Although Mt. Rainier is a looming presence in Puget Sound, it is a shy giant and sometimes hides under a blanket of clouds. Summertime brings out its social side and it towers over the landscape on sunny, blue days. The last two weeks, however, the mountain has been hidden from view due to the fires raging to the North in British Columbia, to the South in Oregon and California, and to the East in Yakima County. Our usually clean, cool air has become a smokey, orange/brown, haze of tangible particulants.
Last week the Sweetie and I decided to drive to Yakima, through the Cascades, looking for relief and peaches. We found fresh air on White Pass and wildflowers on Chinook Pass, along with light traffic and beautiful views. We lost all four as we drove into Yakima, but hit the peach jackpot at Fruit City, a family-owned produce stand in business since 1966. As one of “the boys” (all the locals call owners JR and Lynn “the boys”) told me, “I get to work with my best friend and brother, plus every day is bring your dog to work day.”
Lynne and JR
We loaded up on ripe peaches and real tomatoes, bought a few pork tamales for the road, took home some barbecue dry rub, bagged five pounds of Walla Walla sweets, and headed home. Our vacay ended as soon as we got to Bonney Lake. Three hours later, after nightmare traffic and bad air, we pulled into our driveway, all traces of vacation bliss gone. But…what remained was the unmistakeable late-August urge to make loobia and peach pie. Luckily Ginny had given me a bag full of her garden-fresh, green beans and Nancy contributed a big, red, tomato from her garden, so loobia and a golden-brown peach pie were on the supper table the next night.
Don’t discount loobia because of the strange, unfamiliar name. It is comfort food at its best—here’s the Lebanese version Pop taught me.
Loobia (Green bean stew)
- 2# small cubed or ground beef or lamb
- 1 onion chopped fine
- 2 T. minced garlic
- 1⁄2+ t. cinnamon
- 1⁄2 t. cumin
- 1 t. salt
- 1⁄2 t. black pepper
- 2# green beans
- 2 c. diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
- 1⁄2 c. tomato sauce
Sauté onion, garlic, and spices in 1 tablespoon butter until onion are soft. Add meat and stir to break it up until the meat loses its pinkish color. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and green beans. Simmer until beans are tender.
Serve with Uncle Ben’s Rice and yogurt.
Loobia is also good without the meat.
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 12 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Yolk of 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- ¼ cup water, from 3/4 cup ice water
- White of 1 egg, beaten
- Pinch granulated sugar
- 6 or 7 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced, approximately 5 cups
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch of nutmeg
Make the pie dough. Using your fingertips or the pulse function of a food processor, blend together the flour, butter and salt until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. There should be pebbles of butter throughout the mixture.
Add egg yolk and vinegar to 1/4 cup ice water, and stir to combine. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of this mixture over the dough, and gently stir or pulse to combine.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gather together into a rough ball. Divide the ball in half with a knife or a pastry scraper, then, using the heel of your hand, flatten each portion of dough once or twice to expand the pebbles of butter, then gather each portion together again into a ball.
Flatten each ball into a 5- or 6-inch disc, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425.
Make the pie filling: Combine sliced peaches, lemon juice, sugar and flour in a large bowl, and gently mix to combine. Set aside.
Take the larger of the pastry discs out of the refrigerator, roll it out on a lightly floured surface and place in a 9-inch pie plate. Add the peaches. Sprinkle them with the ground nutmeg.
Roll out second disc of pastry. Place on top of filling. Wet edges of the bottom pastry disc with some cold water. Trim pastry, pinch bottom and top edges together and cut a few slits to allow steam to escape from the pie. Brush the egg white on the top, particularly around the edges, and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425°, then reduce heat to 375. Cook until peaches bubble (usually that means as soon as the floor of the oven is a big mess) and the pie crust is golden, approximately 45 more minutes.