Monday, September 2, 2013

It's pie time

Research for #LetsLunch pie. Lucy Mercer. A Cook and Her Books.

I need to bake a pie. Not a bad prospect for a rainy Labor Day afternoon. This morning, over coffee, I'm poring over my favorite baking cookbooks for inspiration. Savannah writer Damon Lee Fowler's glossy "New Southern Baking," a pair of pamphlets from Pleasant Hill's Shaker community "We Make You Kindly Welcome" and "Welcome Back to Pleasant Hill," and a classic from my Harvest Gold youth, "Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook." 

Should I bake a buttermilk chess pie, the most-pinned recipe from A Cook and Her Books? Or a sweet potato custard pie, a recipe adapted from another much-loved book, "A Treasury of Southern Baking," by Prudence Hilburn? In these last days of summer, I keep going back to my first pie love, peach pie.

Zinnia with grasshopper. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

 And peach it may well be. On the return drive from visiting family in middle Georgia, we pulled off at a roadside fruit stand and bought a case of plump, late season peaches. I intended to buy a basket for $10, but the fella offered me a case for $25. I told him that was more than I needed. He said "$20, then." When I hesitated, not a bargaining stance, I promise you, I was really pondering what I would do with a case of peaches ripening on my countertop with only the Labor Day holiday to deal with them before they turned to overripe mush. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm making a deal for you," he said, and I ran back to the car for an extra five-spot.

Peaches. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

 I may have been snookered, these late-season peaches are plumped up from the excess rain we've had in the South this summer. The sweetest fruit is in June, but sometimes late season peaches will surprise you. The first I picked up and bit into was mealy and bland, unfinishable. My daughter couldn't keep her mitts off of the fruit, and grabbed a good one, finishing it in six bites. These may be good pie peaches, with a bit of coaxing and cooking, more sugar, some lemon juice, maybe a turn in the roasting pan. With a bit of advice from my baking gurus, we'll see how this turns out.

South Carolina Peaches. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Peach stand, middle of nowhere, Georgia. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Peaches. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
 And, of course, if the peaches don't turn out, there's always sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
The pie is for September's installment of #LetsLunch, a global food blogging party. The theme of pie is open to wide interpretation here ~ pretty much any combination of fruit and batter or dough will do. And why limit the theme to sweet concoctions? Savory versions like chicken pot pie fit the theme, too. We'll post stories on Friday, September 13. Check out the #LetsLunch page on Facebook and follow on Twitter #LetsLunch. Hope to see you there.


Eleanor Hoh said...

Lucy, a post before a post, you're so organized! Look forward to seeing what you make with a case of peaches!

linda @spiceboxtravels said...

I would love to see a Georgia peach pie, those peaches!