Summer is almost over, and all being well, my kids will return to school again in a few short days. Keep your fingers crossed on that - good friends were diagnosed with whooping cough just a few days after the boys hung out with them, so we're watching for symptoms now. The tedium of quarantine aside, my boys would be more than happy if they could develop a cough and delay back to school for a few more weeks. Like many kids, they think school is unfun to the max, and wish summer could go on forever. I'm obviously on the opposing team here. But not just as a mum who wants her house back in order; as a kid, Labour Day weekend and the back to school commercials always heralded freedom. As a child, I loved autumn. Not because of school specifically. Not because of crunchy leaves or pumpkins or Hallowe'en or Thanksgiving.
As a farmer's daughter, I loved Labour Day weekend because it meant no more peaches.
Before you try to argue with me that peaches are wonderful and delicious and the very epitome of summer, trust me, I know. As a baby, my summers were spent parked in a basket under a peach tree. As a child, I built forts out of fallen branches and the small green peaches that were dropped during thinning were ammunition for wars with my brothers. And then as I got older, horror of horrors, I had to work on the farm. I carried baskets back and forth to the trailer, often slipping on the squishy fallen peaches that hid in the grass. Later I thinned and picked, until I was old enough to pack peaches. The wholesale customers would always come into the barn as their big trucks were being loaded and joke with me that I was such a lucky girl to have this job - all the peaches I could eat. But I hated peaches. Those customers (who would often grab a particularly ripe peach off the table and slurp it down) didn't have to stand there, day in and day out, looking at peaches, getting peach fuzz all over their arms, or smelling the sickly-sweet aroma of the rotten peaches that we dropped in a pail under the table. Even years after I had moved away from the farm, the smell of a ripe peach brings me straight back to that old barn, and makes my arms itch instinctively with peach fuzz.
So why on earth a peach recipe? Are you some kind of masochist? Slow down there, grumpy. This recipe is a beautiful thing. It tastes EXACTLY like fresh peaches and ice cream, (which we had often for dessert when I was a child, because we were poor and peaches were free) but smells nothing like it. It has the gorgeous sweet creaminess of vanilla and peach, without the sickening smell that goes along with it.
And I may be just a bit sentimental about peaches this summer. A very early spring, interrupted by not one, but twelve deep frosts hurt my parents' peach crop rather badly, and there weren't a lot of peaches this year. But Aidan found some - while hauling brush to the back to burn - and they were the biggest, juiciest peaches I have ever seen. It was like the trees there were apologetic about the meagre crop, and were trying to make up for the small number of peaches by putting all their efforts into the few blossoms that had survived to produce ridiculous, almost melon-sized, superpeaches.
The recipe is an easy one, assuming you have an ice cream maker. Aidan and I sort of came up with this as we experimented with ours.
2 cups of sliced fresh peaches, peeled
2 cups of plain yogurt
¼ cup of sugar
¼ cup of honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Purée the peaches in a blender. Add the other ingredients, blend until combined. Following the instructions of your ice-cream maker, place the mixture in the freezer bowl, and mix until thickened. (In our Cuisinart, it was about 30 minutes.) Place in an airtight container and freeze for an additional hour to thicken. Serve in a giant peach.