A season to savor
June 25, 2013
A simple and lovely way to finish a summer meal is to peel and slice some peaches and/or nectarines. Add the fruit to a champagne glass and pour chilled Prosecco over them. White varieties of peach have a more flowery fragrance but any ripe fruit will do. Mmmm! The firmer yellow peach is also wonderful on the grill its cavity filled with a little butter, brown sugar and almond extract or amaretto. Enjoy!
Blackberry Peach Upside Down Cake on the Grill
This cake can be done on the grill or in the oven. When grilling, it’s best to turn the pan once or twice to heat evenly.
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey
About 5 medium peaches
A 4 ounce box of rinsed boysenberries or blackberries
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup additional sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons almond extract
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat both burners of a gas grill to medium high; turn one of them off or, if there are three burners, pre-heat the outside two burners and place dish on the center one. Alternatively, pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees.
In a 9-or10-inch oven proof skillet (cast iron is best), melt the butter. Add the brown sugar or honey and stir. Cook until the sugar has dissolved to form a syrup; remove and set aside.
Slice the peaches and pack them tightly across the melted butter/sugar mixture in the skillet. Sprinkle berries over all and set aside.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, add the eggs, butter, lemon juice and almond extract. Beat to combine. Then lightly mix into the dry ingredients. Spoon this batter over the fruit and spread with a spatula to cover. Bake on a grill or in the oven until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and let stand for ten minutes.
To unmold, run a knife around the edges of the cake, then place a large plate over the top of the skillet. Holding the plate and skillet firmly, flip them over so that the skillet is on top. The cake will fall onto the plate. Serve warm.
One of my favorite childhood memories was the day my Irish grandmother came to our house to can peaches. We had four peach trees on the property. My father would pick them and stack the boxes on the back porch. The scent of warm, ripe peaches filled the air. As my grandmother pulled her old ‘57 Chevy into the drive, he would disappear into the bowels of his garage. Only the hint of cigar smoke gave away his location.
All day my mother and grandmother washed and sliced, simmered and stirred. Like puppies, my sisters and I would hide under the dinette table to watch and wait for a peachy treat. My mischievous grandmother would engage in antics (not approved of by my mother) and occasionally let a swear word slip that sent my sisters and I into fits of the giggles. Finally we were ejected from our hiding spot and sent outside.
Summer — the simple pleasure of savoring that first sun-warmed peach straight from the tree, its juice dribbling down my chin — life doesn’t get much better. We are so lucky to live in Nevada County, where peaches have a long agricultural history. Commercial peaches picked unripe, refrigerated and shipped long distances are no comparison. In recent weeks the farmers’ markets have been selling fruits from the Marysville valley that ripen first, but local peaches are now coming in.
Sunsmile Farms is a 70-acre family farm that has been in existence for 75 years and is a beloved part of our community. It specializes in U-pick cherries, berries, apples, nectarines and more than 40 varieties of peaches, but in the past their farm stand has sold a huge variety of produce, as well. Currently, the farm is about to go out of business. A water dispute with Nevada Irrigation District has forced owner, George Loftus, to cut back on planting. Thousands of dollars of established trees and plants, as well as income, has been lost.
Sunsmile has a bumper crop of peaches this year. U-pick is an easy way to stock up, even can some for next winter, and help out one of our local farmers. The next few weekends they will be open for U-pick peaches and blackberries. Weather updates would be advisable, considering the recent rains. Located off of Rough and Ready Highway on West Drive, you may want to get more information by going to the farm’s website at http://www.sunsmilefarms.com or by calling 273-6507
Bierwagen’s Donner Trail Fruit is another long-standing farm family well-known for flavorful peaches. They are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and are located at 18532 Colfax Highway in Chicago Park. They are currently picking several varieties of peaches, as well as boysenberries, apricots, strawberries and other produce.
The farmers’ markets will also have many varieties of peaches available in the upcoming weeks.
Patti Bess is a local freelance writer and recipe developer. You can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.