Friday, May 14, 2010

Free-Stone Fairy Tale?

Yesterday, my five year old Claire and I were tooling through the supermarket in search of a couple items. As we passed through the produce, I picked up a bunch of bananas and stopped dead in my tracks.

"What is that smell?" I gasped. Peaches! Not just any peaches. Peaches that actually smell like peaches. From a distance. Peaches so tiny and so overripe that they were tucked in behind the bananas. Still, peaches.

It has been a long winter of apples. That is all I am saying. I am sick to death of apples.

Claire was dancing around as I was inspecting the pick. "Can we buy the peaches? Can I have a peach RIGHT NOW? How about in the car? Can I have a peach in the car on the way home?" Unfortunately, the news was not good. I don't know where these peaches were from (it is too early for Texas peaches, I believe) but they were tiny and hardly hours from being too ripe to sell. Most were wrinkly and bruised. These would hardly last the bagging let alone make it into lunches.

"Let's buy enough for a peach cobbler!" I struck a bargain. And so we picked the best of the bunch and headed home.

"I know how to make peach cobbler" she says on the car ride home. "I saw it on Cooks Country!"

Yes, it runs in the family. Once a week I DVR the show Cook's Country by the American Test Kitchen folks. If you can get past the ringing steeple bells and rocking chairs on porches, it is a good clean cooking show. Less gastro-porn and commercials than your average Food Network fare. Claire loves Cooks Country. She watches them repeatedly, especially the ones about desserts.

Later as I shove dinner in the oven, I contemplate these little peaches. Usually I peel peaches with a knife. These peaches were only slightly bigger than lemons. I was sure that if I pealed them there would hardly be enough flesh to bake. So, I got out my big pot to do a quick blanch to release the skin. The water is at a boil, there is another bowl with ice-water nearby, I am just about to dump the peaches in when Claire strolls into the kitchen.

"What are you doing?" she screeches, alarmed.

"I am blanching the peaches to release the skin so that I can peel them." I say, dumping.

"But that isn't how they do it on Cooks Country! They use a special peeler with a zig zag edge."

“Shoot” I think. "You mean a serrated peeler? I don't have one of those. I am going to do it this way."

"Hmmm" she says, unbelieving, one eyebrow raised. "If it works, can I peel them?"

I was pretty ecstatic (inside) when the skin slipped right off the peaches. She was surprised it worked and delighted to peel them.

As I drained away the ice-water from the now-slippery peaches she says, “If you cut them all the way around with the knife, can I pull them apart and pull the pit out for you?"

This isn't going to be pretty. "Well… Cooks Country used free-stone peaches, and these are cling, so that isn't going to work." I try to explain the difference between free-stone and cling peaches as I am messily cutting the flesh away from the stubborn pits.

"But that isn't fair" she wails. Claire is pretty dramatic. "You have to do it all with a knife, and you won't let me use a knife. I wish we had free-stone peaches! Cling peaches are dumb." She twirls on one foot and stomps out of the kitchen.

I wish this story had a great closure. Some sort of a-ha moment. I picture my daughter, smiling over her Peach Cobbler ala Mode, sauce dripping down her chin, saying, "Wow Mom, this peach cobbler is as good as the one on TV." But that didn't happen. Not that she didn't enjoy the cobbler. She had two bowls. But there was no fairy tale ending, no overt moral.

Later, as I was falling asleep, it occurred to me that maybe I had misunderstood. Today she learned, much to her dismay, that there are different kinds of peaches. Also she saw that there is more than one way to skin a peach. She might have learned a little something about overcoming obstacles in the kitchen.

What I hope she learned more than anything is that her Mom is a pretty good cook. And you can't learn everything from TV.
note: a recipe next time, I promise!

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