Friday, July 21, 2017

Peach Pie in Winter -- but you gotta prep it now!

There's much to love about warm weather and at the top of my "I Heart Summer" list is fresh peach pie. I can justify eating it anytime of day, standing up, sitting down, barefoot, beachbound, or by the barbecue. But when summer goes, so go the peaches, right? Maybe not.

Enjoying warm, sweet peachy goodness in the cold bleak winter is not just doable, it's pretty easy -- and might be as close to time traveling as I'll ever get. 

This process is the next best thing to post-season pie. But you have to prepare it now, in summer, while peaches are in season. Don't wait. The good ones won't last. 

I'm relying on you to use your own favorite peach filling recipe here. If you don't have one, mine's at the bottom. 

Here's the process: 

Step 1. Start with fresh, ripe peaches. They shouldn't be so juicy you'd have to stand over the sink it eat them. But juicy enough to have a good ripened flavor.

Peel and slice the peaches. Place in large bowl.

Step 2. In a separate bowl, combine whatever sweeteners, spices, and thickener you normally use. 

Sprinkle over sliced peaches and stir to coat. Some folks add a little lemon juice here, too. 

Step 3. The peaches will look a little muddled with the sugar, etc. It's normal. 

Step 4. Now comes the big difference. 

Line a pie plate with two sheets of plastic wrap large enough to hang over the edges about 5-6 inches. 

Step 5. Pour the prepared filling into the lined pie plate. Drizzle a little melted butter over filling. 

Fold the plastic wrap over the filling so it's well sealed. 

Freeze for 4 hours or overnight.  

You now have a frozen peach pie filling shaped exactly like your pie plate. (You can see where this is going, right?)

Step 6. Remove the pie filling - still wrapped in plastic -- from the pie plate. Put the pie plate in the dishwasher or back in the cupboard, whichever you think appropriate.

Wrap the filling in aluminum foil and return to freezer. 

The pie filling will stay good in the freezer up to a year. Mine never seem to last more than 6 months because, well, peach pie in winter.

Step 7. When you're ready to bake, prepare your pie crusts as usual. (If I don't have time to make my own, or simply don't feel like it, I unabashedly use Pillsbury unroll-and-fill pie dough.)

Remove peach pie filling from freezer and unwrap it from the foil and plastic.

Place the frozen pie-plate-shaped peach filling into your pie crust. It should fit perfectly.

Step 8. I usually do a lattice top on mine just to be fancy. 

Bake at 425 degrees for 1 hour or so, covering edges with foil when they start to get too brown.

Jenny's Standard Peach Pie Filling
5 cups peeled, sliced fresh peaches
1.5 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 Tablespoons melted butter, depending on the juiciness of the peaches. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Grief on the Frontier

I had a history professor once ask, "What exactly is the frontier?"

Our class came up with several muddled and vague definitions. But in the end our professor gave us this: the frontier is that thin strip of land running between civilization and wilderness. It is a buffer between what is established and what is yet unknown.

For almost three years I have lived on my own frontier of confusion, anger, exhaustion and grief, a narrow land of unlivable territory spanning between life and death.

The minute I learned Carey’s cancer had spread, I stepped away from all that I knew and out onto this barren frontier, with nothing but wilderness as far as the mind could see. Forced here by the chance ricochet of cancer’s bullet.

And here I have lived on that unrelenting edge with my eye fixed on my family, unable to go back to what I knew, petrified of staying for what it meant. There were days on the frontier where I watched my son cross a brutal terrain of chemo treatments and radiation, braving his way with dignity, calm, and even humor. And then, finally, when all hope of survival here had failed, I watched him travel on without me, further into the wilderness. Into the unknown.

My time on the frontier territory is drawing to a close. I can’t stay here. There’s no point. I need to return to my loved ones, to my new home, to all that is still familiar.  But there will be days when I look back over my shoulder to catch one more glimpse of Carey. To see if, by chance, he passed that way again, even if for a second. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

An Honest Day

It’s a day like any other day.
I plan this week’s meals, make a grocery list and finish my coffee.
I put on galoshes and drive to the store, 10 miles in the rain. 
I check the eggs, weigh the apples, and decide against salmon. Maybe next week.
It’s a day like any other day. Only sadder.

After I put away the groceries
and drive 14 miles to the gym, I
work up a sweat and wait for the endorphins to kick in.
They don’t always, despite the hype.

I get home and pull the condolence cards out of the mailbox.
Reading through them makes me feel better and
Worse at the same time. 
So I cry.
I cry and wonder how my daughter-in-law is and 
what my grandchildren are doing.

I cry like I’ve done nearly every day for the past
41 days since my son took his last breath,
Since I felt his skin grow cool under my hand,
Since I kissed his forehead for each of his grandparents, his uncles, his aunts,
I cry like I’ve done nearly every day for the past
41 days since I finally let go of hope.

Crying is now part of my daily routine.
I take time for it.
It’s a day like any other day, only sadder.
And dinner still needs to be made.