amy's cherry crisp // movita beaucoup

That’s my Aunt Amy up there. On the left. I guess she liked standing on that side. She was my great aunt. She passed away on April 28th, at age 97, just before my 40th birthday. My 40’s will mark my first decade on this planet without her.

amy's cherry crisp // movita beaucoup

Amy lived in Toronto for her entire life. A city girl through and through. She started visiting us in Nova Scotia shortly after I was born. She came for a visit every summer, and spent most Christmases with us as well. I knew her better than any of my other relatives, and when I moved to Toronto for a few years, I was able to visit with her on the weekends after a long week of dancing and teaching. I’d arrive at her apartment, knock our secret knock, and then we’d head to The Sweet Gallery. We spent most of our time eating. It was our thing.

amy's cherry crisp // movita beaucoup

Amy had three brothers: Ed, Dick, and Fred (my grandfather). Amy taught me that boys can a) scare the crap out of you, and b) be really lazy. She never married – she said that she had no interest in washing someone else’s dirty socks. So, during an era of settling, she did not. She would often look at me and say, “You shouldn’t have regrets, dear,” and then slap me on the hand. Hard.

Amy lived on her own until she was in her 90’s. Before retiring, she worked at Sunbeam alongside a ton of dudes, but managed to hold her own. When she retired, she travelled all over the world. She took art classes and aquafit. She loved hockey and baseball, music and the theatre. When I lived in Toronto, we went to musicals and concerts together. And picked our desserts before the main course.

amy's cherry crisp // movita beaucoup

Amy celebrated her 97th birthday with a gaggle of nieces and nephews just a week before her death. I didn’t get to attend, but there were three generations of relatives around to help her celebrate her last birthday. Three generations of relatives touched by her independent spirit, knack for recalling funny tales, and clever wit. I was hoping that 2.0 would meet Amy this summer, and will forever regret that this didn’t happen. Because she would have loved him, and they like the same jokes.

Amy taught me that women don’t need men. That independence is a gift. That if you work hard, you can eventually play hard. That you should be able to take care of yourself. That you will be able to take care of yourself.

amy's cherry crisp // movita beaucoup

Amy wasn’t perfect – no one is. She didn’t adapt well to change. She could be fussy and persnickety. She didn’t like meeting new people, and had a tendency to isolate herself. I think she was lonely in the end. All tendencies I share. She was an inspiration, but also a cautionary tale. So when I feel myself pulling back from new experiences, I hear her saying, “No regrets, dear,” and I can feel a stinging slap on my hand. I thank her for that.

amy's cherry crisp // movita beaucoup

Amy had an incurable sweet tooth. I guess that’s another thing I inherited from her. This cherry crisp is proof. The last time I ate it with her was over a decade ago, on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I haven’t adapted the recipe a bit. It’s just as she made it. Because Amy wasn’t fond of change. A can of cherry pie filling topped with a few ingredients and then baked in the oven. Simple and sweet. If you’re looking for a fresh, modern crisp, this isn’t it. But if you, like Amy and I, could eat cherry pie filling straight from the can, you’re in luck.

Here’s to you, Amy Dyer. And here’s to meeting again one day. I’ll knock our secret knock, and then we’ll dine on pastries and sweets…

. . .

Amy’s Cherry Crisp

recipe: Amy Dyer

print and bake

Yields one 8×8 inch square baking dish.

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 can cherry pie filling (19 oz./540 ml.) – Amy liked E.D. Smith’s Light & Fruity Cherry Pie Filling

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Begin by making the topping: combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a medium sized bowl. Mix in the butter until well combined – fingers work well for this task. Set aside.

Spread the cherry pie filling evenly in an ungreased 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle/spread the topping evenly over the surface of the filling, pressing down gently if required.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove when topping is golden and pie filling is bubbly.


  1. bellini on June 20, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I could eat an entire can of cherry pie filling; I dot feel the need to share.

  2. emmalina73 on June 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Ok the last paragraph finally finished me off, a beautiful tribute my friend xxx

  3. emma on June 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Having just sniffed someone else’s dirty sock yesterday to check if I had already cleaned it or not (I clearly hadn’t), I understand her sentiments.

    But I think regrets are okay, as long as they provide the push to do things differently the next time around. And don’t rule your emotions.

    Lovely crisp. xo.

  4. Just A Smidgen on June 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I love your Aunt Amy without having the grace to meet her.. she sounds like just the sort of friend to have. You were so fortunate to have her in your life, movita. xx Smidge

  5. juanitascocina on June 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Look at that gorgeous woman! Is that a glass of wine with her in that photo?

    Fabulous women must run in your family, because she sounds fabulous, slap and all.

    Also, this is exactly how I want my crisp. It, too, is fabulous.

  6. Carol Anne @ Rock Salt on June 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Aunt Amy was a legend – look at that last photo there. What a great lady. Someone we can all aspire to be like in many ways. As it happens, I’ve never had a cherry crisp, so when I do make this recipe it’ll be like getting a gift from your aunt. How cool is that?

    • spree on June 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      What a lovely thing to say Carol Anne! It’s true. A gift from Aunt Amy.

  7. glutenfreezen on June 20, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Oh, that brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful tribute to your aunt. She sounds like a real class act. Love, love, LOVE, how she told you “you shouldn’t have regrets,dear” and then slapped you hard on the hand! What a neat (and smart) gal!

    I too, like the simple things in life. Her crisp is perfect!

    Have a great day ~ April

  8. Maureen (@OrgasmicChef) on June 20, 2012 at 11:00 am

    What a beautiful post and one that would make Amy proud of the woman you’ve become.

    I’d give my right arm for a can of cherry pie filling. It’s all homemade down here. I miss pie filling a lot!

  9. Dee at Deelicious Sweets on June 20, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Loved this post! Dear Aunt Amy would have been proud of you and all of the new risks you’re about to embark upon. You can never go wrong with this recipe.

  10. semiswede on June 20, 2012 at 11:32 am

    What a lovely post. You made me want to make the cherry crisp and raise a glass in honor of your Great Aunt Amy.

  11. Lan | angry asian on June 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    dude. this is such a sweet, loving tribute to your great-aunt.
    i don’t like cherries, tho i went cherry picking a few days ago. for you, i would pick them, pit them and then crisp them just like how you and amy liked.

  12. Stephanie Barnhart on June 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Such a wonderful tribute to your aunt! She sounds like she was a lot of fun, and she’s a perfect example of what I aspire to be in my later years. I love the simplicity of this cherry crisp, and I will think of you and your Aunt Amy every time I make it. Oh, and I’ll think of my grandma a little too because she used to make pies with cherry filling.

  13. frugalfeeding on June 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    What a lovely tribute! This crisp looks ridiculous good! 😀

  14. The Neighbour on June 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Aunt Amy sounds like she was a wonderful woman!! Lovely story and even better recipe (love canned cherry pie filling) and your neighbour, he washes his own socks!!

  15. cravesadventure on June 20, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Yummers! Thanks for sharing & Have a Cherry Kind of Day:)

  16. Ashley - Baker by Nature on June 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Your Aunt Amy sounds like such an inspiration to live life to its fullest – and always eat dessert. Beautiful post! Beautiful crisp!

  17. Marsha Sefcik Interiors on June 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Beautiful post and I will whip this dessert up this weekend.

  18. Amy on June 20, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Your Aunt Amy sounds like quite an amazing lady (I’d like to think it has a little something to do with her name). This post is such a wonderful tribute to her. I’m so glad that you have such great memories to keep of her 🙂

  19. musingmar on June 21, 2012 at 12:43 am

    What a lovely, touching post. I’m so sorry for your loss, but how lucky you were to have her in your life and as your inspiration. The simplicity of the recipe reflects the independent spirit of your Aunt; never mind food trends and fashions, just follow a recipe that has stood the test of time. Thank you so much for sharing your memories of your inspirational Aunt.

  20. Ann on June 21, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Such a beautiful homage to Amy. I can tell what a unique and wonderful lady she was, and I am sure she is delighted by this post, (and this entire blog for that matter!) looking down on us.

  21. shannon on June 21, 2012 at 11:47 am

    “Amy taught me that women don’t need men. That independence is a gift. That if you work hard, you can eventually play hard. That you should be able to take care of yourself. That you will be able to take care of yourself.”

    that’s my favorite part, sandwiched in between all the other beautiful things you wrote about your great-aunt. She sounds like someone i would have very much enjoyed being around. and eating with. i wouldn’t have minded being the recipient of some hard hand-slapping, either. i like her style.

    there is nothing wrong with cherry pie filling; absolutely nothing. sometimes you have to give into help; that’s what cherry pie filling (and in my case, canned peaches and other readied goods) are for.

    you know this already, i’m sure, but i am so sorry for your loss. that was a gorgeously written tribute up there. nice work.

  22. Isabelle @ Crumb on June 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Sounds like style and sass run in the family… your aunt sounds like she was quite the firecracker. Makes me wish I had an Aunt Amy to call my own!
    I’m not keen on super-sweet desserts, and the idea of woofing down an entire can of cherry pie filling makes my teeth ache a little, but I do love the simplicity of it all. I’m inclined to try making this with a jar of sour cherries mixed with a little sugar and cornstarch instead, because when it’s my turn to be a persnickety old crankpot, that’s exactly how I plan on making my cherry crisp.
    Thank you for sharing Aunt Amy with us. Hugs to you.

  23. spree on June 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Movita – you da best story-teller … it helps to have such good material, but you really know what to do with when you get it, and that’s a gift dear friend. Aunt Amy is in you for sure. I’m so sorry you lost her, and sad along with you that 2.0 and she couldn’t meet and grow to be crazy about each other. There will be things that you remember her saying and those words of hers will grow in importance and you’ll feel her guiding and loving you still. Because she is. That’s the way it is with the great people in our lives.
    Love to you dear Movita Beaucoup.

  24. wendy@chezchloe on June 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I’ll second Spree… a gift for storytelling and a damn good baker. Watch out world.

  25. Eggton on June 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Movita, I hope that I can be a reflection of her, for someone else, someday. I sometimes imagine myself old, and wonder if I’ll have long silver hair, and how I’ll spend my time. I just hope that I have the wisdom and youthfulness and generosity enough to be–for some young lady–what your aunt was for you.

    I love this post. Have a joyous weekend, babycakes.

    p.s. So about when we get old. . . will you take aquafit with me? We can get matching swim pantaloons made, with lots of waterproof pockets for safety apparatus and snacks.

  26. The Cosy Creative on June 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Looks so yum!

  27. movita beaucoup on June 24, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Thanks, friends! I appreciate all your comments – more than I can say!

    Loads of love,

  28. Janice on July 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    This was such a beautiful post. I’m sure Aunt Amy is smiling down on you and all that you are doing.

  29. movita beaucoup on December 1, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Comments on this post are now closed as it was published in June 2012. Happy baking!