From the Poem, ‘Blossoms’ by Li-Young Lee

“From blossoms comes this brown paper bag of peaches”

As you might have guessed I am in love with peaches. I love the smell and texture and taste.

I make a peach Galette that I love, but since I live alone, now, it is way too much food and the crust gets soggy before I can eat the whole thing. I suppose I could make tarts and freeze them but I will wait until there is an occasion where I can share one with others. Making people ooh and ahh is the best part. Looks like it won’t be this year.

Here is my recipe:

Preheat the oven to 375 or 400 depending on your mood and how much you want to keep an eye on it. The oven should be very hot when you put the galette into it to set the crust.

Use enough ripe Peaches to over-fill  a 12 inch pie shell 2.5 pounds??? 3?? They don’t have to be super ripe but very close to it.

Wash and rub off the fuzz and cut into bite sized pieces. This is also a good way to get rid of bruises because they wash out with the rubbing.

Sweeten to taste

A couple of heaping tablespoons of cornstarch

Stir this mess in a large microwaveable bowl

Zap it for 5 minutes, stir, and zap for another 5. The peaches should be all dente and the cornstarch should be transparent and have thickened. Stir and zap again if the cornstarch is still raw. It should not be soupy. Sometimes I put in a dash of vanilla.

While the peaches are cooking I take a package of TJ’s frozen pie dough that is at room temperature and mush the two crusts into a ball and roll it out into a large circle. As with any pie crust don’t over work it although TJ’s is sturdy enough to survive my treatment.

I put the dough on a pizza pan if I am making the Galette with apples but the peaches are far too juicy so I use a green glass casserole dish which is deep enough to hold the inevitable sweet ooze. It also has a convenient lid for storing the left overs. I scatter a handful of toasted almonds across the bottom and pour the still hot fruit into the crust. There should be a lot of extra dough around the edges. Maybe as much as 3 inches. Fold this dough over the fruit, pat the high points down so they don’t burn and sprinkle with sugar. It should make a tidy package with a large opening in the middle. You can look online for images of galettes to see what it should look like. All the images I’ve seen look pretty much the same. (check out:

Image may contain: Food, Dessert, Cake, Pie, Plant, and Fruit

In that published image you can see on the bottom right that it leaked onto the parchment and I would say it was a little over-done. Mine are rustic and a little bit paler.

Bake in the hot oven for 20 to 30 minutes. I check at 20 and usually gauge it by eye after that. You are looking for a browned crust with sprinkles of caramelized sugar. Freckles. Another good thing about the glass dish is that I can look at the bottom to see if it has browned. All you have to worry about is the crust, you’ve already cooked the fruit. This is really handy with apples because in order to get them cooked you can easily burn the crust in a traditional bake. The whole process takes less than an hour including baking.

This year and last year, the peaches have been great but 2 years ago they were mealy and tasteless everywhere I bought them.

“To take what we love inside

to carry within us an orchard.”

Isn’t that what memory is? You can remember the bees, the sweaty heat, the farm worker’s struggles, the fertilizer and pesticides and all the horrible things we hate about agribusiness and forget about the 5 pounds of luscious wonderful peaches. If all you remember is the crap in the world you might as well toss the peaches in the compost and be done.

Or you can remember the soft smell, the tugs as your teeth penetrate the skin, the weirdness of the fuzz on your tongue, the dark red heart that surrounds the stone.

I’ve made myself hungry for another one but I’ve run out.

And to be frank, I had so many good peaches this summer that I am ready for the tart, crunchy, and juicy apples that will soon fill the shelves at the farmer’s market.

The fruit stand at the El Cerrito Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s must have had 15 different kinds of organic peaches and plums. Does anyone know what the story is with those donut peaches? They look so weird I’ve never tried one.

The first fresh peach I remember eating was when I was 17 and in London. There was a small fruit stand out side the Safeway (I was disappointed that there was a Safeway in London, it seemed impossible to get away from the USA). I examined the lovely peaches on display and reached for one. The vendor slapped my hand away, not hard, but enough to startle me. I didn’t understand that he was supposed to pick the fruit for me. He handed me the one I was reaching for and charged me for it. In those days they used shillings and pounds and pence and I had no idea how much I paid for that peach. I went into Safeway and bought a container of sweet cream that was the texture of sour cream without the tartness. That is still the best peach I have ever eaten and since then I have had some that made me moan in pleasure.



On Leadership


On being a leader

I had a friend who said that he could never be friends with anyone who wanted to be a cop because anyone who wanted to be a cop was not going to be a good cop. I guess the same could be said for politicians. If you want to be one, you are unsuitable for the job. I agree somewhat with this sentiment. The word, leader, itself makes me quiver in an unpleasant way, like a leader is someone inexorably  tied to Adolf Hitler or #45.

But somehow I have become a leader.

I joke that the reason I became a leader to my Monday writing group is because I made sure there were chairs for everyone and in a way this is true. But all I was doing was making sure everyone had a seat and the heater was on. And coffee and sometimes cookies and as things evolved I made sure my group on Wednesday had nuts and cheese and crackers when we met in the house. Remember those days when a group of friends could get together in the same room?

I find small talk difficult and being a hostess is a way I can participate with groups of people without having to embarrass myself or others with my inept attempts to converse lightly on forgettable subjects.

That is the joke answer to the question of how I became a leader. The serious one is illustrated by something that happened a lot when I was a teenager. A group of us were sitting around coming on to some ACID. Someone proposed that we go to Cascade Creek and play in the falls there. It took 3 hours for us to get it together to get in the car and go. This delay was caused by the short attention span caused by the drugs of course, but it also happened because no one said, “Let’s get in the car and go.”

Dithering. (gotta look that one up; originally it meant to shiver or tremble, now it means to be indecisive and hesitant).

I get irritable when dithering gets in the way of doing. It seems to be in the nature of groups to  dither until someone says, “Let’s get in the car.” That person is often me. Once you say, “Lets get in the car.” People relax and get in the car, they know what to do, now.

Long and indecisive conversations about where to go, what to do, who to include are not my forte. Because of my ambivalence about leadership (Am I being bossy? Will someone get mad? What if someone goes along and resents it and punishes me later?) I tend to be overly agreeable and avoid conflict. I think I am saying, “Let’s get in the car.” but what I might be saying out loud is, “Are we getting in the car, now?” or, if I am tired and hungry or unsure of the company, I might really dither and say, “I’m hungry” hoping someone will take that as a hint to get in the car. As you can imagine, that is not very effective.

So in my impatience with dithering I became the one to say, “Let’s get in the car.” It’s pretty easy to say and very effective in getting people organized.

The hard part of leadership is when people want me to speak for them. I experience an emotional feeling much akin to the feeling when you’ve swallowed too much unadulterated hard boiled egg yolk. It won’t go down, it won’t come up, my throat is spasming around it. I take that as a clue that I should think carefully before I get involved. I would make a terrible politician. Sometimes I do nothing, sometimes I play it as it lays.

I think people should speak for themselves but in groups that energy flow can get real messy. Pods and cliques can form that can shred a group. Huffs arrive and people depart in them. I worked there and office politics are intensely awful and bewildering. The only way I know how to avoid that egg yolk feeling is to avoid getting in the middle of it but my fear is that the little car we are traveling in together will be broken if I don’t do something. Unfortunately it is never clear to me what that thing is.

I guess that is where rules and laws come from. Instead of pointing a finger to single out a problem, a rule needs to be made making that Troublesome Specific into a general behavior modification. Something clear and followable and, something that is extremely necessary, a rule that does not stir rebellion. “Let’s get in the car, so we can all go to the beautiful creek and play in the waters there.” as opposed to, “Johnny, get the fucking keys and lets get out of here before these flakes drive me nuts!”

I will err on the side of doing nothing beyond saying, “Lets get in the car,” and making sure we have gas and directions and a time to arrive and a phone number just in case someone gets lost and a spare key so that if one locks theirs in their car we can still get in. If I meet resistance I back off. I am not a fighter, a pusher, a blind follower of my own rule of thumb. I don’t call people out in public unless it is absolutely necessary and I hope I never publicly humiliate anyone – ever. I keep the timer but I am not going to mute anyone that has something to say. It’s a fact. I am not a cop and I am not interested in being a cop but that is probably why I ended up being a sort-of-cop to the various groups I lead.