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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Time

You may have noticed that this blog has been more quiet than usual this week. That's because it is with a heavy heart that I write this final post of the year. I know this may come as a surprise to my ever faithful visitors; it is to me also. However, I have given it much thought and I feel this is best.

I have every intention of blogging once again but I'm afraid it won't be until January 2011. With the exception of the Picnic Game, I haven't been happy with my postings the last couple of months. I'm sure you as readers were getting a bit tired of my references to previous posts. I know I was. I'd like to do a new blog design and possibly get a dedicated url. I have tons of notes and cookbooks that must be tended to in order for me to stay up to date on all the wonderful foodies celebrations that occur throughout the year.

On a personal note, I'm leaving for Idaho this Saturday and will be there for an undetermined amount of time. Marion is doing better and she has arranged to have someone come and stay with her while I am gone.

I'm not very good at good-byes... Thank you all. You have been just wonderful guests and I truly appreciate all of your support and encouragement. Thank you so much, "see" you here in January, Louise. (I'll be dropping by your places whenever time allows:)

Take Time
Take time to live; it is the secret of success.
Take time to think; it is the source of power.
Take time to play; it is the secret of youth.
Take time to read; it is the foundation of knowledge.
Take time for friendship; it is the source of happiness.
Take time for God; it is life's only lasting investment.
(from an old cookbook)

from where I stand:)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Welcome August! Happy Friendship Day!

Happy Friendship Day! Whoever said August doesn't have any notable holidays? Take today for instance. Did you know the first Sunday in August is National Friendship Day? Of course you knew. I told you all about Friendship Day and many of the other foodie days last year when we "feasted our way through August." Do you remember who the Ambassador of Friendship Day is? Why none other than Winnie the Pooh himself!

There seems to be a bit of discrepancy as to which month is National Peach Month. Some say July while others say August. Please excuse me for not really giving two hoots as to when the "real" peachy month is, I Luv fresh peaches! Besides, August 22 is Eat a Peach Day!

I must share a quick story with you. The other day I went down to the Amish stand a few houses away. It's one of my favorite "hangouts" my first summer in PA and I will truly miss it when the season ends. But, we'll think about that another day:) To my delight, I arrived just in time for a delivery of freshly picked peaches. The wagon was literally pulling away when I drove up. Rachel knows how much I luv fresh peaches and she was just about to put some aside for me. Now tell me, how cool is that! Without further ado, I grabbed that basket of peaches and headed out the door. (did you know the first basket ball "net" was actually a peach basket? It's true:) Anyway, where was I? Oh, on my way home all kinds of peach doings were going on in my head. They were just gorgeous, soft but not to soft, sweet smelling and warm to the touch. I wanted to savor the whole entire peach.

I took a quick search in my engine and found bushels of enticing peach recipes. But, for some reason, no matter how good they sounded and how alluring they were, they just weren't hitting the spot. I tackled the books. Lots of books when finally, the conundrum was solved. Ginger Peachy, I exclaimed to Marion! I found the recipe! There it was right before my eyes from the Editors of Cook's Country Magazine in their book America's Best Lost Recipes © 2007; Peach Puzzle.

Peach Puzzle
Lois Schlademan | Stow, Ohio
This recipe (which won the grand prize in the Cook's Country Lost Recipe Contest ) has all the abracadabra of a magic trick as well as beautiful presentation and great taste. Lois tells us the name refers to the "puzzling" cooking method. Her recipe begins by placing a custard cup upside down in the center of a pie plate. Seven peaches (peeled but still whole) are arranged around the cup and then drizzled with a mixture of brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. A buttery biscuit dough is then domed over the peaches and the custard cup. As the peaches bake under the crust, a vacuum forms inside the custard cup and the juices in the pie plate are pulled inside the cup. Once cooled, the pie plate is flipped over to reveal the peaches nestled into the flaky biscuit. So where's the butterscotch-like syrup? It's all in the cup!

As you might imagine, Lois's recipe is pretty unique-in our research, we failed to come across a single recipe like it. Lois tells us that her mother made "Peach Puzzle" back in the 1940s or 1950s and that it has been a family favorite ever since.

How good does this recipe taste? Lois's description answers that question better than we could: "When you pour a spoonful of syrup over the warm peach and it soaks into the biscuit crust, you will think you've died and gone to heaven"... America's Best Lost Recipes



Peaches and Syrup
7 medium peaches, peeled (see editor's note)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Peach Puzzle America's Best Lost Recipes

Dough
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled
6 tablespoons milk
For the Peaches and Syrup:

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 6 ounce custard cup or ramekin upside down in the center of a 9 inch pie plate and arrange the peaches around the cup. Combine the brown sugar, water, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts, about 5 minutes. Pour the syrup over the peaches.

For the Dough:
Pulse the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the flour mixture is pale yellow and resembles course cornmeal. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the milk into the flour mixture, pressing the mixture against the side of the bowl to form the dough. Squeeze the dough together and flatten into a disk. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 9 inch circle. Lay the dough directly over the peaches and press and fit the dough so that it fits snugly around the peaches. Do not attach the dough to the pie plate. Bake until the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Place a large rimmed serving plate over the top of the pie plate and quickly invert the puzzle onto the plate. Cut into wedges around each peach and serve, pouring syrup over each portion.

Editor's Notes:
Since this dish is all about the peaches, save it for when fresh local peaches are in season. And it is important to choose peaches that are neither very ripe nor rock-hard-they should give a little when squeezed. Be sure to invert the pie plate quickly to avoid losing any of the syrup. Serve with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

My Notes:
1. Remember to turn the custard cup upside down. I almost made a messy mistake. Also, I didn't remove the pits from the peaches and it didn't seem to bother neither me nor Marion. If anything, the pit probably helped keep the peaches looking so voluptuous.
2. I adore gingered peaches so I added some chopped crystallized ginger to the syrup just before I spooned it over each peach. I also substituted 2 tablespoons of vanilla flavored granulated sugar in the dough and 6 tablespoons of heavy dream rather than milk. Both hints worked out quite nicely:)
3. Be very, very careful when flipping the plate. The quickest possible way may be the best way to savor every bit of that syrup but quite frankly, I'm not sure it is the safest. Although, I'm not sure whether there is another way. Just make sure everyone is out of harms way. I flipped the plate in front of me rather from side to side. Thankfully, Marion had just moved out of the way because it did splatter on the floor right in front of the sink. (why I didn't think to turn it over the sink is beyond me:)
Ready?

It was heavenly, I tell you. We didn't even serve it with ice cream or whipped cream; the first night that is. I'm not responsible for Marion surprising me the next night with Peach Puzzle a la Mode:)

August Monthly Celebrations

Nationally, the Keystone State ranks first in the production of agaricus mushrooms; third in the production of peaches; fourth in apples; fifth in the production of pumpkins, snap beans for processing, grapes and pears; sixth in tart cherry production; seventh in cantaloupe and sweet corn for the fresh market; and eighth in fresh market tomatoes.

So, what do you think of this? I'm right smack in the middle of my very own celebration (well mine and the rest of the population here:) It's Pennsylvania Produce Month and here I am! When I say middle, I really mean middle. If you were playing the game Pennsylvania Pin the Tail on the Donkey, the bulls eye would be where I live! I didn't think it would be fair to do an in depth post for Produce Month until I got at least a full season of experiences under my belt.

It may take me a while to get use to shopping local in my new home. I guess it's just the "city" girl in me. I find it very difficult to walk into someone's back yard to buy my groceries. I feel like I'm intruding. But, where I live in PA, that's simply how it's done. A family who farms for a living sets up "shop" just like that. It can be a picnic table in front of the farm house or in the parking lot of the local grocery store. Look at my peach basket surprise, I got the nearest thing to minute picked fresh peaches 5 houses away! One day, I hope to be comfortable enough to walk in someone's back yard to buy brown eggs, un-pasteurized milk, home made cheese and yogurt and all sorts of goodies about 1 mile down the road. I do believe I live in one great big Deli!

National Brownies At Brunch Month

National Brownie Month

National Goat Cheese Month

Maine Lobster Month and The Flavors of Maine

National Catfish Month. I wouldn't say no to a "basket" of catfish, ever. Catfish rocks my boat too. Cheryl cooks it up just the way I like it!

National Sandwich Month Boy, I'd love to squeeze in a Sandwich Round-up! We'll see...

National Coffee Month! Yes indeed, I found a host of Coffee Holidays I never knew about. Let's take a coffee break and find out what they are:)

First Week

National Farmers Market Week begins

August 1st

National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

National Mustard Day

Shredded Wheat Day. Not really, I made this one up. But goodness, don't you think Shredded Wheat deserves it's very own day?

The glances over cocktails
That seemed to be so sweet
Don't seem quite so amorous
Over the Shredded Wheat
On August 1, 1893, lawyer and inventor Henry Drushel Perky and William H. Ford received US patent #502,378 for a "Machine for the Preparation of Cereals for Food." The cereal biscuit they had in mind was to be called Shredded Wheat...

Once again, time has gotten away from me. How about I drop by on Monday with the remainder of days?

I discovered just this week, that my grandchildren, Tabitha and Noah read my blog when their mother allows them. Oh, they do grow like weeds don't they? Tabi & Noah, these are for you:)


Can you see me? Come on outside and play!

I'm in here.

I'm peeking at you over the garden gate. Come on in:)


Grammy loves you, lots!