Monday, August 29, 2011

Come On, Irene: Peach Pie

We filled up a 5 gallon tub of water, put our small basement freezer (the one with the breastmilk library) on cinder blocks, removed most of the stuff from our porch, bought a few containers of shelf-stable milk, and hunkered down to wait.  In the end, we were lucky. Hurricane Irene came and went, and though at 2 a.m. it was an impressive--even scary--storm, the worst of it for us was a little bit of water in our basement, where it always gets wet anyway when it rains hard. We lost power for a few hours, and I was sweating, thinking about the freezer, but it came back on at around 3:30, and I fell asleep in about five minutes.

Other people we know didn't fare so well: our neighbor across the street had the fire department come help her pump our her basement last night when we lost power, my friends dealing with the heart transplant also have a flooded basement, FB friends in northern NJ are dealing with broken and flooded dams, and my mother has been told she'll be without power until next Sunday.  The good news is that people are helping each other out.  There is something about crisis that drags people out of their houses and away from their facebook feeds (not that one can't help there, too, like they're doing over at Bloggers Without Borders for a fellow blogger with two little girls who just lost her husband to a suddden heart attack).  Disasters put things in perspective, remind us of what we do have, even while we're entitled to hope for something more or something different.  I hope that right now if you're in a place to do so, you can lend a hand to someone who needs it; that support is part of what I love about the blogging community.

I think, in part, we were lucky because Irene is the name of my grandma-in-law, and she always took good care of me, until she could no longer care for herself. I never knew my real grandparents, but my uncle's wife's mother was the best stand-in I could ask for. She was a matriarch, a woman who ruled her house with a wooden spoon and a rolling pin.  It was Grandma Irene who let me stay up to see my first New Years' Eve and have a sip of champagne, raised me on coconut bread and pumpkin pie. The kitchen was her domain, and I was one of the few people she'd allow to go in there while she was cooking. My book of recipes still has some of her favorites, scrawled in her handwriting.

Our CSA has been sending us peaches each week, and this week I simply couldn't keep up, since we also had a watermelon and a cantaloupe to eat.  S. doesn't like cooked peaches, but I decided to make a pie anyway and hope for the best.  The verdict was positive: he said it was actually pretty good, and my son, who has been awfully vocal about his perpetual hunger of late, had three pieces.  (We are reading Farmer Boy together at bedtime, and I've been struck by how often the nine year old boy talks about eating, and what enormous meals he eats.  I. has been reveling in the descriptions, saying, "mmmm, that sounds good.  I'm hungry.")

So in honor of my grandma Irene, who was a hurricane in her own right ... if you still have power, bake one of these up and take it over to share with a neighbor.  It's a little lower in sugar than some other recipes I've seen, letting the flavor of the peaches themselves shine through.

Tell us ... how did you fare in the storm, if you're on the East Coast?  Have you ever had to weather a natural disaster?  Do you have a Grandma Irene of your own?

Fresh Peach Pie

Pie crust

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. oil (canola or very mild olive)
1/4 - 1/2 c. boiling water


1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3.4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 T. butter, at room temperature
8 to 10 large fresh peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 egg whisked with 1 Tablespoon water (or a little milk of choice if you don't eat eggs)
course sugar for topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Fork together flour and salt, make a well for the liquids. Combine oil and water (I know, they don't mix) and dump them into the flour. Fork together all of the ingredients until it forms a ball. If you need to add more flour and water, do so. The dough should be a little bit springy. Divide the dough in two balls, roll one out and place one in a 9" pie pan.

In a medium bowl, use a pastry blender or fork to combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Mix until crumbly.

Scoop one layer of peaches into crust. Top with some of the crumbly sugar mixture. Layer more peaches and more crumbles. Continue until you've used up all of your peaches and crumbles. Roll out your second pie crust, and top your pie as desired. I cut mine into strips and created a lattice topping. If you'd like to cover the pie completely with the 2nd crust, just be sure to cut a few slits into the top crust to give that crust a chance to breathe while baking. Crimp the edges decoratively.

Brush the top with the egg wash (or with milk), and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you wish (I skipped this part).

Bake on the center rack in the oven for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. I start checking on my pie at 45 minutes, just to make sure the crust isn't browning too quickly and all looks good. Then I check every 15 minutes until I'm satisfied that it's done. Mine took an hour and 10 minutes, and it was nice and golden brown along the crust with the peach filling bubbling a bit in the center.

Cool until ready to eat.
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  1. What a beautiful pie! And a great homage to Grandma Irene. I love that your instructions include making one for a neighbour. I have a Grandmaman Fleur. My grandmother's name is a made-up name (which was much less common 100 years ago!) that translates to Flower-Angel. How pretty is that?

  2. Glad you guys faired okay!

    Even this morning--after Wednesday's earthquake, our power-outting thunderstorm on Thursday, and Irene over the weekend--the neighbors have been out and about and way more engaging and considerate than usual. I wish it could be like this every day and that it didn't require a week's worth of natural disaster...

    In my flurry at the market on Saturday morning I grabbed a quart of nectarines. I wish I had enough to make a pie! It looks delicious! I'm thinking I might use 'em to make a buckle today. We'll see!

  3. I'm so glad that you fared well. Events such as this really help a community come together. I'm glad to hear that your community is strong and pulling together. And, gorgeous peach pie. Yum. (runningmama from more room in my heart)

  4. So glad you guys made it through the storm unharmed and the breast milk is safe:) The pie looks amazing!!!

  5. @Stephanie: what a beautiful name!
    @Trinity: I couldn't agree more ... if only it were every day! And ... I've never made a buckle. *grin*
    @Rebecca and @Runningmama: thank you!

  6. Glad you weren't hit too hard. I was thinking about you this weekend!

  7. Oh that looks good - there was a little rumble in my tummy when I saw the photos. Glad you didn't have major problems from Irene. I had a good laugh about Farmer Boy. I grew up on the "Famous Fives" and they were constantly talking about food, too:)

  8. So glad you were OK - and that freezer of breast milk too! How awful it would have been to lose that!!

    Today is the first day of spring here in Tasmania. It's still cold, but my daffodils are out and my huge pear tree has suddenly broken out into flower. I made a huge apple crumble last night, so can look forward to having leftovers of that tonight. I love crumble; if I was a fancy, modern restaurant I could describe it as 'deconstructed apple pie', which I think is rather hilarious. :-)

  9. I had an Aunt Irene and she was a very good cook. I'm glad you weathered the storm. Your peach pie looks delicious; wish I could help you eat it!

  10. Irene is a pretty name, never was a fan of naming national disasters after people, such sad connotation arises. They should be numbered or lettered or a combo of both. Glad you and yours are safe and well lovely lady.

  11. Oh yum...flicking back over old entries and the pie caught my's exactly what I feel like eating now! (and no possibility of making it tonight! :(


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