I feel that I must point out that no ants were harmed in the production of Saturday’s post. I picked up Tiger the pre-swallowtail with a handy twig and then used said twig to poke at the ant until it gave up in frustration. dropped to the ground and scuttled away. In the interests of full disclosure, I confess that yesterday I unilaterally awarded myself 10 bonus points for using the word “umbel” in a sentence. One doesn’t get such an opportunity very often and one must make the most of it!
The kitchen is currently gearing up for St Ignatius Day, celebrated on July 31. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits and the author of the Spiritual Exercises which form the basis of many of our retreats. On a more mundane plane, it means the kitchen staff are serving dinner to 100 Jesuits – who are the best educated, most well-rounded, well-traveled and most discerning crowd that you would ever tremble to presume to cook for! Fortunately for our nerves, they are also completely charming and kind – at least all the Jesuits that I have ever met are. Uniformly funny too. When I was new to this job, I remember gushing to a visiting Jesuit “You are all so nice!!”. He replied (completely straight-faced) “Yes, we take courses in it.” Three years later, I have not yet figured out if he was teasing me or not.
Patty and I have just finished making 13 fresh peach pies. That entailed blanching, peeling and slicing over 100 peaches (Ontario grown, of course!). A somewhat tedious job, but entirely worth it when you taste the pie. Even the uncooked filling is yummy. We had an unexpected bonus as well … as the peaches were sitting blanched and naked in a bowl waiting to be sliced, they wept just enough for Patty and I to enjoy a full glass each of peach nectar. Life doesn’t get much better than that, it was like a glass of the essence of summer.
Spiced Peach Pie
Mix into a smooth paste …
3 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp melted butter
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
You will need enough peaches to make 5 1/2 cups of slices, processed as follows …
Make a small slit in the skin, then dip the peach in boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds followed immediately by a cold water bath. Let it cool completely – this won’t take long since the whole point of the exercise is to cook the skins so they slip off easily but leave the flesh of the peach raw. Slice into attractive, bite size pieces.
Toss slices gently in the sugar/spice mix and pour into a 10 inch pie shell. You can either top with a pastry top or with a crumb topping. Bake at 350 F until the filling is just bubbling and the pastry is cooked. The filling must come to a simmer for the cornstarch to thicken, but try not to overcook. Let cool completely before serving.