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Tithingman illustration from Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B. Pumphrey

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Close up of Swiss carrot cake

Close up of Aargau carrot cake

A Fruit Crisp for Fruit Season

I don’t know about you, but when so many fruits are ripe and available all at the same time, I go a little crazy. That’s where fruit crisp comes in. I can’t resist the color and aroma and juicy goodness of peaches, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, apricots, cherries—so I buy too much of everything.

What I need is a simple, quick recipe to use that fruit that is threatening to shrivel up before we get around to eating it fresh on our cereal in the morning, as snacks throughout the day, or simply sliced for dinner.

Mom’s fruit crisp to the rescue. It is the very simplest of the wide array of baked fruit dessert that I wrote about a couple years ago in “American Fruit Desserts. Is it a Crisp, a Crunch, a Slump, a Grunt or a Buckle?”

As I pointed out then, sources told me that what my mother made was called a fruit Crisp, even though she always called it a “Brown Betty.”  Those same sources told me that Betties were made with bread crumbs instead of flour and oats, but that is not the way my mother or my grandmother made them.

So here’s one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever find for one of the most delicious deserts your family ever loved. Call it fruit crisp or call it Brown Betty. Feel free to change the fruit. I think mother usually used apples in her Brown Betty/ fruit crisp. I use part blueberry only because I rarely have enough fresh peaches left after indulging myself and I always have blueberries in the freezer.  But do your own thing.

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Serves 9
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold, Serve Hot


  • 4 cups Blueberries and Sliced peaches
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold
  • 1 cup oats (regular or quick cook will work)


1. Slice peaches and mix peaches and blueberries together, set aside.
2. Whisk together flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.
3. Slice cold butter into flour mixture. Cut in with two knives or pastry blender.
4. Stir in oats
5. Arrange peaches on bottom of buttered 8" pan.
6. Put the flour and oat and butter mixture on top, patting it even with your hands, and pressing it into the fruit.
7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until top is slightly browned, and no longer looks moist. (Longer if using a Pyrex pan).
8. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream topping or plain, either while warm, or cooled.


I use about 1 1/2 cups fresh peaches and 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries. No need to thaw the blueberries before cooking, but add 5 minutes to cooking time if you are using frozen.

Good way to use over-the-hill peaches.

No need to peel the peaches.

Crisps are adaptable--use any fruit you have at hand.

The Bent Family From England to America

The Bent family of my 7th great-grandmother, Martha Bent (Howe) handed me a boxful of interesting stories.  I have been pursuing Martha’s family for a few weeks now. To help you read about Martha’s father John Bent (the pioneer) and his family and descendants, here is an index of those articles, starting with the oldest member of the Bent family–Martha’s grandmother Agnes Gosling Bent. Just click on a title to read

Great-great-great-great, etc.

Tragedy at Sea  talks  about the ill-fated voyage in 1639 of Agnes Gosling Bent (9th great- grandmother and her daughter Agnes Bent Barnes Blanchard (9th great-aunt). Other members of the extended Bent family mentioned are Richard Barnes, Elizabeth Plympton, Thomas Plympton, Robert Bent and Richard Barnes Sr.  (the latter two died before the trip) and Thomas Blanchard. Surprise sources were a footnote in a town history and the summary of a trial (that took place 13 years later) in a book of passenger lists.

John Bent Sr., Father of the Bent Family in America relates the story of this man born during the reign of Elizabeth in Penton-Grafton, Hampshire, England who founded the Bent family that spread across North America. One of the founders of Sudbury, John Bent, my 8th great-grandfather was a good friend of John Howe, another 8th great-grandfather and father-in-law of my 7th great-grandmother, Martha Howe Bent.

The 8th Great-Uncles

John Bent, Jr., Tithingman of Framingham, born in 1636, traveled with his family to America when he was only two-year-old. John Bent Jr. grew up to be a solid citizen and respected leader in Massachusetts. He was Martha’s older brother.

Peter Bent, Of Indian Attacks and Fatal Accidents. Peter Bent’s father named him for his friend Peter Noyes, who organized the group from Penton-Grafton to travel to America. Peter was an important pioneer in his own right, having arrived from England when he was eleven years old.  He seems to have been a successful business man, perhaps a trader, as he made more than one trip back to England. He joined other young men who left Sudbury and founded Marlborough. His family endured a violent Indian attack that injured a young son and killed an apprentice, he accidentally killed his younger brother Joe, and Peter died overseas.

The Short Life of Joseph Bent Poor Joseph Bent, the first of John and Martha Bent’s children to be born in Sudbury, Massachusetts, followed his older brother in the move to Marlborough and established his farm there. Joseph served as constable in Marlborough, but by 1672 , when his father died, he had moved back to Sudbury. He and his wife had five children, but he came to an untimely end at the age of 34.

I did not write about the oldest son Robert Bent, because his life was cut short at twenty-three years old, so there is very little information about him.  The second son, William Bent, leaves even fewer tracks. The Bent family history says he “probably died early.”

My 7X Great- Grandmother

Martha Bent, American Born was the youngest of John and Martha Bent’s children seven children. (Some sources claim they had ten children, but I have only been able to document seven.) She was born in Sudbury in 1643. In the small town of Sudbury, the marriage pool was limited. Martha married a member of one of the leading families, Samuel How(e) and they had seven children, including my ancestor David Howe the proprietor of the Howe Tavern which is known as Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.