Over the past couple years, we’ve shared recipes for two fruit crisps: (i) an easy-to-make blueberry crisp using local and organic blueberries from Grindstone Farm E.I.E.I.O. (Excellence in Edible Incredible Organics) and (ii) an apple crisp using local and organic apples from Hemlock Grove Farm.
We’ve also shared two recipes for fruit cobblers: (i) a blueberry-rhubarb cobbler inspired by a Chez Panisse recipe, using rhubarb from this baker’s backyard garden and “ecologically grown” blueberries from a small farm called Pumpkin Hill Farm (which now is for-sale and listed on a website affiliated with American Farmland Trust called Farmland for a New Generation New York. and (ii) a Montmorency cherry cobbler for Valentine’s Day using a 14.5 oz. can of Omena Organics Montmorency cherries.
What’s the difference between a fruit crisp and a fruit cobbler? Rheanna Kish explains in a Baking & Desserts article in Canadian Living. She notes that there are few desserts that are so simple, yet evoke such controversy among makers and eaters alike. Her explanation of the “difference” is clear and concise.
A cobbler is a deep-dish baked fruit dessert with a thick dropped-biscuit or pie dough topping. Ms. Kish points out the common belief that the name came from the biscuit topping’s resemblance to cobblestones.
In contrast, a crisp is a baked fruit dessert topped with a crisp and crunchy layer of ingredients which may included a proportion of sugar, butter, oats, nuts, flour and a spice such as cinnamon, tossed together to gain a somewhat granular look. This fruit dessert is baked until the topping is crisp and golden.
It takes some doing to find organic AND local fruit, and perhaps that’s the reason why I’ve never baked a peach cobbler or a peach crisp. But the idea to do so nonetheless was sparked by Leah Penniman’s recipe for Fruit Cobbler which is included in a chapter on Cooking and Preserving in Farming While Black, recently reviewed on this website.
Ms. Penniman writes Grandmommy’s peach cobblers were the highlight of holiday meals. And she gently points out why fruit cobblers should be our go-to dessert: While the decadent cakes and pies of the Black South make our hearts swoon, the fruit-based cobblers are most adaptable to a healthy lifestyle.
But where to find organic peaches? There’s little doubt in the mind of this advocate for local and organic food that eating organic is the much healthier choice. Rodale Institute’s Latest Dirt On Organics includes a link to an article (8/11/20) by Kendra Klein and Anna Lappé in The Guardian that going organic can reduce pesticides in your body by 70%.
Although organic peaches from California were available at my local food co-op, I decided to check out the local peaches for sale at the Delmar Farmers Market, located in an Albany suburb, not far from my home. There were three vendors with local peaches and although none were offering “organic” peaches, to varying degrees, each explained that the spraying of their peaches was kept to a minimum. Of course, minimal spraying is hard to quantify.
But since the seasonal crop of local peaches will not be available much longer, I decided to buy the peaches for a peach crisp at the farmers market and support the local economy. (Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi– Give me spots on my apples/But leave me the birds and the bees modified in my brain by the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want.)
My recipe for Peach Crisp does vary from the appealing recipe shared by Leah Penniman. Both recipes do not use much sweetener and neither recipe uses refined sugar. But I decided to use my earlier recipe for Easy To Make & Healthier Blueberry Crisp and merely substituted 3 cups of sliced peaches for blueberries.
In addition to the sweetness of the peaches themselves, I add 1/4 cup maple syrup, while Leah Penniman’s recipe calls for 1/3 cup apple cider and 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup. The other significant difference in recipes is that Leah Penniman’s uses 1 and 1/2 cups of raw nuts or seed, chopped (pecans, cashews, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds) and 1/2 cup of oats. Mine in contrast uses 1 cup of oats and only 1/2 cup of chopped almonds. I also use 1/4 cup of flour while Penniman’s doesn’t require any flour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
3 cups of peaches, sliced & cut into wedges (no need to peel, especially if organic peaches)
1 cup organic rolled oats
1/2 cup of almonds, chopped or slivered
1/4 cup whole wheat or teff flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1/4 cup maple syrup
(1) Combine dry ingredients (oats, almonds, flour, cinnamon & nutmeg) in a bowl. I use teff flour instead of whole wheat flour, which also could be used. Given global warming and pressures of population growth, teff is a grain for the future. Just one handful of teff seeds is enough to plant an acre and it can grow from sea level to as high as two miles (3000 meters) of altitude. And teff can withstand both droughts and waterlogged soil conditions. Plus it has a tasty, nutty flavor.
(2) Add in the wet ingredients (melted butter and maple syrup) and mix until evenly coated. (I use local Kriemhild Dairy butter.)
(3) Add peaches to a medium-sized baking dish (very lightly greased). I like to use a Bennington Pottery square baker, which no doubt will be used by future bakers too. It conducts heat perfectly and is beautiful (and worthy of passing along down the line).
(4) Cover the peaches evenly with the crisp topping.
(5) Bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown and peaches start to bubble.
(Frank W. Barrie, 8/27/20)