Charlie and Mary had a couple of peach trees on their property, so peaches were plentiful every summer. In the spring I’d sometimes help Charlie dust the trees with sevin, but usually he didn’t want me to get it all over me. And sometimes they would try and net the trees too when the peaches started to grow to keep the birds away, but if that didn’t work, Mary would tie aluminum pie pans around on some of the branches and they would be swinging in the breeze, catching the light, and making a little tink sound as they swung around.
Their grandkids would usually visit for a couple of weeks each summer and we’d play out in the back yard all afternoon. If we found a few ripe peaches, we’d pick ’em off and wash ’em in the rain barrel behind the smokehouse. We’d just take a big bite, skin and all, and the juices would run down our chins and down to our elbows. They had two barrels there to catch rain water off the smokehouse roof and would use it to water the garden and flowers. It was always so cool, even in the heat of summer, so sometimes we’d just run up to the barrels and dip our arms all the way down in it as far as we could. We did that too when we finished a ripe peach to get all the sticky juice off our arms. One time we thought it would be fun to go swimming, so we took turns climbing in and dunking all the way down. Mostly though we would get a bucket brigade going with watering cans and dip the can all the way down to fill it up and head to the garden.
Mary made lots of peach cobbler every summer. Each night their grandkids were there, Mary would have some dessert made or a snack to have late in the evening. When the peaches would start coming in, I’d help her can a couple of dozen jars at least. When they were cooled, we’d load up our arms and head out the back door, around the house, and down the cellar steps. I think I’ve talked about it before, but when I think about that cellar, I can still smell the earthy aroma in the cool air. It could be the hottest day you’ve ever seen, but when you went down in the cellar, I doubt it ever got above 70 degrees. We would line the jars up on a shelf, moving any older jars to the front, and then make our way back to the kitchen for more till they were all put up.
Mary also made dumplin’s. She made an incredible pie crust, which she taught me to make. I don’t know if mine are ever as good as hers, but I try. She would use crisco and when they came out with a butter flavored one, she started using it. That’s what I have written down in my notes from where she taught me to make pie dough. I prefer to use butter today myself, but the rest is what she taught me.
Its peach season and I ended up with 3 peaches on my counter this past weekend that just needed a few days to ripen. Last night they were just right. I had some pie dough wrapped up in the freezer, so I got a couple of rounds out and let ’em thaw, rolled ’em out to about 12 inches across and cut 6 wedges out of each. I peeled and cut the peaches into quarters, rolled each in a wedge of dough and lined ’em up in a pan. I made a simple sauce out of some leftover peach syrup I had in the fridge. I made my mother-in-law a peach cobbler last week from a couple of cans of peaches I put up last year, so I used some of it and added a little flavored moonshine, butter, and sugar and brought it to a boil for a minute. The moonshine is some I got to cook with from Old Forge Distillery, so I like to experiment with it. Its called Pumpkin Roll and the flavor of it goes really well with peaches.
Peach Dumplin’s with Shine Sauce
3 ripe peaches or 2-3 cans of peach halves in syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 cup peach syrup (if peaches are in heavy syrup, cut sugar in half) or (substitute syrup with 1 cup citrus flavored soda or ginger ale)
1/2 cup Old Forge Distillery Pumpkin Roll Moonshine
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
Pie dough for 2 pie crusts or 2 bought pie dough rounds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and pit the peaches and cut each into 4 pieces. If using canned, reserve the juice and cut halves in two. Use enough to get 12 pieces.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the peach syrup (or soda), moonshine, white sugar, and light brown sugar. Cook on medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat.
Roll out the pie dough to about 12 inches and cut each into 6 wedges. Place a peach quarter on the wide end and roll to the point. Tuck the sides under and place in a greased baking dish.
When all dumplings are in the baking dish, pour the sauce over the dumplings. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown on top and sauce has thickened.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Optional, splash with your favorite Old Forge Distillery cream liqueur.
*Note: you can substitute Pumpkin Roll Moonshine with Apple Pie, Cinnamon, Vanilla Bean, Banana’s Foster, or Oatmeal Cookie. All flavors pair well with peaches.
When I bought my first house there was a blueberry bush just off the kitchen that the previous owners had planted. I moved in late fall and I wasn’t sure what it was, but knew it was next to the garden and across from a pear tree. So I figured it was something that would give me berries of some sort.
It was an old farmhouse built, in 1855, by a preacher who also had a church across the street. His family lived there for almost 150 years over 3 generations, but there were no kids to leave it to, so it sat empty for about a decade and then someone bought the property. They didn’t want the house and offered it up for $1 to whoever could move it. So a young couple with 3 little girls bought it and moved it less than a mile up the road to property that had once been part of the original farm.
I sold that house after 3 years, and after touching every surface in it. Old houses are wonderful, but they are constant work. I don’t think there was a day that I lived in that house that didn’t involve fixing something. I remodeled the kitchen, stripped wallpaper, put up moldings, replaced lost doorknobs, painted the entire outside of the house, and had to have the roof replaced after lightening hit one of the two original chimneys, tossing old bricks everywhere, putting over a dozen holes in the roof.
One of my favorite ways to use them is to make a batch of blueberry lemon cornbread. I have a recipe for that here in a post from a few years ago, which also gives you a little bit more about the house.
Last week I made what I called a True Blue American Pie for Memorial Day using apples and blueberries, and yesterday I made this Blueberry Pound Cake I had been working on. I am very happy with how it came out. Partly because it did actually come out of the cast iron bundt pan I used but mostly because of how it tastes! For getting it out of the pan, I made Cake Goop, which you can find a recipe on by googling, but I have included it below too.
Blueberry Pound Cake
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
Almond Crumb Topping (optional):
3 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
Up to 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare the blueberries by washing and letting dry if fresh. Using 1/4 cup of the flour for the cake batter, dust the blueberries and set aside. If using frozen, then dust frozen and set aside. Prepare your baking pan with Cake Goop (recipe below).
In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, add the sugar and butter and cream until it comes together like a dough. On slow, add in one egg at a time, mixing well in between, then increase the speed again and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed again and add in the vanilla.
Sift together the dry ingredients and add them alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl as needed. When mixed, remove from stand mixer and gently fold in the dusted blueberries. Spoon into your baking pan. If using the crumb topping, smooth out the batter and spoon the topping over evenly.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until testing the center for doneness. Let cool. Ice with a lemon glaze made of powdered sugar and lemon juice. Mix until the desired consistency and drizzle over cake.
Cake Goop: Using equal parts of plain flour, shortening, and vegetable oil, begin to mix the flour and shortening until it all the flour is incorporated and the shortening is smooth. Slowly mix in some of the vegetable oil and mix until it is smooth again and repeat until all vegetable oil is incorporated. You can store this in a sealed jar at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Liberally brush you baking pans before adding your cake batter. Can be used for anything you would grease and dust a pan for when baking.
I remember an old clip from The George Burns Show where Gracie is talking with a girl who is staying with them for the weekend and she is doing her homework. She says to Gracie “Pi are square” and Gracie replies “Oh silly, pie are round, cracker are square!” It makes me chuckle every time I think about it.
Pi Are Square though this weekend, while pie are round. I got to thinking about what I could do for Pi Day, March 14, or 3/14, and it seemed so simple that I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about it before. The Old Forge Distillery asked me if I was doing anything for Pi Day and I said yes, but I needed a few ingredients, as in 3-1/4ths ingredients.
I already had already made a vodka pie crust a few times, and I had made a boozy whipped cream, now I just needed to add a little something fun to pie filling, so I came up with what I call:
Pi Me Another Round
6-7 cups fresh or frozen cherries, pitted
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup Old Forge Distillery Bourbon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarse, raw, or brown sugar
In a large saucepan, combine cherries, white sugar, brown sugar, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, salt, and bourbon. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then add the cornstarch and cook over med-high heat for about 15 minutes or until we’ll thickened. Set aside and let them cool a bit while rolling out pie crusts.
Roll out one pie round to 10 inches. Set in pie plate, leaving 1 inch of overhang. Roll out second round. When cherries have thickened and cooled a bit, pour into pie and prepare top as preferred – whole crust with vents, lattice, braid, cutouts, etc.
Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes or until crust is a light golden brown. Let cool completely and serve with Cinnamon Creme Whipped Cream.
Vodka Pie Crust
2 sticks butter, shredded or cubbed and chilled
2 1/2 cups Old Mill Plain Flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup chilled Old Forge Distillery Vodka
1/4 cup ice water
Freeze 2 sticks of butter and grate it while frozen into a large bowl. Return grated butter to the freezer. Sift flour, salt, and brown sugar into a large bowl. Place the bowl into the freezer. Chill the vodka in the freezer as well. Let the butter, flour, and vodka chill for a min of 30 minutes. Remove everything from the freezer and add some ice to the 1/4 cup water.
Add the butter to the flour mixture a little at a time and stir to coat the butter with flour until all is incorporated. Sprinkle the chilled vodka over the flour, as well as the ice water. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour begins to form a dough. Then with your hands, continue mixing the dough until it holds together. If you can squeeze a ball of dough together in your hand without it crumbling apart, the dough is mixed well. If needed, you can add a tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together. You want to work quickly and do this in the bowl to keep it cold. I prefer a glass bowl for this to retain as much coolness as possible. Working the dough while it is cold is key. You do not want to warm the dough, which would warm and melt the butter. You want chunks and pieces of butter visible in the dough.
When it comes together, divide dough, shape into disks, and wrap in plastic wrap so it is air-tight. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour to overnight. This will allow your dough to completely hydrate. Working with one disk at a time, flour your surface and rolling pin well. Work the dough a little in your hands to soften it just enough to flatten it a bit and begin rolling.
Cinnamon Cream Whipped Cream
2 3/4 cup of chilled heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of Old Forge Distillery Cinnamon Cream
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar
Splash of vanilla
Place the whipping cream in the freezer for up to 30 minutes. You want it very cold, but not frozen. Also chill the cinnamon cream. When ready, add the whipping cream and cinnamon cream to a stand mixer or large bowl and use a hand mixer. Whip on high for 4-5 minutes, adding the confectioners sugar a tablespoon at a time. Also add the splash of vanilla and continue whipping until firm peaks form. Be careful not to over whip, as it will begin to turn into butter. You want to be able to scoop a spoonful out and turn the spoon over and it hold to the spoon. Then you know it is firm enough. Serve on you favorite dessert.
Mick’s birthday is today, so it started with a big breakfast, which lead to a little nap in his favorite chair. Once we got cleaned up we headed out to just take a drive, which almost always involved driving to or past the lake. We headed out a road that followed the perimeter of Cherokee Lake, finally ending up at Cherokee Dam. It was built in 1940 and completed in 1942 for TVA. You can park at the bottom and walk the river, or park at the top and walk the wall of the dam until you reach the power plant. We opted to walk the wall for about a mile and a half. It was a little chilly being that far up with the air coming off the water. It was nice to get outside though and we both needed to walk a bit, knowing that there was going to be cake in our near future!
His favorite cake is an Orange Cake I make using a whole navel orange, juice and zest. I had a bottle of Orange & Cream Liqueur that they gave me to work on a couple of recipes. I had just enough to play with and redevelop my recipe, so there’s some in the cake and in the icing. I still had to get a little orange in there though, so I garnished it with some zest and a fresh slice. It smells amazing.
We are about to eat some cake for his dam birthday! (see what I did there??)
Orange & Cream Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Old Forge Distillery Orange & Cream Liqueur
Prepare 2 8 or 9 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. In mixer, cream buttermilk, sugar, oil, eggs, and liqueur. Add flour mixture, a little at a time until well combined. Divide batter into the two pans evenly.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 min. Remove from oven and let cool 10 min. Remove from pans and cool on rack completely.
Orange & Cream Buttercream
1 8oz block of softened cream cheese
1 stick of softened butter
3-4 cups confectionary sugar
2 tablespoons Old Forge Distillery Orange & Cream Liqueur
Cream the cream cheese and butter, adding a little at a time, spoon in the confectionary sugar. After the 3rd cup, add the liqueur, then continue adding the sugar until it comes to the thickness you like.
Crumb coat your cake and chill for 15 minutes. Finish frosting the cake and garnish with a little orange zest and a slice of fresh orange (optional).
Old Forge Distillery gave me a bottle of their Orange & Cream liqueur and I’ve used in several things. These truffles I think are the best. Any of their Creams would work for this and you can change up the chips to anything you like.
Orange & Cream Truffles
2/3 cup OFD Orange & Cream
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 11oz package of white chocolate chips
1/2 cup confectioners sugar for dusting.
Heat Orange & Cream over Med heat to a light simmer. Turn off heat and stir in butter until melted. Stir in white chocolate chips. Stir briskly until completely melted and smooth. Pour into an 8×8 dish and chill for 2 hours. Using a teaspoon or small scoop, scoop out 1 inch balls and roll in the palms of your hands to smooth out. Roll in powdered sugar. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Sometimes I miss the snows I remember us getting as a kid. It seemed when a storm came through we would always end up with a foot or more of snow, and it seemed to happen several times a year. There were years that school would be out for a week or more at a time because we got so much snow. We would get up early and turn on WSIG to listen for the school update, which meant we also had to listen to all the road updates, people calling in saying a cow got out of their field, and their call in swap & shop.
When I was about 12, a new family moved into the neighborhood. They had a daughter, Sheila, and she quickly became my best friend. We’re still best friends to this day. Her mom, June, who’s recipe for zucchini bread I use, was a stay-at-home mom. On snow days, all us kids in the neighborhood ended up at their house before the day was done. They had a long yard that sloped down. A few passes down the hill on an old inner-tube and the snow would pack enough to really pick up some speed. We would spend what seemed like hours tubing and sledding. Sheila’s stepdad would come out and have snowball fights with us when he’d have a day off.
When we would go in, June would have a whole spread of snacks ready for us. Sometimes she would make hot cocoa and I think it was the first time I saw somebody make it with real cocoa, sugar, and milk, with big marshmallows on top. We just had packs of hot chocolate at home every now and then. If we felt fancy, we’d get some with the mini marshmallows in the mix. But anyway, she would fill up a mug for each of us and there would be some kind of treats on the table. One day we were all sitting around the kitchen table working on a craft project she gave us and she put a dish of chocolate chips on the table, from a bag she kept in the freezer. It kinda blew my mind. It had never occurred to me that you could just eat chocolate chips from a bowl. On the rare occasion that mom would make homemade chocolate chip cookies, we might get a chip of two from the bag, but they all went in the cookies. It felt so extravagant to just eat a dish full of them! I thought, wow, I bet this is how rich people live. Because of that, I have always kept a bag of chocolate chips in the freezer, just to pour some out in a dish and treat myself with them when I want to. And, when I do, I always think of June, always.
Their first Christmas with us we all came in from playing and she had popped bowls full of popcorn, but not for us to eat. She gave each of us a needle and a spool of thread and we strung up long strings of popcorn to put on the trees and bushes in front of their house. I’m sure some strings went on the tree and we probably took some strings home to put on our own trees.
That first Christmas and winter after they moved in was the best. June always made our days fun and interesting. She would give us projects to work on, crafts to do, play music, and just let us play. She’s been gone nearly a decade now. Alzheimer’s took its tole on her. The last winter she was alive, she was living with Sheila. My dad was sick at the time as well and I spent lots of weekends traveling back and forth to help him and visit. Sheila lived along the way, so I would try and spend one night there either going up or coming home. That last winter we got quite a bit of snow and on one of those quick weekend trips I got stuck at her house. I spent an extra couple of days with them. Her husband and kids were gone to work and school or to visit his parents, I can’t remember, but I know they weren’t there. It was just me, Sheila, and June. June still loved to listen to music, so we had it playing. We set up some snacks on the coffee table, made some hot cocoa (and probably opened a bottle of wine or two), and watched the snow get deeper and deeper outside. At one point Sheila took her mom’s hands and they began to dance to the music playing. Johnny Mathis was her favorite. We all sang and suddenly June began to cry a little. Sheila wiped her tears and the song changed and we continued on. She and I have talked about that moment since and Sheila doesn’t remember it. I think it just blended in with all of her days then. I distinctly remember thinking at the time that June remembered. For a moment she saw us kids playing, drinking hot cocoa, singing to the music playing, and having fun. She remembered.
It is one of my fondest memories that I hope I always carry with me.
Here are some recipes inspired by that first winter. Enjoy!
3 cups of peeled, cored and chopped apples (About 3 ripe apples)
2 cups fresh cranberries
Zest and juice of 1 orange
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 cup oats
2/3 cup plain flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
Dash of salt
1 stick butter, cubbed
4 heaping tablespoons prepared mincemeat
In a mixing bowl, toss apples and cranberries with orange zest and juice and set aside for about 10 min. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Toss to coat well. Let sit while you prepare topping.
For the topping; in a mixer or food processor, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, and spices. Give it a pulse to mix. Cube cold butter and add to oat mixture. Mix on a low speed until butter is combined and mixture looks like meal. Spoon on mincemeat and stir to distribute, but don’t mix up completely.
Pour apple and cranberry mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. Spoon crisp topping over, covering entire mixture.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until crisp is golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 min before serving. Serve plain or with cream, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.
Chocolate Cherry Cordial Moonshine Brownies
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup Old Mill self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup regular cocoa
1/4 cup Old Forge Distillery Chocolate & Cherries Moonshine
18 – 24 cherries from the moonshine, chopped
1 stick butter melted
2 large eggs
Sift together sugar, flour, salt, and cocoa. Stir in coffee moonshine, melted butter, and eggs. Prepare an 8×8 inch pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Mix well and spread into pan. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons OFD Vanilla Bean Moonshine
Mix confectioners sugar and moonshine until all sugar is incorporated. Spread over cooked brownies.
Hot Cocoa Blocks
I got this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Click here is the recipe!
Chocolate Dipped Orange Crisps
These are so easy to make and I love the flavor of chocolate and orange together. I got this recipe from Ellie Krieger. Click here for the recipe!
When I was a kid mom called me Punkin’. I remember asking her why and she just said “cause you’re my punkin’.” and so it was, I was Punkin. I don’t remember when she stopped calling me that. She may have called each one of us that, but at least for a while it was me.
I’ve always loved pumpkins. I love the smell of ’em when you cut ’em open and I love digging my hand down in one to pull out the strings and seeds. One of our teachers in elementary school brought a toaster oven into our room and after we carved the class jack-o-lantern, we cleaned and toasted the pumpkin seeds. I had never had them before, but for years after that we would toast the seeds when we carved one at home. They never were as good as the ones she made.
One of the things I look most forward to at Thanksgiving is the pumpkin pie. It is, and always will be, my favorite thing that you can make from pumpkin. I will see about sharing my Appalachian Pumpkin Pie this Thanksgiving. I’ve made pumpkin dip, pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars, and pumpkin cake, but if I had to only choose one thing to make for the rest of my days with pumpkin, it’s back to pie. I can almost taste an ice cold slice right now.
But last weekend, when we took a walk through the woods in Cumberland Gap, TN, we stopped off at a little coffee shop for some lunch and I got a cup of their Great Pumpkin coffee before heading off. That cup of coffee inspired me to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake. It’s a marbled cake of pumpkin and coffee, with all the right spice and a creamy icing to top it off. If I could have a second thing I could make for the rest of my days with pumpkin, it would be this cake!
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake
For this cake you will make 2 batters, one coffee and one pumpkin, and then marble the two together.
Ingredients for coffee batter:
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
6 oz strong coffee
1/2 teaspoon of the coffee grinds from making the strong coffee
Ingredients Pumpkin Batter:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
Ingredients for milk bath:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon cloves -reserve 1/4 teaspoon for dusting the cake before serving)
Ingredients for the icing:
3/4 cup butter softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coffee grinds
3 – 4 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350.
You will need 4 bowls all together to make the two batters. In the first 2 bowls, for each batter, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda. In the pumpkin batter, whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
In the next 2 bowls, for each batter, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. For the coffee batter, beat in the coffee and grinds. For the pumpkin batter, beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.
Prepare a 9 x 13 cake pan by greasing and flouring the pan. Starting with the coffee batter, because it will be thinner, pour all the batter into the pan. Then spoon in the thicker pumpkin batter. Taking a butter knife, run the tip of the knife up and down the batters to marble them, but do not mix them.
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. While cake is baking, heat milk, cream, and pumpkin pie spice in the microwave for 2 – 3 minutes. Let it steep while the cake bakes. This will be for soaking the cake once it come out of the oven. Remove the cake from the oven when done and while the cake is still hot, use a fork to poke holes all in the cake. Pour the milk bath evenly over the cake. Let it sit and cool completely before icing.
For the icing, whip the butter until creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until each is well combined. Add the coffee grinds and the whipping cream and beat until well combined and creamy.
Ice the top of the cake and then dust with a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar mixed with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
Chill cake for 4 hours or overnight. Keep cake cold until serving.
When I first moved out on my own, I moved from the little Virginia town I grew up in, and was the only home I had known for 25 years, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I got pretty homesick sometimes, and back then if you called outside your county limits you paid long-distance charges for the call. I had to budget out how often and when I called mom and dad. I think the rates changed after 8 o’clock in the evening, so I always waited until then to call and kept it to a quick 10 minutes.
One of those calls that first fall was to ask mom about the beef stew we had made several times. I don’t really know where the recipe came from, but she read if off to me and I scribbled it down. I still have that handwritten recipe. Usually you cherish recipes in your mom’s or grandmaw’s handwriting, but I still hear her voice when I read it and I feel connected once again. It makes me a little homesick still, but not for home so much as just a time long gone.
Old Time Beef Stew
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds of beef, cubed
2 tablespoons flour
2 quarts water
3 tablespoons Worcester sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 Bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6-8 carrots, sliced
4-6 potatoes, cubed
1 stalk celery, diced
In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Dust cubed beef with flour and toss to coat the meat. When oil is hot, brown beef. When beef is browned, add 2 quarts water to the pot along with Worcester sauce, garlic, onion, bay leaves, salt, pepper, sugar, allspice, and cloves. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Next add the carrots, potatoes, and celery. Cover and continue to simmer for 45 minutes longer or until meat and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
If stew has not thickened enough, make a slurry of flour and hot broth from the stew, about 4 tablespoons flour to 1 cup of broth. Mix until flour and broth are well combined and pour back into stew while stirring. This will thicken it quickly, so you may want to turn off the heat when you start this. When thick, it is ready to serve. Remove Bay leaves before serving.
Serve in a bread bowl or with some crusty bread, crisp cornbread, or fried cornbread patties.
Crisps are named because of the crispy oat topping that they’re made with, but when Fall arrives, we think of crisp Fall evenings and the aroma of warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg filling the kitchen.
Peachy Moon Crisp
5-6 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced, or 2 quarts of canned, drained
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Old Forge Distillery Oatmeal Cookie Moonshine
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
Dash of salt
1 stick butter
In a 12 inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter and add the peach slices, brown sugar, and Oatmeal Cookie Moonshine. Sauté for 5 minutes or until thickened and peaches are tender.
Remove from the heat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, and salt. Cut the butter into chucks and cut into the oat/flour mixture. Top the peaches with the crisp topping and bake for 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream infused with your favorite Cream Liqueur, such as Peaches & Cream, Haystack, or Vanilla Ice Cream.
I love baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, and even sweet potato casserole. I’ve made sweet potato bread and sweet potato pie, but one of my favorites might be this Sweet Potato Cornbread.
Sweet Potato Cornbread
Makes one 6.5 inch skillet of cornbread
1 cup plain yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
2/3 cup whole buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. While the oven is heating up, melt and brown the butter in your skillet over med-high heat.
While the butter is browning, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add the mashed sweet potato, buttermilk, and egg. Mix well to combine.
When butter is browned, carefully pour cornbread batter into the skillet. The butter will come up and over the batter. Move the skillet to the oven when it is ready and bake for 20-22 minutes or until center is done and top is browned a little.
Remove from the oven and top with a little bit of butter, maple syrup, or honey if desired and serve warm.