For the Love of Peaches

For the Love of Peaches

Peaches. I’m remembering how much I love peaches.

When I was a kid, one thing I loved was sliced fresh peaches tossed with a little sugar, served over chocolate ice cream. My Mom doesn’t remember giving us that particular combination, but I do. I don’t think I’ve had it for several decades, but the memory is still there. The sweet, slippery fruit had enough of a bite to contrast with the softening ice cream. Why chocolate?I have no idea. But the fond memories are still there.


My next memory of peaches comes from a family trip we took to Florida one summer. Our tour bus stopped in Georgia at a  fruit stand, and we all got out to buy the local fruit. It was amazing. Truly amazing. Like the amazing-ness of the pineapple you can only have in Hawai’i. And lobsters in Maine. The peaches were big and fuzzy and full of flavor, sweet tender texture  between the teeth and juice dripping down your chin goodness.  I think that was the first time I really discovered what seasonal and local and terroir were all about.

Fast forward to Maryland, home of one of my favorite markets.

The Takoma Park Farmers Market set up every Sunday and was one of the first ‘producer only’ markets in the country. About this time during the summer, they had peaches for sale. Big, fuzzy, fragrant peaches you could smell before you even got to the market. And the line at that stand was always so long I often worried that they would sell out before I got to the table. But they had crates of them stacked up in the back of their big truck. They were amazing.


At the South Bend Farmers Market

I have since moved back to Indiana, and I’m enjoying once again all of the wonderful fruits produced here in the Northern part of the state, and in Southern Michigan along the fruit belt. This year, peaches have found their way back into my heart. Fuzzy, ripe, fragrant, juicy fruits that pull easily away from the pits. And they are perfect this season. Juicy and just barely firm, with a full range of flavor.

I haven’t paired them with the chocolate ice cream yet. Maybe I’m afraid they’ll taste different than I remember. But who knows…maybe they’ll taste even better.

Signs of spring

Signs of spring

This is one of the most exciting sights I see after the snow melts.   Rhubarb!!!


The knobby knuckles push their way up through the earth, unfurl their leafy stalks, and provide us with the first vehicle for the season’s maple syrup.

I love to keep some crisp topping in my freezer this time of year so I can make a fresh dessert with just-picked berries, rhubarb, and whatever else ripens.

My favorite recipe for fruit crisps is from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  Here it is…

Crisp Topping
Makes enough for one 8×10 inch crisp

6 Tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats or chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Using your fingers or the paddle attachment of a mixer, work the butter with the rest of the ingredients so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse, crumbly mixture.  Use it to cover a shallow gratin dish of sliced fruit.

Variation Made with Oil:  In place of butter, use 6 tablespoons canola or a mixture of canola and a rich-flavored nut oil, such as walnut or hazelnut.

I like to cut up rhubarb, berries, or other fruit and place in a shallow baking pan.  Taste the fruit to see how much you want to sweeten it – you may want to use maple syrup, sugar, honey, or nothing, depending on your taste.  I sometimes add a pinch of salt and a spash of  lemon juice to wake the flavors up a little.  Top with the crisp mixture and bake it in the oven at about 375 F until it is bubbly and brown.  Yum!