Peach Buzz

SHIRLEY'S KITCHEN

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Hello, Payson.

What a beautiful day! This is my first monsoon season -- what an experience! I am learning to be aware of clouds, wind and temperature changes. I also take my time driving in a heavy downpour, especially coming back from the Valley -- which reminded me of the times I drove in the snow while living in Michigan -- the bottom line is be extra careful and try to do my errands before 3 p.m.

All this water has been a blessing to control fires, provide for wildlife and refill our wells.

My friend LeAnn (who also moved here a year ago) and I started to venture out to surrounding towns. Saturday, our destination was Jerome. What a beautiful drive! I didn't realize how high up in the mountains the town sits.

We found the perfect spot to park -- in walking distance to all the neat shops. As an artist, it was a very inspiring day, finding so much creativity, beauty, color and craftsmanship.

They also have great food and the wonderful smell of fresh bread took us into this cute bakery where I indulged by purchasing cinnamon and French breads.

Right on time, at 3 p.m., we heard thunder and the sky got dark. It was time to go home. We experienced rain in Cottonwood for a little while.

The route home includes Highways 89A and 260 and in places they narrow into two lanes. The signs say "Keep to your left." Well, we had three unpleasant moments when people came speeding from behind us and passed on the right side of the road, my thought is that people that drive like that must really be in a hurry to get to the cemetery.

My friend and I agreed that it was a wonderful day and rudeness would not ruin our day.

OK, enough chatting. Let's get cooking.

Since peaches are abundant right now, how about "Barbara's Peachy Chicken" for dinner and a Peach Crisp for dessert. The smells will be awesome and make you hungry. Add a light salad with the chicken and enjoy!

Today's tip: We all have imagination. Use it to add spice into your lives!

Happy cooking,

Shirley

Peach Crisp

Peaches are generally at their peak from June to early August, depending on where they're grown, but they can be found in area stores now.

For a quick treat, place some butter on the unpeeled, halved fruit, sprinkle brown sugar and granola on top then bake. Served hot or cold, the golden result will beg for a scoop of ice cream -- and an encore.

Prep time: 10 minutes; total time: 25 minutes -- If made from scratch: 2 hours

4 ripe peaches, halved

4 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 cup Quaker granola

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

1 pint vanilla ice cream (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the peach halves, cut-side up, in a baking dish. Sprinkle each half with 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of granola, and 2 pieces of butter. Bake until the peaches are soft and the granola begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to individual plates, spooning the juices in the dish over each peach half. Serve with the ice cream (if desired).

Serves 4 to 8.

Barbara's Peachy Chicken

A fruitful combination of flavors, good served over rice.

3 chicken breasts, halved

1/2 cup flour

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1-1/2 cups orange juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon basil

l/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1, 16-ounce can peach halves, drained

Shake chicken pieces in bag with flour and salt and pepper to taste; brown in butter and oil. Place browned chicken in a greased, 3-quart casserole dish. Combine orange juice with vinegar, sugar, basil, and nutmeg, and pour over chicken. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tender. Baste often. Then place peach halves between chicken pieces, baste well, and bake uncovered for 15 minutes longer.

Serves 6.

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