Sunday, July 29, 2012

Peachy Keen

Summer provides an embarrassment of riches, in terms of fruit.

The berries are plentiful, cheap, and taste amazing.  Everyone knows that.  But, although I love berries, like all normal people, I hate to have to spring for organic ones.  And, yes, you pretty much have to spring for organic ones--berries are polluted as fck.  That can totally be worth it, of course, but it kinda sucks when the store is selling two pounds of conventional strawberries for $3.99 right next to you. 

It's OK, though, because PEACHES TO THE RESCUE!  The peaches were so cheap at the grocery store, only $0.99 per pound.  And, what's better, you can blanch and peel the skin off peaches, so that there is less pollution on them, even if they're not organic. Yayyyy!

First up, I made the Unbaked Peach and Berry Crumble from Vegan Holiday Kitchen.  You know what's great about a holiday-focused cookbook?  It's really code for a cooking-seasonally cookbook, which is awesome.  Is it springtime?  Check out the Easter recipes!  Fall?  Thanksgiving.  Winter?  Don't make me say it, you know.  And during the summer, it's easy to just look through this book's "Summer Entertaining" section, which is expansive, and much focused on what to serve/bring at a barbeque. 

I'm not going to lie, I didn't peel the peaches for this dish.  It's just such an easy recipe and that was this whole other step that wasn't required, and I didn't do it.  Hopefully I won't get cancer.  I did buy organic berries, though, because I know they're particularly dirty.
So, yeah, you don't bake it.  The peaches are sliced and cooked on the stovetop along with some Earth Balance, maple syrup, and cinnamon.  The topping of oatmeal, nuts, and sugar also gets toasted on the stovetop with some vegan butter.  Then, you just put the peaces in whatever kind of bowl, throw the berries on top, and sprinkle the topping on.  It looks really pretty, right?  I'm sure everyone would ooh and ah at a potluck.

I didn't take it to a potluck, though.  I ate it all myself!
This picture was taken while it was still warm, but it does stay good for two or three days in the fridge.  The sauce thickens and the topping becomes wet, but it's still really good, and does not suffer from being eaten cold.

After I finished it, I decided I had not gotten my fill of peaches yet, and I bought tons more in order to make the Basil Peach Pie from Vegan Pie in the Sky.  Goodness knows I have enough basil in my garden to use!

Now, look, I make no secret of my gross inexperience with pie crusts.  This was only the second time I've made a true fruit pie, and the first time, it was a major fail, crust-wise.  But I did do a couple things to try to improve it this time around.  First, I asked my stepmother what the heck it means when cookbooks want you to cut the butter to put into the crust.  I really had no idea!  But I'm here to serve, you guys, so here goes:

Cutting the butter into the pie crust means that you literally take your stick of cold butter and use a butter knife and slice it into little squares, and THEN work them into the flour.  Same with shortening. 

Maybe that was obvious to you guys, but it sure wasn't to me.  And, you know, Moskowitz and Romero do not actually tell you to cut the butter in their buttery crust recipe, they say to scoop out about a half-tablespoon at a time and "cut" it into the flour, or to use your fingers.  All this cutting business confuses me, but I'm familiar with how to use my fingers (years of experience), so I did that.

The other thing I did to try to improve my crust-making is I bought a silicone pastry mat to help me guide how big and round to rolling pin the crust bottom and top.   Oh, by the way, that link to the mat I just posted?  DO YOU LIKE TO COOK?  That site has the least expensive prices for high-quality cookwear I've ever seen.  I bought a couple new knives from there, a knife sharpener, some silicon mats, some high-end kitchen towels, and a few needed utensils, and it ended up being, like, $80. 

These thing helped me, but I still haven't gotten the hang of lattice-work.  This crust is not perfect, but it's OK.  It doesn't really matter, right:?  The point is: basil peach pie!  Basil.  Peach.  Pie.  Who cares what the crust looks like?

The first bite of this pie is unexpected.  It's good, but at first, you're like, "Basil in my pie, kinda weird, right?"  Then you have a second bite.  And it tastes better.  You get used to it quickly and soon you're scarfing it down.  It's delectable.  Unusual.  Refreshing.  Something new and delicious.

I fed some to my father and step-mother, who I visited this past week, and my step-mom said it was the best thing I'd baked, but, to be honest, it seems like she says that every time I bring something over.  I also fed it to some old friends of mine from my parents' stomping grounds who were all like, "Can you send this by mail order?"

And guess what.  I had so much extra filling for this pie that I put it into my freezer.  Soon, I'll make some Basil Peach Galettes, based off the recipe in Veganomicon for Individual Heart-Shaped Apple Galettes.  You know, to feed to my Pittsburgh friends this time.


  1. I don't know if I can wrap my head around this basil pie deal... it sounds interesting. You've been baking away missy! Looks good!

  2. Tis the season to be peachy! B


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