Month of August: “Tassajara bread book” Recipe: Peach Kuchen

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” James Baldwin

Been away for a week on vacation to a small cottage in the Finger Lake region of New York. It was calming and awe inspiring and just plain wonderful. I feel so grateful for the experience. We discovered occupied osprey nests perched high upon electric poles and watched them fish along the shoreline of the lake at all hours of the day. Since our cabin was facing due west each evening we were able to watch the most perfect raspberry and orange sherbet sunsets. In the morning as the sun rose and the water warmed we were able to drink in the delicious fresh air currents that poured over us as we sat on the porch. During our travels around the lake we met a retired teacher, now a skilled peach farmer, who grows the most flavorful peaches, apricots and apples. His place is called Long Point Orchards and we bought many fruits to gorge on.

I also discovered that the land near this orchard once occupied the Cayuga Indians, a branch of the mighty Iroquois Nation. In the historic town of Aurora, NY there is a marker stating that the area was once called Chonodote or Peachtown for the grand number of peaches that the Cayuga Indians were growing, estimated to be about 1500 trees in fact. I had no idea that Native Americans grew peaches. In our primary years we learned of corn, squash and beans, the three sisters, but never peaches. George Washington being a general at the time in 1779 ordered another general, John Sullivan, in a devastating strategic plan called the Sullivan Clinton campaign, to destroy entire villages and all food sources including the thousand plus peach trees that had been planted there.

We all know our shameful history but reflecting on this particular occurrence stirred another feeling in me. The realization of the collective grief I carry. This is a tough one and it isn’t really fleshed out yet. I don’t just grieve Abby or my Aunt June or my grandparents or my pets or my unrequited loves or my unfulfilled dreams….I also grieve our history, our human history. We are all connected to each other and the human story becomes the legacy that gets handed down to all of us. It’s just like the brilliant James Baldwin says, it’s in us. It isn’t always pretty and it’s often devastating and extremely painful. Just like the dark page of current events we find ourselves in right now. What to do? I don’t know. Keep learning? Keep helping in small ways? Speak up? Stand up? Remember? REMEMBER. Yes, right now, I remember.

Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 12 skinned peach halves, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 egg yolks, 1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Cut in butter with fingers or pastry cutter until course meal. Press firmly in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Arrange peach halves face down on top. Sprinkle remaining mixed sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn down heat to 375F and mix 2 egg yolks with cream and pour over top of peaches. Bake for an additional 40 minutes or until peaches soften and custard thickens.

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