7.29.2013

Making the most of it

I've been meaning to get to this for days now. I hate when I put my writing off. Because it makes me feel like it's a chore, it tells me that I don't enjoy it or I'm not good at it or something. But none of that is really true. And sometimes, I just have to close down my various devices and call it a day, having accomplished nothing on my "to do." My "to do" at work is so immense right now that I've decided I am exempt from at-home "to dos" until further notice. At least, until our biggest event of the year is over in September. And on my work "to do" are many writing and editing and staring at screen projects that suck something out of my brain so that when I step foot in my house, I go, "What writing project? What blog?"

I even started telling myself that I needed an iPad. If I had an iPad, then!, yes, then!, I would do diligence with my writing. Isn't there something about the iPad that makes you a better, more diligent, perseverant writer? There must be. 

Forgive me. Sometimes, you just need a serious brain-break.

Moving on...

I love buying large quantities of seasonal fruit and veg. If I had a larger freezer/fridge/pantry, I would be in real trouble. Last year I bought a bushel of apples and the farmer kept trying to talk me out of it. I was like, hey, pal, I want this many apples, and aren't you supposed to try and sell these to me anyway?! I went up to Michigan last weekend with my friend Trish to pick blueberries. We picked eight pounds of blueberries each - which really isn't that many. We both had two buckets hanging from our necks and had to stop because of the shear pain of 8lbs of blueberries dangling from your neck by a rope. I kept thinking about migrant workers and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving and mercy. By the end of our two hours out in the blueberry bushes, we both had lines of sweat making tracks in our dirty hands, feet, and faces. But it was so worth it! 


As if that wasn't enough, we cleaned up and went back out to pick peaches, which is a slightly easier task. We picked with restraint, knowing neither of us had the space or ability to eat through pounds and pounds of peaches. It's sad, but I'm already wishing I'd picked more. Some day I'll have a deep freeze and a pantry lined with Ball canning jars and pie after pie lined up on the counter top. Some day.


I spent the rest of the week washing and eating these glorious fruits, scheming and scanning for the best recipes. I had several pounds of tart cherries yet from a friend's cherry trees. One of my favorite ways to use fresh cherries is in a beautifully simple and rustic galette. So easy. I made two of these gorgeous Cherry and Peach Galettes with Almond Cream.

I'm used to almond cream made with almond paste, which is divine, but I didn't have any almond paste, so I used a Martha Steward Almond Cream recipe that worked just fine.

Almond Cream
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/2 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup almond flour
3 Tbs dark rum
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 Tbs flour

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. 

For the galette, you could use either puff pastry or a pie crust. Spread a good bit of the almond cream all over the pastry, leaving about an inch all around to fold over. Toss your fruit (anything fresh and delicious will do!) with a bit of sugar (1/4-1/3 cup depending on the tartness of your fruit), a few tablespoons of flour, and a squeeze of lemon. Add the fruit atop the almond cream. Fold the sides over the top, pinch a bit if needed - you don't want your juices to leak out. Sprinkle all over with sugar. Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes.


And because I still had an abundance of blueberries and peaches, I made the summer of all desserts: pie. Blueberry peach pie is one of my favorite summer pies. There's something really special about those two. Also, super easy to make. It will make your house smell blissfully like an orchard and a bakery and a sunset all wrapped into one.

Blueberry Peach Pie

Double pie crust
3 cups of fresh blueberries (washed and dried)
2 cups of fresh peaches (peeled and sliced - easies way to peel a peach? dip the peaches in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, let cool, and the skins will slip right off!)
3/4 cup sugar
3-4 Tbs flour
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 each ginger, nutmeg
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
sugar for sprinkling

Make your favorite double pie crust recipe. Let it rest in the fridge while you toss your fruit with sugar, flour, a bit of cinnamon, ginger, and fresh nutmeg, and a good squeeze of lemon. Roll out your doughs, dump the fruit into your shell, top with the second crust, pinch and fold in the excess dough. For a beautifully golden crust, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Cut slits into the top to release steam. Bake at 400 for 50 minutes or until the filling has thickened and the crust is golden and crisp. If you've got a pint of heavy cream laying around, whip it up while the pie is cooling. 

In between the galettes and the pie, I may have made a favorite lemon blueberry cake and a new recipe for fruit preserves made with chia seeds and honey.

Ok, so I may not have been writing, but at least I was productive. 


So, if you find yourself at the end of July with pounds of peaches, blueberries, and cherries to spare, you know what to do. If you need a bit of a brain-break, make something really fresh and delicious to celebrate the long summer days. August starts this week, friends, (yikes!) so let's make the most of it.

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