Friday, August 6, 2010

Fast-Peach Softball

Before there was the kitchen, there was the softball field.

I have not been in the position to prove the following statement in quite a while, but I used to be pretty darn athletic. I believe I have my parents to thank for that as they got their workouts back in the day by lugging my brother, myself and our equipment from practice to practice for all kinds of sports. Here is the list of organized sports I at least got to try growing up:

tap dance

I even took piano lessons and little acting class too. I know this sounds like a lot, and you may be thinking my parents were nuts, but I didn't play all of these sports all the time. Some were for just for one season (I believe tennis was the shortest for about 4 weeks...I am not good at tennis).

As I got older, I started to focus on the sports at which I really excelled: softball and basketball. I really liked soccer too, but it was during the same season as basketball so it had to go. I played softball on travel-ball teams which are teams you have to try out for that travel around the state for weekend tournaments. Our team was good, but not the best by any means. We all got along really well and had so much fun because we had all played together for a long time. I was the catcher because I could stop the ball from getting past me on wild pitches, and I had a really good arm (to throw people out that were stealing bases). I usually batted 2nd or 5th in the lineup because those were the positions for someone who could usually get on base but was not a power hitter (basically I could do the bare minimum to not get out).

One thing our team was really good at was cheering. I wouldn't expect you to know how important cheering was for a softball team unless you have played the sport on some competitive level. You basically cheer non-stop when you are in the dugout and your team is batting. Cheering would give your team a sense of unity and pride. Complicated, funny or clever cheers were encouraged. It was especially fun when your team had a cheer that no other team knew about because eventually they all started to be the same. Here is an example of a cheer we used to do from the dugout when whoever was up to bat did not swing at a pitch and it was called a strike:

"Nacho nacho pitch... You didn't swing cause it's nacho pitch!"
(this was sung to the tune of "Nacho Man")

Here is another one I remember that could be spouted out at any random time from the dugout. One player would yell out the main lines and then the rest of the team would answer the lines in italics:

"My name is Sammy and I know what I got" (What do you got?)
"I got a team that's hotter than hot" (How hot is hot?)
"Batman and Superman" (We're number 1)
"Can hit the ball like (insert name of the next player who will repeat the cheer) can!"

That cheer would go on and on until every single girl had had her turn to say the main part.

There were cheers for almost every little thing that could possible happen in a game: high pitch, dirt ball, stealing bases, switching out the pitcher, etc.

Only now do I realize how little sense the cheers actually made, but that doesn't mean it was not a blast in the moment!

One of my favorite cheers was short, simple and makes very little sense:

Peaches and Cream, peaches and cream, What's the matter with the other team?
Nothing at all, nothing at all, they just can't play...SOFTBALL!

It is the month of the peach tree, after all. The tree in our backyard area is in full bloom, and I have been stuffing myself with at least a peach a day for the last few weeks. The other night, I made my first peach-centered meal of the season: peaches n' pork. I came across a great website that features free cooking videos online called Food Wishes. The site has a great video on how to make "Roasted Pork with Balsamic Glazed Peaches - a Perfect Pairing". I love the blogger, John's, style. He doesn't measure his ingredients, he provides more convenient options that do not necessarily compromise the taste of the final dish and he is really easy to follow. I made this meal to celebrate the summer Wendy spent in Los Angeles since it is one of her last nights before going back to Florida.

Here is a picture of one of the plates just before Stanley came and swiped a slice of pork right off the plate!

In honor of him, I have made up my own cheer for this meal:
Peaches and pork, peaches and pork, you better get ready and get out your fork.
Don't wait too late, don't wait to late, or Stanley will come swipe it right from your plate!

Oh, you can see, he is very pleased with himself...

Balsamic Peaches and Pork Tenderloin
(serves 4 - recipe from Food Wishes: follow the video here (it will be easier than understanding my directions I am sure)

1 1/2 whole pork tenderloin (you will probably be buying two "logs")
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste
4 fresh peaches (cut into quarters)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove fresh garlic
Olive oil
Mixed greens
2 tbsp blue cheese crumbles (optional for mixed greens)
Thinly slices red onion (optional for mixed greens)
Thin apple slices (optional for mixed greens)
A slices French baguette

Separate the rosemary sprigs from the stem, and beat them moderately with the dull end of a knife (John calls this "Bruising" the is to bring out the aroma and flavor).
Season the pork with the black pepper and rosemary leaves, and place them in a ziploc bag for a couple hours (if you do not have time for that, just do it for a short time).

In the meantime, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large pan over high heat.
Put the peaches in the pan, flesh side down, and turn the heat down to medium.
After about 2-3 minutes when the peaches start to brown, flip them to the other flesh side, and do the same.
Now flip them on the skin side for another minute, and then turn off the heat.
Add the balsamic vinegar, and mix around (it should thicken and reduce a little after a minute or two.
Transfer the peaches to a bowl, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare the pork by removing the rosemary leaves from it, and discard. Then salt the meat.
In a large, oven safe, pan, brown the meat on the stovetop on all sides by placing on the hot pan for 2 minutes, flipping and doing the same on the other not move the meat around during the will form a nice brown crust this way)
Place the pan with the pork into the oven for 20 minutes.

When the pork is finished cooking, let it rest for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle some mashed up garlic bits into the hot pan (where the pork was). Then pour a little bit of water and balsamic vinegar into the pan and mix around (bringing up the bits stuck tot he pan), bringing the stovetop to medium heat.
After a couple minutes, turn the heat off, and add a tbsp of cold butter to the juice. Mix constantly until butter is melted.

Place the Baguette slices in the hot oven to toast while you toss the greens in just a little bit of equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar and the blue cheese crumbles (and apple and onion if using).

Slice the pork at a slight angle, and plate it up with the peaches over the greens and the pan juice poured over the meat.


The Boston Lady said...

Peaches and pork sound like a terrific combination and I look forward to trying this when I get home to Florida. Not that I want to go back!! Stanley! How could you act like a real dog and swipe food? We didn't know you had it in you. You go Stan. I loved hearing about the softball travel team too.

Orlando Grandma said...

I have to try that pork recepy. A friend of mine came from Toronto on her way to the Dominican Republic and brought me some delicious Georgia peaches big and plump they should be real good with the portk lion, I am looking forwards too seeing Wendy and hear about her stay in the West Coast.

nicky said...

Lindsey ,
I am really enjoying all your childhood stories ; bring back memories . You are so good about the details.
Stanley has really changed i think, he has really found a tue home ...he looks so happy!
Love you ,

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