at the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We arrived after one helluva thunderstorm, and when the fog lifted, this is what we discovered out the back door. After our lovely appetizers, we wound up getting lamb chops from the Inn's restaurant and brought them back to our balcony. The view and ambiance were just too lovely to leave.
Spinning Spider Creamery produces marvelous goat cheeses, from crottins to fresh logs to aged, hard cheeses. The "Sunset Valley" herb blend is their special blend they hope will become as well-known as Herbes de Provence. The "Stackhouse", a square loaf with a white rind over a thin layer of organic apple wood ash, was voted the best in a Southern Foodways Alliance competition. Spinning Spider is a great story, too, of a couple with 3 home-schooled sons who turn their passion into a good business. I'll tell you about it next week, when I'll talk of other farmstead goat cheeses.
The best way to eat a peach? Standing at the kitchen sink so the juice can just run right down your chin and to your elbow.
Feel the soft peach fuzz. Feel the cool, smooth silkiness of the flesh. I love the imagery Frances Mayes evokes in her book, UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN, when she drops peaches into boiling water for just a moment, watches the rosy colors intensify, and then slides the skin off "as easily as taking off a silk slip."
Grilled, or just plain sliced, over vanilla ice cream, has got to be the quintessential, best dessert of the summer. I've also got a great fresh peach pie recipe with a gingersnap crust featured in my OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK. Add to a bowl of cereal. Peel or don't peel. Make jam, ice cream, cobblers. You can spend hours in the kitchen making them last past this dizzy, sensuous season of fresh peaches.
Freestone or cling, there are so many varieties grown in the Sandhills, where farmers started planting many orchards in the 1950s as the famed golf courses were built and the retirees settled in. Another great area is the Brushy Mountains, near Taylorsville. Drive north from I-40 on HWY 16, and you'll find plenty of places to stop and pick your peaches. There are even peaches at the beaches, esp at Knotts Island, way north in Currituck Sound. Take the ferry over from the mainland at Currituck, and join in the Peach Festival later this month.
As the sign warns, DO NOT SQUEEZE. Sniff them, look for a peachy glow with less green on the skin. At the market, they will feel hard, but allow them to sit on your countertop, away from direct sunlight, and they'll ripen. Or, place them in a paper bag to hurry up the process.
Here's a recipe for an Old-Fashioned Peach Cobbler that was given to me by my husband's Aunt Margaret. The batter does a flip flop during the baking, and winds up covering up the fruit. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
OLD- FASHIONED PEACH COBBLER
For the batter:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
For the fruit topping:
2 1/2 cups sliced peaches (or combo of peaches & blueberries or blackberries)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup fruit juice (I use orange juice: you might want to try peach or apricot nectar)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray or lightly butter one 10 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
3. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in alternately with milk, and mix just until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Place fruit over batter, and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar. Pour fruit juice over top.
5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until top is browned.
copyrighted 2008 in THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK