The Perfectly Imperfect Peach Pie

I love things to look perfect, to taste and feel perfect, but they nearly never are. That being said, I come from the school of "Camp Good Enough" as my friend Stephanie and I often called it. This is where you work your hardest and it turns out how it turns out, and you are ok with that. Would I love to have it all be Instagram worthy? No, that sounds exhausting. Still, I do often try, and knowing that I can accomplish things that make me and my people happy is really what matters. Sometimes  I hit the mark and often I don't. But it is fun trying. 

I could say that I wandered with my wicker basket through our local farmers market (which I often do) and gathered peaches for a beautiful pie, but this story is a much more practical one. My friend Kacy left me a couple of beautiful peaches after a picnic dinner on Friday, and when I peeked into my freezer Saturday I spotted two bags of frozen peaches I had tucked away. I grabbed them to thaw out while I did yard work, and during the afternoon I went to work on making a pie. There is nothing better than the smell of a pie in the oven and it was the perfect treat after a long day of garden work. 

Luckily I had also doubled a pie recipe and had a frozen disk perfect for a two crust pie. Normally I have my Mom's recipe for crusts in my freezer, but I had made these extra crusts from another recipe and that is what I had on hand. I had a difficult time with the new crust recipe, but chalked it up to operator error.  Let me just say that I know baking well. I have made a million pies with from scratch crust in my life, so it took me by surprise that I could not get this crust to cooperate. I know all the tricks: don't over handle the dough, chill slightly, fold over to transfer to the pie plate, etc. but the crust just kept coming apart every time I tried to move it to the pie plate. Finally, I did the play dough technique (I made that up) were I got it as best I could to the pan and patched it together by hand. 

This crust was the DEVIL. Good thing is was so delicious

Once I got the crust in place in the pan I took the other half and cut out strips with my fluted pie crust wheel to make a lattice crust top. Those strips were equally difficult to move (Gah!!) so I had another "hand done" look on my hands for the top. You can hide the imperfections on the bottom crust, but the top is a different story. See above....

Funny looking mix, fabulous taste!

Nevertheless, I mixed my now thawed frozen peaches with my fresh cut up slices and followed the directions for the Peach Pie Recipe from Taste of Home. I had never made the pie before and loved the technique of cooking the juices as a thickener for the filling. I try recipes constantly, often for dinner parties, which is risky business indeed. I like challenging myself that way.

The end result? The rascally crust was fabulous tasting, and the mixed fresh and frozen peaches worked divinely--it was hard to resist eating just one slice! Sometimes looks can be deceiving and I was ok with it's "character".  It was a perfectly imperfect peach pie and it was delicious. 

I will continue to test new recipes for both crust and pie, but my Mom's tried and true pie dough will remain in my freezer. I am sharing it below, and interestingly enough, Mom called it "Perfect Easy Pie Crust".  Every time I use her handwritten recipe cards, which is often, I can feel her near me again, and it is a perfect way to honor her memory. 

Cheers to trying new things and taking on challenges knowing that no matter what the end result, you are perfectly imperfect, and that is the best way to be. xx

My mother, her recipe card she wrote for me, and the apron she sewed for my birthday

Nancy's Perfect Easy Pie Crust

4 cups flour
1Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups Crisco, cubed
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 egg

Mix the flour, sugar and salt together with a fork. Cut the Crisco into the flour mixture with two knives until it is crumbly in texture.  In a separate small bowl, combine the water, vinegar and egg. Add it to the crumbled mixture and stir with a fork until combined. Note: I have made this recipe in both my Cuisinart and my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. 
Divide the dough into five balls and flatten into discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Can be kept in the refrigerator up to one week or frozen. 
To bake a shell, roll out and put into a pie pan. I fold it into half, then quarters, set it in the pan and unfold it. Prick with fork and bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes. 


Lavender Season

With August in full swing, the lavender in my garden has peaked and is getting a second wind. I am careful to trim it back to get new blooms to come. In June we had the pleasure of spending a week in Provence, France, where the lavender fields were abundant. Some of the larger fields had a low hum to them as thousands of bees enjoyed the season along with us. The sounds and smells of fields in Provence is truly a beautiful thing.

Lavender fields in Provence

Back home, I decided to make a simple shortbread cookie for a friend's birthday boating party and also whipped up an easy, no-machine-required lavender ice cream to serve alongside the cookie and a brownie. I used Martha Stewart's Basic Shortbread Recipe, adding two tablespoons of dried lavender I picked and pulled apart from a lavender cuttings from my garden. (Note: we do not spray our garden plants with any pesticides or chemicals).

Martha's recipe calls for the dough to be added to a springform pan to bake but I rolled it out and cut shapes with my Mother's tin biscuit cutter from a collection of vintage cookie cutters I own. The slight ridged edges give it a French flair that is perfect for showcasing the simple lavender cookie. 

I doubled the recipe and made small gift bags of  half dozen cookies tied with silk grey ribbon and fresh lavender to give as gifts at the birthday celebration. I made extra gift bags and brought them to friends in the neighborhood the next day....otherwise I was going to eat the rest! They are so so good, and so easy to make! 

Next, Lavender Ice Cream. I absolutely loved the recipe, Lavender Ice Cream for a Picnic in Provence, from the Mon Petit Four. The blackberries in this recipe give the ice cream its gorgeous purple hue, and its a super easy recipe, no ice cream machine required! I ordered miniature ice cream cones to serve the ice cream at the party, perfect for a small bite. Then....I forgot the ice cream at home!!!! Hello, real life, multitasking fail. I delivered it to the birthday girl the next day, but still. The best laid plans...

This is not my backyard. But it is Provence and I was there to enjoy it all! 

Wishing you a beautiful August. xx