“Peachy keen, Chef Cherie!”

Just before we made our trip to North Little Rock to see my folks, I went to McKenna’s and got some peaches.  You can’t have too many peaches, and theirs have been really good this year.  Well, they’re not as good as Colorado peaches.  Colorado peaches are THE BEST peaches I have ever eaten in my entire life.  When I was about 12, we vacationed in Colorado Springs, and one day for our picnic lunch, we stopped at a roadside stand and bought some peaches.  They were huge, sweet, and juicy; mammoth hunks of deliciousness that I never forgot, and that I’ve never experienced anywhere since.

Until two years ago, when the menfolk and I took our infamous Wild West vacation in late August and early September of 2011.  We once again spent some time in Colorado Springs, and in a regular grocery store there, I bought some peaches.  They were SOME PEACHES like Wilbur was SOME PIG!  I couldn’t believe that 35 or 40 years later, they still grew out-of-this-world peaches out there.  I went back the next day for more, and I asked some local customers if this was some special kind of peach, and they all looked at me like I was slightly daft and said slowly, “Ummm. . . no.  They’re just normal peaches. . . ”  As if all groceries everywhere always sold gems like that!

My favored exclamation of incredulity is “Sweet Georgia Peaches!” but I am sure that Georgia’s got nothing on Colorado when it comes to fuzzy fruit.

Anyway, I am quite fond of a good sweet peach (yellow flesh only), so I bought six or eight, even though they weren’t quite ripe, because I knew they’d be perfect when we got back from our trip.  Then, while we were gone, my mom gave me a couple more peaches, so when we got home, I had plenty of ripe peaches that were ready to be eaten immediately.

Except that while we were away, our handyman friend, Barry, had come to finish the work on Jessica’s bathroom ceiling.  He had left a bill on the table, and since our schedule had forced his work to be delayed for a number of weeks, I knew he needed to be paid right away.  That evening, even before we unpacked and stuck our daily pizza in the oven, I called Barry and got directions to his house, so I could take him a check.  He told me to come on, but to bring some bags and I could take home some . . . peaches!  He has peach trees in his yard and what wasn’t being picked would just spoil.

Well, with something like ten ripe ones sitting on go, I surely didn’t need any more peaches!  But I didn’t want to offend Barry, either, so we took two Wal-Mart bags and went over there.  I figured I could just stick a couple in one of the bags, and all would be well.  However, it didn’t work out that way.  Barry kept pointing out good ones and urging me to take more.  Then he’d pull loose ones off the tree and drop them in our bags.  He kept talking the whole time, so I didn’t even have a good opportunity to say that I really couldn’t use any more peaches.

Back at home, I was tired and I just stuck all the bags of ripe peaches in the fridge and figured I’d deal with them tomorrow.

Now, pretty much everyone knows that I dislike cooking.  Actually, that’s not true.  The only parts I really dislike are the planning, the shopping, the prepping, the actual cooking itself, and the clean-up.  Anyway, my preference where food is concerned is for it to be ready to eat.  When I sit down at the table and eat a full meal, I end up eating too much.  I think it’s because I have to sit there so long.  It really only takes me about 45 seconds to eat enough to fill me up, and if I stop there, I’m good.  So, at home, what I generally do is just grab a handful of whatever’s available that looks good, and stand in the kitchen looking out at the bird feeder while I eat it and go on.  Then a couple hours later, or whenever I’m hungry, I grab something else.  I know that’s against all the nutritional advice, but it works for me.  I’ve lost 45 pounds doing that, and I feel better and am healthier than I’ve been in many years.

Anyway, if I have to spend time prepping food before I can eat it, I get frustrated, so I like to have things that I can snatch in an instant.  Summer fruit is great that way!  I usually keep strawberries and grapes handy because they require NO work at all, and then I cut up a watermelon and a couple cantAloupes and have those ready to eat.  That way, at any time, I can just reach into the fridge and take a handful of something delicious and nutritious.  And I do.  All day and into the night!

Some fruits don’t work so well, though.  Things like apples that have to be cut.  Or, for that matter,  peaches.  For one thing, I don’t want to spend the time to cut them, and for another thing, if I do cut them, I have to eat the whole thing right then and there, whether I want to or not, because it will turn brown and then no one will eat it.

So the next morning, when I opened the fridge and saw ALL those bulging bags full of ripe peaches, I decided that the thing to do was to cut them and treat them with Fruit Fresh so they wouldn’t brown, and then put them in a lidded container, so I could grab a few slices at time.  This seemed like a brilliant idea, and this is exactly what I did.  For thirty minutes I stood at the counter in my wild floral apron and sliced peaches into Fruit Fresh water, drained them, and put them in big leftover dishes.  I had two of the long ones FULL of sliced peaches – one box mainly from McKenna’s and one box mainly from Barry.

But the next morning, horror of horrors, Barry’s box was browning.  UGH!  And I had worked so hard!  See, I have this thing about wasting food. . . (okay, true confessions, and about wasting other things besides food; well, actually probably about wasting everything known to man).  I feel guilty when I throw wasted food away, so I was highly motivated; I needed to use those peaches and quick.

I thought about making peach preserves, but that’s a lot of work that I really didn’t want to do, and besides, we don’t eat many preserves, and we still have ten jars of plum preserves left from last year’s bounty.  No, I wasn’t up for preserves.

Then I thought about just freezing them, but they were probably already past their prime for that, and when you thaw them, then they’re mushy, so you can’t eat them straight, and then you have to figure out what to do with a bunch of mushy peaches.  No, I wasn’t up for freezing them.

Then I thought about baking something peachy; maybe a peach cobbler.  But with only a few of us on site, we’d eat a few servings, and then what?  If I would even be able to create a decent peach cobbler, I surely couldn’t waste part of it!  And besides that, with peach cobbler you can actually see the peaches, and you want them to look gloriously golden.  These seemed to be getting browner by the minute.  = {

Hmmm. . . but I sensed that the baking idea could still have merit.  Maybe peach muffins?  Now there was a thought!  I went online and found a recipe or six for peach muffins.  The various recipes were similar, but on some of the reviews people had commented on what they had added to make them even better.  The recipe that looked easiest – and I do like easy – said it made 16 muffins.  That’s an odd number (strange, not uneven), but it had one of those gizmos where you can change the number of servings it makes.  I had a heck of a lot of peaches, so I changed it to 24, and sure enough, it very politely changed all the quantities for me.  Nice!  Now, it did give me things like three and-a-half eggs, but I figured I could work around that.

So I printed out the amended 24-muffin recipe and another recipe that had similar quantities, and then, in the spirit of Jessica, who follows recipes very loosely, I went down to the kitchen to take the challenge.  I tried to incorporate the best features of both recipes, as well as the most creative additions from the reviews.  I guessed at many of the quantities, but at least I had the (admittedly brilliant) foresight to WRITE DOWN what I did.  Brainy, huh?

And when it got to the part about adding three cups of chopped peaches, I looked at those browning peaches of Barry’s and said to myself, “These won’t look so good if you bite into them in a muffin, but when I make raisin bran muffins, I use applesauce, so maybe I could puree these peaches in the blender (in which case they’d all be a nice uniform color – a color that we won’t describe in detail here, but which would blend in just fine with a baked muffin) and use them in their liquid form.”

That is exactly what I did, and when I tasted the batter, it was pretty darn good.

Now, we all know how frustrating it is to be load your muffin tins pans and end up with a few empty holes; or worse than that, to have enough batter left (which you know you’re not going to waste) for only one and-a-half more muffins.  Well, I am thrilled to report that this recipe came out to EXACTLY 24 muffins with only enough left over for mandatory bowl-licking.  That was SO very satisfying!!!  (Furthermore, they were perfectly done at 20 minutes, with none of that irritating “pop them back in for three minutes and check them; well, they probably still need another two minutes; are they done in the middle?  maybe just another 30 seconds; oh shoot! they got too dark” stuff.)

I ended up baking one and-a-half batches of them, and Andrew pronounced them irresistible, begging me throughout the day to let him eat just one (or two or three) more.  I sampled part of one myself, and they are definitely tasty.  I was so proud of myself, mixing and matching like that, and I’m just so jazzed that they turned out well that I will now share my made-up recipe here:

Peach Muffins  – makes 24

2 cups brown sugar

4 ½ cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 ¼ tsp salt

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp nutmeg

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup sour cream

½ cup oil

3 eggs

3 cups fresh peaches (~10-12 sliced into blender with skins on, then liquefied)

cinnamon sugar

In very large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In large mixing bowl combine wet ingredients.  Stir well till smooth.

Pour wet into dry and mix only till thoroughly moistened.

Spoon batter into sprayed muffin tins, nearly full.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 400o for 20 minutes.  Let sit in tins 3 minutes, then remove to rack to cool.

(Note:  These have been known to attract teenage boys.)


2 Responses to ““Peachy keen, Chef Cherie!””

  1. 1 Katie August 17, 2013 at 9:36 am

    WOW! Congratulations! Peaches have been on monga sale here,so I may just have to try your recipe!

  2. 2 LA August 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Very nice! And if you need another idea sometime – my neighbor makes a “peach soup” (great for a light lunch or dinner dessert) and it’s mostly pureed peaches (not sure what is added except I know that no sugar is added!) and then she freezes it into ziplock bags and thaws to serve as needed….

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