We went down to south Jersey again this weekend, to visit S’s dad. It’s all so draining, both physically and emotionally, that we’ve begun to look for other “reasons” to make the trip—little upsides to cheer us through difficult periods. This time it involved food.
On our way home, we drove off in search of some mythical soft pretzels from my husband’s childhood, which he had heard were now available in a new location. The hunt took us down roads I’d never been on before—typically when we visit, we cover the routes between S’s father, his brother, his mother, his grandmother, and his great-grandmother, but little else. We drive through some semi-rural areas, but always on major arteries; there are fields all around us, taunting us with their corn stalks and greenery, but never a farm stand. Honestly, I’d become convinced that it was all Big Farming, harvested before ripeness and shipped off in cartons to some other place. From what I’d seen drifting by our car windows, it didn’t seem possible to buy any just-picked produce. And then, the pretzel hunt took us a new way. After crossing a one-lane bridge and making a sharp turn, there it was: the New Jersey farm stand of my dreams.
The setting was humble, dusty, with misshapen cucumbers and fruit flies feeding on the sweet offerings piled high in rough wooden display cases. The bright pink flesh of an eaten-out watermelon in a large cage caught our attention. We wandered over to investigate: a pair of birds nestled inside, dazed and bedraggled. To our city minds, this felt like a real farm. Jersey tomatoes for $1 a pound! Whole watermelons—and not those cute little Sugarbaby balls, we’re talking real, oblong, oh-my-god-it’s-heavy watermelons for $4 each! The last strawberries of the season, $2.50 a quart! Corn, $3.75 a dozen! We loaded up the back seat with berries, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and peaches—the greatest hits of summer produce—and went on our way, in search of soft pretzels.
The gingersnap-topped peach crisp I made when we got home last night was truly a case of turning lemons into lemonade, although I suppose it would be more correct to say Peach: Peachade…
Easy Gingersnap Peach Crisp
5 medium peaches, very ripe
1 T. dark brown sugar
1 T. flour
Sprinkle each of cinnamon and powdered ginger
15 gingersnaps, crushed
2 T. sliced almonds
2 T. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375. Spray an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
Skin the peaches: cut a shallow “X” in the bottom of each and drop into boiling water for 20 seconds, until the skins feel loosened. Plunge immediately into ice water to prevent cooking, then remove skins. Cut into slices, toss with brown sugar and flour, then pour into prepared baking dish.
Combine crushed gingersnaps, almonds, and melted butter—don’t worry if the butter doesn’t coat everything—and pour on top of the peaches. Bake for 20 minutes, until top is browned and peaches are bubbly.
We didn’t have any vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, but this would be extra-fab topped with a little of either.