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Tag Archives: Texas Peaches

Garden Water…Herbal Infusions and Flavors

Infused Herbal Water

No matter the season, there’s always work to be done in the garden. Seasonal challenges many times involve weather related temperature extremes serving as the determining factor. In north central Texas, we typically get socked in with sweltering temperatures mid June to early September. This week is no exception. The forecast is for temperatures over 100°. Our weather forecasters have advised caution for any type of outdoor activity. Staying hydrated is of supreme importance as we are reminded to drink lots of water. 

While doing those garden chores, how about some fresh ideas using herbal infusions to flavor your water? Easy to make and so refreshing, follow these simple steps for a cool thirst quencher:

Select the fruits, vegetables and herbs of your choosing

Give everything a gentle wash

Fill a pitcher with tap or filtered water

Add your preferred combination

Refrigerate and allow the fruit and herbs enough time to infuse the water

Fruit and herbs should be removed after 10 hours, or less, but continue to enjoy the water

Create a different flavor combination each day

At Raincatcher’s, taking a water break is a tasty and satisfying experience. We enjoy our time to “pause” and visit with each other. Sipping on herbal infused water gives us that refreshing lift needed to continue caring for our beloved gardens.

Thirst no more!  Here are the herbal infused waters from left to right in the picture above:

Cucumber, Salad Burnet and Borage Blossoms (Starla’s favorite)
Watermelon, Watermelon Flavored Mint
Orange Slices, Blueberries, Lemon Verbena (Linda’s Favorite)
Lemon and Lime Slices, Pineapple Sage
Strawberries, Balsamic Blooms Basil (Ann’s Favorite)
Apricots, French Tarragon

Other flavorful combinations to try:

Parsley and Lemon
Peaches and French tarragon
Cucumber and lemon thyme
Grapefruit and rosemary
Lavender and lemons
Oranges and sage
Strawberries, blueberries and mint

Look for seasonal inspiration in your garden and be creative with your combinations.

Linda Alexander

Photo by Starla Willis

Note: When using borage flower heads for culinary purposes, pick off by grasping the black stamen tips and gently separating the flower from its green back. Sprinkle over salads, or use to flavor water and other beverages.

Peach Pot Pie

Peach Pot Pie

An important announcement from Martha Stewart hit my email yesterday. You may have seen it, also. 2018’s Dessert of the Summer is none other than Peach Pot Pie. Filled with curiosity and a counter full of luscious East Texas peaches, I couldn’t resist. Could something so simple as the rustic pot pie be elevated to regal status? If anyone can accomplish that feat, it’s Martha. And so, armed with my thawed Dufour Puff Pastry and a short list of ingredients, the cooking began. Following her instructions wasn’t difficult. After a brief chop and stir, into the oven it went. The pastry did exactly what is was supposed to do; puffed up and golden it was ready to top the slightly caramelized peaches.

The first sign of bubbling around the edges let me know that this pie was ready. With hubby waiting in the background, out it came and “plop” went the pre-dipped scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on top. With the temperature outside hitting 109˚ we couldn’t have been happier to cozy up on the sofa with our big bowl of freshly baked peach pie and vanilla ice cream. The conclusion… if Martha declared it the dessert of summer, who are we to argue. However, we might suggest that she give it a try with this year’s outstanding Texas peach crop. In that case, Dessert of the Year is a real possibility.

Easy Peach Potpie


Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting

14 ounces all-butter puff pastry, such as Dufour, thawed but still cold

¼ cup light-brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ¾ pounds ripe peaches (about 5) cut into ½-inch wedges

1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

Coarse sanding sugar

Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Preheat oven to 350˚F with racks in top and bottom thirds, and a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on bottom of oven to catch drips.

On a lightly floured sheet of parchment, unfold pastry; roll out to a 10-inch square. Center an 8-inch cake pan upside down on pastry; trace around it with a paring knife. Remove pan; remove and discard excess pastry. Transfer parchment with pastry circle to a baking sheet. Create a crosshatch pattern by scoring lines, 2 inches apart, horizontally and vertically on pastry (do not cut through dough). Refrigerate 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add peaches and toss to coat. Stir in bourbon and vanilla. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch pie dish. Cover with parchment-lined foil; bake on lower rack 20 minutes.

Whisk egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush over pastry circle; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Place baking sheet with pastry on top rack of oven. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden and fruit in dish is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes (if pastry is browning too quickly, tent with foil). Remove from oven; uncover fruit. Carefully place pastry circle on topo of fruit and bake 10 minutes more. Let cool 15 minutes; serve with ice cream.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8


Tip: From East Texas to Parker County, this is a hallmark year for peaches. At local weekend markets you’ll find a great selection of Freestone varieties (easily separates from the pit) to choose from. Get them while you can because in a few weeks production will slow down.

Peach Fever Recipes

Peach Tree Pruning

Planting an orchard?

Linda Alexander




Peach Fever Luncheon and Lecture

Good news from our local peach growers. The 2018 peach crop  had the chilling hours needed and the peach harvest is booming!

Dallas County Horticultural Assistant, Jeff Raska, left us dreaming about summer peaches with his brilliant and motivating talk at Raincatcher’s Garden. 

Following a very informative and entertaining peach primer, we savored every morsel of a lip-smacking, flavorful menu filled with a wide range of sensual pleasures. We left having experienced a true moment of “peach fever”. Summer has arrived…the peaches have spoken!

Peach Bruschetta

Peach Bruschetta

Arugula Pesto

1 clove garlic

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups arugula

Salt and Freshly ground pepper


1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the bread

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1 baguette, sliced 3/8 inch thick

1 to 2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 soft small peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into wedges ¼ inch thick

Shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Coarse Salt

To make the pesto:

Combine the garlic and walnuts in a small food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the oil and arugula and continue to pulse until the mixture is evenly moist and spreadable.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the bruschetta:

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and rosemary. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare a medium-hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill.  When the fire is ready, paint each bread slice on both sides with oil. Arrange the bread on the grill rack and toast, turning once, for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

When the bread slices are ready, let them cool enough to handle, then rub the smashed garlic cloves on both sides of each slice. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the pesto on one side of each bread slice. Top each slice with some of the caramelized onion, 1 or 2 peach slices, a little Parmesan, and a sprinkle of salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Entree of Mustard-Peach Glazed Chicken served at the lunch.

Mustard-Peach Glazed Chicken Breasts


4 boneless chicken breast halves, without skin

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

⅔ cup peach preserves

1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard (or Creole mustard)

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar)

Pinch dried thyme



Heat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or spray with cooking spray.

Wash chicken and pat dry. Put chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound gently just to even out the thickness.

Place the chicken in the prepared baking pan. Brush chicken with a little melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients; stir to blend well.

Coat chicken thoroughly with the glaze; bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until golden brown and cooked through. If chicken breasts are quite thick, they might take a little longer. The juices should run clear when pricked with a fork.

Yield: 4 servings

Peach gazpacho garnished with almonds and parsley

Peach Gazpacho

6 soft peaches (about 2 ½ pounds), peeled, pitted and quartered
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon champagne or golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ to ¾ cup water
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Sliced almonds (for garnish, optional)

In a food processor, combine peaches, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and ½ cup
water and pulse until coarsely pureed. Thin with remaining ¼ cup water if needed for a good
consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill thoroughly.
Just before serving, taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in cilantro or parsley. Ladle into bowls,
drizzle each serving with olive oil, and garnish with sliced almonds.

Yield: Make about 6 cups

Linda Alexander

Pictures by Linda and Starla

Previous peach lessons from Jeff

More peach recipes can be found on our garden recipes page.




Jim and I share many things, a love of dessert, finding just the right pencil for his beloved Martha’s crosswords, and The File.

My life was simple before The File. No longer.

For the last six weeks, my tired brain has been filled with the minutiae of helping Jim pick out trees and berries for an orchard at the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.   (We tried to have an orchard at the garden on Joe Field Road, but for various reasons, it didn’t come to pass.)

The File is a brown manila folder about 1½ inches thick filled with downloads, printed emails, notes from extension agents, a parts list for  a grape trellis, and receipts.

It comes with a complimentary bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol.

Jim knew right off the bat that he wanted the orchard to demonstrate pears, peaches, plums, persimmons, pomegranates, and “phigs.”  Grapes, blackberries, and asparagus rounded out the list.

Apples, too. Well, until we found out about the sex lives of pears, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Jim downloaded recommendations for North and Northeast Texas from Dr. George Ray McEachern, Professor and Extension Horticulturist with the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences.  This is the guy Texas Monthly calls when they want the inside scoop on the pecan industry in Texas.

We also looked up fact sheets on each crop by Larry Stein, Extension Fruit Specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.  The peach article alone is 14 pages long.

Peaches, plum, apples, and pears are fruit tree crops that require a certain amount of cold winter weather, measured in chilling hours, to end their dormancy and promote proper blooming and spring growth, according to Doug Welsh in his Texas Garden Almanac.  Chilling hours are the number of hours during which temperatures are below 45 degrees and above 32 degrees.  If you goof, and plant a variety that requires more chilling than it receives in your garden, the tree may not bloom fully—or at all.  Dallas-Fort Worth falls in the 800-hour zone.

Pollination is a big deciding factor, too.  Without pollination, a fruit tree may blossom abundantly, but fruit will not develop.  Some trees require pollination from another variety and are called “self-unfruitful.”  Other trees are “self-fruitful” and can produce fruit from their own pollen.  Then, just to make it more fun, some fruit trees can have varieties that are self-fruitful and-–don’t you just love this—other varieties that are self-unfruitful.  (Remember, the Tylenol is complimentary.)

Briefly, Jim’s first choice for a peach was ‘Redskin,’ a free-stone variety with yellow flesh that matures about July 20th.  With our high alkaline soil, we needed the ‘Redskin’ grafted on Halford Rootstock, which led us to barbecue in West Texas.  (More on that later.)

Abbe Planting Peach Tree

Abbe Planting Peach Tree

The number of peach varieties is mind-boggling.  Freestone, cling, or semi-cling? Ripening date? White or yellow flesh? The real basis of selection, however, is matching the chilling requirements of the variety with the chilling hours expected in your area.  ‘Redskin’ requires 750 chilling hours.  Peaches are self-fruitful.

Compared with peaches, there are very few varieties of plums adapted to Texas.  Jim chose ‘Ozark Premier,’ a large variety with red-and-cream streaked skin and yellow flesh that matures in late June. This plum is self-fruitful–but other varieties of plums are self-unfruitful.

Texas has a few native persimmons, but the Japanese persimmon is preferred by most gardeners because of its large fruit.  Jim picked  ‘Eureka,’ a self-fruiting variety recommended by Dr. McEachern.  ‘Eureka’ produces bright orange fruit as large as teacups in the fall.

We purchased a ‘Celeste,’ fig that is a smaller, brown “sugar” fig with sweet pink flesh and purple skin.  ‘Celeste’ matures in August.  Water is a big consideration with figs.  The trees will drop their fruit if drought-stressed and need heavy mulch and moist soils when developing their crop.  (Note to self: is fig on irrigation plan? I’m planning on fig preserves.)

Sarah brought the pomegranate from her backyard.  It was dug up and potted at the Joe Field garden, then pampered at Sarah’s for several months.

The big question with blackberries is, thorns? Or thornless? We decided to try a bit of both.  We purchased the time-tested thorned blackberry ‘Rosborough,’ the most popular of the TAMU releases.  It has a large berry, is disease resistant, and is widely adapted in Texas.  We will also try ‘Kiowa,’ a recent thorned blackberry release from the University of Arkansas.  Dr. McEachern noted on Neil Sperry’s radio show that ‘Kiowa’ was extremely vigorous and productive.

Our thornless blackberries, ‘Natchez’ and ‘Ouachita’ also come from the University of Arkansas.  They are known for their firm sweet fruit.

You would have thought growing grapes in Texas was easy.  After all, almost half of all grape species are native to Texas.  Native grapes are a cinch.  Wine grapes are another story.  Pierce’s disease and cotton root rot are some of the conditions that limit choices of grape varieties.  Womack Nursery, where we purchased our grapes, suggests ‘Champanel’ for prairie or blackland soils.  It has large black grapes that make a loose bunch, great for making jelly.

In addition to ‘Champanel,’ we decided to try ‘Carlos Muscadine,’ a grape variety used to make white wine.  Muscadines are the most disease-resistant grapes.

“If you only have one fruit tree, this should be it,” Dr. McEachern advised, when interviewed by Neil Sperry.  He was suggesting the ‘Orient’ pear, a variety that Jim picked for our orchard.  With pears—unlike fussy plums and peaches—the less you prune and fertilize, the more pears you get.  (More tree growth from fertilizer does not equal more fruit.)  We also picked a ‘Warren’ pear, since pears are self-unfruitful and you must have two varieties for good production.

Ana really wanted an apple in the orchard.  We realized at the last minute that both pears and apples need pollinators. Pears are much more disease resistant than apples, so the space in the orchard went to pears.

Judy and I looked at several area nurseries for fruit trees, but couldn’t find a place that had everything we wanted in stock.  One nursery carried the ‘Redskin’ peach, for example, but it was grafted on East Texas rootstock, rather than the Halford stock for alkaline soils.

The only solution was for husband Mike and I to have a road trip to tiny De Leon and Womack Nursery, “Your Texas source for fruit and pecan trees since 1937.”

Fruit Trees at Womack Nursery

Fruit Trees at Womack Nursery

Womack Nursery is often named as the premiere source for pecans and fruit trees in Texas by fruit and nut experts.  Traveling down two-lane Highway 6 between DeLeon and Gorman, you see a series of sheds and a small office.  The parking lot is filled with pickups—all white—as crews assembled orders.  Thousands of fruit trees, pecans, grapes, and berries were tucked in marked rows of sand.  Large boxes waited to be filled with trees and shipped to customers all over Texas.

In a few minutes, our order was packed in damp hay, wrapped in brown paper and plastic, and tightly tied, ready for the trip back to Dallas.

We weren’t quite ready for the big city lights, however.  Some of the best barbecue on the planet waited for us in Stephenville on our way home.



Pictures by Starla and Elizabeth

More about blackberries here.






Cilantro Peach Cobbler

Our Cilantro menu will include a cilantro flavored ‘dessert’ recipe.  It may be the most surprising use of cilantro.  A sweet treat with just a taste of “earthiness”.  (I used frozen peaches, for now, but come summer the locally fresh, ripe ones will be put to good use).  

Cilantro Peach Cobler

Cilantro in a dessert recipe may sound a little weird but the flavor is actually very subtle.  It’s based on a traditional, sticky-sweet Southern cobbler.


½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 ½ tablespoons minced cilantro leaves

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup milk

4 cups (about 1 ½ pounds) peeled, sliced ripe peaches

Garnish: Heavy cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees;  put the butter in a 9-inch square baking pan and let butter melt in the oven.

Whisk together  cilantro leaves, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Whisk in milk until smooth.  Pour over melted butter;  do not stir.  Distribute peaches over batter.

Bake for 1 hour, until top is golden and set.  Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or with cream or ice cream.

Yield:  6 to 8 servings

Adapted from ‘Desserts from an Herb Garden’


Peach And Red Onion Relish

Peach And Red Onion Relish 

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Coarse salt and ground pepper

¼ small red onion, very thinly sliced

2 ripe peaches, very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cinnamon basil leaves 

In a small bowl of ice water soak onion for 10 minutes;  drain, blot dry and return to bowl.  Add peaches, honey, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.  Season with salt and pepper.    Let stand 15 minutes.  Toss with cinnamon basil.


Peach, Watermelon, and Tomato Salad With Mint and Basil

Peach, Watermelon, and Tomato Salad With Mint And Basil

½ medium size watermelon, cubed

3 medium peaches, cubed

2 medium size heirloom tomatoes (green variety) cubed

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1-2 stalk’s worth of basil leaves

1-2 stalk’s worth of mint leaves

Juice of one lime

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly  ground pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

¼  cup good quality  olive oil 

1.  Toss together the watermelon, peaches, tomato, and onion in a large bowl.  Chiffonade the basil and mint and add to the fruit  mixture. 

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients and toss with the watermelon mixture.  Chill or serve at room temperature. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings.  Can easily be doubled or tripled.


Fresh Peach Pound Cake


Dallas Garden Party Fresh Peach Pound Cake Slices


1 cup butter, softened

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups peeled, chopped fresh ripe peaches

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract


Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Combine flour, soda, and salt; stir well.  Combine peaches and sour cream.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with peach mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Mix just until blended after each addition. Stir in flavorings.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-in tube pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake come out clean.  Let cake cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Yield: one 10-inch cake.


Strolling Along The Garden Path

  Sunflowers in a glass bottle staked to show the garden path   On Saturday July 14, we welcomed a new class of Master Gardener Interns to a morning of “meeting, greeting and eating” in Linda’s  backyard.   A chorus line of dancing sunflowers (courtesy of the Earth-Kind® Demonstration Garden) turned their perky little “faces” to greet the guests.  Over 120 Mentors and Mentees found each other along the way ready to embark upon the journey ahead.

Dallas Garden Party

 Another “garden feast” had been planned, orchestrated and beautifully prepared by a committee of enthusiastic volunteers, otherwise known as “foodies.”  How we love those garden-themed events that give us the opportunity to think creatively and exercise our culinary skills!

 And so it was decided, this one would highlight the best that our July gardens had to offer, especially those glorious herbs and veggies.  

Our menu included a “little of this,” and a lot of “that.”  Here’s a sampling of what we munched on throughout the morning:

 Strawberry Lemonade Coolers 

 Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

 Cucumber Dill Sandwich Rounds

Cheesy Quiche Squares 

Crudité Tray with Spinach/Herb Dip

 Strawberry Bowl 

 Fresh Peach Pound Cake

Lemon Verbena Thins

Dragonfly Sugar Cookies

Summertime Iced Tea 


Keep following Dallas Garden Buzz for these recipes!


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