Christmas in July: ¡Tamales!

One of the best Christmas traditions in Tucson comes from our regional Mexican culture. Green corn tamales.


My Favorite Summer Pie

It was the 4th of July and we were in Flagstaff, Arizona, weekend guests of our friends Jennifer and Pat.

When you live in the Sonoran Desert, where the temperatures hit 105°F (40°C) daily for over a month, you delight in (and pray for) an invitation to someplace cool and refreshing.

A place like Jennifer and Pat's home in Flagstaff, nestled among the tall ponderosa pines.

We arrived the day before the holiday around sunset, pie basket in hand.

In the basket were my favorite pie plate, a mixture of white sugar, brown sugar, and flour, and the sweetest peaches, blueberries and cherries from the market.

As a small 'thank you' to our hosts, I offered to make a pie to go with our 4th of July feast.

And July just happens to be the perfect time of year for my mother's Cherry Berry Peach Pie. My favorite summer pie.

Following the 4th of July annual parade - a wonderful string of small-town floats, bands, and community groups on foot - we returned to the house to bake the pie.

Pie baking began with a warning: "You do know that baking at high altitudes is different, right?" Pat warned.

I didn't remember that if, indeed, I ever knew it. "I'll just Google that..."

It turns out that pies aren't terribly affected by altitude, but there was a hint that pastry dough should be a little moister above 7,000 feet (2,134 meters).

So, with a slightly wetter dough and lots of veins of butter still visible, I proceeded. The additional water actually made it easier to roll without cracking or falling apart.

Dinner - beer-can chicken (possibly a future post?), rice pilaf, salad, perfect wines - was amazing. Their daughter Laura and 9-month-old grandson Aiden joined us. 

Following dinner, the pie was a big hit. I can tell because Aiden ate an entire, adult-portion piece, including the crust! He was one happy, sugared-up toddler!

It rained lightly throughout the evening, which meant no fireworks.

Usually that would have made me sad. But, when in the company of the warmest and most welcoming friends, we were as content as we have ever been.

Sycamore Canyon - the second largest canyon in Arizona, just west of Flagstaff.
After all, there will be fireworks again next year.

~ David

Cherry Berry Peach Pie

pastry crust for 2-crust, 10-inch pie
5 medium peaches (I used 7 Saturn peaches), sliced
1 heaping cup blueberries
1 heaping cup pitted and halved sweet cherries
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch sea salt
milk for brushing
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 450°F (225°C).

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry crust, leaving remaining 1/3 covered in the refrigerator. Line a 10-inch pie plate with the rolled out crust and set aside.

Mix the fruit and drizzle with lemon juice. Toss with sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Spread fruit evenly in the prepared bottom crust and place in the refrigerator.

Roll out remaining crust into an oval a little longer than 10 inches. Slice the crust into long 1/2-inch wide strips. The center strips will be the longest.

Remove the pie plate from the fridge, and trim the overhang to 1/2-inch. Weave a lattice crust on top using the longest pieces for the centers, and the shorter ones on the outer edges. Incorporating the lattice ends as you go, crimp the edges of the bottom crust

Brush the lattice and the edges with the milk, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F (175°C). Bake for an additional 45-50 minutes until fruit is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

Serves 8. 


An Angelic Susurration

"Susurrations" has long been one of my favorite words. Barely audible whispers. Just say the word a couple of times and you will understand susurrations. Such a beautiful word. The epitome of onomatopœia.


Everything's Ginger Peachy

When I opened the package of loose peach tea (a tisane, actually), I couldn't imagine drinking it. I sat myself down and thought about what I would do with it.