Those hands have been peeling peaches for 75 years! My grandma was one of ten brothers and sisters who grew up on a farm in Northeastern Indiana. This time of year, they would get up to seven bushels of peaches at a time, and the five girls would sit on the front porch and peel them for canning, to put up for the winter. In the summer months, my great-grandma, Margaret Beck, would do all of the baking in the morning on a cook stove. On special days, she would bake pie. She used giant pie tins and always made at least two at a time. My grandma came to stay with my mom this week, the first week for peaches in our area. I visited one day after work and spent time with her in the kitchen. That night I sat at the table with my mom and grandma and ate peach pie off of my great-grandma’s dish.
There has been extreme heat this month across the country, and without compensating rainfall or exorbitant water bills, many of the usual green-lawned neighborhoods are now brown and weedy. Tonight while a pie was baking in the oven (upcoming post!), I went outside in my mom’s flowers. I was drawn to the effects of the heat wave in the garden, like pop up Queen Anne’s Lace, dried up daisies and thirsty cone flowers. Then I thought about the thalo green grass that sometimes appears from under the snow in late winter.
This weekend I helped celebrate my nephew’s 6th birthday Cars style. For the kids’ cakes, my sister poured chocolate cake batter into donut pans, popped them in the oven, and out came cake tires! We each got one of our own and customized the sidewalls with frosting and candy; the kids were genius decorators! We all kept calling them donuts, but they were lighter than that. What a simple to handle and festive alternative to cupcakes. I couldn’t get enough of the toppings (surprise!) and have to say that the cake to frosting ratio here was perfect (which is hit or miss with regular cupcakes). Tirecakes taste nothing like burnt rubber.
Who doesn’t like a sandwich cookie? There are so many good ones, and I made my first jammie dodger yesterday! I added cinnamon to Martha’s shortbread cookie recipe for the biscuit part and jarred huckleberry preserves for the jammie part. Huge thanks to my mom for picking up some huckleberry preserves for me when she was in Montana last month. I will make my own someday… maybe after a future summer visit to a Farmer’s Market in the northwest where the fresh dark purple berries are plenty? I think it’s the heat, but big ol’ dinners are not appealing lately. Tonight I was satisfied with a tart and spicy huckleberry jammie dodger, buttery slices of manchego, fresh apricots and iced tea. Flavor grand slam in my ballpark.
I was catching up on some blog reading when I was delighted by the simplicity of this peanut butter cookie recipe. Wistful for my days at the Women’s Studio Workshop and needy for some baking decompression, I got out the mixing bowl right after work. But why stop at the cookie when you spy your jar of marshmallow fluff in the cupboard? Fluffernutter! And what about the fact that it is summertime and you just purchased a pint of double dark chocolate gelato on special (vermouth & Callebut on the ingredients list)?! Put them ALL together crazy lady, and indulge in a choco-fluffernutter ice cream sandwich. Because even though some things are perfectly wonderful by themselves, they may have the potential to turn into something even better. I used creamy PB in the cookies.
My mom was 1600 miles away from home when she was rushed into emergency surgery two weeks ago. She stayed for seven days at a hospital just miles away from a personal paradise in the mountains. Since we knew it existed, my mom and I shared the dream of setting foot at Sundance. One afternoon while she was resting she told me to go see it and take my camera. The place is a gift preserved. “This place in the mountains, amid nature’s casualness toward death and birth, is the perfect host for the inspiration of ideas: harsh at times, life threatening in its winters of destruction, but tender in attention to the details of every petal of every wildflower resurrected in the spring. Nature and creativity obey the same laws, to the same end: life,” Robert Redford.
My mom’s mom was born on July 3rd the same year as Shirley Temple and Mickey Mouse. Because of her birthday, the 4th of July holiday is among my favorite family holidays, too. As long as I can remember, she invites relatives over to her house on Elizabeth Street for a cookout to celebrate. Some aunts and uncles just walk up the street to her front yard, while the rest of us drive in from different corners of the state or country. The configuration of people varies from year to year, but you can usually count on breakfast at Wimbledon, Lay’s potato chips, Uncle George at the charcoal grill and a coconut cake (Grandma’s favorite). I am thankful for both the verbal and silent support that comes from my family and for the sustained comfort that my grandma has instilled in all of us. These are the days when the familiar beats the new and fancy.