The sweetness of summer — in a peach
“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is.”
— Alice Walker
The sweetness of summer is found in every garden and at every farmer’s market as the rich bounty of the season is now bursting on the vine! Fat, juicy tomatoes hang heavy, waiting to be plucked, while zucchini mutate from teeny tiny, pencil-thin to gargantuan in the span of 24 hours. Golden corn, glossy eggplant and vibrant peppers all await their place in a conscious kitchen, but perhaps the sweetest taste of summer is found in just picked peaches.
Fresh summer peaches are so lovely to behold, with their blushing, fuzzy skin, and a scent that is perfectly perfumed, delicate yet distinctive. With an outward appearance of sweet innocence, peaches possess an inner voluptuousness and joyful juiciness that brings spectacular flavor to the summer table.
A sublime summer moment is to sit in the sunshine, eating a peach. The simplest of snacks, yet when that delectable juice dribbles down your chin you are completely absorbed in the peachy perfection of summer. Peaches are an excellent choice for a snack as they are fat free and a mere 35-50 calories. Whether sweet or savory, peaches add just the right note of vivacity to a multitude of dishes. For a standout summer salad, line a platter with tender butter lettuce, top with plenty of peach slices, add several balls of burratta (a fresh mozzarella filled with cream) and drizzle with olive oil and raspberry vinegar. A pinch of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper will finish the presentation, but a handful of chopped pistachios would add a nice crunch.
Peaches belong at picnics, especially when placed atop a baguette that has been sliced in half and spread with goat or cream cheese mixed with chives and parsley, and layered with thinly sliced prosciutto, speck or Serrano ham. Drizzle with white balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper and then place the other half of the baguette on top and wrap tightly for transport.
Fresh peaches can be added to any baked goods, particularly pancakes, French toast, muffins, tea breads, scones, layer cakes, pound cakes or short cakes. Puree peaches with raspberries or blueberries, strain through a sieve and use for Greek yogurt parfaits or on top of ice cream. Or try peaches chopped finely and combined with jalapeno or habanero pepper, lime juice, cilantro and diced tomato for a salsa that will make your grilled fish or chicken sparkle. Peach barbecue sauce will stimulate a plateful of grilled pork ribs or slow roasted pork shoulder.
Peaches provide powerful health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals known as phenols, which act as antioxidants, peaches may stave off the risk of certain cancers. Due to their intense amount of vitamins A & C, peaches are a superb natural moisturizer and consuming plenty of peaches may reduce hair loss. Peaches can be extremely calming for the body, providing natural stress relief, soothing an upset stomach, as well as bringing relief from the symptoms of gout and rheumatism.
Eat peaches as you prepare your delicious life, and enjoy the great divine bounty of summer.
Sweetness of Summer
Makes 16 bars
1 stick plus 5 tablespoons salted butter (be sure to warm to room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 cups of peeled, chopped peaches
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8x8 cake pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper, have parchment paper hang over opposite sides of the pan and spray the parchment paper with baking spray.
For the crust, beat the butter and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add flour and cinnamon. Beat until dough forms clumps but does completely hold together. Press 2 1/2 cups of the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan and up the sides just a little bit.
For the filling, stir together peaches, sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Pour into crust. Crumble remaining crust mixture into small clumps and scatter over fruit.
Bake for about 1 hour or until crust is quite golden and the fruit is bubbling in the center. Tent with foil if top is browning too quickly. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely before cutting into bars.
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook “, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing fresh, natural ingredients and super simple, extra delicious recipes. She also conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com