Backyard Summer Peaches
“You know, you ought to make a peach pie while you’re here…”
Dad had just laid out an armful of fragrant, blushing peaches on the island. He said it offhandedly, as if the thought of homemade pie had just occurred to him, though we both knew full well that peach pie was one of his very favorite treats, that he’d been plotting this for some time, and that I’d unequivocally say yes.
I followed him out to the peach tree, which stood bigger than I remembered, the twisting branches heaving under the weight of dozens of resplendent, rosy-hued fruit. I happened to be back home in Santa Barbara for a long weekend right in the midst of the ephemeral peach season, a twelve minute period that falls sometime between late-June and early-July every year.
If you stand under those heavy, dappled branches for more than a moment during that fleeting season (really about two weeks long), you’ll hear the regular, sorrowful thunk of too-ripe-to-hold-on-any-longer peaches hitting the ground, as they all ripen at once. It’s a delicious battle every Summer to consume and give away as many sweet, flavorful, perfect peaches as possible before the yellowjackets set in at the end of the short-lived harvest. But for the moment, I was focused on pie, and picked as many peaches as I could carry.
Eleven peaches would make their way into a stunning lattice-topped pie, capping off Sunday dinner, while the rest of that splendid hoard would be eaten inelegantly, hunched over the sink, sticky, sweet, peach juice running down our chins…
The stifling Summer heat spell broke, in its wake a few cloudy, cool days instead of 90-plus temps. A reminder, that hey, you do live in coastal Washington after all, and here’s some grey skies to prove it.
I took the opportunity one morning this week to turn on the oven, and with all the windows flung open, the garden damp and chilly, I made a big batch of my go-to granola. Only, I made the lazy, healthier version of it, with coconut oil and maple syrup instead of refined sugar.
Eight simple ingredients: rolled oats, coconut flakes, cinnamon, sea salt, coconut oil, vanilla, thick, dark maple syrup, and some roasted hazelnuts at the end for good measure. My method is as easy as it is nearly foolproof, and the resultant sweet and salty, crispy, clumpy granola is addicting by the handful, and spectacular for breakfast, sprinkled (with a heavy hand) over yogurt and fresh peaches and berries and maybe a drizzle of honey…
- 5 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats*
- 2 cups finely-shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
- 3/4 cup unrefined coconut oil (melted)
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup roasted hazelnuts
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9x13-inch rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut, cinnamon and salt. In a separate small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup (I use this Pyrex one), whisk together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla until combined. Drizzle over the dry ingredients, and use a spatula to stir the granola together until evenly moistened.
- Spread the granola into the sheet pan, and use the back of the spatula to gently press into an even layer. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature in the pan. When the granola is completely cooled and crispy, use your fingers to break it into chunks. Stir in the hazelnuts. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.