A Cautionary Tale…

There once was a woman at work, we’ll call her Sue. Sue was feisty, opinionated and mostly fun to be around.  She could be stubborn and bossy at times but her strong work ethic, loyalty and sense of humor were admirable.  She loved pushing peoples’ buttons and was certainly good at pushing mine.  More than anyone I’ve ever met, she loved stuff.  She was constantly finding the weirdest, most random knick knacks and toys to fill up her space with clutter.  I couldn’t have handled all that clutter but she seemed to thrive off it. She loved showing everyone her silly toys and making people laugh.  She had a great laugh. One day, something changed.  Sue’s entire demeanor seemed to shift overnight and she went from being sunny, strong-willed and caring to sullen, distant and sensitive.  “Everything’s fine,” she would say.  “Nothing is wrong, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”  Her tone plainly said mind your own business.  So we did. But everyone knew something was going on and we conversed quietly by the water cooler out of concern and confusion.  She was a newlywed… was it marital troubles?  Workplace woes? After months of uncomfortable conversations and awkward silence, everything came to a head.  Someone said the wrong thing to her at the wrong time and she blew up, stormed out of the building and drove away.  I can still hear her yelling “You have NO idea what I’ve been going though!”  Surely she was about to quit?  We were baffled.  And very worried. The truth was that Sue had found a lump and didn’t get it checked for months.  And by that time the cancer had spread.  Chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiation weren’t enough to save her life. Would 6 months have made a difference?  No one will ever know.  Why am I telling you this?  Because early detection can save your life.  Get educated, check yourself and schedule mammograms when you’re supposed to.  If not for yourself, do it for the people who love you. I sincerely hope I don’t sound unsympathetic as I share this story.  Sue and I had a strained relationship at times but we did care for each other.  I wanted to portray the experience honestly.  It was traumatic for everyone and I can’t imagine what she went through.

As with my last post, I’m highlighting cancer fighting ingredients today.  Berries.  Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, whatever you like.  Blueberries are a favorite of mine so today I’m sharing a lightened up blueberry bourbon crisp. Because blueberries aren’t in season right now I used frozen berries from the grocery store.   They work perfectly well here and berries are too delicious to only enjoy in the summer. To keep things a bit healthier I used coconut oil instead of butter and honey instead of refined sugar (thought I do include an optional tablespoon of brown sugar in the topping).  You can make this with only the agave and it will still be good but it lacks a certain buttery richness that you get from the molasses in brown sugar. I leave that up to you.  Most of the bourbon cooks away in the oven so if you want to re-infuse the flavor, drizzle a tiny amount over the cobbler right after pulling it from the oven.

Blueberry Bourbon Crisp
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
Blueberry Filling
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 11/2 tablespoon bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted slivered almonds (you can substitute regular or sliced)
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1½ tablespoons bourbon (plus more to drizzle)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, toss the blueberries with the cornstarch until they're evenly coated, then add the remaining ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients. It's easiest to incorporate the coconut oil with your fingers.
  4. Pour the blueberry filling into a 1 quart dish (or 4 cup-sized ramekins). Spread the topping evening over the berries and place in the oven.
  5. Cook for 1 hour, then drizzle a small amount of bourbon over the topping after removing it from the oven. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
Use light agave nectar in place of honey for a vegan dessert.


  • http://gobakeyourself.wordpress.com/ Choc Chip Uru

    This crisp looks remarkably delicious :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Kathryn

    Such an important post & message; thank you for sharing.

  • http://bakerstreet.tv Baker Street

    Such an important post, Jen! And berries! I love blueberries too! Blueberry + bourbon + crunchy oaty topping – Yum!

  • http://stowell.wordpress.com Roger Stowell

    Very good post. Here in France, my wife receives reminders for free mammograms each year. The speed of service and backup in the French system is incredible. Aside from that, the opening picture is a stunner.

  • http://acupofmascarpone.com Carol | a cup of mascarpone

    Thank you for highlighting an extremely important subject, Jen! Berries are such an important part of your diet…and what better way to eat them!!! Lovely blueberry crisp!

  • http://www.bake-online.co.uk Jenny @ BAKE

    what an honest post, I’m sorry for your coworker. What a gorgeous looking crisp and a brilliant excuse to splurge on berries more often!

  • http://www.unegaminedanslacuisine.com/ Valerie

    Your story certainly put me on alert. Great reminder, Thank you!

    This crisp looks irresistible! Hooray for the powerful, healthy little blueberry!

  • Patty

    Thanks for sharing on such an important topic and this recipe is a beautiful use of healthy blueberries-love them in my breakfast cereal;-)

  • http://thedomesticrebel.com Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel

    Such an important message through a sad story. I’m sorry, Jen.
    However, this blueberry crisp looks phenom. I love berry crisps!

  • http://simplyfreshcooking.com Rachael {SimplyFreshCooking}

    It’s great that you’re doing your part and spreading the word. Very important post, and it’s awesome you had the courage to do it with such honesty! xoxo This crisp looks so great and so healthy… I <3 the photos, too!

  • http://www.justasmidgen.com Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

    This is such an important message. My friend lost her nanny to cancer when she ignored a lump after the birth of her first child.. she thought it was mastitis. I love your recipe.. excellent!!

  • http://www.crunchycreamysweet.com Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet

    We all need to keep this in mind. Not only in October. Love the crisp! Your photos are amazing!

  • claire @ the realistic nutritionist


  • http://kirantarun.com/food Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    Thanks for the reminder & sharing the cancer awareness with us all. So so important.

    Love this anti-oxidant filled crisps. So yum :)

  • http://wee-eats.com natalie

    gorgeous photos… and i’m sure it tastes amazing too…

  • http://thespicedlife.com/ Laura

    Another great post. Honest is better than fake any day. And yum to the crisp, with brown sugar please. :)

  • http://sweet-lab.com sweetlab

    This one moved me. Love it!

  • http://joyfulgirl.wordpress.com Libby Bouma

    This looks delightful. Yum!

  • http://www.lanascooking.com Lana @ Never Enough Thyme

    So right! Early detection is so very important. Had my annual check last month!

    And the crisp…delicious! Love that bit of bourbon in the recipe.

  • http://blondeambitionblog.net Katie @ Blonde Ambition

    This sounds so so delicious. And it’s okay to be a little blunt about things like your coworker. Too many times, people learn their lessons the hard way. Cancer isn’t exactly something you want to learn about the hard way :-P

  • fabiola@notjustbaked

    This is a great message to share, being that I am sure many women are visiting your blog. Thank you for this. This is a great anti oxidant filled, beautiful dessert.

  • http://tutti-dolci.com Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    So glad you shared that story, life is too short to put important things off for another day. I love your crisp – blueberry with bourbon sounds divine!

  • http://whatshouldieatforbreakfasttoday.tumblr.com/ Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    This is a sad story. I check myself on a regular basis, I know it’s important. Your recipe will help as well :)

  • http://bakeyourday.net Cassie

    Fabulous and captivating story, Jen! You are so right, early detection is key! I love this crisp too, genius!

  • http://www.piesandplots.net Laura Dembowski

    I love baking with bourbon. Such a sad story, but everyone handles tragedy differently. Definitely a tough thing to deal with no matter how you spin it.

  • http://www.tartineandapronstrings.com/ Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings

    This is a wonderful tribute for breast cancer awareness week! Every woman deserves a chance to live their life meaningfully and with pleasure! Getting checked is one way of fulfilling this. And having a nice bowl of blueberry bourbon crisp is another :) !!!

  • http://www.anecdotesandapples.com Monet

    Such an important post (as many has said) and such a beautiful crisp. The photographs are just stunning, as always, and I love the twist that the bourbon adds to the mix. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://hiddenponies.com Anna @ hiddenponies

    I’m so glad berries are one of the cancer-fighting foods, healthy really doesn’t get more delicious. Your photos are stunning!

  • http://www.thefooddocs.com Erin @ The Food Doctors

    Thanks for sharing. It’s an important reminder not to put things off.

    Also, I’ve been kind of obsessed with Bourbon lately, so I’m definitely going to have to give this crisp a try!

  • http://www.homecookingmemories.com Brandie (@ Home Cooking Memories)

    Beautiful…and your story telling was perfect for this. Thank you for sharing this.

  • http://www.bakingserendipity.com Baking Serendipity

    I am so sorry for your coworker. I can’t even imagine. I do, however, think food has the power to change attitudes and moods, and hope this did the same for many. I love the bourbon in it…and the frozen berries trick!

  • http://sugarcrafter.net Tracy

    I’m so sorry to hear about your coworker…thank you for sharing such an important message/reminder with us.

  • http://www.averiecooks.com Averie @ Averie Cooks

    What a story and I have lost relatives to it….so sorry for Sue’s family and what she must have went thru.

    On lighter matter, baking with a little bourbon (and berries!) is always a good idea!

  • http://twitter.com/chowandchatter RebeccaSubbiah RD (@chowandchatter)

    looks great and poor Sue

  • http://www.farmgirlgourmet.com Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet

    Absolutely gorgeous! and you totally had me at Bourbon. :)

  • http://www.notquitenigella.com Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Thank you for sharing that story and never apologise for writing honestly, that’s why we read you! :D

  • http://www.fearlesshomemaker.com amy @ fearless homemaker

    Thanks for bringing awareness to such an important topic – especially because in many cases it IS detectable + treatable early. On a lighter note, this crisp looks absolutely wonderful. And blueberries are supposed to have wonderful antioxidant properties = double win!

  • http://notesfromdawn.wordpress.com Dawn

    Appreciate your post.- thanks!

  • http://www.cookincanuck.com Cookin’ Canuck

    Your story about Sue really does drive home the point about how important it is to get screened and perform self-checks regularly. Thank you for sharing the story, as well as this gorgeous crisp (with bourbon!)

  • http://www.breathelighter.wordpress.com Debra

    A very important cautionary tale. And I love blueberries. This is a great recipe!

  • http://thatskinnychickcanbake.blogspot.com Liz

    Great message….though I’m so sorry to hear of another life lost too soon.

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  • Ashley – baker by nature

    I am in awe of this post… and in love. Cannot wait to try this!

  • http://www.thewickednoodle.com kristy @ the wicked noodle

    GREAT post, Jen. So important and it makes the point much clearer when you can share a personal story. And this CRISP looks AMAZING!!