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September 28, 2022

Country roads

Renee Kiff
“I read your articles all the time, Renee, but I want to ask you
something. Why haven’t you been putting in any recipes?”
This question was posed to me by farmer Tom Noble’s mother,
Natalie. I promised her that I would correct this oversight and,
with the heat of summer upon us and corresponding avalanche of July
– August fruit, the timing couldn’t be better.
Mother Nature has this irritating habit of giving us all or
nothing. Have you noticed that there are very few, if any, local
plums? Last year there weren’t very many peaches. This year there
aren’t local apricots, or, very few. (This is one reason why our
farmers’ markets include growers from other areas, to supplement
what we either cannot grow or don’t grow enough.)
This year is a banner year for peaches and it will be for apples
as well. Berries from Sebastopol and cherries from Stockton were,
and perhaps still are, happily available – although the sweet
cherry season is over.
The good news about summer fruit is that if it tastes good, and
it should, a smart cook can prepare the fruit in many ways and
either can, bake or freeze it for later use when winter has
stripped our orchards bare. With some freezer space you can save
summer and bring it back to your family table in the middle of
December or in time for a January rainy day.
Pies and crisps are a simple way to preserve today’s fruit. You
can prepare an entire pie and freeze it unbaked or you can bake it
and freeze it afterward. Either way works. I prefer freezing it
unbaked for two reasons: first, it is usually a warm summer day and
having the oven on only adds to everyone’s discomfort; second,
having the oven baking a pie on a cold December afternoon adds
cheer and a lovely summer memory to a wintry day.
There is no mystery to making the pie to freeze, except for the
one rule to NOT prick the top crust until it is time to bake it.
Also, wrap the pie first in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil.
Label the pie with masking tape upon which is recorded in felt
marking pen: the type of pie, the date, and whether or not it is
unbaked or baked. Do not assume that you will recall these basic
bits of information. Things in freezers have a way of losing their
(One of my favorite recollections of the old Readers’ Digest
cartoons was a drawing of a wife, staring into the freezer chest at
its contents and the husband comes up to her and says, “Don’t you
think you’ve been looking in there long enough?” She has a very
long icicle hanging from the end of her nose.)
For a simple preparation of any fruit to make into a fantastic
dessert for quick eating or freezing, John Ash gave Glenda Castelli
of the Windsor Farmers’ Market the following recipe. It is
excellent and can always be doubled or tripled for a picnic pot
6 cups of fresh fruit spread over the bottom of an ungreased
pyrex casserole.
Mix together: 1 and 1/2 C. dark brown sugar
1 and 1/2 C. Old Fashioned Oats
1 C. flour
1tsp. Salt
6 oz. butter
Mix and crumble over the top of the fruit.
Bake 375 for 35 minutes or until bubbly and golden.
Since Healdsburg peach growers have succeeded in lengthening the
season for that luscious fruit, nearly into autumn, it behooves us
to bake a few pies right now. Joanne Brownson took the time to
write out one of her favorites: German Peach Pie.
Fresh peaches: peeled, pitted and cut in half (amount differs
due to size of peaches, but enough to cover a nine inch pie
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
2 T. butter
1/2 – 1 C. chopped walnuts
1 unbaked pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)
Place peach halves round side up in pie shell.
Cream butter and sugar.
Beat in eggs.
Pour batter over peaches and sprinkle top with cinnamon and
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to
325 and bake 45 minutes longer.
Add dollop of whipped cream if desired. (Renee would add a
generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, but then, she would add that
to anything short of liver and bacon.)
A word of warning and you’ve read it first, here. It isn’t too
early to bake these goodies for winter. I heard on the radio today
that Sears is pushing early shopping right now for Christmas. It’s
just around the corner, confirming my growing suspicion that there
are not 365 days in a year, there are only 2 and they are Christmas
and the Fourth of July. The rest are a figment of our imagination.
That’s why life goes by so rapidly and we are always either
preparing for the holidays or trying not to waste the bounty from
fruit trees.
Renee Kiff weeds and writes at her family farm in Alexander