Days pass, then weeks pass and somehow I have lost the ability to post regularly, I swear one of these days I'll reclaim some time and actually write on a weekly (or more) basis, for now I'll try again and hope it takes.
Summer has been really great thus far here in Texas, we've had some rain and the temperatures haven't been as scorching as they were last year (record breaking number of days over 100 degrees!). Farmers market trips have been bountiful and as an aspiring gardener I've been dutifully watching my veggies and awaiting the harvest (thus far only a handful of small tomatoes and two yellow squash).
One of the most refreshing (and anticipated) things that abounds early summer in Texas are peaches and a few weeks ago (mid-June) my boyfriend and I went down to Fredericksburg to sample the wares and enjoy perusing the shops (ok I loved the shops, he was a good trooper and was happiest when we found the brewery, which lets you buy by the cup and then, amazingly, you can walk around downtown with your beer!).
Fredericksburg is about an hour and a half west of Austin, the drive out on Hwy 290 is a glorious sampling of Hill Country views and once you arrive the town itself is full of amazing old homes, churches and a neat downtown shopping district full of boutique shops both old and new. As we made our way into Stonewall (a very tiny city just outside of Frederickburg) the song 'Peaches' by the Presidents of the United States started playing on repeat in my head, unfortunately for me no one was actually playing it in Fredericksburg so it stayed stuck! Each year Stonewall and Fredericksburg have their annual Peach festival, you haven't tasted peaches until you've eaten the sweet juicy fruit from this area! Every orchard has their own recipes for jam, ice cream, cobbler and other yummy items that they sell along with their peaches and every local you talk to will direct you to their own favorite orchard. So hard to choose! We ended up stopping at a few stands but far and away our favorite peaches were found at Engel's, the peaches were a beautiful shade of reddish peach and had such fragrant, juicy fruit we couldn't help but snack on one before driving off back to Austin.
Gillespie Count Courthouse (at the edge of Downtown Fredericksburg) at Christmas time.
In honor of these sweet jewels I have a few peach recipes that I'd like to share, the first of which is a Peach Quick Bread, so tasty!
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cut peaches, cubed into about 1 inch slices
1 cup pecan halves
1. Preheat oven to 350F; spray 4 mini loaf pans with a light spray of nonstick cooking spray (or use 1 9x5 loaf pan, if you wish, but you'll need to bake the one loaf longer, likely about 50 minutes) and set aside.
2. Sift, through a sieve, the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl; set aside.
3. In another mixing bowl, blend together the brown sugar, ricotta, oil, eggs and vanilla; set aside.
4. Dice peach slices to make one cup. If your diced peaches seem wet (they likely will), pat dry with paper towel.
6. Add flour mixture to ricotta mixture all at once and stir just until flour is incorporated; do not over-stir.
7. Stir diced peaches and pecan halves into mixture.
8. Divide mixture between the 4 mini loaf pans and smooth tops.
9. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until tops are golden brown and a tester inserted in center of loaves comes out clean.
10. Let cool in pans for 20 minutes, then remove loaves from pans and let cool completely on a rack.
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