Five years ago, Paul and I were taking a drive through the countryside when we stumbled upon a sign indicating the presence of a pick-your-own peach orchard in the area. We followed the sign and arrived at a small family farm with a couple acres of peach trees. We grabbed a bucket and filled it to the brim with the biggest, juiciest, most fragrant peaches you ever laid eyes on. We bought about fifteen pounds of peaches that day and vowed to go back for more but then got too busy and peach season was over.
In the years that followed, we have tried and tried to get back to that same farm to pick more peaches but the weather unfortunately has not been too kind to the peach trees in our area. Due to the freezing temperatures and slow thaw of the winters, the peach trees all either died off or went dormant, refusing to produce any fruit the following summer. Paul, being the passionate stone fruit lover that he is, was especially choked up about the demise of the peaches.
However, this summer we heard a rumor that the peaches were back! Thanks to a mild winter and a little TLC from the area farmers, the trees were filled with peaches fresh for the picking! Paul and I waited until the moment we heard the farms were ready to plan a trip to pick as many peaches as we could. The day came and the kids and I were at the YMCA outdoor pool when Paul came to join us. Instead of swimming, he told the kids to get dressed and pile in the car - it was time to get some peaches! The kids all whined and moaned for they wanted to keep swimming.
"I don't like peaches!" Matthew the whiner wailed, to which Paul replied, "Too bad, kid. Get in the car!"
The kids continued to protest the entire way. The early evening is not their best time of day because they are tired, grumpy, hungry, and generally lots of fun to be around. The farm is located about 30 minutes from our home, so we had a bit of a trip but made due by playing the most obnoxious children's music CD at full volume until Paul and I had migraines - an Australian Bob Dylan-esque musician singing folksy tunes about animals. Each of his approximately three minute songs have about three lyric lines that he repeats over and over, for example:
"An African Zebra. A Zebra!
A Zebra is What I am.
African Zebra. I am not a horse!"
The kids could listen to it all day long. Paul and I can stand about half a minute.
When we finally pulled up to the farm, we were about 15 minutes away from their posted closing time so Paul hopped out hurriedly to make sure we weren't too late to start picking while I began unstrapping the kids from their car seats. I suddenly saw Paul stumble, look down, and quickly fish out what looked like a large, wet rodent from a large bucket of water. I hurried over to see what he was doing and saw that he was cradling a tiny, four-week-old kitten. The poor thing had somehow fallen into that bucket of water and was not breathing. We held it close, rubbed its back, and it started to choke, spit up some water, and then started breathing quickly once again. I wrapped the kitten in my shirt because it was shivering so hard and the kids ran over from the car and began to congratulate their Dad for saving the kitten's life.
We learned later from the farmer that the kitten was one of a litter of three. He had no idea how that little kitten had fallen into that bucket, especially since it was less than a month old and not capable of climbing anything too high. We dried the kitten up a bit more and then left it to sit in the sun while we went to pick our peaches. We explained to the kids on the way to the orchard that had we not left to pick peaches precisely when we did, that kitten would have drowned. Suddenly, upon seeing themselves as kitten saviors, the children puffed up and stopped whining and were actually helpful in lugging buckets back and forth from the peach trees. Afterward, they got to play with the rescued kitty and his two brothers. That, of course, was the highlight for them. They begged for us to adopt one of the kittens but a strict "NO" was uttered by their father. We are not ready to replace Riley just yet.
|Ice cream on the porch. Trying out a weird filter on the camera. Thoughts?|
We have used our pounds and pounds of peaches to make all kinds of treats - kolaches, cobblers, pies, and cookies. However, some savory items were made as well, such as this peach sauce we served over grilled chicken. This meal was kind of a throw-together affair and I concocted the sauce using some wine we had leftover in the fridge, some of the fresh peaches, thyme sprigs, a touch of mustard, and a bit of butter to finish. Paul was skeptical, especially when he saw me add the mustard, but upon tasting it he told me that I HAD to record what I did because he wanted me to make it again. I also thought it was incredible and would especially be great served with pork chops or pork loin. Something about the sweetness of the pork would pair really well with this sauce. However, it was really great on the chicken too. While it was fantastic with our fresh peaches, I'm sure it can be made with frozen peaches as well!
Savory Peach Sauce
Note: This sauce would be a great accompaniment to either pork or chicken!
12 ounces fresh peaches, peeled and pitted
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (we used a chardonnay we had leftover)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1-2 tablespoons butter
Cut the peaches into 1″ chunks or slices. Add your peach chunks, white wine, 1/2-cup sugar, 1/4-cup cider vinegar, and 2 sprigs of thyme to a small saucepan.
Bring sauce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce has reduced to approximately two cups, remove from heat. Find and discard the thyme sprigs, then add the final tablespoon of rice vinegar, one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon of butter. Whisk together and put back over low heat to thicken slightly, about a minute more. Taste, add more butter, salt, or pepper if desired.
Serve over meat of choice!