All things PEACH, including a pie

This is my summer of peach pie perfection. I am getting close! But first, a paean to the humble peach.

A good peach is really hard to beat. For starters, I adore their coloration. Peaches show that pinky-coral, yellow, and green marry winningly. Peaches are in a state of perennial blush, as if they are always in love and happy about it. 

I admire anything that continues to ripen once picked. It gives you a bit of stress-free leeway really. I mean, as much as anyone loves peaches, there are only so many of anything once can eat in a day. And so it's nice to know that a row of peaches sunning on a sill will be able to make you happy for many days on end.

Although I don't like to eat peach skin, I do love the way unpeeled peaches feel, especially if you've just picked them and they're still warm from the sun. They are soft, fuzzy in a lovely teddy-bearish way, firm but yielding (if not you've picked too soon, friend). They are irregularly shaped orbs of promise.

Peaches are great as is but they are also fabulous tossed in with more savory ingredients (see this wonderful salad of mine: Tomato, Peach, Chevre, and Herb Salad with Apple Vinaigrette) and grilled, roasted, stewed, and baked into things like pies and muffins. Two of my favorite ways to enjoy them cooked are in this Arugula Salad with Roasted Peaches, Pistachios, and Mozzarella, and simply grilled and topped with my Mint-Pistachio Pesto

Tomato, Peach, Chevre, and Herb Salad with Apple Vinaigrette

Tomato, Peach, Chevre, and Herb Salad with Apple Vinaigrette

Mint-Pistachio Pesto

Mint-Pistachio Pesto

Heck, now that I've gone down the wormhole, I'm remembering how much I love these Ginger Peach Muffins and also my Grilled Peach Crostini

Grilled Peach Crostini

Grilled Peach Crostini

And the jam possibilities are endless!

to-be Brandied Peaches

to-be Brandied Peaches

Clearly, I have a thing for peaches. And I am not ashamed.

Back to the pie. I have, over the years, worked on what is, in my opinion, the best representation of a number of pies: blackberry, apple, coconut, pecan. This summer, I set my sights on their peach cousin, and I think I'm nearly there.

It is, like my others, simple. It lets the primary fruit shine bright which is what the best pies do. I use peaches, sugar, lemon, and spices but have upped the ante slightly by including an apricot or two for a marvelous bit of tang and some muscovado sugar for depth (muscovado is a dark, unrefined brown sugar with a high level of molasses {in both content and flavor}. I use cinnamon and ground ginger and am considering using nutmeg, but we'll see. Peach Pie!

Paired with my crust, salty and flaky and perfect, the peaches shine. Which is just how it should be. 

U2: I'm still on cloud 9

Late last week while we were in NC, Tom was gifted two tickets to a U2 concert. Did I want to go?

Um, yes. Seeing U2 live has been on my bucket list for years, but as I am so out of the music loop, I have never managed to get tickets in time. The show was last night, the DC stop on the band's The Joshua Tree 2017 tour. This year marks the 30th anniversary of release of The Joshua Tree, and at each concert U2 is playing every song from that remarkable album. 

It takes us two hours to drive the 18 miles to FedEx Field, and with every minute, my anticipatory glee grows. I fly out of the car as soon as Tom parks and haul ass to our seats which happen to be IN A BOX (OMG!) with food and drink and a bathroom! 

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As the sun sets over The Lumineers' brief opening act, as I take in the tens of thousands of joyous concertgoers, as I let all the shitty stress of the ugly news recede into the recesses of my psyche, even as I remember that I desperately want a t-shirt and so hurry back to the merchandise area where I join forces with a friendly stranger so that we have the power of two women who WILL GET SHIRTS (and we do), I feel the most unadulterated youthful joy I have felt in some time.

U2 opens with Sunday Bloody Sunday, from War (1983), which brings me to my feet. For the most part, I don't sit again until we get in the car to drive home. 

I can't believe the news today
I can't close my eyes and make it go away.
How long, how long must we sing this song?
How long, how long?
'Cos tonight
We can be as one, tonight.

Bono says a few songs in, "These songs seem so relevant now, which is a surprise." A sad surprise but such an accurate observation. 

The trenches dug within our hearts...And it's true we are immune, when fact is fiction and TV reality.

They transpose TV and reality and sing, "When fact is fiction and reality TV." My eyes prick with tears. Bono is a political guy and takes some definite swipes at America's ugly political landscape right now and the Right's role in that. But he also casts a truly bipartisan net of hopefulness. "Right, Left, in between. You are all welcome here tonight. We'll find common ground, reaching for higher ground."

fantastic photo taken by akmcquade on instagram

fantastic photo taken by akmcquade on instagram

Four songs in, and the telltale chords of Pride (In the Name of Love), from The Unforgettable Fire (1984) resonate throughout the stadium like a universal heartbeat. 

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride.

And the tears come anew because who can believe that we're there again after all these years? We're circling back in such horrible, frightening ways. Philando Castile's murderer was just acquitted. Pregnant mother of four, Charleena Lyles, recently followed in Castile's tragic footsteps, shot to death by a policeman she'd called for help. It seems a certainty that her death won't be responded to in just fashion either. 

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Fifth song and we reach The Joshua Tree. Bono says, "Some say the dream is dead. The dream of America which is not just a country but an idea too. We must stay awake to dream. Awaken...The United States are kind of everybody's country. That's a blessing and a responsibility."

Where the Streets Have No Name, maybe my favorite U2 song, and the crowd is wild. (See video at the start of this post for the opening chords.) It's followed by I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and then With or Without You, and oh my god, U2's repertoire is epic. 

It is World Refugee Day, and as Bono is so actively, avidly, deeply involved in so many great causes -anti-poverty, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, refugees, women and girl's education and rights- he speaks about the need to do so much more, to be involved. "Luminous ones shine bright and often get the credit, but you don't have to be so luminous to make a difference."

Second song of the six-song encore is Beautiful Day. Photos of enormously impactful women play on the giant screens behind the band. Bono says, "When women of the world unite to rewrite history as her story, that is a beautiful day!" My eyes water again. Without realizing it, I raise a fist into the air.

The night flies by with impossible speed. U2 ends with One and then Vertigo, and I am crushed when the screens go dark.

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This morning, the boys asked how the concert was. "Awesome," T and I said. "Here, I took some videos and pics to show you," I said. 

"Mom, is that you screaming in that video?" Jack asks, with a definite tinge of embarrassment coloring his cheeks. 

"Yes it is, buddy!" 

"Oh, Mooo-ooom." 

But I think he sort of loved it too.

"What is better than food?"; reboot; OMFG; a farty IOU

So says my Oliver who is a hell of an eater. Today in his camp lunch I packed some salami and a wedge of triple cream brie in addition to yellow bell pepper slices, a Granny Smith apple, and the requisite Pirate's Booty. He was thrilled. God love that child. Jack has a much more truncated palate but he's as enthused about all he does like as Ol is about his wider berth. At least both of them adore Louisiana food. Jack will eat your body weight in gumbo and red beans and rice, and the two of them can take down a loaf of stanky garlic bread like nobody's business.

This is really quite a critical quality, in my opinion. I'm careful not to say too much out loud or to over-exalt in front of them, lest reverse psychology wreak havoc on my desired outcome, but food and drink, and the pleasure that can be taken in trying, enjoying, sharing, and crafting them, add such a zest to life, such a depth of experience, such an opportunity for celebration and memory. And so I like what I so far see in terms of their culinary preferences.

***

So, I started this post last night when the house was finally quiet and I was feeling marginally zen. And then the stupid low-light or no blue light or whatever the hell program blocks whatever it is in screens that supposedly ruins your sleep flipped on and I couldn't see my pictures and Tom had conveniently forgotten how to adjust the timing of the stupid program's onset and I lost my bizness and called it a day.

The children had been talking loudly and nonstop since I'd picked them up at camp and then driven home through a gale-force thunderstorm -legitimately branches were blowing across the roads- as both asked me to "look at this, Mom" as if I have not been saying for a decade, "I cannot look at you while I'm driving." 

Apparently, they have heard and ingested that as well as they've heard and ingested:

1. "Please do not talk to me through the bathroom door. I would really appreciate going to the bathroom in peace and privacy."
and
2. "Please do not attempt to tell me something while I'm vacuuming. I cannot hear you and then you get annoyed because I cannot hear you but I have already told you that I cannot hear while the vacuum is on and if I stop and start as often as you attempt to talk to me, I will literally never get the vacuuming done."

I'm fully serious when I tell you that both happened yesterday after we managed to make it home through that storm which was as verbal as it was nature-made.

I would like to insert a brief mention here that while the children are attending the same camp, they are doing different programs there. Not only is said camp an hour and change round-trip two times a day (I did not know this when we registered) but also Jack's program finishes at 3 and Oliver's at 3:30 (another thing we were not told before or during registration). "Well," you are surely saying, "just pick them both up at 3:30." 

Ah yes, that is logical BUT Jack only has a fifteen-minute grace period and so in order to avoid a $30/day "late" fee, I must pick him up by 3:15 and then leave the pick-up location and return 15 minutes later to fetch Oliver. This is lunacy, people.

I would also like to assert that most of Virginia needs to briefly move to Boston so as to learn how to drive. Yes, I know that Boston drivers have a "Masshole" reputation, but I would rather drive on the roads with them and their excellent skills ANY DAY if it meant I could avoid (and therefore live) the incapable Virginia drivers who appear to not know or not care that minimum speed limits, lane markers, turn signals, and no-turn signs are NOT suggestions. Jesus h christ, people. 

Suffice it to say that when I returned to this blog post today, it was without the iota of zen I'd harnessed by last night. I agree with all I'd written yesterday but that foodly blush has been supplanted by the finding of the IOU Oliver was forced to write to Jack last night after farting on him, purposefully, again.

I'd threatened last time Ol did this and Jack came to me in raging tears (because really, Ol has a toxic arse) that next time he decided that laying one on his brother was a fine idea he'd owe him $10.

I don't know about you, but $10 is a hefty fine. I'll be damned if I do something stupid that results in me just throwing $10 away. There are many things I can and want to do with $10 and paying to fart on someone isn't one of them. 

Oliver seemed chastened. It has been a month since any issue, and I thought my intervention had worked.

Last night, after a hellish half hour of enforcing saxophone practicing and summer math review (don't even ask) after driving home though the cyclone, I threw in the towel and put on a movie for the kids so I could cook their dinner in peace and maybe read an article in the paper.

Soon enough, I hear Jack scream, "That's it. You owe me $10, Oliver. Mom, Oliver farted on me. He owes me!" And I said, "You are right, Jack. Oliver, pay up." I swear to G, y'all, Oliver moseyed upstairs and came back with a $20. I don't even have a $20 right now. 

"Jack, all I have is one of my birthday twenties. Do you have change?"

"No!"

"Fine, I'll write you an IOU. 'Jack, I owe you $10 for farting on you again. -Oliver"

There is a fair amount wrong with this situation but the amount of my fine, which Tom said seemed harsh, is clearly not part of the problem. 

I would love to continue venting but it's time to get in the car to approach the multiheaded beast known as Avoiding a $30-for-15-minute Fine Pick-Up. 

Thank the lord Tom and I are blowing this joint at 5:30 tonight and heading to FedEx Field for the U2 concert. Thrill of a lifetime. Seeing U2 in concert has been on my bucket list for years. Woot!

***

I'm going to attempt to regain some zen by sharing with you this picture of my first blackberry harvest from the bushes Mom brought me from Nanny and Papa's yard. The original plants are about 65 years old now. I'm so lucky to have two of them (or their offshoots).