Today is my birthday. And one of my favorite presents is (drumroll, please) peaches!

What a wonderful gift it is to cook, photograph and write about one of the things I love most in life. (Sorry strawberries, I've left you for another.)

I Eat La.: Recipes for ; Peach Goat Cheese Salad; Peach Upside Down Cake

Fresh peaches are best enjoyed from late June to early August, so make the most of them while you can.

I Eat La.: A kitchen nerd gets a new stove and turns fresh veggies and chicken into delicious dish

When choosing peaches, avoid any slightly green or under-ripe peaches. Don’t rely solely on their color. Look for those that are slightly tender with a more peachy fragrance. Peaches will get softer and juicier after you bring them home, but they won’t get much sweeter.

Keep peaches unwashed in a smooth bowl — even a container can bruise their delicate flesh — at room temperature until you’re ready to cook or eat them.

Today's peach salad will be a refreshing side dish to just about anything you’re grilling this weekend. The sweet peaches and salty goat cheese are a perfect match. For the base of the salad, I recommend hardy, leafy greens like spinach or arugula.

I Eat La.: Pickling adds a crisp, light touch to boiled shrimp and roasted beets

This Peach Upside Down Cake is a twist on the classic pineapple version. Its crunchy pecan crust and sweet caramelized peach crown make it one of my favorite dishes. It’s especially delicious served warm with homemade vanilla ice cream.

It truly is a gift to share with all of you the things that make me happiest about living in Louisiana. Our home-grown foods are some of the best in the world. Hope you have a good holiday weekend.

Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. Contact her at