Because night is showing up earlier and earlier every day, I've started thinking about comfort foods. The shortened days of Winter are not exactly welcomed by yours truly, but they do make me appreciate the long, hot days of Summer more.
With that out of the way, let me take you where you've never been before. To a world redolent with rich, buttery crispness and sweet/tangy goodness with a fragrance that will knock your socks off.
This is my take on an old family favorite, apple crisp, but using tart cherries rather than apples. When the apples come into season, I'll go with them, but for now, canned cherries are an excellent alternative. Oh, and trust me, these are not the kind of cherries you can eat straight out of the can. . . unless you like making sour faces.
Begin by heating your oven to 350. Pull out a 9" by 9" by 2" deep pan or something that equates to that. Measure a cup of juice from the cherries and pour it into the pan. Add 3 Tbs. of instant tapioca and let it soak for 15 minutes. While that's happening, melt a whole one stick of butter in a medium sauce pan. Once melted, remove from the heat and add the following: 1½ cups packed brown sugar, 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal, 1 cup all purpose flour, ¼ tsp. each salt, baking powder, baking soda [it will wait until you come back to it]. Now, back to the cherry juice/tapioca -- add ¼ tsp. almond extract and the drained cherries and gently mix together.
Now it's time to get down and dirty. With an impeccably clean hand, smoosh together the dry ingredients with the melted butter until it's crumbly. Loosely sprinkle it over the cherries and pop the pan into the oven for 30-35 minutes. It will be done when the topping is nicely browned and the aroma of the cherries and almond extract together make you weep with joyful anticipation. Spouse and I like it plain, but if you're one of those who must "gild the lily" you can top it off with iced or whipped cream. [Note to Megan -- I triple-checked this recipe, so there are no mistakes in it . . . *sigh*]