Over the last two weeks, I have baked peach pie, peach-nectarine pie, nectarine-peach cobbler, peach cobbler, and meringues with vanilla peaches. Needless to say, I am well-thought of when stone fruits are at their height. I have been eating peaches on my yogurt and nectarines on my nut butter toast and in the evening when I need my pre-snack before my night-snack, I turn to nectarines and peaches. I mixed it up today with a meager but toothsome crop of plums from our loan, tilted, bark-shedding plum tree. The tree soldiers on with grim, scrofulous resolve, but that may have been the last crop. They were good; if only there had been enough for plum cake…
It’s the end of summer, and I may be a bit put out that I needed a fleece at my daughter’s soccer practice and shivered so hard my lumbar is permanently clenched. So I too may be soldiering on with grim, scrofulous resolve, HOWEVER, it is a glorious season of fruit, and I intend to savor it. As always, the best thing to do with fruit is eat it as it is. I am all for that. But if I don’t bake, I don’t really know who I am, so another option is cobbler.
My friend Kirstin introduced me to the simplest, most delicious dessert, and I made it for brunch when my friend Elke visited from Germany last week. She didn’t actually say that it was worth the flight, but I could tell she was thinking it and just couldn’t speak because her cheeks were stuffed with cobbler. This recipe makes me wonder why everyone, everywhere, isn’t baking a cobbler every single day.
Cheek Stuffingly Good Cobbler
Melt a half cube of butter in an 11×7 pan (8×8 should work but you will probably need to use less fruit) in a 350 degree oven. While the oven warms, prep your stone fruits or berries – however much you want and sweeten them as much as you like. If your fruit mixture is particularly liquid you might want to drain it a bit and/or add some Minute Tapioca. Set aside your fruit mixture then mix a cup of flour – I use several flours mixed together – a half a cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Sift the dry ingredients together then whisk in a cup of milk. When the oven is heated, remove the butter-puddled pan and pour in the batter, then top with the fruit which will sink in as the dough bakes up around it. Bake it for about 25 minutes before you check it. All the dough areas should appear baked, eventually. The one fault of this dessert is that it’s not always easy to tell when it’s done. But that is its only fault.
I would also like to suggest the meringue recipe from Bon Appetit. The instructions are within the larger frame recipe for the Strawberry, Pomegranate and Rose Petal Mess that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Meringues are easy to make and pleasingly resemble creamy heaps of snow. You expect your fingers – I mean your fork! – to sink into them but no! They crunch! I made this recipe according to instructions except for a slight reduction in sugar and the addition of the merest pinch, the barest scintilla, of salt. I served these with cut up peaches, lightly sugared with a bit of vanilla bean seeds stirred in. I blanched the peaches in boiling water for two minutes so they would give up their skin. I am generally a fan of eating everything skin on, including lemons, but peach fuzz can be insufferable.
Sometimes, I find adult life to be tedious and barren of playfulness and prettiness. Don’t get me wrong, I lead a comfortable, love-filled life. But sometimes, like today when I was getting my lug nuts retorqued, I thought, “I crave beauty.” We have to create it where we can; seek it out, remark on it, delight in it. Today, after her first day of middle school, my older daughter told me that an eighth grader has a tiny chandelier in her locker. These are half lockers, Eaters, very confined spaces. But behind that clanking metal door there is a little unexpected land of pretty. I like that. That’s what meringues are for, a little surprise bit of pretty to say, today is about more than lug nuts.
by Li-Young Lee
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
Today may you leap from impossible blossom to sweet impossible blossom.