Wednesday, 20 August 2014 15:48

Gain a new appreciation running for peaches

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The plan, back then, was simple enough.

 I would get out of my cozy bed at 5:30 in the morning, exchange pajamas for sweat pants, walk the short distance from my place over to the home of my best friend, and from there, the two of us would jog through the quiet streets of our neighbourhood for 45 minutes.
After jogging, we’d stop back at Julie’s for toast and canned peaches. Real summer-in-a-jar canned peaches. Peaches that had been put up by her grandmother during sticky days spent over simmering vats of water.
Following breakfast, I’d shuffle back home, then we’d each sally forth with minds and bodies invigorated by such excellent early morning blood flow.
Over time (specifically three weeks; the amount of time it’s said to take to develop a habit), we believed, we would not only begin to shed pounds and gain shape, but also create in ourselves a love of sweat and pain that would entrench itself into a beloved habit for life.
So, for the first week and a bit, we encouraged each other to get up and run. Either because exercising in partnership is a good way to keep on keeping on. Or because misery loves company.
We woke, jogged, then ate toast and peaches.
Woke. Jogged. Toast and peaches.
Until... arriving in the pre-dawn at Julie’s door one morning, I found a note taped there.
 “Stayed up too late last night. Go on without me. You are amazing!”
 And the next morning.
“Really tired this morning. But I know you can do it!”
And so I went. I did.  I read the note on the door. Then jogged alone. Day after day. Even though I didn’t feel the least bit amazing. Even though the three-week threshold for developing a habit passed and jogging never did stop becoming a trudge.
And then, because I was never a jogger in my heart, and because 45 minutes spent staring down at my feet as they pounded the pavement was not its own reward,
I began, instead, to walk. No longer at 5:30 in the morning. Not ever again. But I began to walk through neighbourhoods, where I sometimes stopped to watch, regardless of my target heart rate, as a deer and her fawn crossed the road.
I walked and enjoyed the views, while learning where the most colourful and fragrant local gardens were planted. I walked in parks and watched salmon swim upstream, while squirrels scolded me for getting too close to their caches of nuts.
Even now, 20 years since my last run, I can’t say that walking has become a habit, but I have learned that I can’t motivate anyone else. And I’ve learned that I can’t wait for anyone else to motivate me.
And so, today, my walk is to the Farmer’s Market for just a few peaches. Not enough for canning. Just enough for a new favourite recipe that is sized for a medium family gathering, but is also easily adapted to share with just one friend.           

Baked Peaches with Cinnamon Crumble
4 medium peaches (or nectarines)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (melted)
ice cream for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter and stir until mixture has incorporated the butter and begins to come together into coarse crumbs.
Slice peaches or nectarines in half and discard pit. Cut away a thin slice on the bottom side of each half, so they'll sit on the baking pan without rolling around or toppling over.
Place peaches on a plate, a few at a time, and heap with crumble mixture. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and continue with remaining peaches, catching up loose crumbs from plate and heaping them back on top.
Bake in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes, or until peaches are tender to the tip of a knife (the knife should come out very hot after a few seconds inserted into a baking peach). Serve warm with ice cream.
Baker's Note: The crumble can be refrigerated for a few days in an airtight container, and the recipe works equally well doing two at a time in the toaster oven. Perfect for sharing with a friend at coffee time.

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