Friday, September 18, 2020

Sourdough Gouda Toasts #FoodieReads

No matter what your political lean, Becoming by Michelle Obama* is a candid memoir that will leave you in awe of this articulate, elegant, and accomplished former First Lady.

On the Page

This has been on my bookshelf for several weeks - maybe months. And on the Labor Day holiday, I picked it up and retreated to a chair on the patio. Between cooking meals for the day, I read and read and read some more. When the sun went down, it was still sweltering inside my house. I retrieved my booklight and continued to read on the patio until it was time for bed.

She's articulate. We know that. She's Ivy League-educated - Princeton undergrad, Harvard law - but her parents insisted on proper language. On one family vacation, she recounts: "At one point, one of the girls, a second, third, or fourth cousin of mine, gave me a sideways look and said, just a touch hotly, 'How come you talk like a white girl?' The question was pointed, meant as an insult or at least a challenge, but it also came from an earnest place. It held a kernel of something that was confusing for both of us. We seemed to be related but of two different worlds. ...I knew what she was getting at. There was no denying it, even if I just had. I did speak differently than some of my relatives, and so did Craig. Our parents drilled into us the important of using proper diction, of saying 'going' instead of 'goin' and 'isn't' instead of 'ain't.' We were taught to finish off our words. They bought us a dictionary and a full Encyclopaedia Britannica set.... Dandy, too, was an influence, meticulously correcting our grammar or admonishing us to enunciate our words when we went over for dinner" (pg. 40).

She's accomplished. When she took her position as Executive Director of Community Affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center, she explains, "I was well supported by my new boss, given the freedom to build my own program, creating a stronger relationship between the hospital and the neighboring community. I started with one person working for me but eventually led a team of twenty-two. I instituted programs to take hospital staff and trustees out into the neighborhood around the South Side, having them visit community centers and schools, signing them up to be tutors, mentors, and science-fair judges, getting them to try the local barbecue joints. We brought local kids in to job shadow hospital employees..., encouraging students in the community to consider medicine as a career. After realizing that the hospital system could be better about hiring minority and women-owned businesses for its contracted work, I helped set up the Office of Business Diversity as well" (pp. 209-210).

But, perhaps, her most endearing quality, at least for me, is her love of family. She is a fierce and loyal wife and mother. That is not to say that her role is solely supporting her husband and her children; she clearly has her own passions. But this is a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Obamas - how they met, their dating years, his unique proposal, and their marriage. It clearly expresses the philosophy behind their commitment to public service.

The word that comes to mind as I read this: gravitas. Gravitas was one of the ancient Roman virtues that connotes dignity, seriousness, and responsibility. At least that's how I remember it being described in Latin class; yes, I took Latin in high school...five years of it, in fact! 

In Becoming, Obama reveals the human behind the title. She shows us how deeply she committed to being the First Lady of the United States and how seriously she took her responsibility to the people of this country. She has always had my respect. Now she also has my fervent admiration as well.

On the Plate

There was a surprising number of passages about food. Food as connection and routine between her and Barack as they met weekly for the same dinner at their favorite restaurant: pot roast, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes. Food as a comfort when she was in college and went to a relative's house for family dinners. Food as survival on the campaign trail that involved too many fast food meals and packages. Food as sustenance and nutrition when she worked with Chef Sam Kass to grow a garden at the White House and educate children about fresh fruits and vegetables.

But the dish that I decided to make embodied food as a pause, food that she made for herself when she wasn't responsible for anyone else for the evening or no one else was fussing about her.

"...I was hungry. I walked down the stairs from our bedroom with the dogs following on my heels. In the kitchen, I opened the fridge. I found a loaf of bread, took out two pieces, and laid them in the toaster oven. I opened a cabinet and got out a plate. I know it's a weird thing to say, but to take a plate from a shelf in the kitchen without anyone first insisting that they get it for me, to stand by myself watching bread turn brown in the toaster, feels as close to a return to my old life as I've come. ...In the end, I didn't just make toast; I made cheese toast, moving my slices of bread to the microwave and melting a fat mess of gooey cheddar between them. I then carried my plate outside to the backyard. I have to tell anyone I was going. I just went" (preface xii).

As a busy wife and mother myself, I know that doesn't happen often. When it does, I don't always make a healthy choice. Cheese toast probably isn't the healthiest choice either, but it is comforting. Also, I don't have a microwave, so I just let the cheese get melted and gooey on a skillet...and I used a sourdough baguette from our favorite local breadmaker and two raw milk gouda - one with black truffles and the other with lavender and thyme. Because, for me, cheese toast is all about the quality of the bread and the cheeses.

Ingredients serves 4 as an appetizer

  • 8 to 12 slices of sourdough baguette
  • slices of cheese cut to fit the top of your baguette slices
  • butter for the griddle


Run butter over the griddle and let it get nice and hot. Place baguette slices on the pan and heat until it's toasted, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the slices over and top them with cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted and gooey. Serve immediately.

It was a toss-up as to which gouda toast was our favorite. But I think it was the truffle cheese toast!

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in September 2020: here.

A Trio of Côtes du Rhône Pairings #Winophiles

This month, I am leading the French Winophiles discussion on Côtes du Rhône wines. You can see my preview post here. If you are reading this early enough, join in our live Twitter chat on Saturday, September 19th at 8am Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #Winophiles and be sure to add them to any tweets you post so we can see them.

Here are the #Winophiles' Côtes du Rhône explorations, tastings, and pairings. These articles will be live between Friday, September 17th and early morning Saturday, September 19th...

A Trio of Côtes du Rhône Pairings

When I decided to jump in to host, I figured I needed to try several wines. And, as I have for the past six months of this shelter-in-place order, I was able to find several bottles online at Then I set about to pair the wines with a variety of cuisines. I used to stick with the what-grow-together-goes-together 'rule', but I've found that very limiting. Now I just do a little reading and pour wines with what I want to eat. Nevermind any wine pairing rules!

M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Blanc 2018 +
Gougères Stuffed with Smoked Salmon Mousse
The first pairing went with my September offering for my Fish Friday Foodies group, #FishFridayFoodies; the assignment was to use smoked fish and posted today. Here's my recipe post for Gougères Stuffed with Smoked Salmon Mousse.

You can read more about M. Chapoutier wines in my post - from January 2019 when this same group focused on biodynamic wines - Learning about Biodynamic Wines + M.Chapoutier Wines withSome Cross-Cultural Pairings. Back then I poured the 2017 Belleruche Blanc and paired it with ginger-poached fish.

As for this vintage, the 2018 Belleruche Blanc, is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette, and Bourboulenc; it retails for around $14 on

In the glass, it poured a bright straw color and had an intensely complex nose of summer stone fruits with a hint of fennel and flowers. Those aromas were matched on the palate with the sweetness of ripe peaches and the subtle savory of anise. This was an elegant yet easy-going wine and the round freshness was a good flavor foil to my mascarpone-filled puffs.

M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Rouge 2018 
+ Lapsang Souchong-Crusted Fish

For that same #Winophiles event in January 2019, I poured the 2017 version of this wine as well. Back then I paired the wine with shredded beef enchiladas. As for this vintage, the 2018 Belleruche Rouge, is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah; it retails for around $14 on

In the glass, it poured a deep garnet hue and had intense aromas of black fruit and pepper. Juicy and robust, I wanted to pair this wine with an equally powerful dish.

So, I opted to make a local lingcod that was crusted with a lapsang souchong tea spice blend and quickly pan-fried in a splash of butter. This dish was actually made for an October post, so is not yet available on my blog. I'll link to the recipe here once it's live.

Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2016 +  
Beef Burrito Bowls with Avocado Crema 
and Peach Pico de Gallo

The third bottle I'm sharing is the Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2016 which retailed at around $15. This is a GSM blend with a composition of  50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvèdre.

In the glass, it poured an almost inky red with glints of blue. The nose was deceptively spicy. On the palate the wine was full-bodied with round tannins and a delightful earthiness. I poured the wine with Mexican inspired flavors that enhanced the experience of this wine. I created this recipe after taking part in a virtual cooking party. Here's my version: Beef Burrito Bowls with Avocado Crema and Peach Pico de Gallo.

That's a wrap on the September edition of the French Winophiles. Join us next month when we head (virtually) to the Jura with David of Cooking Chat leading the discussion. Stay tuned for more information.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Gougères Stuffed with Smoked Salmon Mousse #FishFridayFoodies

It's time for Fish Friday Foodies' September 2020 event. We are a group of seafood-loving bloggers, rallied by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, to share fish and seafood recipes on the third Friday of the month. 

And this month, Stacy of Food Lust People Love is hosting. She asked the bloggers to share recipes with smoked fish. "Our theme for this event is Smoked Fish - smoke your own or use smoked fish in a recipe!" Here's the September 2020 line-up from the #FishFridayFoodies. I cannot wait to try these recipes...

Gougères Stuffed with Smoked Salmon Mousse

Gougères is just another way of saying 'cream puff'. I used the same dough, Pâte à Choux, and just filled it with a savoy mousse instead of with whipping cream or pastry cream.


Pâte à Choux
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 9 eggs

Salmon Mousse

  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, sliced with some slices reserved for garnish
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream plus more as needed
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, approximately juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh organic herbs (I used dill)
  • freshly ground salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste


Salmon Mousse
Place the salmon in the bowl of a food processor, leaving out a few slices for the garnish. Add the mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, lemon juice, and herbs. Pulse and process until lightened and creamy. If the mousse is too thick, add in more cream. Add in 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to fill the gougères.

Pâte à Choux
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bring butter and water to a boil in a large saucepan.

Remove pan from heat and add flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a thick dough and pulls away from sides of pan, approximately 3 minutes. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until dough is lightly dried, about 2 minutes more.

Transfer dough to a bowl, and let cool for 5 minutes; using a wooden spoon, beat in 8 eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Dough will come together and be thick, shiny, and smooth.

Dip two spoons in water, shake off excess, and scoop a walnut-size piece of dough with one spoon. With other spoon, scrape dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet, setting pieces 1 apart on a baking sheet.

Lightly beat remaining egg with pinch of salt and brush each piece of dough with it. 

Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit until puffed and light brown, approximately 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue to bake until well browned, approximately 15 minutes. Let cool.

Once cool, slice one side of the gougère and spoon in the mousse. Garnish each gougère with a slice of smoked salmon on top. Serve immediately.

I actually made this for an upcoming French Winophiles event, so I paired these with a bottle of M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Blanc 2018. If you're interested in hearing more about that, come back on Saturday. Otherwise the #FishFridayFoodies will return in October with seafood-based comfort foods. Sue of Palatable Pastime will be our host. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Secret Life of Teas Braised Duck Legs #BlendsBash #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Book Club Cookbook.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Earlier this summer, my contact at The Book Club Cookbook emailed, offering me a few new spice blends to participate in their 2020 #BlendsBash. You betcha! 

photo from The Book Club Cookbook's Facebook page

Though I haven't read the book on which this blend was based - The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - I selected The Secret Life of Teas (Smoked Tea Rub) because I am a nut for anything with lapsang souchong tea. Really. Its smokiness is one of my favorites.

Ingredients serves 4

When I think of lapsang souchong, I always think of duck...and crispy duck skin. I decided to use the spice in a braised duck dish.

  • 4 duck legs
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thickly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon The Secret Life of Teas (Smoked Tea Rub)*
  • 1-1/2 cup stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup brewed lapsang souchong tea

*If you don't have this spice blend, the ingredients in this salt-free blend: granulated molasses, sea salt, lapsang souchong tea, demerara sugar, sesame seeds, paprika, garlic, black pepper, fennel, rosemary, and marjoram. You can use a combination of which ever of these you have in your spice cabinet.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a Dutch oven, place duck legs, skin side down. Turn heat to medium. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes until the fat is rendered and the skin golden and crisped. Flip to the other side and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the duck to a plate. Place the onions and bell pepper in the same Dutch oven with the rendered duck fat in the bottom. Lay the browned duck pieces on top. 

Divide the spice blend between the four legs, approximately 3/4 teaspoon per leg then pour in the stock and brewed tea. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven. Braise for 90 minutes.

Raise the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Return the duck to the oven, uncovered and roast for 15 to 20 minutes until the duck is browned and the skin on top crispy.

To serve, plate the duck. Spoon the sauce on the side or over the top.

Find the Sponsor
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*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, 
I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

An Anti-Beige Salad, A Sixteen-Year Whisky, and A Californian Chip Butty #FoodieReads

Earlier this year I came across a book by George Mahood when I read Not Tonight, Josephine: A Road Trip Through Small-Town America. Find my thoughts about that book in my post - Road Trip Food + Jake's Scrambled Eggs. In any case, that cemented my admiration of Mahood's writing and when Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain by George Mahood* popped up in my Kindle suggestions, I ordered it immediately.

On the Page

This is another hilarious travelogue of Mahood's; this time he recounts biking from Land's End in the southern tip of England where he and his friend Ben started off with only their Union Jack boxer shorts. No clothes. No shoes. And, definitely, no bikes. They were relying solely on people's generosity to get them from one end to the other.

"'We started this morning at Land’s End in a pair of boxer shorts and we have to get the entire way without spending a single penny.' 'Ok?' replied the man behind the counter. 'And we were wondering... ' continued Ben, 'if you had any food that you were about to throw out that we could perhaps have?' There was an uneasy pause as he looked around to see if he had any senior staff to check with. The kitchen was empty. 'How does a coffee and a bacon sandwich sound?' he asked. It was as simple as that. We had got our first free meal. We were expecting some half-chewed bread at best, or maybe an old lettuce, but we were soon presented with a huge steaming bacon bap and a mug of freshly brewed coffee" (pg. 12).

Over the course of three weeks - with a pledge to spend no money in their journey -  they forge North on their quixotic quest. Through charm, fast-talking, and a willingess to do menial tasks for their hosts, they acquire clothes (albeit sometimes inappropriate weights and sizes), food (not always the most appetizing), bikes (not always fully functional or properly sized), and lodging (think barns, boats, and university students' floors). It's a great adventure and Mahood is, as I have discovered, a fantastic observer and witty writer.

This is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time and I love that it celebrates the kindness and generosity that exists in the world. That is a much needed reminder in these times of political strife and conflict here in the United States. If I ever have the chance to meet Mahood, I'm definitely buying him a drink and dinner!

An Anti-Beige Salad

Colorful salads often land on my table. This one was particularly vibrant and inspired by this passage. "If a nutritionist had analysed what we ate during the bike ride, I think they probably would have concluded that we should not be alive, let alone fit enough to cycle. I read somewhere that beige food is bad for you. Almost everything we ate was a shade of beige; bread, pasta bakes, chips, pasties and bananas. Anyway, all I'm saying is that peas and carrots taste unbelievable if you only eat beige food for 17 days beforehand. Give it a try." 

Beige food definitely lacks nutrition and table appeal! No recipe here, just as many colorful veggies as you can manage.

A Sixteen-Year Whisky

At the end of their journey, they tour the Glenmorangie distillery. He writes, "To be fair to Glenmorangie, their whisky was definitely the least offensive that I had ever tasted. I would not go as far as saying that I enjoyed it, but it didn’t make me gag and I managed to finish each of the three shots" (pg. 290). And though Mahood doesn't appear to be a whisky fan, Jake and I definitely are. He did approve when he messaged me - "Haha, I like what you've done but you over complicated it. The beauty of a chip butty is its simplicity. Chips, bread, ketchup (butter optional). Tastes even better after half a bottle of whisky!"

Okay, so there's the whisky tie-in. This was a bottle that friends gave us: a sixteen-year Lagavulin which is aged in oak casks for at least 16 years and has an intense smoke flavor that Jake and I both adore. It's peaty and powerful. Just our kind of sip. And it made the Californian Chip Butty tolerable. I'll get to that now...

A Californian Chip Butty

There was an astonishingly amount of food mentioned in the book. Maybe that's because they were laser-focused on getting room and board at the end of every day's pedal. Here are some of the meals they acquired...

"It was time to delve into the ice-cream container. Ben ripped the top off the container and we were presented with a huge pile of cold roast pork, a heap of stuffing, an enormous lump of cheese, several pieces of crackling and a stack of thick brown bread with some sachets of butter. We could not think of a single sight in the entire world that would have looked more alluring" (pg. 28).

"'Thank you so much,' said Ben, 'Is there any cleaning or washing up we can do in return?' She smiled for the first time. 'No,' she said. 'Five minutes. I bring it over to table.' And so she did. Two huge plates of steaming Chicken Chow Mein were soon sitting in front of us and we gratefully devoured every last noodle" (pg. 53).

"'Ham, egg, chips and peas,' said Siobhan the barmaid, as she placed two huge plates of food in front of us. 'The chef heard what you were doing and thought it sounded very funny so wanted to spoil you.' It was our best day’s eating of the entire trip; a fry-up for breakfast, lasagne, chips and salad for lunch, and ham, egg and chips for dinner. We would not have eaten so well had we had our wallets with us" (pg. 98)

There were lots of foods with which I am not familiar - Cornish pasties and sausage baps - but it was the Chip Butty that intrigued me.

"'That’s perfect. Thanks very much,' I said. 'We managed to get some chips down the road, so we’re going to make chip butties.' 'What a good idea. You certainly are on an adventure. Do you have any butter and ketchup?' 'No. Thank you. We’ll be fine with just chips and bread,' I said. 'Don’t be silly. You can’t have a proper chip butty without butter and ketchup. Can you?' 'No, I suppose not. 'Wait there, I’ll be back in a minute.' She returned a minute later with a packet of butter and bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup" (pg. 171).

And I love his sidenotes; I definitely have wondered this, "If, like me, you were curious about the origin of the word 'ketchup' (No? Just me?), I will fill you in. It is thought that the word comes from the Malay word kēchap, which was also a sauce. But rather than being tomato based, it was made from fish brine, herbs, and spices (not so great in a chip butty). In the 18th and 19th centuries the word was used as a generic term for all vinegar based sauces and it was not until the 20th century that the word became synonymous with the tomato sauce that we know today. Thank you, Wikipedia" (pg. 172).

Little did I know that by making and sharing my version of a Chip Butty I would inspire so much social media interaction. A British blogger with whom I'm connected replied to me - and Mahood because I had tagged him in my photos - "God love you but that's not a chip butty..." And so it began...

You can see it there, but Mahood replied, "Yours was a Californian chip butty! The bread is not usually toasted (although I'm tempted to try it). That looks more like salsa than ketchup. And you did cook the potatoes, right?" I admitted that I have rolled my potatoes smoked paprika before roasting them and used a harissa-ketchup blend for my sandwich.

"Haha, I like what you've done but you over complicated it. The beauty of a chip butty is its simplicity. Chips, bread, ketchup (butter optional). Tastes even better after half a bottle of whisky!" Yeah, over complicating things is my superpower.

Lucy gave me even more directions. "Ha ha. Okay first off you need deep fried chips (fries), squished into buttered white bread - the cheap kind. Or a bap/barm tho regional wars have broken out regarding that. Salt mandatory, vinegar usual, ketchup/curry sauce or gravy to personal preference."

I still need to clarify baps and barms. But that caused my husband to laugh uproariously and chime in. "Yes! You should definitely try it with fries." I did. "No, as in really fried, actual fries." Not oven-fried?! "You are aware that there's no such thing as oven-fried, right? Those are just baked potatoes, no matter what shape you've made." Whatever...

Cat shared: "Had a few chip butties in England growing up. As well as beans on toast, toad in the hole, mushy peas, fish and chips, scampi, shepherd’s pie, steak and kidney pie, soft boiled eggs with soldiers, Yorkshire pudding and roast beef, milk in bottles with the cream on top, wall’s ice-cream, sweets out of waxed paper bags from the glass jars at the corner store (humbugs were m’y Grandad’s favorites!) and lots of veggies out of the garden including new potatoes (jacket potatoes) and for dessert, trifles, or fresh fruit and cream in a pitcher."

Jeff wrote: "15 minutes before reading your post, I was reading an article on AC/DC and it mentioned Angus’s favorite food was a chip butty. I was going to ask Jenn to make me one. Never heard of it, and now twice in 15 minutes. Weird." That's a sign, Jeff! Definitely can't wait to see Jenn's interpretation. I'm sure it will be culinary genius.

Another American friend commented, "That looks way more appetizing than any chip butty I had when I lived in the UK lol." Thank you, Laurel! My inner culinary witch needed a little compliment after the bashing my butty took. Still, I'm sharing my Californian Chip Butty as Mahood dubbed it...

Ingredients serves 4

  • 4 to 5 cups sliced potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1 Tablespoon oil (I used olive oil)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8 slices bread (I used a soft potato bread)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon harissa
  • Also needed: baking sheet, butter for the pan, a griddle


Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl toss the potatoes with the smoked paprika and flour. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Turn the potatoes out onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the sheet pan in the oven and roast potatoes for 40 to 45 minutes. They should be fork tender but crisped on the outside.

Stir the ketchup and harissa together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat griddle and run a stick of butter on the pan. Set the bread on the griddle and 1 to 2 minutes, until it's slightly toasted. Turn the bread over and smear it with ketchup mixture.

Place the fries on top of the ketchup and close up the sandwich. Serve immediately. 

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in September 2020: here.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Peach Cobbler + Epitaph for a Peach #FoodieReads

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm is hosting the Festive Foodies in an event all about peaches. She wrote: "When Peaches are in season I buy them by the bushel.  There is nothing better than a tree ripened peach.  But then what do you do with them all.  Share your favorite peach recipe with me....sweet or savory...preserved or fresh....the possibilities are endless."

So, hopefully you, too, will be inspired to grab some summer peaches and create some deliciousness. Here's what the bloggers are sharing to inspire you...

  • Fresh Peach Iced Tea from Palatable Pastime 
  • Keto-friendly Danish with Fresh Peaches from Our Good Life 
  • Peach Cobbler + Epitaph for a Peach from Culinary Adventures with Camilla 
  • Peach Cobbler Dump Cake With Fresh Peaches from Our Crafty Mom 
  • Peach Cobbler Moonshine from Our Crafty Cocktails
  • Peach Crumble from A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Peach Upside Down Cake from The Redhead Baker  
  • Peachy French Toast from Making Miracles 
  • Summer Peach Bundles in a Sweet Mascarpone Sauce from The Freshman Cook

  • I was inspired by two things for this post: the farm on which D worked this summer was going to the Masumoto farm to pick peaches for us and, second, I wanted to reread David Mas Masumoto's Epitaph for a Peach.*

    One of my very favorite field trips to chaperone with my boys was the Pebble Beach Authors and Ideas Festival. Back in 2015, I noted that we learned to celebrate mistakes, to jump off cliffs to sprout your wings, and we watched 'Hamlet in 90 seconds'. I loved the field trip when I went with R's class; I loved it just as much when I went with D's class two years later. Then a friend invited me as her guest to the full weekend of activities, not just the one-day event for the students. And it was at that event that I heard David Mas Masumoto speak. Afterwards, I bought all of his books they carried at the event bookstore! 

    Epitaph for a Peach

    Epitaph for a Peach chronicles a year the Masumoto's family farm in the California's Central Valley and opens with a prologue that was published in the Los Angelees Times where Masumoto laments having to bulldoze his beloved Sun Crest peaches to make room for a more popular, recognized, and therefore profitable peach variety.

    "Sun Crest tastes like a peach is supposed to. As with many of the older varieties, the flesh is so juicy that it oozes down your chin. The nectar explodes in your mouth and the fragrance enchants your nose, a natural perfume that can never be captured" (page ix).

    Masumoto is a third generation Japanese-American peach and grape farmer who has inherited the family orchard from his father. He has resolved to not only grow his heritage Sun Crests, but to do it organically which is challenging in the face of quick commercial fixes for pests and more. This book encompasses a year and details his land's need to heal and replenish its nutrients after years of abuse.

    It's a beautiful homage to his land and his family while at the same time teaching readers the less-known history of Japanese farmers in the Valley. He includes rich imagery, a sound philosophy to be a steward of the land, and a healthy dose of nostalgic flashback. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in food history, farming, or the vanishing California landscape.

    "The change of season connects me with the surrounding wild, a wild I work within. I grow crops from the earth and have discovered that the best soil is also wild. This past year I have learned that productivity is little more than managed chaos, wildness the source of fertility. In the fog I can hear the voices of farmers before me. Once I believed their old stubborn ways had no place in the progressive world of modern farming. But now they sing of traditions that have a place in my winter season more than ever" (pg. 197).

    Peach Cobbler

    I was fortunate enough to get several pounds of peaches from Masumoto's farm this summer. They weren't Sun Crest - honestly, the book isn't clear if he's still growing them after that season - but they were hand-picked from his farm and were delicious.

    Filling Ingredients
    • 5 cups sliced organic peaches
    • 1/2 cup lightly packed organic dark brown sugar
    • 2 Tablepoons flour
    • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 2 Tablespoons butter, shaved or thinly sliced plus more for greasing dish

    Topping Ingredients
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup lightly packed organic dark brown sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3 to 4 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • Optional: ice cream to serve the cobbler à la mode

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a baking dish.

    With a wooden spoon mix all of the filling ingredients until thoroughly combined and the peach slices are all coated with the other ingredients. Spoon the filling into the prepared pan and dot with 2 Tablespoons butter that's been shaved or sliced.

    For the topping...stir until all the ingredients are combined. The consistency will be like a crumble top. Spoon the topping over the fruit and use a spatula to spread it over the fruit. 

    Bake the cobbler for 40 to 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot with ice cream if you want cobbler à la mode.

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