Summer’s Last Stand and Labor Day Weekend
A Lowcountry Morning by Ray Ellis
By early September, we’d become accustomed to the steamy heat of a late Hilton Head summer, and no amount of frozen popsicles doled out in the backyard could cool us down. After a morning of hot-footing about in the sand at the beach, and riding the crest of waves in a lukewarm ocean, we gave up, headed home, and retreated under the massive live oaks in our yard on Plantation Drive. We knew this was a place where we could find respite from the scorching heat of the South Carolina sun. Here, we could lounge beneath the outstretched limbs of ancient bearded live oaks, spread a blanket across the grassy lawn, and dream of October days not too far away.
Fall meant lots of rides on the John Deere tractor, birthday parties under the three oaks at the back of the property beside the pond. There would be campfires with marshmallows to roast and s’mores to be eaten, bright orange pumpkins to carve, and oysters to roast. And then – the annual hayrides through the neighborhood with sounds of laughter as children gathered aboard.
By now we had plowed under our tomato crop down the road at Heritage Farms, the zinnias and marigolds had all faded, the watermelon vines had dried up and our crop of blueberries was tucked away in the freezer, holding the promise of delicious things to come.
Summer officially came to an end on Hilton Head Island with the retreat of the last tourists around Labor Day. We all breathed a sigh of relief that now our island home once again belonged to us. Finding a parking spot in Harbour Town was now possible and the playground was all ours! We knew there would be a short reprieve before the golf crowd would descend on Sea Pines with a fury. So we relaxed, made cold salads for supper: chicken, shrimp, macaroni, and potato, and sat for hours under the ceiling fan on the back porch with tall glasses of sweet tea. Sprigs of peppermint from the clay pot by the back door were the final embellishment.
It was a great day when the grandparents pulled up in the driveway with a basket of peaches fresh from the orchards at Chappell Farms in Kline, S.C.
They had taken the drive for the last 10 years and never forgot to bring us a basket of those delicious, sweet, firm, and juicy tree-ripened peaches. Eat ‘em over the sink cause the juices will run down your chin.
It was a sure sign that summer’s bounty was coming to an end when they made that last Sunday drive. Soon it would be time to wish for the warmth again of those lazy September days.
Peach and Almond Cobbler – It’s Tradition!
So each year we made our own special Peach and Almond Cobbler. The very method had become a ritual. The ritual grew into a tradition. The tradition turned into a legacy. Simple, easy, and everlasting. Some things are, simply, unchanged. And that’s why we love them so.
Here’s how it goes.
Pure Peach and Almond Cobbler
Inspired by odense.com
4 pounds peaches, peeled and sliced into ½ inch slices
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick cold butter
1 – 7 ounce box Odense Almond Paste
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
Place peaches in a large bowl. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg. Pour over fruit and mix together until well incorporated. Pour into the baking dish and bake for 10 minutes while preparing almond topping.
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg into a bowl.
Grate the Almond Paste and butter into the flour mixture. Mix with fingers until the texture of small crumbs or use a pastry cutter.
Add buttermilk and stir until just mixed. Be careful not to over mix.
Remove baking dish from oven and drop by rounded tablespoons on top of hot fruit.
Return dish to oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly and biscuits are golden brown. Delicious cold or warm and don’t forget the vanilla ice cream!