Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Peachy History

When my family moved to the "country" in North Texas when I was about 9, my parents decided to plant a small fruit orchard on our newly acquired 4 acres. I'll never forget their humble beginnings when my mom chopped the little starter trees down to about 3 feet, leaving a gnarly stick shooting out of the ground, looking more like a stake than an actual fruit tree. It would be years before her research on how to care for and grow fruit trees would pay off, but as the years went by, the once simple fruit trees grew beautiful and strong, producing the most delicious fruit: apples, plums, pears, figs, and my favorite...peaches.

One year our largest peach tree produced so much fruit that we had to lift up the heavy fruit-burdened limbs by placing ladders underneath so they wouldn't break. That was a good year for peaches. And because my mom always tried to grow all her fruit and vegetables in the garden organically, sharing the year's bounty with the bugs and birds alike was second nature. If you found a little worm in the peach or plum you were about to eat or slice up for pie, there was never a second thought about whether or not to save the fruit in question. Of course we saved it...just cut around the little critter and move on. That's the way life went.

Aside from eating the ripe fruit straight from the tree, which is the most rewarding way of eating it, the rest we (and by we I mean my mom, with a little help from her 6 daughters) made into jam, pies, or froze for the cooler months. There's nothing more rewarding than a slice of homemade bread lathered in fresh jam or a pie baked to perfection made from the very fruit you saw growing on the tree yourself. It's nothing short of a little slice of heaven. YUM. {more on fresh baked bread later}.

Those early years of being exposed to growing a lot of our own fruit and vegetables are some of the fondest memories I have as a child, and has definitely shaped a lot of who I am today. I can't thank my mother enough for her influence in my life. She's the best homemaker I know...and one I will always look up to (I still call her when I have a kitchen question...which is frequent!). I love you, Momma....from the bottom of my heart!

So, you can imagine my sense of urgency after acquiring nearly 200 peaches at a farm in Lynchburg, Virginia. Something had to be done immediately before these prized fruits went bad. Having picked them at the peak of ripeness, that didn't leave me a whole lot of time!

So far I've used them up by sprinkling them over my homemade granola in the morning, adding them to smoothies, eating them fresh by themselves, freezing several bags for smoothies and pies, baking 2 peach pies, and mixing up a batch of delicious peach jam! I still have a few left, but they will get frozen or jammed up soon.

Here's a sampling....

~Peach Jam~

~Peach Pie~

First I start with a good, basic pie dough. I have yet
to find a pie dough I'm in love with, so I typically
try a different recipe every time. The key is to get it flaky,
but not too much so that it doesn't hold together. If you have a
dough that you'd recommend, please send it my way!

The filling, dotted with butter.

For a 9 in. pie, combine:

5-6 cups fresh peaches
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I always add a little more)
2 Tablespoons butter to dot on top of filling

Voila and oven ready!

Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until
crust is golden and filling bubbles up between slits in crust. I'd
recommend using a pie crust protector, too.
This will help it from burning.

And there you have it! So delicious and Summery. Yum!

Have a beautiful & delicious Thursday,


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