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,



Pom Pom said...

Yay, Sharon! You're busy doing great things! You have a good heart. The peaches are beautiful!

Thea said...

I want peach pie right now! Just reading the recipe made my mouth water. xo

Anonymous said...

My mouth is watering as I look at that peach pie.I like the easy way you have frozen some of your harvest.I'm currently reading Running in the Night with my 10 yr.old.We are both enjoying it.

Blondie's Journal said...

You are a whirlwind of activity, Sharon, and it is SO great to see a post from you! I will really look into that idea of yours to freeze the peaches. Michigan has the BEST and when I get up there, hopefully in Augist when I can get a few pounds, I'll definitely try this.

How great it is that you are engaging the kids with your book. Reading and encouraging children to read is something close to my heart and I recently discussed this with another blogger. It starts out small and can grow---you are so doing your part---above and beyond your writing.

Sending love across the miles. Hope you are healthy, happy and thriving!! :) Happy Summer!

Jane xxx

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

So good to read a post of yours dear Sharon! It was a delight! What a wonderful harvest of peaches and that pie sounds delicious! I think I'll buy some peaches and gingersnaps and make this. A delicious summer treat!

I have that same pie plate and it was my grandmothers.

You are such an inspiration to so many, young and old. Inspiring us to reach for the stars and to never stop dreaming.

Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

La Table De Nana said...

I can only dream of having peaches dripping from trees..everything looks like a trip to the Littles..the books etc..

I have Sara's latests book..A small seeing my fave books here and there..riches.
Have a lovely Sunday.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Kathy,

Oh great. I hope you enjoy every step of the journey they take together. Please let me know any thoughts and feelings you may have (also your 10 year old).

all joys,


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Jane,

Thanks for your words of encouragement! Yes, it starts small and grows and grows. That's waht we want for our children.

I always drop by for a quick check on what you're doing...and you're doing PLENTY! Looking forward to your posts from the cottage.


Bonnie K said...

Darn, now I want a peach tree! Impossible at our zone 3 altitude, but maybe if I winter it in the garage? Hmmm! It looks like life is delightful. I am glad you are managing the water shortage. It won't stop raining here. Wish I could send some your way. I would enjoy your bird book. Perhaps you can write about my forgetful flycatcher that kept losing the nest she built on my porch. The only way she can find it is if she flies under the porch and up through the stairs. Silly bird. She finally has it down and is sitting on some eggs. I can't wait for them to hatch. They are such a joy. Here's hoping you get some rain. Take care.

Patti said...

Lovely peaches, yummy pie! There is something so satisfying in "putting food by" when winter winds blow and cold snow flies! I hope you continue to write and draw for many, many years, especially when you have such a good reason ;)! Have a great day!

Julie Marie said...

Sooo excited to see this post dear cousin!... I tried to email you back the other day about my blog not taking your comments, and my emails came back "undeliverable!"... what is going on with computers???... anyway, I love spending time in your midnight kitchen with you!... those peaches!... and that pie!... and your grandma's fireking pie plate, how precious!... love the little hummer at your window as you talk with the children... I am sure they are completely in love with you and your tales... so happy about Running Out of Night... did I tell you I have read it FOUR times now!... looks like you are enjoying summers finest of everything... oh how I would love to see you in person and just chat away the day over a nice iced tea... please tell Jeff hello... much love to you, xoxo... Cousin Julie Marie PS Please disqualify me from your generous giveaway... and congratulations to Ann for winning that beautiful teak table!... xoxo...

Sue said...

Your peach pie looks delicious! I just returned to the Midwest from a visit with my Dad in South Carolina where I tried to get my fill of tasty southern peaches (and seafood, esp. shrimp).

I'd love a copy of Sara's book. I enjoy her wonderful illustartions.

And I think I'll hunt for a copy of your book to add to our Little Free Library.

Tami said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tami said...

I can't wait to make this peach pie!!! I left you a longer email, hope it gets to you.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear Tami,

YES! I just received your sweet and welcome e-mail. What a small world. So glad you took a class from Betsy Williams-she is the consummate teacher, especially about all things fairy!

I hope you enjoy my other books. I love the photo you sent along of your garden. Thank you.

All best,


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Sue,

Thanks for including a copy of "Running Out of Night" for your free library. That is so generous.

Good luck in the drawing,


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Julie Marie,

FOUR times? You've read "Running Out of Night" FOUR times??? You're the record holder so far. I had one young boy who read it three times. Better tackle another few reads or he may pass you up!



kj said...

oh yes, here i am ogling over that peach pie and in this space feeling protected from all demands and chores.

thank you, ms sharon.

i have not read your book yet. I need dispensation this one time. when i do read it, i just might read it five times for the record!

love love love you,
wait to worry

Sharon Lovejoy said...

KJ honey,

I read yours twice. So you owe me two reads, but it isn't like you haven't been life-changing busy, busy, overwhelmed. Right?

Sending love,


Pat said...

The color of your peaches is gorgeous! And frim your own tree. As someone with gardens this summer and abundant rainfall, my heart is sad hearing the conditions you are in now. There seems to be no relief for California. Our kids in Alaska are dealing with super dry conditions too and as many as 700 fires. Mother Nature needs a talking to and get balanced!! The expressions on the young readers faces are wonderful - their lives are so rich when fed such good quality books as yours.

Pat said...

The color of your peaches is gorgeous! And frim your own tree. As someone with gardens this summer and abundant rainfall, my heart is sad hearing the conditions you are in now. There seems to be no relief for California. Our kids in Alaska are dealing with super dry conditions too and as many as 700 fires. Mother Nature needs a talking to and get balanced!! The expressions on the young readers faces are wonderful - their lives are so rich when fed such good quality books as yours.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Have missed you
and oh the peaches look so beautiful.
I must bake a pie

Charlotte said...

Enjoyed reading your blog this morning. Love peaches.
Beautiful book that you are giving me a chance to win. Tha inside looks outstanding.

Marcie said...

Beautiful post. I could almost smell the peach pie. :)

Anonymous said...

My, my, that peach pie looks good, and a gingersnap crust, yum. I need to send you a real letter. I don't get many anymore, but I love how you're spreading the good word of reading with Skype and inviting face-to-face meetings. Simply wonderful. You're touching lots of sweet young lives. Almost makes me teary. Love you.~~Dee

Marcie said...

Sharon, I was canning today and I thought of you. I hope that you are well!

Lynn said...

Your peach pie looks delicious! We had gobs of peaches this year, too (though they were small) and I froze a couple of pies. But never thought to make a gingersnap crust. Brilliant :) Sharon, I have read a couple of your gardening books but had no idea you had written so much more. I am excited to look for your other books! Happy to know you have a blog, too.

Picnic Benches said...

My mouth is watering as I look at that peach pie.I like the easy way you have frozen some of your harvest. The color of your peaches is gorgeous! Have a great day!