Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Aunt Nancy's Typical Southern Peach Cobbler

Aunt Nancy is legendary for this cobbler in our family, but when I asked her where the recipe came from, she said it's all over the South.


I know two versions of it in the North.  One is found in More with Less, with no butter (Yankees are no fun), and the other was my childhood church cookbook and had the butter, but less fruit.  I like Aunt Nancy's the best.  The fruit to buttery-moist-crumb-part is about equal, and that's how I like it.

If you bake it long enough, the edges darken and crisp from all that butter.  Aunt Nancy loves me enough that she gave me that special edge when we were in NC.  


This is Phoebe's photo-face.  She thinks she's smiling.

Also, isn't that tablecloth great?  Years ago, I stashed it with my fabric with the idea of making a skirt, but I just absolutely love its grooviness in my summer dining room.


Aunt Nancy's Typical Southern Peach Cobbler

In a 9" baking dish, melt:
1/3 cup butter (I put it in the oven while the oven is preheating)

Peel and slice (I chop):
5-6 peaches to yield at least 4 cups

Lay them on the melted butter.

Separately, mix:
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk

Pour batter gently and evenly over the fruit.  Some of the fruit will float and some butter will be up there, too.  That's just right.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour, until beautifully golden with obvious bubbling and juice action from the fruit.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Notes:
1. Aunt Nancy said you can use anywhere from 1/4 - 1/2 cup butter.  Obviously a Southerner would go for the full stick.
2. I used half whole-wheat all-purpose flour.  You can get this from McGeary Organics and it makes the perfect texture for chemically-leaved baked goods.
3. I cut back the sugar a little because I'm not Southern.
4. You can use other fruit besides peaches.  I added some sad raspberries and 2 black raspberries from my new backyard bush.
5.  Aunt Nancy has baked this at higher temperatures or reduced the time or changed the pan size or otherwise fiddled with the chemistry.  Good news: the cobbler is not fussy!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Just a Little Older (Beach Girls 2017)

In the past year, none of us beach girls has lived out of the country, had a baby, moved, or . . . well, actually, I'm not sure of the other categories because the years have started to melt into each other.  This past year may have had job changes and health crises, or maybe it was the year before.  The years just puddle together. 

For sure, we ate well this year and didn't bother with a restaurant.   Sprinkle some fresh tomatoes and feta on your fried egg and add a basil sprig; it's divine (the bacon and potatoes help, too). We settled into long intimate conversations whenever we felt like it, wore our jammies maybe as much as our clothes, and ate ice cream whenever it occurred to us.  Bliss.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back Yard, August 17, 10:16am

I had just gotten done hanging up three loads of laundry, with one more agitating in the machine. I wanted to document these luxuriant, volunteer squash vines; one appears to be a butternut, and the other a small ornamental. I planted some cucumbers elsewhere in the yard, on purpose, but they did the dramatic overnight flop-wilt-die after giving us two cucumbers, whereas these crazy squash vines are not giving up.

Inbetween them are the zinnias I planted from seed. I am so proud.


 My peppers are growing well, but slowly this year.  They are not helped by the toddler who picks them too young on the sly.  And the green beans are doing fine, but the herbs are not.


There is always some kind of weird structure in the yard.  Behind Phoebe is, obviously, a guinea pig hutch for the guinea pig that the parents have already said no to.  

Phoebe means business with that hammer; she is not pounding her fingers, either.


Monday, August 14, 2017

The Good Food Fight

"The processed food industry has transformed our food into a quasi-drug. . . What happened is that cheap, calorie-dense foods that are highly rewarding to your brain are now ubiquitous.  Once you've had a glass of orange juice, you are not likely to be as satisfied with a healthier and less caloric orange that you have to peel. . . Although it's far easier said than done, just limiting exposure to high-calorie foods and recreational drugs would naturally reset our brains to find pleasure in healthier foods and life without drugs."

from  "What Cookies and Meth Have in Common" by Richard Friedman in the June 30 New York Times



Here we have roasted feta on homemade whole wheat sourdough toast, sprinkled with thyme from the front porch pots with a side of delectable cantaloupe and black coffee.   I am definitely finding pleasure in this breakfast.

But I am finding it hard to limit my my family's exposure to high-calorie foods in the general mayhem and party that is summer. One example: kids' meals at a barbeque joint served with 16-oz. sodas, even for Phoebe.  Of course, I didn't let them drink the whole things, but it takes vigilance and education to help them understand that glittering bottle. Sometimes, I am just tired of trying, but then I read an inspiring quote like the one above and push away the processed food. Fight the good food fight, everybody!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Striping Curtains

All my extra time is going to sewing stripes on canvas right now as I make outdoor curtains for our balcony.  This has turned out to be a terrible idea because of the method and time, not the cost.  The end is almost in sight.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

East of Eden

I took the kids down to Eden, NC to be spoiled by my aunts and uncle.  That and the craziness that is August accounts for the blog silence here.

My parents drove us down in their van that has a blessed TV/DVD with headphones, and altogether the kids were outnumbered by adults so that made for a good vacation.


 I asked Aunt Maggie to model the apron I made her (so charming with her gingham shirt).  Here she is standing next to a giant rosemary bush that is the envy of my Northern, newbie-gardening heart. Her gardens are full of whimsy and fun, just like her.





 Uncle John David grows fantastic melons, among other things. He let Ben drive the tractor. The kids also had access to any number of tablets and phones from the indulgent adults, and that plus the uncounted s'mores make a great vacation for them.

I got to go schnausing with my aunts and mom in the afternoons, while Dad reigned over the kids back at the farm (I have the best dad!).  Schnausing is a family word (I think) that means driving around looking for cute little shops, pretty towns, pretty scenery, snacky eats, and hijinks; in my extended family, this is done by the women on vacation.  It's the only time I shop for entertainment, without a list, and in the company of my mom and her giddy sisters, it is so fun. [Edit:  Aunt Maggie says the made-up word is spelled "snausing."]





 We also take walks, and sometimes burst into hymns.






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Sundress for Genevieve

I suggested to Genevieve that she needed something between her pink dress and shorts and tees to wear this summer.  She agreed.  And after she approved the pattern, she basically let me have my way with fabric and such!



However, she was wary of the dress for a while because she had to try it on several times as I fitted the tricky bodice, and she hated the feel of the seams on her skin.  I cut up one of her knit camisoles and handstitched it into the bodice as a soft lining to cover the seams she objected to.  It worked perfectly!


 Now Genevieve wants me to sew her another sundress, but I'm wary because this was not an easy pattern (thrifty note: I borrowed it from a friend).  I think the elastic should be shorter on the pockets so they're snugged tighter to the dress. I think the bottom ruffle should be a tad fuller.  That bodice was a real pain and I had to rip out stitches a number of times.


The gorgeous ribbon was just enough leftover from my Bavarian princess dress.  I want to be twinsies with her yet this summer, when we both wear our dresses.

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