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 met a retiree, now a very skilled peach farmer, who grows the most amazing peaches, apricots and apples. His place is called Long Point Orchards and we bought many to gorge on. The variety I used here is called Red Haven which I have discovered is my new fav.

I also discovered that near this orchard it 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. Who knew? I had no idea that Native Americans grew peaches. In our early years we learned of corn, squash and beans….yes….but peaches? George Washington being a general at the time in 1779 ordered 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.

I guess this heartbreak has been going on forever. We all know the history book stories but re-thinking about this horror, waste, greed and senselessness 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 lost loves or my lost dreams….I also grieve our history’s grief. We are all connected to each other and our 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 frightening and extremely painful. Just like the dark page of history we find ourselves in right now. What to do? I don’t know. For me?…love and forgive as best as I can? 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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