Summer in North Carolina is, without argument, the most magical season. Long days, warm nights, and endless possibilities. Summer brims with nostalgia and potential.
I pack my days and nights full with people and parties, travel, salt and sand, and laughter. Months blur into one long, perfectly Southern afternoon.
Recently I had an unexpected weekend all to myself. This never happens, so I mentally ran through my top three scenarios for a delightful summer afternoon: 1) go to the beach and lay in the warm sand for hours; 2) buckle down and get to all that work I’ve put off (not likely); 3) curl up on the couch with the dog and watch a marathon of Gilmore Girls while polishing off some leftover salted caramel sauce.
Sipping my morning coffee and contemplating my plans, it suddenly occurred to me that this free weekend might be the perfect opportunity for spontaneity. After searching online and a few phone calls to area farms, I was off with a friend to a peach farm in Calabash, Brunswick County.
As we pulled into the farm, the stormy skies opened up, letting loose the kind of rain that only a week of unbearable heat in the South can elicit. We scrambled inside and started to make arrangements.
We quickly discovered that they only offer the pick-your-own option in the early morning, though never for peaches. Spontaneous trips will sometimes throw curve balls.
Nevertheless, we kept a positive outlook on the trip. We bought some peaches, green peanuts, and hot sauce, which was made right on the premises, and headed home. We chatted about how we were going to spice our boiled peanuts and grill some peaches for a delicious dessert (recipe below).
The real highlight of the trip happened in Leland, just over the bridge from Wilmington, when we spotted a massive alligator on the side of the road. And because this was a day of spontaneity, I turned the car around and we pulled out our cameras, sprinting to find it.
As we approached he swam from one side of the marsh to the other, towards us, allowing us an up close look at the biggest alligator we had seen in the wild.
So what was the moral of this story? Even if an afternoon doesn’t work out as you expect, you can’t beat summer in North Carolina, good company, and a bag of fresh Carolina peaches and peanuts.
Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce
- 2 large peaches
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Vanilla ice cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 stick butter
- ¼ cup cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Begin by making your caramel sauce. In a heavy skillet melt the sugar, stirring constantly. Sugar will clump and then melt, continue to stir as it turns amber brown.
Cube butter and stir into sugar until combined. Remove from heat and add cream. Stir rapidly until fully incorporated. Add in vanilla extract and allow cooling.
Slice peaches in half. Brush each half with coconut oil. Grill peaches flesh side down for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Serve hot with ice cream and drizzled caramel sauce.