Over the past decade as parents, we’ve taken steps toward embracing the locavore movement with our kids. We visit orchards in spring and again in the fall, both glorious times of the year to escape suburbia. We seek out local growers for berries and brave the U-picks with small children.
Choosing local foods in season as a family fosters a greater appreciation for it, and we need our little ones as interested in fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. I choose our outings based on my fond memories from early childhood: harvesting potatoes, picking up a bucket of honey from a bee farm, or stopping for fresh eggs at the neighbours’. Now, whether we are purchasing a side of beef or a crate of apples, we take our children to the source of our food, and talk about the trip before and after. It’s always good dinner conversation to imagine a day in the life of a farmer.
The opportunity to get outside and touch the food as it comes out of the ground or off a tree is a learning one for children. Those memories will trigger lots of enjoyment and associations at the table.
I recommend starting at a local farmers’ market or city open-air market. They support local growers and spotlight what is in season. Most such markets have a rich family culture, and an outing can be more of an event than a regular shopping trip. You can also find a u-pick in your area or nearby countryside. Call the farm before you visit—picking conditions can vary from day to day. Then pack a picnic and bring the camera!
When we’re getting out into nature, be it for a hike or a weekend camping trip, we always stop at roadside farm stands. Those fruits and vegetables have only traveled a few feet and were probably harvested only hours earlier. Who can resist such produce? Not me.
This Triple Berry Crisp is my favourite way to use late-summer berries around the campfire or on the Coleman HyperFlame FyreSergeant grill stove. I use granola for the crunchy topping on this skillet dessert, which yields a similar result to an oven-baked fruit crisp. It can be enjoyed for breakfast or desserts, depending on if you top it with yogurt or whipped cream. It’s maple-sweetened, granola-topped, and delicious any time of the day.
Triple Berry Campfire Crisp
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, divided
- 4 cups fresh mixed berries
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 ½ cups granola
- Yogurt or whipped cream, to garnish
- Grease an 8-inch cast iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the butter. In a medium bowl, toss the berries with the maple syrup, cornstarch, salt and lemon juice. This can be prepared up to 12 hours ahead of time, if desired.
- Spoon the berries into the skillet and level them in the pan. Sprinkle the granola on top of the berries. Dot with the remaining butter.
- Cover the skillet with tin foil and place over the hot coals of a campfire. Alternately, cook over medium heat on a camp stove. Cook the skillet crisp for about 25-30 minutes until bubbling in the center and the fruit has darkened.
- Remove the foil and cool the berry crisp. Spoon into camping bowl – I like the Coleman Melamine dishes (mostly because they are durable and dishwasher safe) – and top with yogurt or whipped cream. Enjoy warm.