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fruit

Vegan Peach Pie with Spelt Rye Crust

Vegan Peach Pie with Spelt Rye Crust

Summer becomes real when you have a slice of peach pie on your plate from fresh fruit just picked from the nearby orchard.

This, my friends, is true summer beauty.

Vegan Peach Pie with Spelt Rye Crust

I may have to declare this as one of the best pies I’ve ever made. And it’s the peaches that went inside that must be bestowed with a large portion of the credit.

Peach season here in Pennsylvania has reached its prime, and the fruit on the trees this year is thriving.

Vegan Peach Pie with Spelt Rye Crust

Juicy and sweet, peaches are certainly undergoing a stellar year.

And as a result, the pies that are produced from those peaches are reaping all of the benefits.

After all, a pie is only as good as the fresh fruit that’s going inside of it. Which is why the filling needn’t be anything too fancy or complicated.

Vegan Peach Pie with Spelt Rye Crust

The project in undertaking the creation of this pie isn’t the filling, but the crust, which you’ll find true of most pie recipes. After some slicing and dicing, the filling takes minutes to make.

Meanwhile, the crust takes a little finesse. But nothing unmanageable, even for the novice baker.

I like to consider pie-making as the perfect put-on-a-few-records and chill-in-the-kitchen-all-Sunday-afternoon activity. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Vegan Peach Pie with Spelt Rye Crust

If you’ve never done a lattice before, basically you’re just attempting to weave the top strips of crust over and under each other. You may wish to refer to a simple tutorial when you get to that step, as I admit, my instructions may not be the most extensively written-out.

The warm slice of pie that comes out of the oven, (one you’ll top with cold ice cream…perhaps vanilla coconut!) is certainly worthy of every last second of effort that goes into creating this. As I said earlier, this is true summer beauty on a plate and certainly summer baking at its finest.

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Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

As soon as the first crisp days of autumn arrive, I subconsciously, and rather rapidly, begin to shift my diet to match the shifting environment that surrounds me. Outside my window, I admire the many shades of orange spreading across the sky. Then soon after, near as many orange hues start appearing on my kitchen counters.

Squash of every variety, and sweet potatoes too, fill up my empty wooden baskets, my ceramic plates, and now my mason jars, too.

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

When Williams Sonoma kicked off this week with the theme of “Not Your Average Smoothie”, naturally I knew I needed to throw some squash into my blender.

I’m all about going outside the traditional smoothie box, and I’m also all about squash, so it seemed like a perfect platform for experimentation.

I turned on my oven, said bottoms up, and began getting to work.

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

I decided upon butternut, loving its creaminess in soups that I often create with apples. I figured, why wouldn’t that be delicious iced and turned into a smoothie, too?

After testing out this smoothie several times, I finally came up with a recipe that’s a little weird, a little wild, yet totally straw-worthy and insanely refreshing.

Through my testing, I learned to save the oven for the squash soup, and stick to steaming for the smoothie. Steaming enables the squash to stay juicer and not as dense so you end up with a shake that has a nice light, whipped consistency. Along with some spirited spice – curry powder and a kick of cayenne (ow ow!) – this smoothie embodies some of fall’s best warming qualities while remaining refreshing till the last sip.

Feel free to try swapping the butternut with sweet potato, or even pumpkin. Just be mindful of possibly needing to adjust the liquid. If you want to step further out of the box, add some spinach. I did this to one batch, and the results were great (even if it sounds a little weird). To get a little wilder, top your smoothie with toasted walnuts or pecans. Or an extra kick of that spicy cayenne, if you like it hot.

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Sesame Persimmon Parfait

Sesame Persimmon Parfait

If you’re going to talk about it, do it. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

That’s my resolution for the year. No half-assing things. Less talk, more do.

Within this, one of my missions is to start taking advantage of more things I enjoy. That means making post-work yoga class a bi-weekly routine, not a bi-monthly rarity. (Trust me, a yoga class full of warm people after a wintery, long workday – it feels like a godsend. It’s worth every cent and evening minute.)

This time of year, that also means persimmons. Persimmons, persimmons, persimmons.

Persimmons are worth splurging on at the grocery store, if only to make this recipe alone.

Sesame Persimmon Parfait

Steeped among all the winter citrus, these gems are one of the sweetest fruits of the season, and I mean that in both a literal and non-literal sense. Their  apricot-meets-mango taste is intense, and their short-lived, once-a-year novelty feels even sweeter. Again, they’re a worthy addition to your grocery cart. Especially when they’re foreseeable future includes tahini and maple.

There are two types of persimmons – Fuyu and Hachiya. Both are best when super ripe, but the Hachiya’s in particular need to be matured to the point of softness where they’re shriveled and almost mushy. Otherwise, you’ll be left with this weird, puckery sensation in your mouth. Fuyu’s can be eaten when still slightly firm, but don’t let your impatience get the best of you. These slightly stouter, disk-like versions are best after their color turns from citrusy orange to an almost tomato-like appearance. The body should have a slight give to it, too.

Let’s not just talk about them, let’s do them. And let’s do persimmons right. Pick a few up, let them ripen, and then whip up this divine breakfast. Throw in a few cashews or nuts for some crunch if you’re feeling extra heavenly. Enjoy.

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Blueberry Strawberry Crisp

Blueberry Strawberry Crisp

I said on FoodFitnessFreshAir’s Facebook page that I’m taking a little break from recipe development. When summer’s showering the garden in red, all I want to eat are tomato sandwiches. Nothing fancy. A little mayo, salt and pepper, maybe some lettuce and/or basil. A fresh garden salad thrown on the side, and I’ve found food heaven, within just the 10 minutes it takes to slice, toast and take a first bite.

As Katie from Eclectik Domestic pointed out, this could mean I may never return to developing recipes…Because really, who ever gets sick of tomato sandwiches in the summer? Not this girl. Good thing there are multiple meals in the day. Rest assured, eventually I’ll save the no-cook meals for lunch and start churning out new creations again.

In the meantime, my mom’s holding me over with this killer Blueberry Strawberry Crisp she whipped up for my birthday last week. (Yes, I turned the ripe age of 23! Whatever that means.)

My sister’s been getting into the cake business, making these elaborate trillion-layer cakes at any opportunity she can get. When I turned down her offer to create one for my birthday, she was slightly crushed. It’s not that I don’t love my sister’s dreamy, mousse-filled, icing deco cakes, because I do. But when summer hits, I want seasonal fruit with a chill side of straight up vanilla ice cream. My mom fulfilled that, and then some, with this crisp.

You’ll find that blueberries make up the bulk of the filling, letting just a few, slightly more tart strawberries sweep in to balance out their sweetness. I know strawberries are on their way out, so feel free to use nectarines, peaches or any other suitable, seasonal partner in crime. My mom had some strawberries frozen from an earlier, orchard-picking trip, so that’s what went into this particular pie pan.

Birthday or not, this is a real summer celebration. As are tomato sandwiches. Pair the two together, and you’ll create the picnic party of the year. For real.

Minty Watermelon and Lime Salad

Nothing says summer like watermelon —big, juicy slices of it, its sweet nectar running down your hands and face. My favorite way to eat watermelon is to hack a huge section off and dive right in.

However, when it comes to summer gatherings, I’ve had one too many sticky, pink dribbles fall from my hands to my dress. I’m generally a hands-on person, but in these situations, I actually start to long for a fork and bowl style of eating. Picnics provide the perfect excuse to do some simple sprucing up of watermelon and turn it into a refreshing side dish meant for silverware.

Mint too is great for gatherings because everyone likes a fresh breath, and when the temps. start soaring, there’s no better cool-down ingredient for this than mint. The perfect compliment to sugary watermelon, the touch of green adds just the right finish for a hot summer day. I also hit this dish with a dash of spice and a touch of salt, a combination that goes well with the natural sweetness of my favorite summer fruit.

With just 5 ingredients and 2 easy steps, this is a dish worthy of sending watermelon into cubes meant for a fork. Serve alongside fish tacos, BBQ, or any other outdoor favorite.

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