It’s a beautiful summer day. The humidity has decided to take a rest, and you and your friend are enjoying a nice long stroll outside to feel the breeze, enjoy the smell of fresh flowers, and bask in the the warmth of the summer sun. Others pass you, walking their dogs or pushing strollers full of gleeful children, sticky from the ice cream running down their chins. What a perfect summer day.Then your friend says it.
The words that we always hear from someone or other riiiggghhhtttttt before the leaves start to turn.”You know, I really do love summer, but I am SO ready for fall…”
Oh. No. She. Didn’t.
When someone says this to me in the middle of the summer, my ears start to tune them out right before they get to the part about the cozy scarves, pumpkin spice everything, and Sunday night football. Yup, they are a season ruiner.
Now friends, please don’t get me wrong. I LOVE fall. Considering the fact that it brings me back to my time spent in the Hudson Valley (which you should DEFINITELY visit in the fall, it’s gorgeous), and the start of Marching Band competition season (#nerdalert), I can’t get enough of it. Plus there’s the little things, too: catching that distinct scent of the wind just as the weather is turning colder, donning leggings, boots and scarves, pinning one million caramel apple, maple, or pumpkin recipes, sipping steaming coffee and chai tea lattes… shall I go on?
Nope, it’s clearly not the impending fall season that is bugging me, it’s people’s attitudes towards this change (or the change in ANY season, for that matter).This is what happens when people are not Seasonally Satisfied.So what does that mean exactly?Basically, being Seasonally Satisfied means that you can appreciate the full beauty of each season, AND that you strive to take advantage of the bounty of that season while it lasts. And how does one gain pure Seasonal Satisfaction?
First, it comes down to just being plain old grateful for the here and now, and that’s certainly something I have a hard time doing. I LOVE to think in future terms. Plus, most of American culture teaches us to look forward to whatever is the newest or latest thing (IPhone 6 anyone? No comment…). Enjoying nature is absolutely 100% free, so go ahead, dip your little toe into the last remaining rays of late summer sun… white it lasts!The other way we can learn to find satisfaction with what the seasons have to offer is to learn all about what Seasonality is (thanks to a terrific definition from Wikipedia)!
Seasonality of food refers to the times of year when a given type food is at its peak, either in terms of harvest or its flavor. This is usually the time when the item is the cheapest and the freshest on the market. The food’s peak time in terms of harvest usually coincides with when its flavor is at its best.
I literally read that and went “YES!!!!”
Because, why WOULDN’T you want to take advantage of seasonal food if it is
1. At it’s peak flavor
2. Is the freshest it will get all year
3. Is the CHEAPEST it will get all year
Have you ever watched one of those documentaries on Factory Farming, becoming a Vegan, saving the Global food system, yadda yadda yadda? After viewing every single one, I thought to myself “Wow, I’m so glad I’m well-informed now, but I don’t have the money to purchase grass-fed, locally-raised, organic, hormone-free meat, veggies, produce, etc., although I would if I could.”But then I thought back to that definition of seasonality. If buying produce that is in season and grown locally will be cheaper and taste better, why don’t we do that instead? That’s something I CAN afford. Plus it reduces the amount of toxicity emitted into the atmosphere from shipping and transporting said produce, supports local business, and forces me to learn about what is available seasonally in my area. Win win win!
So there you have it: gratitude and knowledge make for a better you!
This post’s recipe is a PERFECT example of fully taking advantage of seasonality. And trust me, you will certainly be Seasonally Satisfied after you’ve tasted this one.
I could have used some beautiful early-harvest apples for this fall-esque crisp, but why start with Apples in early September if we are going to be enjoying them for the next three months?
Instead, I opted for one of my favorite things: late-harvest peaches.
At this point in the season, the peaches that you see at your local farmers market are known as Free Stone peaches. As opposed to their evil twin sister, Cling peaches, Free Stone peaches have flesh that doesn’t stick to the pit of the peach, making them a real “peach” to work with, especially when baking (don’t make fun of my puns…). Although a typical fruit crisp is delicious, it is a bit boring. So why not spice (and spike) it up!?
I’ve added some delicious local wildflower honey from Little Beehive Farm in Holliston, MA, spiked it with some honey bourbon, and topped it with a honey-bourbon infused Vanilla Sauce (or Creme Anglaise).So much honey, so much bourbon, so much yes.Summer’s late-harvest bounty ready for you to savor curled up in your favorite fall blanket? Check!
Serves 4Ingredients:For the Peach Filling
4 large Freestone peaches3 Tbsp All Purpose flour2 Tbsp brown sugar2 Tbsp granulated sugar1 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp nutmegpinch of salt2 Tbsp Wildflower honey2 tsp lemon juice2 Tbsp Honey BourbonFor the Crumble Topping
3/4 c oats (I used quick cooking, but whatever you have on hand will do!)1/4 c All Purpose flour1/4 c brown sugar1/2 tsp salt4 tbsp unsalted butter, coldFor the Honey Vanilla Sauce1 egg2 Tbsp granulated sugar1/2 c milk1/2 c heavy cream1 Tbsp bourbon1/4 c Wildflower HoneyMethod:For the Peach Filling:
1. First we must remove the skin from the peaches. The easiest way to do this is to blanch them. Before you start blanching, you must have a medium-sized pot full of continuously-boiling water, a separate bowl filled with ice water, and a large spoon (I used a slotted spoon) ready to go (see my photo above for an example). 2. While you wait for your water to boil, use a pairing knife to score an X in the top and bottom of each peach. This will allow the skin to come off of the peach much easier after it is blanched.3. Using your large spoon, carefully place one peach in the boiling water, and let it boil for 45 seconds to a minute.4. Next, remove the peach from the boiling water and place it in the ice water. Let it sit there while you boil the next peach. Once that peach is close to being done, remove the first peach form the ice water. Continue this process until all of the peaches are blanched.5. On a cutting board, peel the skin away from each peach starting with the area you scored (it should come right off, if not you can re-blanch the peach for a little longer). See my photo above.6. Cut each peach in half and remove the pit, then cut all of the peaches in to your desired shape (I prefer cubes for my crisp, but it’s up to you!).7. Place peaches in a bowl and add your flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, lemon juice, and bourbon. Mix well to combine.8. Divide the peach mixture into 4 ceramic ramekins and place on a sheet tray. For the Crumble Topping:1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F. 2. Place the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl, and mix to combine.3. Cube your cold butter and sprinkle overtop your oat mixture. 4. Using a fork, your hands, or a pasty cutter, start working the butter into the oat mixture. It will take a few minutes, but once everything is combined, you will have small pea-sized chunks of crumble topping. Don’t mix too far, we aren’t making cookies!5. Divide the crumble among the 4 ramekins (you will have some extra!), pressing down slightly to pack it in (I like my crumble 🙂 )6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the filling bubbles and becomes thickenedFor the Honey Vanilla Sauce:*This sauce is a very classic French recipe, known as Creme Anglaise. If you chill this in your refrigerator overnight, you can churn it into ice cream the next day! It is delicious on top of a fruit crisp, fresh fruit, or bread pudding.*1. Place your egg and sugar in a small bowl, and whisk immediately to combine.2. Place a small saucepan, containing your milk, heavy cream, bourbon, and honey, over medium-low heat, and bring to a boil.3. Once your cream comes to a boil, you are going to temper some of the cream into your egg and sugar mixture. To do this, place your whisk in the bowl with the egg and sugar and start whisking at a medium pace. Meanwhile, use your other hand to slowly stream SOME of the cream mixture into the egg and sugar mixture (don’t forget to whisk!). You should only need to pour about 1/2 cup of liquid in with the eggs (this is to prevent them from scrambling when you combine everything together).4. Place the pot back on the heat and whisk the now-tempered egg mixture into the remaining cream mixture in the pot. Reduce the heat to low.5. Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to slowly stir the custard. The sauce will be finished when it coats the back of the wooden spoon. You can also swipe your finger over the back of the coated spoon- if the finger swipe holds without being quickly covered by the sauce, you know it’s done. It will still be pourable, but not as liquid as heavy cream. 6. Place in a bowl and set aside until you are ready to serve dessert. You might need to re-heat the sauce just a bit. 7. To serve, pour the Honey Vanilla Sauce over the top of each peach crisp and enjoy!I truly hope that this post made you a little more Seasonally Satisfied than you were prior to reading it (and a little bit hungrier!).
To find out what produce is in season in your area, check out this awesome link, or contact your local CSA.