Monday, October 13, 2008

When life gives you a peach orchard, make peach pie

I was able to go peach picking recently, so my next move was obvious: it was time to make my first peach pie. My next door neighbors growing up, who also happened to be my grandparents, were my main inspiration. Their backyard has a peach tree, and my grandfather has been the longtime maker of many homemade peach pies. He is the kind of chef, baker, and jack of all trades with the confidence and natural curiosity to make, build, and create almost anything. For example, the same hands that have constructed entire homes during his career as a contractor, also compose the most delicious from-scratch spaghetti sauces and paint astonishingly beautiful oil paintings. I believe that much like many superheroes, my grandfather can do anything.

So when I was blessed with these fresh peaches, I knew now was the time to make him proud. I called upon Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" recipes for fruit pies. I took care to make everything from scratch-- because a real pie is one where you mold the crust with your hands, where you sculpt the pie's foundation with great attention. I opted for the two crust pie, a top layer full of decadence-- and one that keeps the fruit tucked inside its protection. A bit of cinnamon and nutmeg and a little lemon juice tossed with the peaches-- my mouth was already watering.

As it turns out, my studio apartment features the perfect windowsill for cooling an out-of-the-oven pie, the stuff cartoon pie-stealing scenes are made of. (Thanks also, to my grandpa, whose pies I always treasure and who as a child, watched cartoons with me--thus allowing me to make such references.)

Luckily, there was no thievery on this night of baking, because I've been enjoying pie leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day since.