Millions of peaches

I like to joke that I'm a lazy gardener. When you plant a fruit tree, fruits drop by the bushel every year. I live in the city, so I have to be judicious with what space I have. Rule of thumb: Don't grow things unless they fruit or flower.

But there's more to it than cutting back branches every spring. From April to October, there's an all-out war on my property. It's me against the birds and bugs who try to decimate my crop. I'll get emotional if I bring up squirrels. I'm armed with netting, a fake owl to spook them, a dog to chase them away and thorny raspberry borders. Nevertheless, they persist. This year, I snagged what I could from those freeloaders and made myself a peach cobbler.

Organic fruit is imperfect, but with a good wash and a sharp knife, backyard peaches are heaven. And so was our dessert. Peaches are in season and it's the perfect time to buy it by the bushel and make some cobbler! They'll never taste better or be more wallet-friendly than they are in the summertime. 

Here's how we did it:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cups of sugar (separate)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups fresh peach slices (skin on is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
  • Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).
  • Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). 
  • Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm.

    And if you know how to live, serve it with vanilla ice cream!

    Make It Taste Like Summer

     

    As we enter the dog days of summer, we have to work a little harder to focus on the positive. I try to think of the humidity as "steamy," and as good for my pores as a sauna. But I tend to hold a grudge for what it does to my hair, per below. It's much easier to focus on all the delicious produce that's in season!

     

    Just as I hoard pomegranates in the winter, I hold watermelon close to my heart this time of year. As I do my basil from the garden (Thai and sweet), cantaloupes and yellow fuzzy peaches. We can incorporate these seasonal delights into dishes you can only enjoy this time of year. 

    Below are some easy (as in zero cooking) ways to make it taste like summer. And the measurements are entirely up to you!

    Watermelon Feta Salad (in season: watermelon)

    Toss cubed watermelon, crumbled feta, mint leaves, and arugula in a bowl. Drizzle with lime juice, olive oil and sprinkle on some salt. Toss once more, and you've created a Mediterranean delicacy! Extra points if the salad is served in bowls of halved mini watermelons. 

    Prosciutto & Melon (in season: melon)

    It's that simple - take paper thin slices of prosciutto and wrap them around cantaloupe or a gala melon. Behold the addictive mix of sweet and salty!

     

    Peachy Basil Salad (in season: peaches & basil)

    Toss peach slices, basil leaves, mini mozzarella balls, and torn romaine in a bowl. Drizzle with balsamic glaze, olive oil and dust with salt. Toss once more and prepare for greatness; it's tangy, sweet and acidic all at once.

    The below photo isn't a recipe, but a friendly reminder to load up on fresh herbs, which are either exploding in your garden or at an all-time-low price at your local farmer's market, as they are in abundance. Eat fresh herbs as long as you can, until we're back to the dried or frozen variety come wintertime. We grill a lot of fish in the summer, and happily discovered there's no such thing as too much cilantro or wood sorrel!

     

     Almost Guacamole Salad (in season: tomatoes)

    Toss avocado slices, tomato slices, chopped purple onion, cilantro leaves and chopped jalapeno in a bowl. Drizzle with lemon, olive oil and dust with salt. Toss once more and you have a fresh salad that's like guacamole, without the chips!  With large chunks, your fork can do the heavy lifting.

    Many people tend to take the safe route with salads, but why be boring? Innovate with a mix of fruits and vegetables. The flavor combinations are endless...unlike summer. You'll miss it when it's gone, so savor the flavor while you can.