I GREW UP WITH DIRT under my fingernails, banishing weeds from the garden and then, later, harvesting and preparing veggies to eat fresh or preserve.
My mom canned some, froze some, storing away freezer boxes plump with green beans and beets, corn and other vegetables.
She also preserved fruit in quart jars, with the assistance of us kids, for the long Minnesota winter ahead. Applesauce and cherries. Peaches and pears.
And then, on a brisk winter evening, when Dad was about to come in for supper after finishing barn chores, she would lift the trap door in the kitchen and send one of us clomping down the creaky, rugged wooden steps to the dirt-floored cellar for a jar of sauce. Dessert. I would tug on the frayed cotton string to switch on the single bare light bulb. Then I would tiptoe reach for a jar of my favorite cherries or peaches.
Those were my thoughts on Saturday when my husband and I picked up a 20-pound crate of peaches I’d ordered several weeks ago through the Cathedral Community Cafe, a Faribault soup kitchen which every Tuesday offers a free meal to those in need and/or seeking fellowship.
It is a worthy cause with some 9,000 dinners served in 2011 and averaging 150 a week this year. The effort involves about 140 volunteers, 12 churches and four teams of workers.
But like any such organization, the cafe needs money to keep going. The peach project will channel funds into the cafe’s coffers and I’m happy to support the fundraiser by purchasing a $30 crate of fresh Colorado peaches.
Now, what to do with all those fresh peaches. Thus far I’ve eaten many straight from the box. One evening I blended a peach and vanilla ice cream into a smooth shake. This morning I sliced one into my oatmeal. And I’ve also used thinly-sliced peaches to make a ham and peach panini.
I found the adapted sandwich recipe on Sue Ready’s blog and then tweaked it a bit.
Ham and Peach Panini
2 bread slices
1 slice provolone cheese
1 thinly-sliced peach
1/2 teaspoon honey
Djon or spicy brown mustard
chopped fresh basil
Spread mustard and 1/2 teaspoon honey on one bread slice. Top with ham, cheese and thin peach slices. Top with chopped basil. Place other piece of bread on top and brush lightly with olive oil. Also brush other bread slice with oil. Grill in frying pan until golden brown, flip and grill other side.
Love, love, love this sandwich. My husband not so much. But he’s more an ordinary sandwich guy and I really had to persuade him to even take a bite.
Now, I expect when I bake a peach crisp or a peach cheesecake later this week, he won’t hesitate to scoop up a sizable helping.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE peach recipe and what’s the best way to freeze peaches? I’d like to hear.
Click here to reach the website of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault, home to the community cafe.
Also, please click here to read a post which features a poem I wrote about canning and the watercolor Zumbrota artist Connie Ludwig created based on my poem. Oh, how I wish “Pantry Jewels” was hanging on my dining room wall.
Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling