9 x 13 inch pan (I cut them into 24 squares)

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in butter and egg until there are small chunks. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in blueberries. Spread blueberry mixture evenly over the crust in the pan. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until top is slightly golden-brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Store covered in refrigerator.

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