Nectarines by Moonlight

I’m so lucky in my friends.The last sentence of my latest Apron of the Day post ended with an exhortation to chat about nectarines. Within what seemed like minutes I received an email from the Divine Miz Rachel — click the Lawn Tea link on my blogroll to get the fine full flavor of her writing. You don’t mind if I quote from your email, do you Dear?

“Cut/break a couple of nice juicy beauties apart, take out the pit, and lay them face-down for a few minutes on the grill whilst the steaks or burgers or sate cook.

Lay a piece of foil down in their area, transfer them to that, bellybuttons up, and put a knob of butter and a big glunch of brown sugar into the cavities.   Close the lid and let them have a few moments to themselves, then serve with a scoop of GOOOOOD vanilla ice cream nestled into their warm embrace.”

Grilling stone fruit is a culinary Good Thing; my friend Ivan is a famous fan of white peaches on the ‘Q. But late last night this method was not to be.

I love the dessert course but don’t serve it as often as I should. One of the delights of my mother’s table was that she served a sweet finale every single night, and she was a lady of eternal waistline vigilance. Although I think I’m a fine pastry cook I just don’t bake or make ice cream often enough. Part of it’s laziness, part of it’s girlish figure concerns, part of it’s a preference for carbs and protein, but it’s mostly plain laziness.

But last night it struck — my quarterly craving for something sweet. My usual solution is to moan: “Lou, get to DQ now and grab me a Peanut Buster Parfait!” He points out  that it’s past Dairy Queen closing time, which is always true, because my late onset sugar cravings happen after midnight. We were watching the BBC news on PBS, admiring the full moon, when the Sweeties Vampire bared his fangs and bit me in the neck. He could not be denied.

I scrambled to the kitchen and scoped out the possibilities. They were nonexistent, unless I wanted to commit to baking a cake at 12:30 am CDT. Then I remembered the nectarines.Because I’m committed here to to increase endorphin levels on a budget, I’ll spare you my rant about how I haven’t been able to buy, for love or money, a decent peach in thirty five years here in Chicagoland. These nectarines were not Rachel’s “nice juicy beauties,” they had the voluptuousness of  handballs, but I’d bought them hopefully, knowing that l’ve had occasional luck in home ripening nectarines. I didn’t care that I was slicing fruit that could be struck by an aluminum bat without splitting. I threw them into a saucepan, flung in a couple of handfuls of sugar and a glug  of vanilla. Remembering recent online recipes I stumbled around a pitch black herb garden and snapped off a branch of basil. Minus two leaves it went into the pot.

I didn’t poach those nectarines, I boiled the hell out of them. When they were all syrupy I stuck the whole pot in the freezer and returned to the living room to hear about some cricket test match. (I love the World of Sport segment on the BBC news — most of the stories are about sports I’ve never seen.) Ten minutes later I pulled the pretty martini glasses that my adorable nephew Miles “Danger” McArthur gave us for Christmas and layered in the nectarines, a plop of crema, a drizzle of honey and a basil leaf for garnish.I’m a mostly modest person, but I’m going to sing an aria to my woman-on-the-verge-of a -nervous-breakdown coupe. It sang. That coloratura hint of basil melded with the vanilla, the nectarines were soft and tasted of nectarines, the vanilla was the baritone.

I did remember to snap a shot. It would have been a good idea if I’d turned the dining room  light on while I was taking the pic — this photo belongs in the Food Photography Hall of Shame. If my son-in-law sees it he’ll clasp his chest. But we both ate those nectarines by moonlight, and if I ever collect a guitarist, a bass, and a drummer, “Nectarines by Moonlight is gonna be my band name.




Filed under About a buck, Food, On the Street Where I Live

6 responses to “Nectarines by Moonlight

  1. Mais non, ma cherie—’tis I.

    These look absolutely Cockaigne—in EVERY use of the word. (Which I’ve always wanted to use, by the way, since an absolutely divine food column of the seventies—the word was reserved by the writer for the ne plus of anything).

    Did you peel? I can’t see any, but that must be what gave it that tempting rosy color, like a skater’s cheeks.

    (And the most memorable peas of my life were crunched in a friend’s midnight garden after a late concert—touch-gathered and beyond compare).

    Just scrum-diddly-umptious, Ma’am.

    • No, I was too crazed to peel, and in the end the peels kind of dissolved away. I love Cockaigne too — I think the Rombauer ladies invented it. I’m having an amazing virtual flashback to those peas in the Garden of Good.

  2. Lloyd

    Mercy – 1230 AM CDT? I was already asleep by 1030 PM PDT!

    Looks (and sounds) extra yummy.

    We get great peaches out here (from just east of the Cascade Mtns in E Wash and E Ore, but mich juicy beasties of nectarines are almost unheard of – is the a factory in Toledo that produces those we get today?

    • Lloyd — I like the way you think: let’s blame it on Toledo. You’ve eaten a great local peach? I die, I faint I fail.

      What can I say? Since tweenhood I’ve been a night owl. My brain starts to roll over at about 2 pm.

  3. Oh, my Dear Lord!!! I’ve just realized what that late-night pea-pickin’ must have sounded like!!

    Oh, NOOOO. Never have I—I’m too goofy sober.

    No, it was a start-at-dark concert here locally, in a perfectly respectable park shell—it was VIVALDI, Woman!! With one of my delectable picnic suppers spread on a quilt in the grass.

    We dropped off our friends at home, went in for a moment, got to discussing the peas and the fact that I’d never had a straight-from-the-vine sugar-snap, and a taste memory was born.

    Nope. Sorry. Your visions of me out there in an Earth-Mother outfit and Birks, prowling the peas in a haze of forget-me-not essence—not me. I haven’t had the pleasure.

    Maybe someday when I’m wearing purple, with a red hat that doesn’t go . . .

  4. kim shook

    I will gild Miss Rachel’s lily by suggesting that you top her lovely concoction with some crumbled amaretti cookies.

    Peanut buster parfaits are the bomb. But your nectarines look and sound delectable!

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