Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I think it is fair to say that most people don't "put up" summer produce anymore. My great-grandmother used to walk for miles in a rural part of southern Italy to forage for wild foods like truffles and other mushrooms, sometimes walking over 15 miles, roundtrip. She had a dry, cool space in her house where she kept these culinary treasures, and would preserve them carefully so that all winter long she would be able to make delicious foods that no one else in the neighborhood had during that season.

Now, it is a great production to venture to a pick-your-own or to get to the farmer's market (to think, there's lately been a "status" about going to the farmer's market which I will blame solely on Martha Stewart and those photographers of hers.) That said, my yard this year and next will be in complete upheaval as we prepare to remove the old garage base and put in a fence. This year, most of the gardening will be done in containers, and at my mother's house (who very generously asked if we would like one of her three garden plots which we jumped at the chance to get.) We will drive 30 minutes to plant, sow, weed, and eventually reap the harvest.

Last summer, I had the good fortune to come upon a glut of gorgeous, perfect peaches; some of which I made into Vanilla Peach Preserves, and the small remainder, into frozen peach pie filling. I like to thicken my pies with tapioca starch, as it allows the clear, bright flavor of the peaches to really come through. I pour it into cling-film-lined pans until frozen solid, then take them out and vacuum seal the frozen brick. Every now and again, I pull one out and cover it with either a crumble topping, biscuit topping, or a roughly-made pie crust, usually torn into pieces for peach pandowdy.

Tonight was a pandowdy night. I like to drizzle it with a tiny bit of cream when it is still warm from the oven. The taste alone screams summer. Loudly. In your ear via your tastebuds.

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