Each summer when my children were growing up, we took extended family vacations to Nags Head, NC. Babies, toddlers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles…whoever could make it showed up. As my children became teens, my grandsons joined the mix.
Restaurant meals for that many people could ring up quite a tab, so we were sure to book rental homes with well-stocked kitchens that enabled us to eat most of our meals at the house.
My husband and I took turns doing most of the cooking with help from the others, but there was a dessert we could count on being made at least twice during the week: my mother-in-law Rosalie’s peach cobbler.
Rosalie had a knack for choosing peaches at the perfect stage of ripeness. In the afternoon while the children napped, she’d stand at the kitchen sink peeling and slicing the peaches into a large glass measuring bowl. After adding sugar and turning the peaches so they each received a little sweetness, she’d cover the bowl and set it in the refrigerator for several hours.
After dinner and dishes were done, Rosalie would make the simple batter for the cobbler. Then into the oven it went. We’d play Uno or dominoes for the fifty minutes it required to bake to a light golden brown on top.
The adults would surreptitiously watch the clock or the timer, trying to avoid being caught by the others. The children would ask over and over, “How much longer?!”
Finally it was done but was too hot to eat immediately. We were tortured for another ten minutes or so, filling the time by taking orders for who wanted theirs a la mode or with milk or a cup of coffee.
That aroma! Studies show that the sense of smell can evoke strong memories. And I believe it. The aroma of a freshly baked cobbler takes me down the lane of beautiful memories spent with people who loved each other and weren’t embarrassed to show it.
I treasure that small margin of time we shared over the years.
So do I have you considering a run to the store for peaches? Please wipe the drool from your lips before you go.
It would be quite rude of me not to share Rosalie’s recipe with you. And yes, I just had some.
Rosalie Thatcher’s Peach Cobbler
4 cups of very ripe peaches (but not too soft), peeled and sliced into thin layers into a large glass bowl (usually about six medium peaches)
1 cup sugar gets poured over the sliced peaches. Turn them over so that each piece gets some sweetness.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours so that the peaches make their own juice. Stir them around a few times.
When you’re ready to bake, turn on oven to 325 degrees. Melt ¼ cup (half a stick) of butter in a 9 x 13 rectangular glass cake pan while oven is preheating. Keep an eye on this; remove pan as soon as the butter has melted. Remember that the pan is hot!
In a separate bowl, mix by hand:
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup of whole milk
When oven has reached 325, pour the batter evenly into the pan. (I make long lines just because Rosalie did.)
Then spoon out the peaches onto the melted butter and the batter. Use it all, even the juice. The juice cooks into the batter.
Bake 45-55 minutes, just until it turns light golden brown on top.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
And think of Rosalie and me while you’re licking the spoon from your last bite.