On hot summer days I wake up lusting for fresh produce and counting the days that farm fresh vegetables will still be at local markets. I’m particularly spoiled in my pursuit of the freshest summer bounty because for about ten years a young entrepreneur has been carrying corn, tomatoes, melons and more from across the Delaware River in southern New Jersey to his stand in a parking lot not a half mile from my home.
Every day from late June till Labor Day weekend he makes his run, stopping at farms to collect picked-that-day fruits and vegetables to sell to us suburbanites.
By mid-morning when he pulls up with that day’s haul, a small crowd is eagerly waiting. The regulars know to get there early in order to snag the best selection of their favorites. We edge our way over to the stand while huge burlap bags filled with corn are unloaded from the back of the pickup, crates of pole lima beans are deposited on the tables and gorgeous juicy peaches are placed on display.
After what seems like an eternity the college kid working the stand that day opens for business. Over the course of the season, each of them gains a following, particularly the ones who have the uncanny ability to pick out just the melon that should be eaten that day, versus the one that can be held for guests coming the following weekend.
Throughout the day, cars pull in. Neighbors exchange wisdom on the best way to prepare their picks. The offers advice, like making sure to put the corn in the bag silk end first. Most importantly, the pile of corn shrinks until precisely at six PM the stand shuts down for the day when the remainders are donated to the local food bank.
For seventy-two lovely days in the height of summer I enjoy this routine and satisfying my lust for the freshest produce. All too soon it will be Labor Day and the Produce Guy will pack up his stand, leaving me longing until next year for vegetables so fresh they could have come from my backyard.
Blueberry Peach CrispFor the Filling:
1 pint blueberries
5-6 ripe peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 tbs cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
For the Topping:
¾ cup flour
½ cup rolled oats or chopped almonds
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the fruits, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice cinnamon and salt. Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish.
To make the topping, stir together flour, oats or nuts, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add softened butter and continue to stir until mixture is the texture of small peas.
Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake until bubbling in the center and brown on top, 45-50 minutes. Let cool before serving.