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Autopsy of a peach cobbler

I have a flat of Palisade peaches sitting on my kitchen counter. These peaches are grown in the Grand Valley in Western Colorado, near the Utah border. They are the best peaches in the world, easily rivaling anything Georgia or California can produce. The hot days and cold nights conspire to create peaches which are especially juicy and very sweet. Take a bite and you can’t contain the juice on your chin. Just this morning, I had to give Archie a new shirt because his got so wet from eating a single peach.

Beatrix breakfasts

Lately, I haven’t been terribly domestic. By the end of the day, I am tired. It’s hot, summer is draining. I don’t like using this as an excuse, but I am in my 40s and pregnant with baby #9. Forgive me if I don’t make Beef Wellington every night. Asking my husband to grill hot dogs is more my style. Maybe it’s nesting, but yesterday I was seized with the plan to reclaim my status as queen of the kitchen. For dinner, I made a creamy summer veggie stew with french bread on the side.

For dessert, I was going to make the best peach cobbler ever made. After all, it would be stuffed with Palisade peaches. What could go wrong? If God has a Pinterest Great Cooks of the World board, he’d so pin me based on what I was going to make last night.

The last six Palisade peaches in the house. They'll be gone today.

Dinner was a success. Not everyone ate it, but I was happy. Before the dishes were done, I happily began prepping the peaches for the crowning achievement of my day. And that’s when things started going wrong. The peaches were so juicy, the bubbling peach/cinnamon/sugar/cornstarch mixture was runnier than I expected. Maybe the liquid would boil away in the oven? We were out of shortening, so I used cold butter, cutting it into the flour topping. My back started aching. My hands were getting tired from the repetitive criss-cross motion. I called the topping good enough, figuring the butter would melt and spread out. I slid it into the oven and made whipped cream topping. My smug satisfaction was strong, indeed.

What came out of the oven a half hour later can be described as magma-like peach juice with slightly singed flour on top, dotted by balls of glue. I cried.

See what happens when I make an effort? When I’m finally excited to bake, to make something special for my family? I wreck it. I’m better off sitting on my corner of the couch, helping kids open packages of cookies. I know my place.

My husband, who is perhaps the biggest peach cobbler monster on earth, asked a few questions. Did I look up the butter/shortening substitution? I felt really insulted. I hadn’t, but I didn’t think it truly mattered.

I told him, “Don’t do an autopsy on my cobbler!”

A few minutes later, when he optimistically asked if the peach filling was at least okay, I barked it didn’t matter as I ran a finger over the top. It was covered in flour. “Why did you put the flour on top if it just looked like flour?” STOP INVESTIGATING MY PEACH COBBLER! I cried. He began to poke and stir it. I couldn’t bear to watch. I felt rather ridiculous. More tears appeared as I explained how I knew I wasn’t being a great homemaker lately and how disappointed I was that I failed. It was a sad confirmation. I was hurt.

I retired to my spot on the couch to sulk and watch the three youngest kids line up pillows and do somersaults. From the kitchen, I could hear the microwave run briefly. I could hear bowls clanking and the beep of the oven being turned back on. After awhile, I could smell hot peaches again. The timer signaled the end of something. I hoisted myself off the couch to investigate.

My husband had stirred the topping into the peach mix, which thickened it. Then he made a crunchy brown sugar, oatmeal, butter topping—like you’d find on a crisp. He returned it to the oven to heat and meld, to brown.

He scooped some onto a plate for me. It was steaming hot. I threw a dollop of my whipped cream on top and dug in. It was amazing. Fabulous. Something one-of-a-kind because who could repeat that? I gratefully ate it and so did the kids, who had been waiting for a long, long time and were puzzled by my sadness over dessert. I put my plate in the sink and announced it was time for me to head to bed. On my way, I thanked my husband for not giving up on the cobbler. Of course, he said.

As I climbed the stairs, he called from the kitchen,

“I’d never give up on you.”

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