The Late-Season Peach

Late-season peaches are a very emblematic fruit for me. Emblematic of not one, but two things that make me smile and laugh respectively.

First, September peaches are a sure sign that we’re rapidly sliding into fall. The juicy yellow-orange orbs lie next to the first apples of the season at the farmers’ markets, promising to be sweet for just a little longer. Oh, fall. Fall is my favorite–fall food is my favorite. I can hardly wait. Readers of the tasty tRuth: prepare yourselves to eat through the season with me.

Secondly, the late-season peach takes me instantly back to my family’s old kitchen in Barnum, Minnesota. Let me flesh this story out with a little back-information. Now, you may or may not know this, but my brother and I have very different cooking styles. I tend to be more of an “okay, I have most of the ingredients and read half of the recipe–let’s whip something truly tasty up” kind of a cook. My brother, on the other hand, approaches cooking with extreme precision and much tender loving care. Which is to say, the time he made enchiladas for dinner, he was literally in the kitchen all day. When we made our famous wild rice burgers, he tended to the garlic mayonnaise while I tended to…everything else.

I know you’re probably thinking, “Whose food tastes better, that of the swift improviser, or the tender perfectionist?”

Which brings me to a crisp September morning–the morning, as it happened, of my mother’s birthday. My brother warned us bright and early that day that the kitchen was strictly off-limits to everyone but him. We were not even allowed to walk within a five-foot radius of the adjoining dining room unless we covered our eyes and hobble dwarily on through. As the day wore on, the suspense of his activity in the kitchen grew. Temporary blindness made the smells the began to waft from the kitchen nearly unbearable.

Finally he told us it was done. He called my mom into the kitchen and presented her…the most beautiful and best-tasting birthday peach pie I have ever seen. I definitely have my suspicions who about anyone who needs a whole day to cook…anything, but I can’t deny it’s impossible for me to eat a peach without thinking of the pie he made that day. It was that good.

So as far as peach pies are concerned, the tender perfectionist definitely outshines the swift improviser. In fact, I bet the tender perfectionist’s end results would regularly be superior to those of the swift improviser. If you can convince my brother to give you his Perfect Peach Pie recipe, please, please make it, no matter how long it takes you. But if you lack the time or patience to do so (sad tRuths), then consider this: the swift improviser’s take on the late-season peach pie.

Peach Crisp

Adapted from The Daily Green

Makes 6 servings

5 peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 1/3-inch-thick wedges
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground nutmeg
1/2 cup granola
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the peaches, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, lemon juice, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Transfer the peaches to an 8-inch tart dish or pie pan and set aside. Mix the granola, flour, remaining brown sugar, and lemon zest together in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse just to combine. Sprinkle the granola topping over the peaches and bake until the peach mixture is bubbling and the granola crumble is golden brown and crispy – 30 to 40 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

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