Sunday, September 25, 2011

Peach Crumb Bars

For as along as I can remember my mom has gotten a large box of peaches every September.  While I was growing up, she would spend an entire day (or more) peeling, slicing, and canning these peaches.   I didn't help a lot with this process (I was too busy being an angsty teenager), but I'm amazed at some of the things I still remember from her process.

The most memorable thing I learned was the easy way to peel a peach.  Here goes:  First, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While the water is coming to a boil, fill the kitchen sink or large bowl with very cold water and add a bunch of ice to it.  Once the pot of water is boiling drop in your peaches (carefully) and boil them for just a minute.  Then immediately transfer the peaches to the ice water.  Once they are cool, take a knife and make a small X on the non-stem end of the peach.  Now, you can take the knife and start peeling the skin starting at the X.  Holding the skin between your thumb and the knife pull the skin slowly down.  It should peel off in large strips.  It's very gratifying.

P.S. Be careful not to the leave the peaches in the boiling water for too long.  They will start to cook and get very slimy, which will make them more difficult to peel. 

My mom gave me some of her peaches this year and I decided I wanted to bake with them.  I ran across these amazing Peach Crumb Bars and just had to make them.  I added some ground ginger to the peach filling to give it a bit more zing!

Peach Crumb Bars
Minimally adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, but it's mostly all her. 

For the Dough/Crumb:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cool
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Peach Filling:
5 cups diced peaches (about 7 peaches, peeled)
2 Tblsp. lemon juice
1/2  cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp.  salt
1/2 tsp.  ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp.  ground ginger
1/4  tsp. ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch pan.

2. For the Dough/Crumb: In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry blender or food processor to cut in the butter, and then the egg. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan. Place the pan and the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

3. For the Filling: Place the diced peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently.

4. Spread the peach mixture evenly over the chilled crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the peach layer.

5. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Notes: You could also subsitute apples or pears.  You don't want the crust/crumb to be raw or burnt, so you're looking for that ever popular golden brown.  You may want to start looking at these after about 40 minutes of bake time and then every couple of minutes after to ensure that you achieve the optimal golden brown-ness.  :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Great Minnesota Get Together!!!

The Minnesota State Fair is the best part of my summer.  It makes life feel simple.  Here's what I love about the Fair: the 4H-ers that have spent months taking care of animals, the Fine Art Building, the Creative Arts building (which of course includes the baked goods), the winning ribbons, and even walking around the sprawling grounds with hundreds of thousands of people.  There's nothing like it, really.  It's a magical experience.

Of course, The Fair would not be complete without all that amazing food!  My all time favorite is the Corn Roast! They roast whole ears of corn in the husks, then shuck them, and dip the enitire cob in a vat of melted butter!  It does not get any better.  So amazingly simple and good.  Unfortunatley, I was a bad food blogger and didn't get a picture of it. Shame on me.  :)
Never fear, I did get pictures of lots of other fair food.  I even stepped out of my introverted self and asked a couple of people to take pictures of their food. Shocking, I know. 
So without further adieu...Fair Food Fesitvus 2011.  Festivus? I don't think I used that word correctly, is it even a word?!

Big Ol' Bucket of Sweet Martha's Cookies-Warm from the Oven!
Deep Fried Oreos-the BEST (second only to the Corn Roast)!

Deep Fried Reese's PB Cup

Fresh Cut French Fries
Pina Colada-in a pineapple, Genius!

This year there was a group of us, normally it's just me and the Self-Professed Nerd, so we got to try a lot more food!  In addition to the food above, I ate/tried a gyro, Minne-apple pie (deep fried pies), pizza, hamburgers, and cheese curds.  Ok, that sounds like a ton of food.  But, we were there for 2 days and there were 6 adults and 2 kids.  Whew, at least I have an excuse.