Peach dessert perfect way to highlight fresh fruit

Hello, summer. It was so warm and summery last week I actually placed a window fan in the kitchen to keep a cooling breeze on me when I cooked.

I remember many hot and humid summer days growing up in Wisconsin when Mom refused to prepare anything that required her to turn on the oven, making it even more warm in the house. Air conditioning wasn’t a common thing in those days and box fans were the only relief.

Dinner was simple and light. We enjoyed plenty of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches made with heirloom sun-ripened tomatoes from my gramma’s garden and fried smoky bacon dad picked up at a meat shop in some little town on his route delivering Pepsi all over central Wisconsin. He’d bring home raspberries and apples from fruit stands, cheese and baked goodies from Amish country, and sausage and meats from family ran meat markets.

On those sticky summer nights, we also enjoyed bratwurst simmered in beer and onions, grilled to perfection and served on a special brat bun with all the fixings. The buns had a chewy crust and solid, yet tender interior that stood up to all the goodies loaded on a brat.

Dad had a sweet tooth and was especially fond of ice cream. He loved to indulge it and treat his kids as well. We’d pile into the station wagon and drive over to A&W for root beer floats, Dairy Queen for ice cream cones dipped in a crackling chocolate coating or Leon’s frozen custard. Leon’s Drive-In is world renowned for their creamy, delicious and rich frozen custard delivered to your parked car by waitresses on roller skates.

Up here in Homer, Alaska, hot and humid weather usually isn’t an issue like it is in the lower ’48. Lately though, I have that fan on in the kitchen. It feels like summer — finally. Now if it would only get dark enough at night I’d enjoy lighting a sparkler to watch the reaction on the face of our sweet little grandson, Kase. Instead we blow bubbles and eat popsicles together. I can’t take Kase to Leon’s for custard, but I can take him out to the Homer Spit to visit the ice cream shops.

This delicious, fresh peach dessert is a perfect way to showcase those sweet and juicy peaches we get from the folks that come up from Reedley, California, every summer. It’s guaranteed to be a favorite and is a perfect choice to take to a summer potluck gathering — that is, if you want to share. I like to serve this cool and refreshing sweet-ending after an outdoor barbecue dinner.

Peach Delight Dessert

• 1 package (16 ounces) pecan shortbread cookies, crushed

• 1/2 cup butter, melted

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 package (3 ounces) peach gelatin

• 2 tablespoons cornstarch

• 1 can (12 ounces) lemon-lime soda

• 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

• 1 cup confectioners sugar

• 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

• 6 cups fresh or frozen sliced peeled peaches, thawed

• 1/3 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of an ungreased 13-inch-by-9-inch dish.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, gelatin and cornstarch; stir in soda until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 5-7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth. Beat in whipped topping until blended. Spread over crust. Combine peaches and pineapple juice. Arrange over cream cheese layer. Pour gelatin mixture over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Our son Rob became quite the cook and baker while he was still in high school and living at home. It wasn’t uncommon to come home from work and find some sort of edible masterpiece sitting on the counter he “whipped” up after school.

He crafted perfect artisan breads, beautiful and delicious cakes, and French pastries on a regular basis. One summer afternoon he dazzled us with this perfect peach pie.

When I have plenty of perfectly ripe peaches on hand, I like to make this pie. It tastes like cool, fresh peaches. You can also use nectarines, or a combination of the two.

Glazed Peach Pie

Ingredients

• 1 cup sugar

• 1/4 cup cornstarch

• Dash salt

• Dash ground nutmeg

• 2 tablespoons water

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• 2-1/2 cups pureed peeled fresh peaches

• 3-1/2 cups sliced peeled fresh peaches

• 1 pie pastry (9 inches), baked

Directions

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg. Stir in water, lemon juice and pureed peaches. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about five minutes or until mixture is thickened. Pour all but 1/2 cup glaze into the pie shell. Top with sliced peaches and brush with reserved glaze. Chill for at least three hours.

Peaches and Peach Sauce

Serves 4

Save this recipe when yellow and white peaches are in season. If the peaches you use are firm, try peeling them with a vegetable peeler, if they are soft, use a sharp knife. Cookies or pound cake is a nice accompaniment.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ cup good peach or apricot preserves

1 tablespoon pear brandy (optional, but very good, Clear Creek brandy from Oregon is excellent)

4 large ripe but firm peaches, either yellow or white, peeled (about 2 pounds total)

4 sprigs fresh mint

Directions

Mix the lemon juice, preserves and brandy, if using, in a small bowl. Roll the peeled peaches in the sauce and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

To serve, place a peach in each of four dessert bowls and pour the sauce over the peaches. Garnish each serving with a sprig of mint.

It’s time to host visiting family and friends and I can’t wait to have company in the kitchen other than Boomer the black lab, who is my unofficial sous chef. We’ll enjoy fresh seafood, farmers market produce and have some fun times.

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