the merry-go-round and a recipe for peach crisp

It’s been just a few weeks since we traveled to the beaches of Seaside. My memories of those moments spent lounging on the beach or playing with the kids in the sand seem distant, as if they happened years ago and not just earlier this month. I had hoped the restorative properties of that vacation would still be lingering into the end of August and beyond. Instead, the vacation’s effects dissipated quickly, like wisps of steam rising from the hot pavement after one of our sudden, late-afternoon storms.


In between activities with the kids last weekend, I found myself researching potential trips we could take over spring break next year. I scoured travel magazines, hoping for inspiration and bookmarking pages to return to. I spent too much time on various airlines’ websites, searching for exciting destinations that we can reach with only a flight or two. I crowd-sourced ideas from my Facebook friends, looking for potential places to take the kids to see snow for the first time, to go skiing or snow-shoeing or sleigh-riding. I daydreamed of sipping hot cocoa by a fireplace while the kids make snow angels outside our cabin. I imagined how refreshing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean would feel on my ankles.

I polled the children, even, trusting their opinion enough to let them weigh in. The eight-year old said, “Why am I thinking Hawaii?”

And while I like how she thinks, I’m not mentally and physically ready for that trip – and those time zones – with these kids.

It was at the park Sunday afternoon that I understood what all of this vacation planning was really about.

The day was overcast and breezy, as rain bands from Isaac inched closer. I sat on a bench and watched Maddie and Oliver spin on the merry-go-round, going faster and faster, gaining momentum with each rotation.   I realized that I, too, was spinning. My mind was unsettled, and I was feeling a sense of pressure, the weight of numerous unknown stressors bearing down on my shoulders, making my heart feel heavy.

My method for coping with the stress? Planning an escape. Spending all of those hours on the computer, scouring travel sites and flight schedules. The vacation would not happen for many months, but the process of planning of it was soothing, now.

When I imagined the four of us trekking through the El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico or taking a sleigh-ride through the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, some of the tension and discord I was feeling lifted. The lightening of spirit was temporary, but it was predictable and reliable. It felt good.

Sunday night came and went, and the routine of the schoolweek and workweek began. I stopped daydreaming about spring break. I stopped trip planning, instead making a  conscious effort to live in the moment, in each day as it happens.

I’ll eventually get back to trip planning. But not now, not today. That sense of urgency and pressure and need to get away now has passed. And today? I may not be off the merry-go-round, but I’m pretty sure it’s slowed down a bit.

*    *    *    *

What does this have to do with peach crisp? Not much, truthfully, other than the fact that this dessert is pure comfort food, and sometimes we just need that.  This peach crisp is a reassuring hug that just happens to be served up in bowl.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Peach Crisp

I've made this with regular, all-purpose flour, and I've also made it for gluten-free friends. If you want to make it gluten-free, it's simple: just substitute the 1/2 cup flour in the topping with a gluten-free flour mix (such as this one from King Arthur Flour). Regardless of how you make it, serve it with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream on top.

Ingredients:

Peaches:
3 ½ pounds fresh peaches (6 to 7 medium), peeled and pitted and chopped
½ cup granulated sugar

Topping:
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup all-purpose (or gluten-free) flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch coarse salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Filling:
1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 pinch coarse salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Macerate the peaches: Toss peaches and granulated sugar together in a large bowl and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. While the peaches are macerating, make the topping: Combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a small bowl. Add butter and combine using a pastry blender or your fingers (fingers work best). The topping should be in bits and chunks. [Note: The topping can be made in advance. Just refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.]

4. Make the filling: Drain peaches in a colander set over a bowl to catch the peach juice. Whisk ¼ cup of the drained peach juice with the cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, light brown sugar, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the drained peaches with the peach juice mixture, stirring well.

5. Pour filling into an 8-inch square glass baking dish or a deep pie dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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30 Responses to “saying hello to june and olive oil ice cream”

  1. I’ll definitely give your recipe a whirl once our weather warms up a bit and I can source some terrific EVOO to do it justice.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 1st, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

      You won’t regret it!

  2. Liren — June 1, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    I love it. I love the new design, the updated logo, the promise of a wonderful June, little Maggie, and of course, the olive oil ice cream. Here’s to a fresh and delicious start to June!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 1st, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

      Thanks, Liren. Happy June to you!

  3. Ethan — June 1, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

    Love the new look MJ! Perfect Spring cleaning project!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 1st, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

      Thank you, Ethan. 🙂

  4. Maria Raynal — June 1, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

    The new site is lovely, and you KNOW I like the ice cream! Welcome to Maggie, too!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 1st, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

      I still remember us trying to get seconds of that ice cream…

  5. Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — June 2, 2011 @ 2:30 am

    I never had OLIVE oil icecream and yes I’m missing out n quiet a treat I guess! Love the new layout

  6. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — June 2, 2011 @ 8:52 am

    MJ – love the new look and this recipe is on my list – love DL’s book and my ice cream maker 🙂

  7. Lori @ RecipeGirl — June 2, 2011 @ 9:14 am

    Love Lindsay… she did my recent design too. She rocks, and she’s so easy to work with!

    Olive Oil ice cream sounds like a great idea!

  8. Paula - bell'alimento — June 2, 2011 @ 9:29 am

    Swoon Olive Oil Ice Cream & a beauty-full new look! xoxo

  9. Jennifer Hess — June 2, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    So glad you’ve got so many wonderful things to look forward to, and a new kitten to bring you happiness! And I love the redesign. xo

  10. Helene — June 2, 2011 @ 10:18 am

    That ice cream just went on the Sunday dinner with friends menu! Thanks!
    Love the redesign!

  11. Your site looks absolutely stunning! I love it!

    AND, I just love that olive oil ice cream. I think that is absolutely something that I can handle right now (with the help of hubs, of course). I will be making it ASAP! 🙂

  12. Adryon — June 2, 2011 @ 10:35 am

    Love the redesign! And the ice cream looks lovely and creamy. Yummy!

  13. Patricia Scarpin — June 2, 2011 @ 10:55 am

    Looks so good! I’m intrigued by this recipe and will give this a try (despite being cold here in Sao Paulo right now, I don’t care, I love having ice cream in cold days as much as in hot ones. ). 😀

  14. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — June 2, 2011 @ 11:21 am

    Love your new site, it’s beautiful 🙂 And thanks for sharing this recipe. I recalled we were exchanging tweets about olive oil ice cream. Now I can’t wait to make it 🙂

  15. marla — June 2, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

    I cannot believe it is June either….yikes. This ice cream is gorgeous – I love olive oil in baked goodies & I can only imagine it in this ice cream. I hope you have a wonderful time in Chicago – sounds like a wonderful trip you have planned 🙂

  16. marla — June 2, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

    Oh & fabulous re-design 🙂

  17. Merry-Jennifer
    Merry-Jennifer — June 2, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

    Thanks, everyone!

  18. Wenderly — June 2, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

    Love your new look! It’s just lovely!

    And that olive oil ice cream…*divine* we live for olive oil at my house! This will be a heavenly hit for sure!

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  20. Gail — June 3, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    The olive oil ice cream is the perfect compliment your new look!!! LOVE olive oil ice cream!!

  21. Janice — June 4, 2011 @ 5:52 am

    Love the new design!!! I wish I was with you girls in Chicago! BTW – there are two of you?!?! I never knew!

  22. Wonderful new design! Lindsay is a very talented person, not to mention super nice. Even though it is raining today in the Bay Area, this ice cream is too die for and a must make! Enjoy Chicago! – (on my bucket list!)

  23. sweetsugarbelle — June 8, 2011 @ 6:47 am

    I feel sophisticated even reading this post and utterly curious. Id seen another blogger mention wanting to try olive oil icing after seeing a post about it. Now I know where she found it 🙂

  24. Cheryl Arkison — June 12, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

    Olive oil? You had me intrigued back when you were tweeting about it…

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 13th, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

      Cheryl, you need to make this. Seriously.

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