a peach of a feast

freestyle friday
notes from maggie's farm

When peach season hits, we make at least one annual pilgrimage to our favorite peach source, Stonewall, Texas. We could just make it a rote errand--it takes about 45 minutes to get there from our home, which is less than the time it takes for us to get into Austin, a trip one or both of us is making at least five days a week, however we choose to make it an event. We love to observe these seasonal rituals. It helps us to take a break from the every day hard work of farm life for a fresh look at the world around us, and remain in the seasonal flow of this natural life. Life as a farmer, a dirt farmer, you might call us, leaves little money for recreation. Even with one of us working 'out in the world', we don't take off for weeks at a time. We don't set sail on the high seas.  We haven't been to Bora Bora this year.  Or ever. But lest I sound like I'm complaining, let me share a bit of the little adventures in which we do indulge.  

It's hot here in the summer.  I may have mentioned that before.  So we start out early.  As soon as the sun just peeks over the eastern hillside, we'll feed the animals and get them all settled, water what needs watering the most, then clean up and take off.  We'll stop in Marble Falls to get a venti iced coffee (with an extra shot of espresso, no sweetener, soy creamer, light on the ice, please) at the only (insert famous chain of coffee, or any coffee shop for that matter) on the 340 mile stretch of highway from San Antonio to Wichita Falls. Just stop a second and let that soak in, if you're a city slicker like I was for all but the last four years. In Austin, there are at least twenty different coffee shops I can visit within a ten mile radius of school. And three on campus. This precious venti iced coffee is the closest good coffee away from home. (We don't count the golden arches. We want good coffee.) and it's thirty minutes away. So this is kind of a big deal.  And it takes just about as long to get that coffee, to go, as it did for me to go on about it here.  Forgive me--I digress. Moving along...

Next stop is Johnson City, the birth place of the 36th president of the United States, Lyndon Johnson.  We'll take a break at a favorite cafe for breakfast, or lunch, if we've dawdled, and I might be able to talk fast and get a stop in at an antique shop or two. Then, with camera in hand, we'll drive the country roads to the peach orchard, stopping to snap photos of things we may see every day, but this day it is with fresh eyes.

It will take us approximately 14 golden oldies, to get to the orchard from there. It's really the only radio station that's received clearly from our house to the orchards, and it's a little lacking in, well, progress, but we've come to be charmed by it. We'll sing the lines we remember at the top of our lungs. We'll think we sound fabulous. The steering wheel will be the drum set. My fella will be surprised that I'm a left-handed air guitarist. We'll laugh uproariously at each others' jokes, funny or not. We'll wonder if anyone else has as much fun as we do. 

It's good times.

We have a ritual-within-the-ritual we observe when we reach the orchard, (roll out of the car wiping tears of laughter from our eyes, and generally straightening up) I've noticed, whether we plan to or not.  We always peruse the non-peach offerings, taste the samples, consider ice cream.  But we'll end up with only peaches. It's just how we roll.  We'll take home a bushel of the 'seconds'.  Why, you ask, would we go all the way for 'seconds'? Well, in brief, we're frugal, they're as sweet or sweeter, and we're less than perfect, ourselves.  We understand what it's like to be imperfect. We want them to feel wanted.  Call them the Velveteen Rabbits of peaches. 

On the way home, we'll play Initials. We'll give each other the initials of a famous person and then ask (many, many) questions until we guess correctly.  This will take the entire trip home.  It will take the entire trip home because one, or both, of us will come up with the most obscure names possible.  Why, it once took me from Nashville to Columbus, Ohio to guess Lillian Gilbreth. Seriously? Lillian Gilbreth !?!  Do you see what kind of nerds we are?

While my fella tries to guess his (I, personally, like to use sports figures from around the early to middle 20th century--not his forte') I will have plenty of time to consider all the ways I'll be utilizing the (deliriously fragrant) peaches we're transporting. There might be jams, jellies, chutneys and such, many will be eaten straight out of hand, with sleeves rolled up, leaning over the kitchen sink.  And there will be plans for a celebratory dinner, too. Just for the two of us. It will be
a peach of a feast

Today, we're tackling the main course:
Roti de Porc, (Roasted Picnic Ham) 
a la Child, Bertholle, and Beck
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Preparing Roast

One pound of boneless pork will serve 2-3 people. Allow 3/4 pound per person for bone-in roasts. Remove all but 1/8th inch layer of outer fat, and remove rind, if present. Reserve for stock, to use to add body to sauces when braising other meats, or flavoring for soups--You can just pop it in the freezer to use later if you wish. If using a boneless roast, roll and tie with kitchen twine.  (We've used a bone-in fresh picnic ham, also called a shoulder arm roast,.)

per pound of pork
1t kosher salt
1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t ground dried, or (we used) 1t fresh, minced thyme
1/8 t ground bay leaf (we used whole, and ground all spices when mixed together)
pinch of ground allspice, or (we used) 1/4 t whole allspice
1/8 t ground clove, or (we used) 1/4 t whole clove

If using pre-ground spices, mix all ingredients together. (if using whole spices, grind first, then combine.) Rub spices into the surface of the pork. Place in a covered bowl or dutch oven. Turn the meat several times a day, marinating for 3-5 days. (we marinated 3 days--too impatient for any longer.....)

Before cooking, scrape off the marinade and and dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels.

Pork can be roasted in an open pan at 325 degrees, but is more tender and juicy if browned in hot fat (oil, rendered pork fat or lard, or even butter, as a last resort). While trichinae are killed at a meat temperature of 131 degrees, which is still rare, pork reaches it's best flavor and texture at an internal temperature of between 165-175 degrees, at which point it will be just barely pink in the center. From 30-45 minutes per pound are required to cook a bone-in roast, and between 5 to 10 minutes more per pound for a boneless roast. A 5 pound bone-in picnic ham or shoulder arm roast will take about 3 and 1/2 hours, a boneless, roast or ham, rolled, and tied, will take about 4 hours, at 325 degrees.

Allow roast to cool an hour before slicing.

It's not good to be envied. But if you have to be envied, it's better to be envied for what you are than for what you own.
Lillian Gilbreth   

Have a delicious weekend!


  1. I see another road trip in our near future. They really are a lot of fun.

  2. Can't wait for the weather to cool down so I can make this pork. it looks amazing! I love doing large roasts so I have a few meals, and some in the freezer for when I don't feel like cooking. Thank you.

  3. I'm a roast fan, myself. My hubs and I both love meat, and I especially enjoy it cold--like my grandmother used to eat hers. I'm odd, huh? lol
    Have a great weekend and please try to stay cool!


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