Late Summer Sentiments // Fresh Peach Pie

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It seems like another summer has slipped through my fingertips — alas, it’s not quite over yet. I always just start itching for cool weather a bit early. The heat has never agreed with me, and I can practically smell all the fall baking wafting from around the corner… pumpkin spice, cinnamon apples, hearty cloves, nutmeg and sweet potatoes… dessert is the point of fall after all, right? Ok, I digress. Summer isn’t over yet! We still have about a month left of sunshine, lemonade, and mosquitoes. Those damn mosquitoes.

 

So, it’s quintessentially difficult for me to pick a favorite fruit, as I love them all and refuse to discriminate. But peaches are soooo close to being my #1. I’ve been (im)patiently awaiting peach season all summer so I can bake a pie or a cobbler or snack on these lovely things whenever and wherever — oh, there’s juice dribbling down my chin? Who cares. Did I offend you with my sticky peach fingers? No worries. I’m in heaven! Bless this mess!

You can imagine my excitement picking up a carton at the public market yesterday. This was only a few days after we picked up a bunch at a local farm stand, but hey — now there’s plenty. And I know just what to do with them all.

As I was waiting for my pie to bake, I was reminded of a passage from Bunny Crumpacker’s book The Sex Life of Food (a wonderfully tasty read) which involved a Chicago pastry chef correlating pie preferences with personality types:

Apple pie, of course, is exactly what you’d expect: safe and secure. It speaks of home, even if you buy it frozen at the supermarket. Middle of the road, says the chef. Sweet potato pie, he says, is family, but not specifically Mom, and it’s warm, welcoming, and hospitable. Blueberry: outdoorsy and determined. Cherry: so sweet — in fact, too sweet! Not entirely trustworthy. Chocolate: seductive, strong, suave. Lemon: bright, energetic, and with a sharp tongue. Peach: for sun worshippers. Pecan: simplicity, but looking for love. Coconut cream: needing an escape from reality. Pumpkin: sentimental but comfortable. Mincemeat: intelligent, perhaps a bit pretentious. Banana cream: so relaxing! Rhubarb: split between old-fashioned and hipsters. And if you add strawberries to the rhubarb? Life is full of adventure.

By all accounts above, count me a sun worshipper. This peach pie, made with fresh, juicy late August peaches, is my favorite way to celebrate summer’s end. It’s not a sad goodbye, more like a peachy little landmark of the remaining golden weeks ahead. Best served warm out of the oven with a dollop or two of your favorite vanilla ice cream!

Ingredients

*For an 8-inch pie

  • Pastry for an 8-inch pie, store-bought or homemade (homemade always wins)
  • 4 cups sliced fresh peaches (about 7 medium sized peaches)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ²/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 pats butter or margarine
  • cinnamon sugar, for dusting
  • 1 egg

To make the pie crust, simply combine 1 ¼ cup flour and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cut in a ½ cup cold butter until the dough is crumbly and coarse. Stir in the water a spoonful at a time until you can form the dough into a ball or flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, if you’re planning ahead.

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 425°. Roll out your pie crust and press it into your pie pan.
  • In a large bowl, toss together the sliced peaches and lemon juice. Stir in the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Try not to eat the whole bowl as is, because it will already smell too good to resist.
  • Spoon the peach mixture into the pie. Dot with 3 pats of butter.
  • You can either cover the top of the pie with a streusel topping, a traditional pie crust, or a lattice crust. I opted for the lattice. Simply cut even strips of dough using a sharp knife or pizza cutter and weave the strips over the pie. If you’d rather do a good ol’ fashioned crust, fold your remaining dough over the peaches and cut some slits for the fruit to breathe. Do whatever floats your boat!
  • Beat 1 egg and brush the eggwash all over the pie. This is what makes it so golden and inviting. Dust with cinnamon sugar.
  • Place it into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble.
  • Cool and enjoy with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

Thoughts from Places: Sterling Renaissance Festival

I had the pleasure of attending my area’s Renaissance Festival just yesterday, and upon returning back to reality, I found I needed to collect my thoughts.

The short version: It was awesome. How can you say no to playing dress up for a day and feasting on turkey legs and fresh apple dumplings, immersing yourself in a crowd among peasants and jesters and knights, and just forgetting about the outside world for a little while?

The long version: This was only my second time at the Ren Faire. Last summer was my first visit, and I thought the whole thing was a hoot: the actors being silly and fun and the artisans putting their best foot forward preparing whimsical booths of fine handmade jewelry, natural soaps, various trinkets or even traditional weapons really make it worthwhile. I love seeing little children adorned in flower crowns and fairy wands and I commend each employee for their nonstop devotion to their characters – truly, it’s a sight to behold. We heard beautiful music played by musicians who kept the spirit of it all alive with traditional instruments and outfits. And the mead! Oh, the mead is spectacular. And since it’s all set up in the middle of nowhere in a pretty wooded area, it gives you that idea of being in some magical forest that never seems to end.

But what really stuck out to me yesterday was the fact that this was the first time in a very long time that I’ve gone an entire day without witnessing another human being act like a complete and utter jerk. We were there practically all day and I did not once hear or see anyone being mean spirited or rude, or putting someone else down or picking a fight. Most people were dressed to the nines in elaborate costumes: hoop skirts and headpieces, armor, fox tails, masks and painted faces, pirate outfits, tights, jingly bells, chainmail…. there were people of every size, shape, color, and personality… yet the standard was still upheld: “M’lord” this and “M’lady” that, all glowing smiles, genuine compliments, and good-natured humor. And get this: even though the booze was flowing freely, there weren’t even any drunk assholes. You know how there are kinda always those few drunk assholes at any event who ruin it for everybody else? Not here. They were nowhere to be found. I actually felt as though I could interact with anyone, Fest worker or visitor, man, woman, or child, and expect a positive result.

I’ve got to admit, it does sadden me that this is the exception rather than the rule — that most places will have their fair share of nasty, judgmental people saying nasty, judgmental things, and when you find a place where everyone is friendly and welcoming, you should be grateful because that’s so rare. But it really is astounding how something so silly and whimsical is such a great example of humans being good to each other, being as they should be to one another. I suppose it’s easy to overlook superficial differences that are really so often only based in ignorance and bias when everyone is, after all, all together at the Renaissance Faire in the first place.

But I must say, I walked out of there feeling a little better about the world than when I had walked in, amidst all the violence and hatred in the real world, all the awful things in the news. I felt a confidence in the kindness of others that I had previously lost. The Renaissance Festival is a place that is absolutely filled with people simply being comfortable just being themselves — we should all be so lucky to spend some time relaxing in that mindset.

Self Care Dates & Why You Need One Today

When is the last time you got together with friends and upon asking how they’re doing, they immediately respond with all the negative things floating around their head? Or their love life woes? Work related stresses? Wait, before even returning the question and asking how you’ve been? PAUSE.

So often, I come across people who just love to fill me in on how stressed and depressed they are. When I worked in retail, it actually shocked me how much personal information people would blurt out… it was like I was wearing a plaque that read: “PLEASE VENT TO ME! I WANT TO KNOW ALL YOUR ISSUES!” Not that I’m an insensitive person — anyone who knows me knows that couldn’t be farther from the truth — but I simply don’t want to hear it! Especially if they’re not seeking advice. Nevertheless, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s usually one of two things:

1. They truly are stressed & in a negative state of mind and instead of working to improve their state of mind it somehow soothes them to simply spread their negativity like the common cold,

or

2. They truly are stressed and depressed and they need some help. They’ve begun to neglect themselves at the cost of a demanding life.

For one thing, clinical depression is no joke — I struggled with it for years myself, and at times it can feel like an uphill battle — that’s why if you’re continually having intrusive depressive thoughts or episodes, it’s always best to see a doctor, talk to a therapist, and just work out the perfectly unique formula of wellness that’s right for you, no judgments, no qualms, no ifs ands or buts. However, so many of us who aren’t clinically depressed still struggle mentally, emotionally, and physically because we’re neglecting the importance of self care.  Whether it’s a demanding work/school schedule or just one too many nagging responsibilities, we can all too often glide through life on autopilot and forget we have unique needs and that we’re all deserving of quality time with ourselves.

When we take a few steps back and reset ourselves, keeping everyone else’s negativity and bad energy at bay, we reconnect with who we are. We remember that life is meant to be lived authentically, with passion and joy, and that we don’t need to be everywhere all at once. I’ve been really focusing on self care this summer, especially during this golden month of August. After spending too long feeling especially high-strung and a bit cluttered, I’ve made it a habit instead of something to feel guilty about, or worse, something that’s completely forgotten. Leo season is begging us all to remind ourselves that we’re queens (or kings!). Life is just too short to go through it without showing yourself some love!

There are so many ways to practice self care and love, but below are some specific ways I’ve really been enjoying or just some die-hard practices I tend to fall back on time and time again. If you lead a busy life, you may want to physically mark a date on the calendar to do nothing but spend the day focusing on you. If not, you can be more lenient in your self care practices, but always make time for it! Remember, self care is mental, spiritual, and physical — there are many facets and many ways to practice, so have fun and make a self care date for yourself. You deserve the best.

1. Write It Down, Sketch It Out

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

Sometimes the most therapeutic thing can be as simple as journaling. Very often when I find my mind feeling scattered and unfocused, I’m completely unaware of everything that I’ve been feeling and focusing on until I actually write it down. You can journal online, but nothing beats a moleskine notebook or a quality sketchbook. There’s just something so much better about pressing ink to paper that we just don’t get while violently hitting the computer keys! In this digital age, a tactile notebook will be your best friend. Plus, bonus points if it fits in your pocket or purse.

2.  Relax, Meditate, Take a Breather

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

It always astounds me how some people are just constantly going. You know, just always on the move? Whaaat? I, for one, need to chill. I prefer gliding through life rather than free falling, and if you do as well, scoring some true relaxation time can vastly improve your wellbeing. I’m leaving this category kind of open-ended because everyone has different ways of relaxing and unwinding. Maybe you feel most relaxed when you’re snuggled up with a good book, or maybe going for a long hike might get you in a chill head space. Whatever it is, don’t forget to relax. Take up meditation if you want to kick it up a notch, as it’s a proven method of centering yourself, after all. I’ve been meditating more and more frequently and trying not to go a single day without it, so if anyone else is doing something similar let’s keep each other going strong! With all the chaos in the world, it’s so important to give your mind and spirit a break. Meditating for at least 10 minutes a day to begin is a perfect way to get back on track, or at least ride the waves better.

3. Clean, De-clutter, Purge

Photo by tu tu on Unsplash

When my energy gets too disorderly, I need to clean. I sweep the floors, do all the laundry, throw things away or donate clothing I no longer wear, burn sage around the corners, doors, and windows, and make sure there’s no leftover clutter. Whenever I get overwhelmed in my life or in my emotional frequency, I notice that my physical surroundings are probably a mess as well. Tidy space = tidy mind. This can actually be kind of fun too, even though it’s technically work, but how can it be?! You’re decluttering your life and ridding yourself of things that no longer serve you in order to bring vibrancy and newness in, and that, my friends, is self care.

4. Get Moving

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

I am by no means a naturally athletic person. Hell, I skipped gym class in high school so often I had to write essays just to pass. I do however understand that exercise is absolutely necessary to achieving a positive state of mind, and it doesn’t always have to brutal and gross and sweaty. I’m not the kind of gal that will go sprint around the neighborhood for everyone to see, but I love yoga, Pilates, swimming, and hiking or anything outdoors. But that’s just my preference — if you’re a crossfit boss, by all means do your thing, but if you’d rather listen to Prince at an unreasonable volume and dance like crazy, that’s ok too. As long as you get your body moving, you’re reaping the benefits. I’ve been loving getting back into yoga because of the way it strengthens the mind as well as the muscles — it can be so relaxing while being a great workout.

5. Create

Photo by Khara Woods on Unsplash

Creation looks different to everyone. Maybe you’re a gifted artist and the only way to express yourself is through your work. Maybe you’re a musician, and writing and playing music is therapy in and of itself. Whatever it is, give yourself the time and space to nurture your creativity and simply create. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t even have to be pretty. Whenever I’m feeling low or in need of some self care time, I dig out a bunch of old magazines, put on a good record, and cut stuff up. What is it about collage that’s so lovely to me? I love taking an old image and breathing new life into it. It’s refreshing to me. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but who cares? That’s art if you ask me: creating life out of something lifeless. Your creation is unique to you, and that’s beautiful.

So that’s my condensed list. I just wanted to take some time and remind all of you readers how important it is to honor yourself and honor your life by indulging in self care frequently, without judgment, guilt, or expectations. What self care practices do you keep?