From the Orchard to the Table

Can it be summer forever, please?

I just love having all the wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables to cook and bake with during the summer. I recently took a couple trips to Highland Orchards and did some "Pick Your Own" peaches, blueberries, and apricots. I gathered some ideas from friends and the internet to make some very tasty things. Here are a few of them:

Tri-Berry Muffins
~But not really, because I only had two kinds of berries on hand~

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I always use Kosher)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 large or extra large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 fresh raspberries (didn't have these on hand, so I did a bit over a cup of blueberries and about 3/4 cup strawberries)
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. This will yield around 20 muffins, so you'll need more than one tin or you'll have to bake in batches. We obviously didn't need 22 muffins, so I kept a few out and froze the rest.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl, making sure they are well combined.
  3. In another bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, pour the wet mixture into the well, and stir until just combined. There will be some lumps, but don't overmix the batter!
  5. Add the blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and sugar and stir gently to combine.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the muffin cups to fill the liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are nicely browned.
Recipe taken from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home

Fresh Apricot Pie
~This is the perfect balance between tart and sweet~

  • 4 cups sliced fresh apricots (no need to peel, just remove the pit and slice)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 9-inch pie crusts (I sometimes make my own, but for this I just bought the Pillsbury ones in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)
  • An egg, a bit of milk or water, and some additional sugar (to top it before baking)
  1. In a bowl, toss apricots, sugar, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sprinkle with lemon juice, mix well.
  2. Line a 9 inch pie plate with bottom crust and add the filling.
  3. Top it with the other crust or cut it into strips to make a lattice top (like I did). Seal and flute the edges by pinching it with your finger tips.
  4. Brush the top with an egg wash (one egg, lightly beaten, with a tbsp or so of milk or water). Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375 degrees for 45-55 minutes until lightly brown. (I covered the crust with a special crust shield I have, but you can use tin foil. It keeps it from burning and can be removed during the last 10-15 minutes of baking).
This was seriously delicious. It was a nice departure from the typical berry pie. I got the recipe from Allrecipes.com and chose it based on the great reviews it got.

Peach Jam
~This is SO easy~
  • 7 or 8 medium sized peaches
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 envelope gelatin (.25 oz)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop peaches carefully into the boiling water and allow to boil for about a minute or less. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and immediately put into cold water. This should make the peel slide off easily. Remove the fruit from the pit and chop.
  2. Combine chopped peaches, sugar, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Mash peaches with a spoon or spatula and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the gelatin and 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl. Allow it to stand for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the peaches from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture until well incorporated and dissolved.
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate. This yields about 28 servings and will keep in the fridge for a couple weeks. If you would like to preserve it, follow the proper canning/preserving procedure.
I thought this was a total failure at the "cool to room temperature" stage. It was like liquid and wasn't "jamming" (setting) at all. I put it in the fridge, figuring I'd use it for a topping on ice cream or cake. The next morning...it was jam! I guess it just needs to set in the fridge for a while before it's ready. This recipe came from my sister in law (not sure where she got it) and is a great one because it isn't too sweet.

There is something kind of special about using produce that you grow or pick yourself. I just love that I got to see these fruits go from the orchard to becoming delicious food. I am really looking into ways to incorporate fresh and local ingredients into my cooking.

I have even more tasty treats that I've been working on this week...I'll post them soon!

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