I don’t regard myself as an entertainer. I lack the skill or the energy to plan parties with thematic decor, parchment wrapped mini sandwiches, and coordinating signs on chalk boards. In fact, I get very overwhelmed when I see blog posts or magazine articles telling me how easy it is to create the perfect summer gathering. I’m drawn to them. Oh, I am. They entice me with pictures of outdoor rugs, strings of lanterns and pretty jugs of water with various vegetables or fruit in them. I have party envy for those who seem to effortlessly create these picture perfect experiences.
But I don’t want that necessarily. I want people. Skip the details and give me people – lots of people. People from different places in my life who can intersect and meet each other. People who are not like me, who have different jobs, interesting hobbies. People who will allow me the honor of hosting them and graciously accept our invitation to come and be home. I don’t entertain – I gather. I bring together my life of people and fill my home with their voices, their laughter, their families. Friends are fed and children are adored while having backyard adventures and making messes that sometimes leave behind a memory of them in a stain on the rug or a fingerprint on the wall. I love that.
A house turns into a home when you USE it. Fill it to the brim, put the kitchen on overdrive, drag out the extra chairs, bang on the piano, play in the yard, toast to good friends and turn up the music.
After a big gathering, I love to wake up early and sneak downstairs to an empty house. I sit in the dining room, pairing my coffee with left over dessert, and think of how just hours ago the place was plastered with cups, dishes and remnants of the dinner that fed our friends. There’s an energy in the room, and I swear that I hear sounds ringing because that’s what happens when a house turns into a home. Voices stick to the wall, laughter floats into the ceiling and friends are no longer guests, they are family.
Peach Sour Cherry Pie in a Jar
Full sized pies are of course, a staple of the summer months. But they can also be tricky because the hot, humid summer air is not a friend to pie crust. My favorite thing to do in the summer is to make pie in a jar. Not only are they more manageable for cookouts or picnics, but people love eating pie out of a jar. Seriously – who wouldn’t? I’ve posted a strawberry rhubarb pie-in-a-jar recipe in the past and this weekend I did a peach sour cherry version which was a big hit. The beautiful thing about this is that you can do any filling. They all pretty much follow the same basic steps. Cherry and blueberry ones would be so fun for the Fourth of July! Check out this recipe for peach sour cherry – if you want to make a whole pie, then just follow the filling recipe without precooking it.
Ingredients (Makes 8 jars)
8, 4 ounce canning jars (I use Ball)
1 recipe for a 9 inch crust of Best of Both Worlds Pie Crust or your own
6 medium sized peaches
1 can sour cherries (canned in WATER)
1/4 cup sugar plus 2 Tablespoons
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Oatmeal crumb topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter but into 1/4 inch pieces
Make crust and refrigerate for at least one hour
Preheat oven to 400
Place cornstarch, 2T of sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.
Peel and slice peaches about 1/2 inch thick, placing them into a bowl along with the cherries (water drained). Toss with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Melt 1T of butter in a large saucepan. Place fruit into pan and add 1/4 sugar to the mixture and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes. When fruit is just starting to cook down, add the cornstarch mixture and cook on medium-high head until the filling thickens. Remove from heat and place into a bowl to cool. Filling should be room temperature or cool before using (can also do this a day ahead of time and put in refrigerator).
While filling is cooling, prepare your jars. Roll pie dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick – just as you would for a single crust pie. Using the lid from one of the jars, cut 8 circles and place each circle at the bottom of each jar.
Roll the dough a second time and begin cutting strips that are about the width of the jar. You will use these strips to line the sides. While you want to touch the dough as little as possible, don’t kill yourself on this step. Although the picture below shows a lot of dough on the top, I generally just bring the dough right to the edge.
Once the jars are lined, chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes – 30 would be better if you have the time. This is also a great step to do a day ahead of time. While waiting for jars to chill, make your topping (also can do a day ahead of time). Put the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Scatter the butter over the top. Pulse repeatedly until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Empty the crumbs into a large bowl then rub them together between your fingers until you have large, buttery crumbs.
When the jars are chilled, place filling into each jar. Fill each one to the top and cover generously with the topping mixture.
Place jars on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake on 400 for about 35 minutes until brown on top. The bottom of the jar should look golden brown. I dissected the bottom crust on this one and it turned out flaky and crisp.
Cool completely before eating and enjoy!