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Season’s fruits taste better

Peach season is here! The best part of eating seasonally is how produce ripening in my garden or a local farm becomes extra special. I eat as much of my favorites (such as peaches) in season, as I can and preserve what I can to enjoy little bits of them out of season.

 As peaches have been in at the Manown farm stand (brought in from Romney) lately, I’ve been gobbling them up. While a fresh peach or 10 are great, I also incorporate this fruit into cooking and baking.

 In years past, I’ve made peach and blueberry pies. Some for eating fresh, and others to keep in the freezer for at least a few days before my self discipline expires and I warm them up.

 My pie crust recipe never fails me — one cup flour, half a teaspoon salt, six tablespoons cold butter and four tablespoons water (for a single crust). Mix flour and salt, then cut in the butter. Use a pastry cutter until butter chunks are slightly larger than peas. Add cold water and gently combine.

 After some experimentation, I found that I like to fold it to get maximum layers in my crust — roll the dough out just a bit, to make a rectangle about half an inch to an inch thick. Fold it in overlapping thirds. Repeat one or two times.

 If I’m impatient I use the dough right away, or if I’m prepping ahead, it works best to refrigerate it.

 This time of year I mix peach chunks, blueberries, a small handful of flour (unless the peaches seem particularly dry) and a spoonful or two of sugar, and pour it all into the pie crust and bake.

 However, a tragedy struck  earlier in the summer — my oven broke, and being busy with my garden, work and summer activities I have yet to replace it.

 So no peach and blueberry pie for me this year. Or peach cobbler. While terribly disappointing, I’ve had some practice in adapting.

 When I had my first peach of the season, and started thinking of all the yummy things I could bake, I quickly tried to reframe my thinking. I wondered, what could I cook with peaches?

 To satisfy my cravings for my usual fruity treats, I chopped up peaches into chunks and set them to simmering on my stove top with a few spoons of sugar mixed in to encourage the juices to come out.

 Then I mixed a cup and a half of flour, a few pinches of salt, a few spoonfuls of sugar, two teaspoons of baking powder, and a couple tablespoons of butter (in chunks such as for pie), and a half a cup of whole milk.

 Once the peaches had softened somewhat in their own juice, I added the dough in medium-sized balls. I let them simmer for about half an hour, and then served the dish up hot. I added a splash of cream and a handful of fresh blueberries on top. Next time I make this, I might also toast some oats and nuts in butter in a skillet as a crunchy topping.

 It definitely satisfied my craving for peach baked things, although I’m still going to freeze some pies for whenever I get my oven fixed.

ALDONA BIRD is a journalist, exploring possibilities of local productivity and sustainable living in Preston County.