Peach Picking Pleasures

Peach Picking0008

The past few years I’ve struggled with a growing desire to reconnect more with nature, specifically gardening. I think it comes from a combination of living 200 feet in the sky, increasing awareness of where food comes from, and a desire to save money. Either way, I don’t have much interest in livestock, but I would love a garden of my own to tend to that would provide with me edible payoff. Sadly, that’s just not possible right now – trust me, I’ve tried!

This summer I made it to the City Farm where I spent an afternoon weeding rows of beets, picking green beans, and preparing a plot for lettuce to grow. I also spent an afternoon at the Common Threads garden where children learn about agriculture by tending to strawberries, corn, squash and so much more.

Jackie at Fruit Orchard Farms Marci at Fruit Orchard Farms

*Yes, we’re wearing the same color shirt and no, that wasn’t on purpose!

The final thing I wanted to accomplish was visiting a u-pick farm where I could walk the fields and fill bushels with local, ripe fruit plucked straight off the tree. Or bush. Or ground. Or whatever it is fruit grows on.

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Eat with Your Eyes First

Me and my shadow

Me and my shadow

I love my new camera! I’ve been playing with it all weekend like a little kid with a new toy, experimenting with the manual settings I haven’t used since the pre-digital era. The ins-and-outs of aperture, shutter speed, lighting and composition that I studied in college are very slowly coming back to me.
Donut peaches

Donut peaches

The good part is that these skills are forcing me to slow down a bit and focus on food styling. Although I freelance as a food stylist, when it comes to this blog I’m often in such a hurry to eat the food (after all, it’s usually my dinner) that I rush through the styling, forgetting one of the very first lessons I learned in culinary school: you eat with your eyes first.

Donut Peach

Donut Peach

Luckily, Helen from the scrumptiously gorgeous blog Tartelette came to my rescue and directed me to two posts she’s written about food photography: Tips of Food Photography and Snapshot Spotlight with Helen. She also told me about Culinary Snapshot, a fantastic interactive blog from Kristen (Dine & Dish) where food bloggers can share food photography knowledge. Helen, thank you so much for sharing these links with me, they were incredibly helpful and I encourage everyone to take a look themselves.

Donut Peach, same peach different angle

Donut Peach, same peach different angle

As for me, I think it’s time to focus and practice. Ha, get it? Focus. Puns aside, I’m excited to enhance this aspect of the blog, learn new skills and put existing food styling tricks to action. Please feel free to share any tips or tricks you think I should try.

Inside a donut peach

Inside a donut peach

View from my window

View from my window, just 'cause it's fun.

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The Peach Craze Continues with Sorbet

Peach-Mango SorbetGinger-Peach Sorbet

After months of internal debate, I finally caved and purchased the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment. I must say it has offered hours of entertainment these past few days and has resulted in two very tasty, and very different, flavors of peach sorbet: Peach-Mango and Ginger-Peach.

Peach-Mango was my first attempt and I was pleased with the results. I followed the ratio recommended in the brochure for mango sorbet, but substituted half the mango for peach. The result was a refreshingly sweet summer sorbet with the flavors of peach and mango nicely blended but yet each perceptible.

The next sorbet I tried was Ginger-Peach, which was far more adventurous. I didn’t have a solid recipe to follow so I created my own, something I love doing. In this case I wanted to make sure the ginger was prominent as the flavors so easily could have gotten lost in all the peach peachiness. The solution was to use three types of ginger: peeled and sliced fresh ginger steeped in the simple sugar, ground ginger mixed into the puree, and a garnish of preserved crystallized ginger. Let’s just say, it worked and resulted in a refreshingly sweet and spicy dessert. Read more of this >>

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Peach Mania Part Deux

Peach Hand Pies

I love this time of year when summer is still centerstage but you can feel everything edging towards fall. Basically, late August/early September tastes like a peach, a sweet, juicy, dripping peach that works so well in sweet and savory dishes (i.e. vanilla-peach chiffon cake and peaches with duck breast).

My latest peach experiment came courtesy of another blog, Smitten Kitchen, which recently posted a recipe for Bourbon Peach Hand Pies (check out this website – her photos are amazing). The recipe just sounded so adorable, for lack of a better word. These portable, individual pies seemed like the perfect treat for a dinner party I was planning on attending. Unfortunately, the party was cancelled but I had become so excited about making these pies that I decided to go ahead and do it anyways. Read more of this >>

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So-so Results with Vanilla-Peach Chiffon Cake

Vanilla-Peach Chiffon Cake

I’d been yearning to bake a cake. Why, I couldn’t say. So, using mainly what I could find in the house, I made my first attempt at a Vanilla-Peach Chiffon Cake. In short, the cake was tasty but could still use some work.

I had wanted to make a peach-flavored cake because it was seasonal, however, in the end I wound up using canned peaches (15 oz can of sliced peaches in 100% real fruit juice from concentrate) for the intense flavors of the juices. In addition to the juice, I also folded in 2 tablespoons minced peaches and used the rest of the slices to decorate the top of the cake. Unfortunately, the flavors weren’t strong enough and the cake itself only hinted at peach, although the sliced peach garnish did help. The vanilla was subtle but sufficient. Read more of this >>

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