Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
“Hey, my husband wanted me to ask you what happened to your van.” One of my colleagues at Hillsboro Elementary School was calling to me from across the schoolyard.

“I just told him to wait and read about it in the Free Press.”

So, since inquiring minds want to know, here’s the scoop. I got broadsided at the corner of Washington and Grand.

I was on the way to pick up my kids from their practices last Monday evening when the accident occurred. As I approached the corner, I slowed slightly for those new dips in the road and entered the intersection. It was then that out of the corner of my eye, I saw the other car coming straight toward me.

It’s funny how many thoughts can run through your mind in just a matter of seconds. I can remember trying to get out of the way. I can remember saying, “They’re not going to stop…they’re not going to stop…I can’t believe they’re not going to stop.”

And, after the loud sickening crunch of metal on metal, and after I realized the van had been pushed by the force of the collision to the other side of the street, I remember saying “Thank you, God. I’m OK.”

I got out of my van to find the other driver in total disbelief. She hadn’t seen the stop sign that she had run. Being from out of town, she was unfamiliar with the streets. She hadn’t seen me until our vehicles had collided. Her focus had been distracted. But thankfully, every one in her car was all right, too.

We pulled our cars off to the side of the street and soon Officer Chad Funk arrived to work the accident. My van had been crushed on the driver’s side. Her car didn’t have a scratch. We had both been fortunate.

So, that’s what happened to my van? This week, when I stopped in at Vogt’s IGA to buy some groceries, the checkers and carry-out guys all had to tell me how loud the crash had sounded inside the store. I had three people help carry my purchases that day. Not because I had bought so much, but because they wanted to inspect the damage.

I love it. Is that small town, or what? It’s great.

Now we’re faced with a new challenge of finding something new to drive. The damage on the van came to an amount that we were not comfortable putting back into the vehicle.

I would be lying if I were to say that I don’t enjoy the thought of owning a new vehicle. But I do so dread the process of purchasing one. There’s so much to consider. New or used? Big or small? Road safety, miles per gallon, option packages and of course, the big M word.

Money.

And Keith and I differ in our approaches in making major purchases. In the end, we find that we compromise well-but the process can get ugly.

I’m ready to go smaller. Our kids, I’ve pointed out, are going to be driving their own cars in the next two or three years, so we won’t be hauling them around for too much longer. And I’m not catering anymore, so we don’t need the extra space for oversized coolers and boxes of supplies.

So what did my son suggest we look into buying? A Humvey. I don’t think the boy has any idea what the phrase “downsizing” means. I told him I needed a vehicle to carry groceries home from the store, not storm troopers back from the desert.

On Sunday night, after having a picnic in the park with the Jost family, Keith, the kids and I went “window shopping” through the car lots here in Hillsboro.

As we walked through the darkened lots, I was sure at any moment one of the city cops would pull up and shine a flashlight on us. I felt uncomfortable peering into windows of locked cars and trying to read the window stickers by the light of a street lamp.

“Don’t touch the handles,” I warned my kids. “In fact, try not to touch the car at all. We don’t want to set off any alarms. See, this one has a red light flashing the word ‘thief, thief’ on its dashboard.”

“I don’t think either Terry or Randy Hagen would press charges if you innocently set off an alarm by looking at one of their cars,” my husband said over his shoulder as he led the way to look at something that appeared to be a cross between a truck and an SUV.

“I’m not driving a truck,” I said, trying to keep my voice low and steady.

“I’m just looking,” came his impatient reply.

And so it begins.

* * *

Having three days at home over the Labor Day weekend gave me some extra time to do some baking. We’ve been enjoying the fresh fruits of the season, making several journeys this summer to Durham to pick up boxes of peaches and cherries from Carol Dirks. This recipe takes time and effort, but the result is well worth your trouble.

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler

21/2 cups flour

3 tbs. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 cup shortening

1 egg

1/4 cup cold water

* * *

3 lbs. fresh peaches-pitted, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbs. cornstarch

Sift flour, salt and sugar together into a medium bowl. Work in shortening with pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and cold water. Sprinkle over flour mixture and work with hands to form dough into a ball. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness and place in a 9×13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom and half way up the sides. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Combine peaches, lemon and orange juice in large saucepan. Add butter and cook over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Combine the sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cornstarch together. Stir into heated peach mixture, and then remove from heat.

Roll remaining dough out either to cover dish or cut into strips to form lattice top. Pour peach mixture into baked crust and top with remaining dough. Sprinkle top with sugar and drizzle with 1 tbs. melted butter, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until top is golden.

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