Charlie and Mary had a couple of peach trees on their property, along with a cherry tree, strawberry patch, and a huge garden. Between that and the hunting and foraging they did, they provided most of their own food. There was only one food cabinet in Mary’s kitchen because most of their food was kept in the freezer or put up in the cellar . I used to love the smell of the cellar with the dirt floor.
I would help Charlie dust the trees to keep the bugs away and then when the limbs started hanging low, we would start picking. I loved to wash a just picked peach off and bite into it like an apple, peel and all. The juice would run down my chin and my hand, but I didn’t care. They were always so juicy right off the tree.
Mary would put up dozens of quarts of peaches each year and nearly every night for dinner she would have some sort of dessert. Her Peach Cobbler was one of my favorites. I never knew many of her recipes and only remember seeing one little cookbook that she kept in the middle drawer, along with all her dish towels. The only thing I loved more than her peach cobbler was her rice pudding.
I remembered it being a batter that she made and then spooned in the peaches on top. I would watch her make it and just didn’t understand how the peaches would end up on the bottom when it was done. I tried a few different recipes and then I just got to playing around with my own. Mick’s mom loves peach cobbler, well all cobblers, more than I do. I eat one helping and then I’m good for a while. We never finish a dessert before it goes bad and we have to throw it out. She finishes one long before it could get old.
So I made her a cobbler from the first peaches we’ve gotten this season. I think these came from Georgia and they are so good. I love the smell of a fresh ripe peach. It brings back memories of pulling a peach to my nose and knowing if it was ripe enough to pick. Sometimes it pulled right off and I knew it was ready even before I could smell it.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Baking Time: 45 minutes
4 medium ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup plain all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
2-3 tablespoons white or coarse sugar
You can prepare the peaches just before or several hours ahead. If using canned peaches, 1 qt of drained peaches will work. Mix peaches with sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside so the syrup has time to form.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in 2 qt baking dish or cast iron skillet, in the oven as it comes to temperature.
In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Pour in the milk and mix well. The batter will be thin. Carefully remove baking dish or skillet from the oven and pour the batter into the melted butter. Spoon peaches over batter carefully, and spoon on the remaining syrup. Do not stir. Reserve the bowl with whatever syrup is still in it. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Just before removing the cobbler from the oven, toss 2-3 tablespoons of white sugar into the bowl the peaches were mixed up in to coat the sugar, but not dissolve. Spoon that over the cobbler evenly and return to the oven for 10 – 15 more minutes for cobbler to finish baking and sugar to brown a little.
Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!
Growing your own food, or helping grow it like we do with Mick’s parents, means there is usually plenty to go around. We put up all we can by canning, pickling, and freezing. But, not all of it gets put up. I love to play with new recipes and ingredients. We have found over the years that some things we like best fresh from the garden.
We hadn’t had a squash pie in a couple of years. I had just gotten a tub of lard at the store because I wanted to work on a traditional Appalachian crust. Mary taught me how to make a pretty good pie dough, but she taught me to use shortening. I also like to use butter sometimes. So I gave it a try with the lard and, while I need a little work on my technique with it, it tasted really good. It reminded me of how Mary used to bread her fried squash, she used crushed saltine crackers.
This recipe calls for mayonnaise for the topping. I have found that you need to use a good quality mayo. I tried a store brand the first time I made it years ago and it separated and the oil from it soaked the crust and ran all over the oven. I use Hellman’s or Kraft when I make this now.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold lard
3-4 tablespoons of ice water
2-3 medium yellow squash, halved and sliced
1-2 medium zucchini squash, halved and sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon bacon grease or oil (or lard)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (reserve 1/4 cup)
You want your crust ingredients to be as cold as possible. Sift together your flour and salt. Cut in the lard until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and stir. Dough should come together pretty quickly. If needed, add a little more ice water until it begins to form and pulls off the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly until it comes together and you can form a round about two inches thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, cut your squash lengthwise and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Dice the onion. In a hot skillet, bring the bacon grease or oil up to heat and add the squash and onion. Saute’ until the onions become translucent and the squash browns slightly. Remove from heat. When the dough has chilled enough, roll it out on a well floured surface large enough to fill an 8×8 square pan or 9-10 inch deep dish pie pan.
Assemble the pie by spreading the reserved 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. Spread the squash mixture on top. Mix the mayonnaise and remaining cheese. Spread the mayo mixture on top, going all the way to the edges of the crust. Trim and fold under any excess crust.
Bake at 325 for 40 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown. You can turn the temperature up the last couple of minutes to brown the cheese slightly.
Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Cut and serve.
In the Shenandoah Valley, summer was full of warm breezes. We didn’t have an air conditioner until I was much older, so we stayed outside in the evenings as long as we could, usually way past dark. Mom would hang blankets over the windows to block out all the sun and hopefully some of the heat, but it still built up in the evenings.
We’ve been watching the fireflies light up each evening just before dusk, but it seems like their show is done before it really gets dark. When we were kids the front yard would be full of ’em and they would keep glowin’ around until our bedtime and beyond. Of course, we’d chase ’em and catch some. We kept peanut butter jars to put them in. Mom loved peanut butter so they were always the biggest jars we had. I remember laying in bed and looking out the window, watching them as I would fall asleep. We slept with the windows open all summer long. We had lots of those little sliding screens that would drop right into the track and keep it open about a foot. One of my brothers would somehow manage to get a box fan to stay wedged in a window sometimes, but of course, it would sometimes fall out too, but still, it would be blowing as it hung by its cord.
On really warm nights we’d camp on the front porch. We’d line all of our sleeping bags up across the concrete and our dog, Bootsy, would lay at the top of the steps to keep watch over us. Our front porch was also our cistern, so it was high off the ground. Some nights we’d tie sheets or blankets to the railings to cover us so we wouldn’t be damp from the dew by morning. I’m sure there were many nights that instead of going back in the house, we would just pee off the front porch. I got in trouble for pee’in outside when I was playin’ at the neighbor’s house. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t pee standing by the tree. Mom told me I couldn’t do that anymore.
On cool nights, I always think, it sure is a nice night for campin’. I doubt I’d be much good at it these days. I’m not too keen on sleeping on the ground and I’m even less keen on getting back up. I do like being outside though when it’s nice. Our screen porch is our favorite place to be. That’s where I’m sittin’ right now, writing this.
When we would go see grandmaw and granddaddy Edge in the summer, granddady would get the ice cream maker out. He’d sometimes let us take turns cranking it. If we got tired, we could sit on it, but that was a lot of work too. We’d stay cool though. We made lots of chocolate chip ice cream, but I remember when granola ice cream was all the rage. It wasn’t granola like we know today made of oats, nut, raisins, and honey. The granola cereal was just little grains and looked like cat litter! It was so good. Mom loved it so granddaddy would make it too. It felt like it took hours to make it, but just minutes to eat it. He bought all the families ice cream makers one year for Christmas. I don’t think we ever used ours. It sat in mom and dad’s closet. Mom was known for puttin’ good stuff up and saving it for when we needed it. But I guess we never needed it.
I’m gonna go in now and get me a scoop of some plain ole vanilla and watch a little tv. The fireflies have gone to bed now and I will soon.
A few years ago Mick and I stopped at a little store we like to go to for spices I need for pickling and they have some great kitchen gadgets. There is also usually a donut stand outside making fresh donuts that are the size of your entire head. I don’t usually eat donuts, they are just not my thing, but those I cannot resist. But, this time that we stopped there were a few other folks out there offering up some other goodies. One of them had cheesecake stuffed strawberries. They were huge and so sweet and juicy, and the cheesecake stuffing had a hint of cinnamon that was unexpected, but really good.
That’s what I wanted to fix today for a nice Valentine’s Day dessert after dinner. The cheesecake stuffing is just made of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and some flavorings. You can change the flavor up if you would like by simply adding different ingredients like rum extract and sprinkling them with flaked coconut, or topping them with crushed Oreos. We like the cinnamon spice, topped with graham cracker crumbs.
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
1 – 1 1/2 pounds of strawberries, washed, topped, and cored
1 8oz block of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
Cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add the ground cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix until well combined. Scrape down the mixing bowl as needed.
With a piping bag or plastic bag with a corner cut out, fill the bag with the cream cheese mixture. Pipe into each prepared strawberry. Sprinkle each strawberry with graham cracker crumbs. Chill 1 hour.
I have started my own TV Channel! Well, IGTV on Instagram. lol I posted my first video and it only took me about 24 hours to tape it, edit, and upload it. I plan on doing more and hopefully, the quality will get much better! Please bear with me and follow me.
Honestly, I appreciate all of you. I love the comments and questions, and I hope to see when you try one of my recipes.
So, here you go:
1 whole young chicken
1 gallon of water, approximately
1 1/2 cups of carrots, cut into medallions
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
For the Dumplins:
2 cups plain, all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled
3/4 cup of milk
Under running water, check chicken for any remaining feathers and remove them if found. Place chicken in a large stock pot, 8 quarts or larger. Add the teaspoon of salt and cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 1 hour.
While the chicken is simmering, clean and cut up carrots, celery, and onion. When the chicken is done, carefully remove it from the pot and transfer it to a pan to let cool. Add the vegetables to the stock now created by boiling the chicken. Return to a simmer and cook the vegetables for about 45 minutes.
When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, begin to remove the skin, debone, and rough chop the meat. Set aside while preparing the dough for the dumplins.
For the dumplins, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it begins to resemble coarse cornmeal and butter is well combined. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the milk. Stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together. If it is too dry to hold together, add a few splashes of milk. You want a dough that just holds together, not wet.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. With a knife or pizza cutter, cut into squares about 1 – 1 1/2 inch.
Add the cut up chicken back to the pot and increase the temperature to bring to a rolling boil. You want the broth boiling to help cook and steam the dumplins. Begin adding the dumplins, carefully keeping them separated. Replace the lid to the pot and let the dumplins cook for about 5 minutes. The flour off the dumplins will help thicken the broth. If the broth has not thickened enough, make a slurry with about 1 tablespoon of flour to 1/4 cup of milk. Add the milk a little at a time to the flour to help prevent lumps. Add the slurry to the chicken-n-dumplins, while stirring it well to incorporate it. It will thicken quickly.
Ladle out chicken-n-dumplins into bowls and serve!
Mary made Rice Pudding and bread pudding all the time. It was creamy and sweet and seemed to take forever to make. It probably didn’t but something that good was hard to wait for. Sometimes she would serve it warm, but usually, it was cold and I liked it, either way I could get it.
When I was on my own I thought of her often while I began to really cook. Those days, if I didn’t make it, I didn’t eat. There was no money for eating out. Occasionally I would make something that I would serve over rice, like chicken, and I would end up with a little rice left over. One day I decided to toss in a little sugar, some milk, an egg, and cinnamon and cook it low and slow until it thickened. I may have burned a pan or two, but I would just be careful to not scrape the bottom and dig up that burnt taste. Yes, the rest of it tasted a bit charred too, but I was not too picky. I would eventually start to plan ahead and intentionally made extra rice just so I could make my quick stovetop version. I never did make it in the oven like Mary did. I was still too impatient to wait that long.
This morning I made us some oatmeal for breakfast. Mick likes it with a little butter and sugar and a side of toast. I wasn’t paying much attention when I measured out the oats and I ended up doubling the amount of oats I needed. I could have easily put some back, but I had already tossed in the salt, so I just rolled with it.
I served up a bowl for each of us and had quite a bit left in the pot. I just put the lid on it and sat down for breakfast. I was thinking as I ate about what I could do with the cooked oatmeal. I could just put it in the fridge and reheat some for breakfast the next couple of mornings. But, Mary was on my mind and her rice pudding and the pudding I used to make with the leftover rice.
After cleaning up I went back to the kitchen. I measured out how much I had left and it came to exactly 1 1/2 cups. So I started pulling out the sugar, an egg, the cinnamon, and cardamom. I went to grab the milk and thought about the buttermilk I had to use up, so I went for that instead.
I mixed it all up, prepared an 8×8 baking dish and preheated the oven. I poured it into the dish, popped it in the oven, and kept an eye on it. After about 45 minutes it had browned on top and the edges looked a bit crunchy. I took it out and let it cool, grabbed a spoon and took a taste. I swear, if I were blindfolded, I would not have known it was not Mary’s rice pudding!
It took me right back to her kitchen. There I was, sitting at her table, next to the window with some pretty white or bright colored set of curtains that she would change out for the seasons. She kept a table cloth on the table at all times too, which was something that we considered fancy at our house. A little dish of her rice pudding and a cup of hot tea with lots of sugar and a little canned milk and I was the happiest kid there ever was.
I dished up a little cup of my Oatmeal Pudding after it chilled and fixed me a cup of hot coffee. I’ve been thinking about it all day since. I could save some for breakfast for the next couple of mornings, but we all know I will get me some tonight for dessert. I can’t wait.
1 1/2 cups cooked oats
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
Preheat oven to 350* and spray an 8×8 baking dish or pan with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients together and pour into pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top has browned and edges begin to crisp. Serve warm or chilled, plain or with whipped cream.
I talked about how a snow day was a day for me to make some money as a kid and maybe get a hot toddy from Charlie, but it was also a day that mom would send one of us out to get some snow.
She would give us the biggest pot we had and a huge cooking spoon. Most of the time we could just open the front door and scoop all we needed, that is unless Bootsy or Dusty, the two collies we had growing up, had not walked all over it. If they had, she usually instructed us to get it off the car, but “Don’t go all the way down! That car is dirty!!” There was also the thought that we could not use the first snow of winter, that it was full of all the dirt in the air. Or, you didn’t want to use the first couple of inches that fell.
So, we would come back with a pot full and piled high with snow. She would get out the big blue mixing bowl, vanilla, sugar, and a can of evaporated milk, or as we called it “canned milk”. She would count the scoops of snow into the bowl, but I’m not sure why. She would end up adding more if it turned soupy. Then she covered it in sugar, poured in a little bit of vanilla, and then cut a hole in the top of the canned milk and poured most of it in and got to stirring. I don’t think we got to help much with that because it would move around and fall out as she tried to keep folding it over. In just a minute or two she began to scoop it out into our collection of plastic butter bowls. You know, the kind you kept as cereal bowls that came in a variety of colors and the outside either had ridges around it or a pattern?
We would dig right in and immediately get the worst case of brain freeze. Then as we swallowed the last spoonful, we would turn our bowls up and get all the snowcream that melted in the bottom. There is nothing like the taste of it. I have seen several recipes where some tell you to add pasteurized eggs and some suggest pouring chocolate syrup on it. No, just no. It is perfect just the way it is. I don’t even like the idea of using sweetened condensed milk instead of our regular old canned milk. I love the crunch of the sugar. Every now and then you would get a lump of sugar and it was awesome.
It snowed this morning and I really had to struggle to get enough snow to make a batch because we only got a couple of inches. I did have to go to the back of the truck to find it deep enough to scoop. Since it’s just Mick and me, we have some in the freezer to have tonight too.