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A Lesson In Picking Peaches

Written for the River Current Publication, September 5, 2013

Sunday I went down to OSU and brought my niece Abbey home with me.  She had called saying that she "wanted to spend a part of her Labor Day weekend with her Aunt Con in the country’".  I suppose you could say that this area is very much “country” to a young girl who grew up in the greater Los Angeles area!  
She enjoys coming to my home as a sort of respite from the chaos of her sorority house and most often tucks a large bag of laundry into my trunk before we leave Columbus.   Regardless of the reason, I always enjoy her company and am thrilled when she asks to come and spend some time with me.
Since she had been home in California for the summer, she wanted to first stop and visit with my parents (her grandparents) on our way home.  I always find this to be such a sweet gesture.  Some teens would not so graciously include this additional stop as a part of their agenda.
Every time that I have stopped to visit with my father recently, he has reminded me that his peach trees have been very productive this year and that I should go out and pick some of the peaches to take home with me.   For one reason or another, it seems I am always in a hurry and/or on my way to somewhere else and have admittedly ignored his offer. 
When he suggested the peach picking again on Sunday, I eagerly volunteered Abbey to go out and help me.  Prior to heading out to the back yard, my father told Abbey that all she needed to do was “shake the tree and the peaches will just fall to the ground”.
I had forgotten this comment until I was bent under the tree picking up some of the peaches that were already laying on the ground.  All of a sudden and with no warning, I found that we were both being pummeled by falling peaches!  Unbeknownst to me, Abbey had stepped up to the tree and given it a firm shake or two (just as Grandpa had instructed).  I’m sure it was quite a sight to see us both running and screaming in opposite directions…trying our best to dodge the falling peach bombs! 

My LA girl was a little traumatized by the whole experience.  Besides the peach bombs, she said that there were “way too many bugs out here!”  Picking peaches and other fruits from my father’s tree was a part of my growing up and I was delighted to have shared the opportunity with my California girl.  

Summer peaches are the essence of summer…fresh, healthy and delicious. Peaches are low in calories (about 60 each), contain no sodium or cholesterol and offer a nice helping of vitamins and antioxidants…which are thought to protect the body from aging, heart disease and some cancers.
These summer fruits are beautiful to look at and easy to serve. Toss some in your morning yogurt or breakfast cereal, bake some into a pie or tart, experiment with savory recipes for main dishes or sides, or merely eat them on the go…juice running down your chin and without a doubt, a smile upon your face.

Prolific Peach Tree Bars
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts) or old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Fruit Filling:
6 cups chopped peaches
1/2 cup orange juice (I didn't have any oj, so used water instead)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. To prepare crust: Combine 3/4 cup nuts (or oats), whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add butter; pulse until well incorporated.
2. Whisk egg, oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla and almond extract in a small bowl. With the motor running, add the mixture to the food processor. Process, then pulse, scraping down the sides, if necessary, until the mixture begins to clump, 30 to 45 seconds (it will look crumbly). Measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture and combine in a bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup chopped nuts (or oats). Set aside for the topping.
3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
4.To prepare fruit filling & assemble bars: Combine 4 cups chopped fruit, orange juice, sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes. (It may take up to 10 minutes to get a thick result if you start with frozen fruit.) Stir in the remaining 2 cups fruit and vanilla.
5. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish. Spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom to form a crust. Spread the fruit filling over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the filling.
6. Bake the bars for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake until the crust and topping are lightly brown, 25 to 30 minutes more. Let cool completely before cutting into bars, at least 1 1/2 hours.
*Note: Whole-wheat pastry flour is milled from soft wheat. It contains less gluten than regular whole-wheat flour and helps ensure a tender result in delicate baked goods while providing the nutritional benefits of whole grains.
Nutrition per bar:  197 calories;  9 g fat (  1 g sat ,  1 g mono );  19 mg cholesterol;  28 g carbohydrates; 11 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 1 g fiber; 69 mg sodium; 147 mg potassium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 2


  1. I loved that she shook the tree, lol.

    And I love me some peaches :) Glad you two had a good visit.


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