The Pie Notes

A celebration of life with a touch of sweetness

Tag: gardening

Gardens, Farmer’s Markets, and Sweet Peach Hand Pies

Aren’t peaches the perfect summer fruit?

They are sweet and incredibly refreshing, especially after working in a garden.

During my little Auburn vacation, I went to SpringHouse to help out in the culinary garden on-site. Matthew goes there every week to  assist the gardener and he invited me to tag along.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. Surprisingly not too hot (probably due to the sprinklers soaking us from head to toe) and clear blue skies.

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Pre-gardening Matthew

All of the vegetables are grown organically, so naturally there is quite a bit of work to accomplish.

We weeded, picked more red onions than you could ever imagine, and staked tomato plants.

Somewhere in between I got attacked by giant ants. I threw off my gloves and ran towards the sprinkler…the sprinkler that was moving in a circular motion. I tried not to get right on front of the stream of water, so I ended up running around the bed of eggplant chasing it while swatting at my arms.

Not my best idea.

I got all of them off eventually, but let’s just say they left their mark on me.

All of that aside, I absolutely love gardening. There’s something about pulling your food out of the ground or picking it off the vine that is so comforting and rewarding.

Plus, it tastes worlds better than the stuff in the grocery store.

They grow black cherry tomatoes there, and a couple weeks before Matthew had called me just to tell me how delicious they are.

He plucked a perfectly ripe one off the vine for me and I was immediately hooked. Best tomato I’ve ever tasted. It’s sweet and plump and juicy, and the color is a deep deep purple.

After our gardening adventures, we headed back to Auburn, but not before stopping at a roadside stand to buy a few peaches to snack on.

We ravenously pulled them out of the bag. I had one, Matthew had five.

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Post-gardening Matthew

They hit the spot.

And our shirts were completely covered in peach juice. Were we complaining? Nope.

Fast forward to last week. The Auburn Farmer’s Market happens every Thursday during the summer and I had never been! I was planning on making roasted chicken thighs with roasted vegetables for dinner, so I needed some fresh local ingredients to make it even better.

We got new potatoes, the most beautiful onions I’ve ever seen, a green bell pepper, and black cherry tomatoes. For the salad, we found bibb lettuce, cucumbers, and microgreens which really sent it over the top.

And of course, we got distracted by all of the sweets.

My sister Sarah had told us about Cindy Cakes a couple weeks ago, saying it was the best pound cake she’s ever had. We took her word for it and bought a peach pound cake. We ended up slicing it and warming it up on a cast iron skillet. The sugars caramelized and a yummy crust formed. Perfect with a cup of coffee.

We also picked up a bag of kettle corn–sweet and smoky–and a couple individual pies that were very tasty.

And in true Matthew/Anna Claire style, we got a couple Chilton County peaches to snack on in the car.

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Post-farmer’s market Matthew

I just realized how many pictures I take of him while he’s in the driver’s seat…

That was one of my favorite experiences I’ve ever had in Auburn. There’s nothing quite like the charm of a farmer’s market, and the opportunity to meet the people behind your food is special. If you have some extra time in your day, stop by and support your local farmers. It’s so important that they have a community to back them up.

And your tastebuds will thank you profusely.

In the spirit of local ingredients and portable snacks, I’ve decided to experiment with some hand pies. Never heard of such a thing? Take a look at my previous post and scroll down to the dessert section of our SpringHouse meal.

Since the peaches have been so wonderfully delicious lately, I made some peach hand pies.

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If you like flaky crust, this is the dessert for you.

Every bite has buttery crust and ooey gooey sweet peachy filling.

I can’t stress this enough–buy fresh, good quality peaches! Every time I have used Chilton County peaches from the farmer’s market, I’ve had good luck. You’re taking a risk if you use anything else.

These are good at room temperature, but even better when warmed up in the toaster oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

It’s the perfect summer bite–go try one at Copper Kettle Tea Bar this week!

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Peach filling adapted from Bakerella

Lovely Lavender

Summer weather is just around the corner, but summer break is definitely here! It has been a nice change of pace not having to focus on schoolwork, but rather on, well, life. And life currently includes working – a.k.a. BAKING! I have learned so much in just a matter of a couple months, and I am so thankful to start applying the tricks and techniques that we use in the bakery setting to my own kitchen.

It’s a blessing sent from heaven.

Needless to say, I love my job. And an added bonus is that my sister Sarah is working with me! We have a great time together listening to Michael Bublé Pandora radio and whipping up more breads and cupcakes than we can count on our hands. I promise my baked goods taste better when there is big band music in the background.

Speaking of Michael…I will be seeing him in concert in Memphis this summer with my brother, Robert! I am beyond excited. Sibling bonding time at its finest. Maybe he’ll let me play all of my swing CDs during the drive up there….whatcha say, Rob?

Back on track: Food.

Actually, let me detour again.

Robert built us a raised flower bed a few weeks ago for us to grow some herbs, and they are really coming to life!

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Especially that parsley.

Mom and I went a little crazy the last time I was home at the farmer’s market. She equipped me with all of these wonderfully aromatic herbs, and they have certainly been making our spaghetti taste extra delicious.

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I definitely need to put the lavender on the bottom right in a larger pot and let it spread its wings! Or roots, rather.

 

I thought it was about time to make something sweet out of the herbs. That explosion of peppermint will be utilized soon, but for today…..

how do lavender cookies sound?

As this post’s title suggests, the chopped fresh lavender leaves make these cookies quite lovely.

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Perfect for a little tea party.

Or just a Thursday afternoon with a cup of hot Earl Grey tea and a book! That’s my kind of day off.

You may be uneasy about lavender, or anything green in your cookie. Be not afraid, my friend. All it does is add a delicate floral aroma, and a bit more interest to what would otherwise be a plain sugar cookie (which would work with this recipe also).

I like these because they are soft and incredibly tender, but they hold their shape well and will store nicely. If you want you can substitute the fresh leaves for dried leaves, lemon zest, or even leave them out if you don’t have any. I’d just add a bit more vanilla extract to give it some flavor. Play around with it! It’s a great basic recipe!

And here it is:

Lovely Lavender Cookies

If anyone has recipes or ideas for cooking or baking with herbs, please let me know! It is so satisfying walking into my backyard and cutting those beautiful leaves, then making something delicious out of them. As I mentioned before, I need to use that peppermint soon or it might explode!

You enjoy the rest of your day, and whip these up. It will relax you. Lavender has that effect on us, right?

 

 

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