It all started with the Crockpot.
After a long day of fifth grade, I swung my Hello Kitty backpack onto the kitchen counter, barely missing a mysterious object that looked like a small, freestanding bathtub with a lid. I inspected the device with a little help from my tippy toes and observed some kind of foggy red stew bubbling under the glass top.
“It’s called the Crockpot,” my mom said. “You just dump all your ingredients in and let them simmer all day long. It’s so much easier than having to start dinner right when I get home from work. You know how much I hate cooking.”
The Crockpot rested on the kitchen counter in all of its convenient glory for the next year or so. The dinner menu soon became predictable–meat stew, chicken and rice casserole, taco soup, or pot roast. The problem was, I was a picky eater, and before long, my relationship with the slow cooker grew sour. I built up so much resentment toward the new gadget that “Cooks all day while the cook’s away!” that I turned to YouTube to learn how to cook dinner myself. I soon discovered that unlike my mother, I enjoyed cooking quite a bit.
Eleven years later, I got my first job as a personal chef. Once a week, I go into the houses of my clients and cook several gourmet meals, snacks, and desserts that last them throughout the week. Throughout all of my cooking adventures, I’ve hoarded numerous tips and tricks that have helped elevate my skills. One of my favorite tips to share with people who want to improve their cooking is to try to use ingredients that are in season, and better yet, locally sourced. Buying from a farmer’s market is the best way to acquire produce that is bursting with freshness, thanks to the crops’ short trip from a local farm to the consumer’s table. Here in Colorado, farmer’s markets are abundantly packed with seasonal fruits and veggies from May through October, but nothing screams Colorado Summer like the state’s famous Palisade peaches.
Colorado peaches are most famously grown in the town of Palisade, where long sunny days and crisp summer nights allow the peaches’ sugars to develop perfectly. The craze over Palisade peaches started with a man named John Harlow, one of the original colonizers of Palisade. Although the town’s soil was rich and nutrient-dense, there wasn’t nearly enough rainfall for farmers to sustain fruit trees. However, in 1882, Harlow initiated a canal project to divert water from the Colorado River into Palisade. By the beginning of the 20th century, more than twenty-five thousand pounds of beautifully sweet peaches were being harvested from the land.
Combining my knowledge of cooking with what I know to be true about Palisade peaches, I’m going to show you how to make Colorado’s best cast iron peach cobbler. This is one of those gorgeous recipes that tastes like it’s hard to make, but in reality, it’s as simple as pie (or quite honestly, a lot simpler than pie).
Begin preheating the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, wash and cut Colorado Palisade peaches into slices.
Drop an entire stick of butter into a cast iron skillet and let it melt over medium-low heat.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour, 2 tablespoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¾ cup of milk.
Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat. Pour the batter mixture into the pan so that it is evenly spread on top of the butter. Do not mix the batter into the butter. The butter acts as a nonstick agent, so it needs to remain in a thin layer across the bottom of the skillet.
Spread peach slices evenly over the top of the batter. Again, do not stir or mix.
Bake on the middle rack for one hour at 300 degrees. Let the cobbler cool just a bit before serving, so that it is no longer bubbling yet still warm and decadent. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for extra pizazz. Enjoy!
I hate to admit it, an equally delicious yet simpler version of this recipe can also be made in the Crockpot. Begin by preheating the slow cooker and throwing in a stick of butter to melt directly inside the pot. Next, follow the same steps above. Set the Crockpot on high and cook for one and a half to two hours, or until the top of the cobbler is set.
Although I’ll always prefer to make this recipe in a cast iron skillet, this dazzling peach cobbler undoubtedly helped me heal my relationship with the Crockpot. I hope you too will make it one of these ways before the Palisade peach season comes to an end on October 1st!