Cobblers are often thought to take the place of pies--if you don’t know how or don’t want to bake a pie. I beg to differ. Cobblers, along with crisps, buckles, fools, and pandowdies, etc., are their very own lovely desserts…or breakfasts. True, they’re a bit quicker or easier to both make and bake as they have only one layer of some sort of crust, but they differ in many other ways. (Fools have no crust at all!) For me, the filling of a cobbler, in particular, isn’t nearly as sweet and surely isn’t as caloric as that of a pie with two crusts. Instead of pie pastry or pâte brisée, there is–for cobbler– a soft, billowy-pillowy biscuit topping with a crunchy edge that merely sets off the great big bite of fruit. And, while others might disagree, I’d typically only make a cobbler when the fruit was at its peak. Mid-winter apple cobbler might be the exception. Yes, it’s hot to bake right now and yes, it’s perfectly luscious, too.
Out of all the things folks say to me about making dinner, the most common might be, “I never know what to fix.” It occurs to me that while those are the words coming out of their mouths, the problem might not be that exactly. It might be a question of, “I know how to make tacos, but not enchiladas, so I buy the ingredients and cook tacos. A lot. I don’t have the time to learn enchiladas. Other days I make grilled boneless chicken breasts, salad, chili, mac and cheese, and hamburgers because I don’t need a recipe.” Or…could be they didn’t plan a week’s meals and shop for the plan. We’ve all been there.
As the bittersweet arrival of the last of the northwest blueberries coincides with the happy coming of the first glorious Colorado peaches, the two together feel exactly like a match made in heaven in my kitchen on a beautiful cool morning. With just a smidge over 5 cups of beginning-to-pucker and wilt Oregon blueberries in the fridge, I had not quite enough for a 9-inch pie. A case of peaches sat wafting their keen aroma from the mudroom, so I followed my nose out there and snagged a couple of not-too-ripe beauties to peel and slice for the bottom of the pie, filling that empty extra inch of space. The buttery sweetness from the berry mixture on top would provide plenty of juicy goodness for the still somewhat tangy peaches. Making something with peaches that aren’t quite ripe or up-to-snuff? Add a pinch of ground mace to increase their flavor.
The Colorado growing season is short, but mighty. We make up for the reduced length with the best and sweetest Olathe (pronounced: o-LAY-tha) sweet corn and toothsome, sticky-dripping Western Slope Palisade peaches. (Visit Colorado wine country, too, if you go to pick peaches.) Somewhere in there the Rocky Ford cantaloupes also ripen, the Pueblo green chiles are roasted on street corners–going into myriad pots of pork green chile or into the freezer for scrambled eggs at Christmas and Super Bowl snacks. (We eat a lot of New Mexican Hatch chiles, too, which come in somewhat milder versions.) If you’re really lucky, you even know someone who fly fishes and will bring back trout we smoke to last all winter long. (More on those last three another post.)
By the way, the Olathe Corn growers and the Palisade Peach producers each sponsor local festivals every summer and they’re coming right up:
Cooking with Addie posts will come up periodically and are designed for older kids or teens learning to cook. Not a kid? Make this anyway!!
It wasn’t too awfully hot this morning, so I was willing to turn on the oven to make some muffins I’ve been dreaming about for quite a while. Addie, my young fellow cook and blog-reader, is quite a baker according to her mom and also from the photos I’ve seen. It seemed a good thing for the next “COOKING WITH ADDIE” (a short series of older kids’ cooking posts this summer) to be something scrumptious for the oven. Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, I think you might enjoy some seasonal summer muffins this year. (Dessert is still coming up in the last post of the series; don’t despair!)
When it’s cherry season in Colorado, I’m usually baking a pie. That’s because our cherries are sour cherries –or pie cherries– depending upon where you’re from. You have to grow your own sour cherries or beg from a friend wherever you live; they don’t hold up well for shipping, so…
“Man (and woman) cannot live by bread alone,” was always the truth. Even the very best of bread, which is some of the most wondrous and healthy food in the world, must have its topping, its gilding, its raison d’être–its reason to exist. Bread bakers, feel free to chime in disagreeing here.
Add wine, of course. How about other necessities like song and laughter? That would mean a party and the most memorable parts of the current season (the touch of hot summer sun lingering on glistening skin, a crash of sudden wild storms cracking open in the distance, the heady sniff of freshly cut grass, hot orange day lilies along the path, sleazy dog-eared paperbacks sporting just such language) all call out for such a gathering to occur at night and out of doors.