By Cari Levin
The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s the one holiday I have never been disappointed by. At the mere mention of it my mind goes straight to perfect weather, kids running around and fireworks that light up the sky. I think it’s the one holiday that hasn’t lost its brilliance as I’ve grown older.
I would be a big liar if I didn’t admit that I look forward to 4th of July food as well. I’m one for the basics: hot dogs and hamburgers, corn on the cob and warm peach cobbler.
Years ago I worked for a woman whose family was from Kansas. When she gave me her mother’s “fruit cobbler” recipe I was skeptical. I was a trained chef and had worked in the best restaurants in Los Angeles. In the cooking world, asking a chef to cook your, “family” recipe is like telling your plastic surgeon where to put the Juvaderm.
My expectations were at best low but as the saying goes, “the client is always right.” I took a deep breath and went for it. I mixed a stick of butter, a cup of “heavy milk” (a fancy name for ½ and ½), a cup of sugar and 6-7 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced. I put it in the oven set at 350 and waited. It reminded me of something I had cooked in my Easy Bake Oven when I was 7 years old.
To be fair, about 25 minutes into cooking the kitchen became filled with the warm and cozy smell of baking perfection. At 45 minutes I pulled out a gorgeous, bubbly golden brown goddess of a dessert. I could not wait to dive into it so I carefully cut a tiny piece out of the corner and went straight to heaven. Simple and divine. Since then, I have used cherries, apples, pears, bananas, lychees, berries etc. No fruit has been off limits.
Lesson learned: even with my fancy culinary education and access to exotic ingredients, simple is usually better and moms are for sure, always right.
Cari Levin is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She has spent the past 15 years working as a private chef for celebrities, athletes and all who love good food. Www.letcaricookforyou.com
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