“So you did it with Colum’s knowledge. Was Letitia willing?” Knowing by now just what sort of ruthlessness they possessed, I wouldn’t put it past the brothers MacKenzie to have forced her.
Dougal nodded. His anger had evaporated.
“Oh, aye, willing enough. She didna fancy me particularly, but she wanted a child – enough to take me to her bed for the three months it took to start Hamish. A boring job it was too,” Dougal added reflectively, scraping a bit of mud from his boot heel. “I’d as soon swive a warm bowl of milk pudding.”
“And did you tell Colum that?” I asked. Hearing the edge in my voice, he looked up. He regarded me levelly for a moment, then a faint smile lightened his face.
“No,” he said quietly. “No, I didna tell him that.” He looked down at his hands, turning them over as though looking for some secret hidden in the lines of his palms.
“I told him,” he said softly, not looking at me, “that she was tender and sweet as a ripe peach, and all that a man could want in a woman.”
Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 34 – Dougal’s Story)
Dougal is a complex guy. A man of many flavours. Just like an ice-cream sundae.
I kept these simple — a luscious poached peach, a scoop of vanilla and a drizzle of syrup — just like the man sparring with Claire in that cave, attempting to convince her he’s her best next option.
You may choose to go all out — with whipped cream, cherries, a cookie or two (heck, I love marshmallow fluff) — and who knows? Maybe if Dougal had taken a bath and buffed his brooch before he offered to
plow her furrow take her home, Claire may have accepted his proposal.
Everyone’s favourite uncle would have sucked on a peach pit at the table without a second thought.
You can halve the fruit and remove the pit either before or after poaching, but be warned…peaches can be slippery suckers after they’ve been peeled, and the results can be messy — to you, your kitchen and the peach.
I tried halving them before and after poaching, but my peaches weren’t ripe enough (it is only June in the Pacific Northwest) to neatly yield their pits to me. I suspect you may have better luck with riper peaches later in the season.
To be honest, a poached peach is very tender and easy to eat with a spoon, so it’s not really necessary. And besides, I have to ask: is it still Dougal’s peach if the cook is the one to split it?
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
Tender sweet and delicate poached peaches in syrup, served with ice cream and your choice of accoutrements.
- Peaches, lightly brushed clean – 4
- Sugar – 1½ C
- Water – 1½ C
- Vanilla Bean, split – 1
- Lemon Juice – 1 Tble
- Ice Cream
- Garnishes: Whipped Cream, Nuts, Chocolate Sauce, Cookies, Maraschino Cherries, Marshmallow Fluff – the sky’s the limit.
Read all of the instructions through before you start.
Boil a kettle of water and prepare a large bowl filled with ice and cold water. Place the peaches in a deep pan or bowl, and cover with boiling water from the kettle for 30 seconds. Remove the peaches to the bowl of ice water for 2 minutes to cool and loosen the skin.
Use a paring knife to gently peel the peaches.
Bring the water, sugar vanilla pod and lemon juice to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, then carefully add the peeled peaches and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, until tender but not overly soft, 15-20 minutes (longer if the peaches are large), basting the peaches occasionally with the syrup.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the peaches to a bowl. Increase the heat to medium and boil the syrup until reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Cool the syrup completely, then pour over the peaches and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 2 days in advance of serving.)
To assemble the sundaes, add a scoop of your favourite ice cream to the bowl, top with a peach, some of the glorious pink syrup, and whatever other toppings take your fancy.
Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)