People think LA doesn't have seasons. They picture the palm trees endlessly waving, the balmy sunny skies, the marked absence of any form of precipitation, and legions of tanned, tow-headed people in swimming pools who don't know the meaning of the words "deciduous" or "galoshes". And maybe we don't exactly have spectacular foliage or snowmen or crocuses. But our summers come to an end, just like everyone else's. I submit these clear cut examples for your consideration:
1. An autumnal swarm of traffic instantaneously migrates onto city streets and highways as soon as the sun sets on labor day
2. The temperature drops like a stone into the mid 80s; people begin wearing longer shorts in the evenings
3. The insufferable crimson and gold egomania of USC football fans begins to appear everywhere
4. I bake my last peach crisp
End of Summer Peach Crisp
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, cut into smaller pieces
Dash of almond extract
For peach filling:
About 12 peaches, peeled* and sliced
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 Tbs. flour
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a large (9x13) ceramic or glass baking dish.
To make topping, put all dry ingredients (flour through spices) into a food processor and mix until combined. Add butter, a piece at a time, pulsing as you go until the stuff begins to come together. Pulse in the almond extract. It should resemble a crumbly shortbread dough.
For the crisp, combine the peaches, lemon juice, and almond extract. In a small bowl, combine the flour and sugar, and then stir into the peaches. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then spread in the prepared baking dish. Take your topping mix, and using your hands to break up any large clumps, cover the peaches completely. As it bakes, the juices will bubble through and the whole thing will look and smell incredible. Bake for 45 minutes, until topping is golden brown and the bubbling juices appear thickened. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
Serve in bowls with vanilla ice cream, and start counting the days until summer comes again.
* Here is a cool trick for peeling peaches: Put on a big pot of water to boil, and get a large bowl of ice water going, too. With a sharp knife, cut an X in the bottom of the peach. When the water is hot, place several peaches in there and let them bob around for 2-3 minutes, or until you can kind of see the skin where you cut the X loosening up. Remove from the hot water with a slotted spoon, and put into the ice water to stop the cooking. When they've cooled a bit, you can literally just peel back the skin from the X and save yourself and your paring knife a ton of work!