Joni Woolf: The short peach season nears its end
Published 1:50 pm Saturday, August 4, 2018
The Elberta peach arrives late and goes quickly, which is why, last Saturday, I bought two boxes. I wanted to get them before they were gone. Knowing the ephemeral nature of the peach season, I acted impulsively. Now I’m dealing with an abundance of peaches in varying stages of ripeness (and over-ripeness). After making a dozen jars of preserves, on various days, as they ripened (or refused to ripen), I have put a few in the freezer and have made two new desserts. I tell myself I make them for the family up the hill, but I always reserve some for me. Tonight, I’ll be having the Peach and Blueberry Crisp I just discovered in an old Fresh Market Cookbook. It has already passed the taste test. (I must sample before I share.) So here it is, along with an older recipe of Mark Ballard’s that I have considered making for years, but never got around to it. I made it earlier this week, and daughter Carey and her family really liked it. I think you will, too.
Peach and Blueberry Crisp
1 ½ pounds peaches, (about 3 large ones) pitted and cut into ½ inch thick wedges
1 ½ cups blueberries or blackberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup flour
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup old fashioned rolled oats (I use Quaker old-fashioned oatmeal)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits (I used salted butter.)
¼ cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (optional) (I used them; they add nice texture)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl toss the peaches and the blueberries gently with the cornstarch, lemon juice and the granulated sugar until the mixture is combined well. In a small bowl stir together the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the butter, blending the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, and stir in the pecans. Spread the peach mixture in a 9 x 13 inch or 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle the pecan mixture evenly over it, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden. Note: I used a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, but may use a deeper 3-quart baking dish next time; the 9 x 13 seems a little large for the contents. Good plain; even better with ice cream or whipped cream.
Mark Ballard is an artist and cookbook author living in Macon, and has an out-sized personality that entertains while it informs. He has had TV shows, has written for local papers for years, and he and his wife Debra entertain with wit, warmth, and heavenly food. I have used his recipes for years. The one below is one I had studied several times in his cookbook entitled The Four Seasons. I intended to try it at some point. But, I kept going back to the old recipe— the fine one that George Hooks told me about — because it was good! But this week I decided to try this new one. It really is different from most peach pies or cobblers. I think you’ll like it. And, it is easy.
Peach Custard Pie
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
¼ teaspoon flavoring of your choice: almond, vanilla, lemon
2 large or 4 small, ripe peaches
1/3 cup plain flour
½ stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and slice peaches and arrange them to cover the bottom of the pie crust with one layer. Mix the sugar and flour. Add the well-beaten eggs, melted butter and flavoring mixing well. Pour over the peaches. Bake until crust browns and custard thickens and sets. Time will range from 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the oven. Note: I cooked the pie 45 minutes. Note 2: I cut the peaches in quarters rather than small slices. I like the full-bodied peach, which is why the recipe mentioned below caught my eye.
Ballard’s recipe is similar to one that appeared in Americus Recipes, compiled by the Junior Welfare League of Americus in 1961, and offered by Mrs. Henry Lumpkin. Her recipe called for using peach halves and a little less flour, but they are similar in most ways. Recipe books are a bit of history of a particular era. I never tire of reading them. Or cooking.
Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org