Cooler Temps-by G. Totten, Sioux Falls

With the nighttime temperatures beginning to stay steadily in the mid-fifties (keep an eye on mid-week, which is predicted to dip to a low of forty-four; one report had temps dipping into the thirties!) it is clear our 2011 growing season will soon come to its predicable end.  Already, the first yellowed leaves are beginning to show up across the lawn, cricket season has been upon us for several weeks now, and in the dryer areas, grasshoppers are everywhere.  Soon Japanese beetles will be coasting through the warm afternoons, looking for nooks and crannies to use as house entryways.  

The Colorado peaches were delicious this year, as always, juicy and so sweet.  I bought my usual lug and quickly canned them, as they were at the peak of their ripeness.  This caused a bit of a problem in that I couldn’t fill the jars as full as needed without smashing and bruising the fruit, so they are half way up the quart jars floating in pinkish liquid, but they are yellow and lovely—none the worse for the easy handling.  However, a neighbor bought hers at HyVee on sale and had better luck with the process, as hers were not as ripe.  Each year we learn a little something to take forward, and next year I may pick out my own as opposed to ordering ahead of time.  No control there, although for fresh eating, my peaches were unsurpassed in natural sweetness and will be perfect for a Thanksgiving cobbler (good time-tested recipe to follow).

 This brings us to apple season, although I’ve heard apples are their sweetest when picked after a light frost.  I don’t know how much truth is in that adage.  Either way, I won’t have time to do applesauce for several weeks yet, so will likely find out for myself  (apple pudding follows, as well).   

 To many, fall means butternut and stuffed acorn squashes (these should be available soon), and at our house it often meant “breakfast for dinner” during those busy nights of soccer practice, trying to get everything cleaned up while the weather held, and covering plants to protect them from frost; nights of quick sausage and pancakes with lovely maple syrup.  My youngest daughter used to call these Red Sky Suppers, for the time of day and the setting sun igniting our western view. 

Potatoes are still plentiful and will be to the end of the season.  Some years ago my late husband and I attended a fish boil at an inn in northern Wisconsin that featured Lake Michigan white fish and potatoes all cooked in a huge pot outdoors, served with gilled sweet corn and slaw.  Perhaps it was the atmosphere; everyone outdoors on a stone patio, a frosty September night, sparks from the cook pot floating upward and the fire keeping us warm.  Those potatoes, along with the salty fish and grilled cobs were the best I’ve ever tasted.  Oh, to recreate those flavors locally without burning down the neighborhood. 

The following peach cobbler recipe is one I found years ago in a magazine and have made often.   The apple pudding recipe is one my great aunt gave me about forty years ago, and is a nice old time dessert.

Upside Down Peach Cobbler

1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tso salt, 1/2 cup milk, water, 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 – 16 oz can sliced peaches-drained (reserve syrup).

Mix dry ingredients together, then combine with the milk until just blended.  Add water to juice to make 1 1/2 cups and heat just to a simmer. Add butter and brown sugar and cook just until the brown sugar is dissolved.  Spread batter in a greased 9″ pan and pour peaches and syrup on top.  the syrup will be thin, and seem like a lot, but will be absorbed.  Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes. 

Apple Pudding

1 quart jar of chunky homemade applesauce, 1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca, small pearl size, 1/4 cup water.

Cook all together slowly until thickened and serve slightly warm with a scoop of vanila ice cream on top.