Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Midnight Kitchen-Peachy Keen

Early Harvest-Never enough peach pies!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for keeping in touch. I love picking up the mail and finding good, old-fashioned letters and cards. Let's not ever stop sending real mail, real photos, and let's not ever stop reading real books!

Be sure to read to the end of this posting to see who won the lovely little teak side table for the garden, and read what the newest offering will be.

My garden, despite the odds, surprises us with harvests of all sorts. We've cut our water usage by half, we use every drop from showers to deep water fruit trees; all our cooking water is kept free of salt and oil so we can cool the water and use it in the garden.

When Mother Nature produces a bounty of anything, you must work fast and hard to preserve your food. Last year I refreshed my canning skills by taking classes with Ingrid Hilton at the fabulous Avila Valley Barn. Now, when I am in town, I take classes through the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Food Preserver Program. They are fascinating and teach how to preserve, pickle, and dry anything and everything.

My little 'Tropic King' dwarf peach burst into bloom on January the 8th. I never dreamed that during this severe weather it would out produce anything it has ever done. By May I had hundreds of fruits, and the branches hung low (and needed to be propped so as not to break).

The ripening crop.

Washing the fruit to prepare the extras for freezing and cooking.

Many of you know that I love to cook/think/dream in the middle of the night. Working in the kitchen soothes me and helps me get in touch with life. So, I cook in the Midnight Kitchen. It makes me happy.

Washed fruit waiting to be blanched. 
I slit an X in each fruit so the skin would pop and be easily peeled.

Dropped them into the boiling water for a minute, then plunged them into an ice bath and peeled them.

Then reality set in. This is too hard. Life is too complicated. I decided to try another way of readying the fruit for freezing.

The Easy Freeze

I picked them JUST as they ripened. They were firm, not hard. I washed them thoroughly and set  them out to dry overnight in clean egg cartons.

Then, I froze them whole in freezer bags and tucked them away for the cold winter days when I want to bake or make a smoothie. I checked my friend Pat Crocker's preserving book for her way to freeze them. She recommends sprinkling the fruit with granulated sugar and packing them into freezer bags, squeezing out air, sealing tightly.

 This is my Grandmother Lovejoy's Fire King pie plate. I never took the time to really look at it, but it is gorgeous.  

I Always Make a Mess
Get Busy!

My Favorite Gingersnap Crust
  1.  2 cups gingersnaps (homemade or store bought. I love Trader Joe's Triple Gingersnaps)
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar. Pack it tightly.
  3. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I use Malden's; it is like snowflakes on the tongue)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1 teaspoon orange zest
  7. 4 tablespoons (half a stick) of unsalted butter/melted
Blend all ingredients till they hold together and don't crumble. You want the mixture moist, but not soggy. (Kind of like the perfect soil in a garden) Line your pie pan and set aside enough for the topping. Fill with peaches, sprinkle on topping and pecans.

Luscious Filling

5 cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 tablespoon of orange zest
1 cup sugar (when the peaches are sweet and juicy I cut the amount of sugar in half)
1⁄3-1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
A grate of nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Stir together flour, 1 cup sugar, and spices and set aside. Wash, peel, and slice fresh peaches. Zest orange. Mix together peaches and orange zest with the combined dry ingredients. Turn into gingersnap lined pie pan. Use remaining gingersnap crust to cover top of peaches. Dot with butter, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. I added chopped pecans to my crust.
Wow! Bake 35 to 45 minute

You won't believe the aroma of this pie as it bakes.

From Pies to Book Talk

We had a dinner picnic at my house for some readers of my new book, Running Out of Night. They arrived with growling stomachs, big smiles, and lots of questions about the story and how to write. They especially enjoyed visiting my studio and seeing where I write and draw. I hope this visit served as an inspiration for them to reach for the stars. 

The next day I did a SKYPE book club interview with fabulous kids and moms in Portland, Oregon. I showed them around the studio and shared art supplies, drawings, ideas, and reference materials. Then, I was in the hot seat and answered well thought out questions. I loved every minute of our time.

When doing a SKYPE interview, I can see them and they can see me and my surroundings. Also watching is the little Anna's Hummingbird up in my window feeder. Can you see her?

Also got the chance to talk to a group of kids about Running Out of Night, and shared with them the enlarged copy of an actual bill of sale for three slaves. They could not imagine that humans could be sold just like an object from a store. 

Teachers, Librarians, Home-School Parents, Scout Leaders, Book Clubs

I am happy to speak with you about a library, school visit, book club visit, and more. Just contact me via e-mail, and we can set up a time to meet with readers. Send me an email at

Why I write and draw!

 Thank you, dear readers, for sending photos.

Fabulous Teak Table Give-Away (finally)

A huge thank you to Teak Close Outs for donating a teak table to one of my lucky readers. Over a hundred of you tossed your names into the invisible hat. Tah dah, here is the lucky winner:

Ann Reynolds 

Please send us your snail mail address, and Teak Close Outs will ship the table (needs assembly) directly to you. You'll love this!

Workman Publishing has offered to send one of you lucky readers a copy of Sara Midda's new book, A Bowl of Olives. Many of you are Sara fans. She wrote and illustrated In and Out of the Garden, which was a huge hit. Then she did Sara Midda's South of France, and many other books. Workman will ship a copy of this beautiful work of art to whomever wins the new drawing. Here are the directions for submitting your name, but please do leave a comment on the blog so I know that you're visiting me! Thanks.

To drop your name into the "hat" for the drawing, simply leave a comment at:
Sharon's Give Away at

Sending love across the miles,