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  • Writer's pictureElie Ravitz-Basser

Midsummer: 7/24/23-7/28/23





Sunflowers and Peaches


As the scorching days of summer continue, it is imperative to escape the heat either indoors, or under the shade of a nearby tree. My favorite trees are the fruiting peach trees and the blooming sunflowers, which transform the farm into picturesque havens of nature's beauty.


As the sun rises over the horizon, the golden sunflowers awaken. Their magnificent blooms turn towards the sun, seeking its warmth throughout the day. Row upon row of these beautiful flowers also serve as a safe haven for small animals. Newborn fawns and foxes use the foliage as shade, and to hide from predators. Additionally, the sunflowers attract a myriad of buzzing bees and fluttering butterflies, turning the field into a bustling ecosystem.






The sunflower field is not just an enchanting sight, it also plays a vital role in the farm's ecosystem. Many farmers strategically plant sunflowers as a companion crop to attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which help control harmful pests naturally. Additionally, sunflowers enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen, ensuring a healthier and more sustainable harvest for future crops.





This time of the summer is also the beginning of peach season, and here you will find many many orchards teeming with the tender yellow fruits. As the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter, the peaches reach their peak sweetness and ripeness.





Peach-picking becomes an exciting event for many people during this time. I, myself, went peach picking this week. Exploring the orchard, I carefully selected the ripest and plumpest peaches.


The bounty of peaches from the orchard and the beauty of sunflowers inspire my culinary endeavors. Freshly picked peaches find their way into delightful recipes such as peach cobbler, peach pies, and refreshing peach smoothies. The sunflower seeds are not left behind, as they become a crunchy addition to salads or homemade sourdough bread. Read on for the recipes!!


Embracing the spirit of summer, Loudoun hosts an annual summer fair, inviting locals and tourists to celebrate the radiant season. The festival is a vibrant affair, complete with music, dance, art, and, of course, a showcase of the sunflowers and peaches. Visitors can participate in sunflower maze challenges, taste various peach delicacies, and even learn about sustainable farming practices. Farmers bring their best animals to "show", an event where livestock are exhibited on their breed traits.





Recipes:


Peach Cobbler

5 peaches , peeled, cored and sliced (about 4 cups)

▢3/4 cup granulated sugar

▢1/4 teaspoon salt

For the batter:

▢6 Tablespoons butter

▢1 cup all-purpose flour

▢1 cup granulated sugar

▢2 teaspoons baking powder

▢1/4 teaspoon salt

▢3/4 cup milk

▢ground cinnamon


1. Add the sliced peaches, sugar and salt to a saucepan and stir to combine.


2. Cook on medium heat for just a few minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and helps to bring out juices from the peaches. Remove from heat and set aside.


3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice butter into pieces and add to a 9x13 inch baking dish. Place the pan in the oven while it preheats, to allow the butter to melt. Once melted, remove the pan from the oven.


4. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, just until combined. Pour the mixture into the pan, over the melted butter and smooth it into an even layer.


5. Spoon the peaches and juice (or canned peaches, if using) over the batter. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over the top.


6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 38-40 minutes. Serve warm, with a scoop of ice cream, if desired.


Peach Smoothie

▢4 peaches large, ripe, fresh or frozen (2 cups chopped)

▢1 banana

▢1 cup almond milk or your choice of milk

▢1/2 cup yogurt

▢1 tablespoon honey optional, if you prefer the smoothie sweeter

▢1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract optional

▢1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon powder optional

▢1/8 teaspoon ground ginger powder optional

▢1/2 cup ice optional


  1. Combine the fruit with the milk, yogurt, honey, and vanilla and blend.

  2. Add spices and ice. Blend again.

  3. Serve chilled with mint.


Here are some photos of more tasty dishes I've made using farm fresh ingredients this month!













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