I LOVE LOVE LOVE this time of year! The kids are still on summer holidays, but all of that beautiful fresh produce is making it's way to the road side stands, farmer's markets and grocery stores. I just picked up a large basket of peaches for $2.99, try doing that in the winter. It truly is one of my most favourite times of the year. It is also that time of the year where my husband begins to make requests for special treats.
I love fresh fruit, but I really, really hate peaches. The fuzzy skin makes my skin itch and rash, and I don't like the taste either. They however, happen to be my husband's very most favourite type of fruit. This week he has been giving me a whole bunch of hints about peach brown betty. They are not so subtle hints either. "WOW peaches are only $2.99, that would be pretty inexpensive if someone wanted to make PEACH BROWN BETTY". Being the loving wife that I am I finally relented, and made him peach brown betty ( o.k. less loving wife and more he wore me down). He was kind enough to allow the kids to have a small bowl, but essentially ate the whole thing by himself (I am a little surprised that he didn't growl at the kids). For Christopher I think that the love of peach Brown Betty/ peach crisp is not just about how good it tastes (to him), but also it means love. His grandmother was not a very demonstrative woman, but she would make peach crisp for Christopher as a special treat. Peach crisp means Grandma's love.
As I stood making Christopher's peach brown betty I cut up the peaches with a big smile on my face. I cannot see a peach without thinking of Christopher's grandparents...
Christopher and I had only been dating for a little while. We had met at York University. He was from Acton and I was from Tweed. Three and a half hours separated us. Ours that summer was a long distance relationship filled with those long phone calls and those silly "no you hang up, no you hang up" ends of conversations. We tried to see each other as much as we could during that summer. I had only met Christopher's parents a few times and they were very nice and very welcoming. I think it was my second or third visit to Acton when Christopher announced that we had been invited to his Grandma and Grandpa's house for dinner. I felt nervous about meeting them. What if they didn't like me? I checked myself in the mirror several times before we left for that short, yet almost endless drive to Guelph.
His grandparents were very nice and welcoming. I tried not to smile when Christopher's Grandmother was on the phone and told the person on the other end that she would have to call them back because Christopher had brought his "friend" over for dinner. We sat down to dinner and were served little dimpled glasses of grape juice mixed with ginger-ale. Dinner was lovely. We sat and chatted for a minute after the dinner was done, and then Grandma announced that she had made some dessert ... peach crisp. The unspoken words said that this was a special occasion. Christopher had never brought a girl to meet them. This was something special, and should be celebrated with Christopher's favourite dessert... peach crisp. "Oh that looks lovely" I said politely. "Just a little for me please", and I think that I gave some lame comment about watching my weight (I was thin back then). Out came a dish heaping with peach crisp. I silently gulped, I HATE peaches. I swallowed the peach crisp whole, trying not to allow my tongue or taste buds to come into contact. I pushed the bits around dreading the next mouthful, but knowing that to make a good impression I had to eat it. I ate the whole plate, barely stifling a gag. "Oh that was delicious... thank you so much" I said. I am pretty sure that the best actress award should really have gone to me that year. Grandma gave me a sweet smile, "Then I will get you seconds." I could feel the panic set in, Oh God no. It had taken all of my strength to eat that first mammoth plate of it. "Oh no, I couldn't eat another bite. I wish that I could because it was so good, but I just couldn't". I hoped that the panic was not heard in my words, or in my bulging eyes. Oh she insisted, and out came another heaping plate full of peach crisp. I could feel the cold sweat all over my body, and hoped that no one else could see it. I tried to smile between gulps. Oh please don't let me throw up. I ate it all, every last bit. I guess that should have been my first clue that Christopher was a keeper.
I can't look at a peach without thinking about that very first meeting of Christopher's Grandparents. It wasn't too funny at the time, but it sure makes me giggle now. Grandma and Grandpa Gordon are no longer with us, but they will live on in my memory of that peach crisp.
Tonight I will make Christopher Peach Brown Betty for dessert. Here is how I make it....
I pre-heat the oven to 375. I then cut up one whole basket of peaches and put them into a casserole. In a medium large bowl I mix 1 and 1/4 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I mash them all together until they are one big clump. I then spoon the mixture onto the top of the fruit (normally I make it with apples). When the fruit is all covered up I pop that into the oven. I have been known to double the topping. That brown betty is going to cook at 375 for 40 minutes. Let it cool and then serve. I like to serve it with homemade vanilla ice-cream.