Growing up, my mom’s dinner parties were legendary. I remember paellas and baked Alaska and other impressive culinary feats. And our everyday meals were also up to Swiss standards, with very little that was processed or store-bought. I definitely trace my foodie ways and my introduction to cooking as more than just providing nourishment to my mom. When my dad retired and my mom became a real estate agent, one of many jobs/careers she has held over the years, my dad took over the cooking. He went all in, making everything from scratch and following elaborate recipes to a T, often banishing my mom from the kitchen. It was only in recent years that she took over the kitchen again, making my dad three meals a day. Now that it is just her, she has found it decidedly less fun to cook for herself. I wish so much that I lived closer so that she could join us for meals or we could stock her fridge and freezer with leftovers. Until we can visit again, I have had to settle for being indebted to the many neighbors and friends who have brought her meals and supplies.
But I am happy to report that my mom has started socializing again, with great care and social distance, and that has started to include cooking not just for herself, but for others. She is very social and there was no way the pandemic was going to keep her isolated. She started by joining a friend or two for hikes, everyone masked and keeping apart, and meeting friends and her book club for wine or talks outside. Recently she has started hosting folks on her deck, and that means that she is back in the kitchen, whipping up some of her specialties. It makes me happy to think of her chopping and stirring, because I know how good it feels to make and serve something that is devoured and appreciated.
My parents’ house in Bend, Oregon is ideal for entertaining. It is a house they built with all of the artwork and furniture they collected from their world travels in mind. And the deck has stunning views of Mount Batchelor and the Three Sisters
My mom recently had some friends over for a light dinner on the deck and finished it with her trademark peach tart. Here is her recipe, one that has been served for decades so you know it is good!
“The secret to a delicious peach tart,” my mom says, “Is very ripe peaches, preferably from a farmer’s market.” She warns that it is nearly impossible to find ripe peaches in a store that can be used the day you buy them. For this tart, she had to settle for “rather tasteless” peaches because they were the only ones that were ripe enough, but she said the Kirsch she put on top helped save the day.
For the pie dough, mix together
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
a touch of salt
7 tablespoons chilled and unsalted butter and add 3 to 5 tablespoons of cold water until the dough comes together.
Roll out dough and place in a tart shell.
For the peach filling:
Cut about 6 peaches (with the skin on) nto 8 slices each. Put them into the following mixture:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs[ lemon juice
(a touch of Kirsch or…)
2 tbsp flour
Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.