Mulberries, Carolina Parroquets, and Synchronicity

This past weekend, I was reminded again of the power of synchronicity or that magical coming-together of "your wish is my command."

I wanted to make a fruit crisp for a family dinner. When I went out to the backyard, I saw that along the fence, volunteer mulberry trees were full of berries. Wild, organic, free, and convenient. Perfect! Thank you, Universe.

I've picked mulberries since I was a kid at camp. Years later, when I was working on Prairie Home Cooking, I gathered them to test a Russian Mennonite recipe from central Kansas, which became the fruit crisp below. 

Ripe mulberries get squishy fast, so you don't often see them at farmer's markets. But with a little luck, you can find them if you tune in your radar.

Sometimes, the universe sends you a message that you're on the right track through synchronicity.  When I was working on The Cake Therapist 

and writing a flashback about The Singing Lady, a woman who had a children's radio show out of Chicago, I happened upon a vintage cereal box from the 1930s with a Singing Lady story on the back. I got that feeling right under my heart that I was on the right track. Keep going, the universe seemed to say.

The same thing happened when I was writing The Memory of Lemon.

I was writing a flashback about John James Audubon's time in Cincinnati. I was also reading first-person accounts of passenger pigeons and Carolina parroquets that were plentiful in 1820's Ohio, but now extinct. And I happened upon this Audubon print:

Just what I needed--a look at Carolina parroquets in all their glittery plumage. Again, "Keep going" whispered to me at a time when a writer can feel like it's all too much.

So I wasn't too surprised when the thing I really wanted just turned up in a very explainable, yet very magical way.


Next time, maybe I should ask for a New York Times bestseller. Oops, I just did. . . .

Lemon-Zested Mulberry and Rhubarb Crisp

If mulberries are available, try mulberries in place of all or some of the blackberries in this wonderful crisp—just as good for breakfast as it is for dessert, if you have any left!
Serves 8

2 cups fresh mulberries (any little green stems snipped off) or blackberries
4 cups 1-inch slices fresh rhubarb
1 tablespoon instant tapioca
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
2 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a large baking dish. Combine the berries, rhubarb, tapioca, lemon juice, and 1 cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Stir gently to blend well.

Transfer the fruit mixture to the prepared baking dish. 

Combine the remaining 1 cup sugar with the flour, lemon zest and butter in a bowl. 

Mix with your fingers to make  a streusel or large crumbs.

Sprinkle the streusel on top of the fruit in the baking pan. 

Bake for 35 minutes or until bubbling. To serve, scoop the warm crisp into a bowl and top with a scoop of ice cream.


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