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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.

Who Was Elizabeth?

This is an addenda to the story of the Two Agnes Bents that follows.  Skip this and go to the story if you are not into nerdy research details!

Many sources say that Agnes Bent (Barnes) Blanchard sailed for America in 1639 with TWO children, Richard Barnes and Elizabeth.  However I believe these reports are mistaken, and the Elizabeth in question is the daughter of Agnes’ deceased sister, Jane Bent Plympton.

Jane Bent Plympton had five children. She died in 1631 and left at least two living children: Elizabeth and Thomas. Her husband died in 1637.

I believe that it would be logical for the widow Agnes Bent Barnes to take in these two children when their father died, if not earlier.

Only one Elizabeth appears on passenger lists, and that is Elizabeth Plympton.  Although some assume that Agnes Bent Barnes had a child named Elizabeth who was married before sailing, that is impossible.

Agnes Bent married Richard Barnes in 1630 and it is probable he died within a year after the wedding.  Their son Richard was born in 1631.

Jane’s daughter Elizabeth and son Thomas are mentioned in her father’s will in 1631. Agnes Bent Barnes’ son Richard Barnes is mentioned, but no daughter Elizabeth. According to later testimony, the will of Agnes Gosling Bent, the elder Agnes left 5 pounds to Elizabeth Plympton, 20 pounds to Richard Barnes 5 pounds to Thomas Plympton, but no mention of another Elizabeth.

Court testimony refers to the girl on board the Jonathan as the “niece of Agnes Bent Barnes Blanchard.

Therefore, I conclude that Agnes Bent Barnes took in her sisters’ orphaned children, Thomas and Elizabeth Pynchon and after she married  her second husband,Thomas Blanchard, they took them with the rest of the family on the ship Jonathan, sailing for America.