Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Purist's Peach Pie

We recently got back from relaxing at a cottage in Saugatuck, Michigan (Mayberry meets gay rivera) with my family for about a week, and it was blissful as always. Cape Cod cottage? Check. Bike rides to the beach? Check. A healthy squirrel population for the dog to chase? Definitely check.

Add to that our collective excitement to pick something growing off a real tree at one of the U-PICK farms nearby. My mom nixed the idea of Michigan's famous blueberries..."sounds hard, doesn't it?" Which was a damn good thing since the season had just passed. But peaches! Oh, the peaches were beginning to drag their tree branches down to the ground, they were so fully massive and lovely. So six of us accepted what we considered small-ish bags from a farmer and galloped into the early-bloomer Blazing Star rows of his orchard.

Ten minutes later my mother emerged with 30 lbs. of fruit overflowing from two heaving bags. The rest of us plopped our bags onto the scale with hers and snorted in laughter at the digital number that popped up: 69 lbs. Of peaches, people. It's not like you can go put any back. So back to the cottage we went, debating... Pie? Cobbler? Smoothies? My aunt, a former chef, has the most food cred in the family, not to mention actual leadership skills, so she made a sound decision:

We're making pie. And we're keeping it simple.

Back at the cottage, she and my mother (I was on vacation, remember?) assembled eight pies. The ingredients were:

4-5 gigantic peaches, sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
sprinkle Fruit Fresh
2 pie crusts
egg whites

So, if I need to tell you...We tossed the sliced peaches with the sugar and Fruit Fresh. Then we plopped the mixture into a crust, topped it with the second crust, and brushed that with egg whites before baking or freezing each one.

The point isn't that this is complicated or innovative. The point is that sometimes you simply don't need to mess with the perfection of something like gorgeous freshly picked peaches. Especially when you're on a summer vacation and should really be taking a nap someplace nice, like under a tree.

We ate two of the pies while there - one for breakfast - and the rest are in my freezer, awaiting a chilly fall night or typically sub-artic Chicago winter weekend.

The rest of the peaches we ate fresh or bagged up as gifts for our neighbors, who are still sending me emails about their amazing cobblers.