I read an article today in the latest issue of NFocus, the gratis glossy Nashville society publication I picked up last week when I was back home.
Written by Christine Kreyling, a writer I’ve long admired because she loves architecture and history just the way I do, her piece resonated with me so much! It was like she was in my kitchen. Check it out here: http://nfocusmagazine.com/house-home-august-2012
Called “Missing Nashville, the eats, not the heat” Kreyling writes that she and her husband (the fantastic Vanderbilt English professor Michael Kreyling, southern lit specialist!) have had a summer sabbatical in Northern California (she mentions Gualala–not sure where that is) and have for the most part, truly felt at home.
Yes, there’s no need for air conditioning here, no bug bites, and the farmer’s market are stocked with leafy greens. (See my post “Stranger in a strange land” for similar Bay area abnormalities.)
But it’s impossible to find good yellow squash, or decent grits, and there’s nothing here to compare to a good southern summer peach.
California peaches are deceptively lovely. They have soft skin, peachy-keen color, and most are medium-sized, weighty in the palm. But to bite into a California peach is to be sorely disappointed. No juiciness, no lush texture to the tooth. The California peaches I’ve tried are either hard or mealy. Utterly gross. They can only be salvaged in a peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream à la mode.
Here’s my Nashville friend Emily’s easy-peasy cobbler recipe. Try it with any kind of fruit and it turns out fine. I’ve tried it with beautiful California cherries, plums, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and yes, disappointing peaches.
Preheat oven to 400. Cut up 3 to 4 cups of fruit, and mix with 4 teaspoons of sugar to slightly macerate. In another bowl, mix 1 cup of flour, 2/3rd cup of sugar, 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Then stir in 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of milk. Mix only until blended, this will be lumpy and that’s a-okay.
Pour fruit into a shallow baking pan, and drop the batter on top by the spoonful. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cobbler crust is the golden brown you like it. I poke the big lumps with a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean. Tastes just like home.