Subscribe

Get updates sent to you for free by RSS, or by email:

Archives

Currently Reading


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

On my recent road trip, I visited one of my local libraries and borrowed 5 books on tape. We listened to 3 of them. I’m a big fan of Craig Johnson, the author of a series of mysteries taking place in Wyoming, and a TV series on Netflix called Longmire. This book, A Serpent’s Tooth: A Longmire Mystery was really complex. Hard to explain, but it’s about graft and greed and oil. Worth reading, for sure. Also read Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman, another complex mystery about Lt Decker, an LA cop who journeys to NYC to help out his family when a murder occurs. Lots of violence in this one.  Not particularly a fav book, I’d venture. Then read Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read most of her books – always very riveting. In this book, you’ll learn a whole lot about elephants since the protagonist in it is a young girl whose mother disappeared when she was quite young. Her parents ran an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire. In the ensuing years, Jenna has tried to find clues as to her mother’s whereabouts because she just cannot believe her mother would have up and abandoned her. There are a whole cast of characters (her mother, her father, employees at the sanctuary, a cop or two, and a psychic). All play fairly prominent roles. Fascinating book – I really liked it, almost as much for the education about the behavior of elephants as about the mystery. A great read.

Also on the trip, I read a book (on Kindle) for one of my book clubs, The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. It’s about the relationship between Truman Capote and his “swans,” a group of aging high society ladies, and specifically Beth Paley. I don’t know whether to recommend this book or not. Truman Capote was not a nice man, although the whole novel (vs. non-fiction, which this is not) is conjured from speculation about the years Truman was kind of adopted by the group of women. He cared about all of them (most were married/divorced, wealthy women) but in the end he betrays them all by writing a novella about their secrets, their marriages, their affairs (theirs or their spouses, information they’d all shared with him, thinking he could be trusted with their innermost secrets). It was scandalous, and yes, all that part is true. I finished the book, but almost felt like I’d read a “dirty book.” There is no graphic detail in this book – it’s just what Capote did to destroy these women, supposedly his dear, darling “swans.” He was the villain in the book, and in his old age . . . well, I won’t spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it.

I’ve written up an entire blog post about this book. (It hasn’t been posted yet, but will soon.) It may be one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s a memoir by Pat Conroy (an author I’ve long admired). He died a year or so ago – sad, that. In order to get the most out of My Reading Life, I recommend you BUY THE HARDBACK. I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s an autobiography of sorts, but not really. He never wrote one, I don’t think, and I doubt he would ever have written one as he likely didn’t believe anyone would want to read about his (sad) life. In this memoir, he chronicles the books (and the people who recommended them) that influenced his life. Starting at his mother’s knees and continuing through influential teachers and mentors and friends. One of my book clubs read it, and I devoured it, cover to cover, with little plastic flags inserted all the way through to re-read some of the prose. Pat Conroy was a fabulous writer – he studied words from a young age and used them widely and wisely throughout his writing, but better than most authors would. He adored his mother, and hated (with venom) his aviator military father who physically abused everyone in the family, including his mother. They all took it like stoic Buddhas. I’m going to have to read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel because of reading this book. I’ve never read it. Conroy says that book’s first page is the best first page of any book he ever read in his life. Wow. And maybe my book group is going to re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Vintage Classics) too because of the chapter on that book. We might have to assign that to a 2-month or longer read. If you have friends or family who are avid readers, this would make a great gift, this book, My Reading Life. If YOU are a reader, it needs to be on your bookshelf, but in hardback, so you can go back to it and re-read his stories. It’s a series of essays, each one about a sub-section of his life. A must-have and a must-read.

Also read The Towers of Tuscany by Carol Cram. It was a bargain book through amazon or bookbub (e-book). Back in the Middle Ages women were forbidden to be artists. Their only place was in the home, caring for children and sewing and cooking. But the heroine in this book was taught to paint by her widowed artist-father (in secret, of course). When her father suddenly dies, all hell breaks loose and she must fend for herself. Much of the book takes place in Siena (and also San Gimignano) as she disguises herself as a boy in order to continue her life’s passion – painting. Very interesting story and worth reading.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Posted in Desserts, on July 28th, 2009.

peach cobbler 1

My friend Norma (for whom I’ve been making puddings and custards for a few months) thought maybe she was improved enough that she could tackle some peach cobbler. As long as the topping wasn’t too bready, too dry. Swallowing is still an issue for her. No problem for me to find something to fill that request. I don’t like cobblers with lots of topping either.

My America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook has a full-page chart for making fruit cobblers. It suggests 9 different fruit variations, with how much fruit to start with, always using a 9-inch deep dish pie plate, how much sugar to add, how much cornstarch and what flavorings to use. Very helpful. I’ll be referring to this chart again. One of the things I like the best about this cookbook (and Cook’s Illustrated, and America’s Test Kitchen recipes in general) is that they explain why they do some things in recipes. Things that might be contrary to established practice.

In this case it was about baking the peaches for half an hour before adding the biscuits. They found that if you put the biscuits on top of the peaches from the beginning, the bottom part of each biscuit didn’t get baked sufficiently (not enough heat from underneath). So, they completely heated the peaches first by baking them for 20-30 minutes, THEN placed the scoops of biscuit dough on top. Ideally, I suppose, you would eat this all at the first sitting. I don’t know what the biscuits will be like refrigerated for a day or two. Maybe a bit soggy. The recipe also said they’d tried adding oatmeal to the biscuit mixture, and definitely eliminated that option. The oatmeal was too distinctive (overpowering flavor).

peach cobbler closeup 1

This recipe recommended 4-5 peaches. I wanted more peach to cobbler ratio, so I upped it to about 7. I used a tad more cornstarch too, the lower amount of sugar (it mentioned 1/4 to 1/3 cup). Then it suggested ground cloves, vanilla and brandy. I knew my friend Norma wouldn’t want the brandy, so I made hers without. Since I doubled this recipe, I was able to add the brandy to the one I made for us. As it turned out, the one I made for Norma just happened to have a lot more fluid in it – hopefully just what Norma will like. You may need to flex the cornstarch ratio – if the peaches are really ripe and juicy, the cobbler likely needs a bit more cornstarch.

peach cobbler lg 1

The cookbook recipe also suggested a variation with ground and crystallized ginger added to the biscuits. I threw caution to the wind and added the ginger AND the vanilla (and there were ground cloves in the peaches too). Why not, I thought? We liked this a LOT. The sweetness was at a moderate level (I don’t happen to like overly sweet desserts anyway). The buttermilk biscuits? Yum. I liked them a lot. Tender and tasty with the ginger inside. I like that variation a lot, actually. And the little sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon on top? Liked that part too. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this cobbler. It may become my new go-to recipe.
printer-friendly PDF

Fresh Peach Cobbler

Recipe: Mostly a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Servings: 8
NOTES: If the fruit is very juicy, it may need a bit more cornstarch. Just add another 1/2 teaspoon. If using frozen fruit, double the quantity of cornstarch.

PEACHES:
2 pounds peaches — peeled, pitted, sliced
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pinch ground cloves
1/3 cup sugar — or up to 1/2 cup
BISCUITS:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup crystallized ginger — minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
TOPPING:
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Prepare the fruit and place in a large bowl. Add the cornstarch and sugar, stir well. Pour into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Place it on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (curl up the foil edges in case of spillover).
3. Bake fruit for about 20-30 minutes until the fruit begins to release liquid.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda. salt, crystallized ginger and ground ginger together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla together. In a third bowl toss together the topping of sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
5. Remove the peaches from the oven. Then add the buttermilk and butter mixture to the dry mix. Stir just until all the loose flour is incorporated. Using a spoon, make about 8 small globs of biscuit mix. Flatten very slightly, then place them on top of the hot fruit.
6. Sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with the cinnamon-sugar mix, then place the pie plate back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
7. Remove from sheet pan and cool. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
Per Serving: 233 Calories; 6g Fat (22.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 16mg Cholesterol; 243mg Sodium.

A year ago: Barbecued Beans
Two years ago: Crisp Apple Pudding (my mother’s recipe, one of my very favorite recipes ever)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Get Recipes by Email, Free!

  1. DV

    said on August 11th, 2014:

    I tried this recipe with some peaches from our tree and it was delicious!!!

    I’m so glad you liked it! Me too! . . .carolyn t

  2. Tim Tobish

    said on July 9th, 2015:

    Sounds great. I’d switch out the cinnamon for cardamom. And add a few blueberries.

    I made the Cook’s Illustrated cobbler years ago, want to try it again.

Leave Your Comment