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At market ... peaches of summer

For an easy dessert, grill peaches

Posted: August 20, 2009 9:13 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
This summer, our family got to experience driving across the country ... and back.

Luckily, the two massive road trips were separated by a six-week stay in lovely Cape Cod, where my husband's parents live.

On our journey eastward, I felt as if I was travelling back in time, at least as far as farm-fresh produce goes.

In June, at our Valencia farmers' market, summer had arrived. Fresh herbs and stone fruits abounded, as did tomatoes and squash. But the farther east we traveled, the deeper into spring we were plunged.

Local produce on the Cape was limited to baby lettuces, peas and strawberries, with other crops being hampered by a long, cold and wet spring. I missed the fresh fruits and veggies that are almost always available in southern California and came to the realization that, for as much as I complain that we don't have seasons here as they do back east, we do have one very long, very important one-the growing season.

The day after we got home, I headed out to our farmers' market at COC to see what I'd been missing. The bounty absolutely astounded me.

There were tomatoes, not just the red kind, but also the beautiful heirloom varieties. There was squash of all shapes and sizes, sweet corn, grapes, plums and most exciting for me, freestone peaches.

Peaches of any sort are wonderful. But freestones are special in that when they are sliced in half, the stone just pops out, leaving all the flesh behind. They are the best kind for canning because the halves stay intact, no pit excavation required.

They make tasty baked desserts like crisps, crumbles, cobblers and pies, but that requires the oven to be turned on, and here in Santa Clarita, it's really too hot to do that until November or so.

But believe it or not, peaches are great on the grill. By cooking them in a pouch made of parchment paper and foil, they essentially bake in their juices and become incredibly sweet and succulent.

These saucy and fragrant vanilla peaches, served straight from the grill, are delicious spooned on top of vanilla ice cream or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Grilled Vanilla Peaches
Serves 8
8 freestone peaches,
peeled and halved
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon melted
butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
extract or vanilla bean
paste (available at
specialty food stores)
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt

Toss peaches with lemon juice and butter in a bowl and place on a large piece of parchment-lined foil.

In another small bowl, combine sugar, water, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.

Drizzle over peaches. Fold foil to form a packet, sealing all seams to make sure no juices escape.

Grill over medium-high heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Carefully open packet, slice peaches and serve over ice cream, along with the juices.

For more recipes inspired by fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients, please visit www.agirlamarketameal.com.

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