Bars & Squares, Berries

Family, Squared

September 10, 2012

Yesterday my mom, aunt, another aunt, two cousins and I jumped on a ferry to the island. My mom’s aunts live in Half Moon Bay, near Sechelt, and we were also able to visit to my grandmother (my mom’s mom) who is no longer with us, but who rests in a quaint family site. We spent the afternoon having tea, and lunch (which included my family’s famous pickled beets), while reminiscing with my great aunts over old photo albums. I miss my grandma, and my mom misses her mom, however, being with the great aunts felt like being at Grandma’s again. I love the old decorations, the antique tea cups, and the feeling of being at a grandparents. My mom’s aunt said she can just call her momma now too. It was a really great afternoon with family, finding out about our heritage (my mother’s family actually has First Nations in their bloodline, and some of her family has gained First Nations Status.) Looking at photos from the early 1900s, in the photo albums we were looking at, you can really tell some of her relatives were of native descent. This is interesting to me, because I’ve just begun my PDP for teaching, and we are now being made more aware of Indigenous education, and teaching First Nations children in the education system.

{my awesome fishing teacup}

{one of the old photographs, my moms grandma as a baby at their home in old North Van, circa 1910}

Her house had a beautiful view of the water, and just outside her balcony was a large apple tree. She said she wasn’t able to pick the higher ones, so my two cousins and I decided we would try and get some down (without the crabby neighbour downstairs making too much of a fuss.) We knocked down quite a few, and filled up an entire paper grocery bag full. They are currently sitting on the counter in the kitchen, what they will be baked into is still yet to be determined.. though I’m thinking some sort of pie most likely. They aren’t very crisp apples, pretty soft. Good for baking.

 {Melis and I gathering up the apples}

{Our bushel of apples! Quite impressive, thanks to my cousins climbing skill 😉 }

Once we were finished picking apples, my great aunt told us there were a ton of blackberries down the trail beside her house – so off we went to pick some. My cousin Melis went full force with another branch to get right in there, while Andrea and I stayed on the outskirts of the bushes – FYI sandals and a dress are not great blackberry picking clothes.

{Basket of berries}

{Walking back to the house with our berries}

I actually made these bars before I left to go to Europe, but I was having problems uploading the photos. Now I’ve got it all fixed – so I thought I would share it.

My family is sort of a square family – in the sense that they were all great bakers (perhaps where I get it from..) and squares and bars are kind of their thing, along with canning of course (salmon, beets, pickles.) My grandma made matrimonial squares (date squares,) nanaimo bars, lemon squares etc. and they were good. My aunts and cousins and I have tried to re-make her recipes, and we’re pretty close I think.

These can be made with any berry really, I was thinking of making them again this week with the blackberries, and maybe some of Adam’s mom’s rhubarb. Perfect for back-to-school lunches.

Blackberry Crumb Bars


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 4-5 cups fresh berries of your choice (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry etc)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

What to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13″ pan.

2. In a food processor, add 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder. Add in lemon zest, and butter and egg. Pulse until well blended, dough will be crumbly and resemble small pea-sized pieces. Pat half of this dough into the pan gently.

3. In another bowl, stir together the rest of the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the berries. Sprinkle the blackberry (or whichever berry you chose) mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

These tasted even better once refrigerated, but feel free to dig in while their still warm! Best if kept in the fridge, or freeze.


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  • Reply Andrea September 10, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Fab write up + ode to Gramma(momma)

  • Reply Melissa September 11, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    You really captured what a lovely day we had together as a family. That afternooon tea is a memory we will cherish. I think Grandma would be so proud of us all.

    • Reply Alicia September 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      Thanks Melis – It was a wonderful afternoon. Grandma would have loved to be there with us all as well. Will have to do it again soon

  • Reply Averie @ Averie Cooks September 11, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    what a beautiful post – and those bars and that teacup and those blackberries, all so pretty!

    • Reply Alicia September 12, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      Thanks so much Averie! Your photography is also gorgeous! I’ve been on vacation and just re-visited your site the other day! Looks great

  • Reply Britta September 12, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Such a great post!! Love the old picture, tea cup, and postcard!! Sounds like you had a great time with the fam 🙂 and those bars look deeeelicious!

    • Reply Alicia September 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      Thanks Britta! I loved the tea cup -I wanted to take it with me haha, but my great aunt did give me another teacup to take with me home =)

  • Reply Aunt Weez September 16, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Wow did we have a memorable visit with the Aunts and the Great Aunts for myself, Melis my Andrea and you,Lou. Was nice to visit the gravesite of our Momma/Gramma. Was good memories of her to reminese on the way up and back. The old album pics were some I have never seen. The Luncheon was something that your Grandmother Alice would have put out. Your Mom is always special to Josie and I, our Baby Sister! Was fun to be there for the afternoon, seeing you younger ones pick the apples under the supervision of all the aunts and Great Aunts and Great Cousin. We love! Need to have one of the squares soon! Luvs Aunt Weez

  • Reply Morning Glory » Bakeaholic September 18, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    […] spark my blogging again. But I really did feel like baking something, and I had blackberries from the berry picking on the island last weekend sitting in the fridge begging to be baked into […]

  • Reply Sweet Traditions – Healthier Matrimonial Squares » Bakeaholic October 24, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    […] Tarts, or Matrimonial Squares. Now, My moms sisters, my cousins and myself carry on these recipes (I’ve mentioned it before here and here ) I loved Matrimonial Squares, and would always look forward to a family gathering […]

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