Friday, July 24, 2015

Aunt Lila Mae's Peach Cobbler - the World's Best

My Aunt Lila Mae was my mother's aunt, but they were the same age and next door neighbors. My Great Grandaddy Spooner married a much younger woman when he became a widower and all of his children were grown and gone. Aunt Lila Mae was the baby daughter and only child of this marriage. They lived right next door to my mother and the two grew up as best friends. According to my mother, Lila Mae was spoiled rotten. She had a car in the 1930's and would take all of her nieces "joy riding". When she graduated from high school, she moved to Atlanta and became an airline stewardess in the late 30's. I always thought that she was glamorous beyond belief. After the war, she came home and married a local boy and moved into her parents' home. Not only was she sophisticated and beautiful, but she was a wonderful cook and loved to entertain. This is her peach cobbler recipe that she promised would never fail and would make any man propose marriage.
I have been making this version for around 50 years and it always comes out perfect. It is so very easy and my family and friends claim that it is the World's Best.

I loaded up on peaches from the Peach Stand in Fort Mill to make all of our favorite peach desserts. The peaches in South Carolina may not be plentiful this summer, due to a late freeze, but they are delicious.

Aunt Lila Mae's Peach Cobbler - AKA the World's Best

2 cups fresh and juicy peaches - peeled and sliced
1 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup boiling water

Place peeled and sliced peaches in a buttered 2 quart casserole dish.
Stir the flour, milk, butter, and sugar with a spoon until well mixed.

This mixture will be very thick. Spread the batter on top of the peaches. Try to keep all of the peaches underneath the batter.

Sprinkle the 3/4 cup sugar on top of the batter. The sugar may be increased to 1 cup if the peaches are on the tart side.

Pour the boiling water over all. It will be very wet and appear not appetizing at all, but this step creates the crispy sugar glaze on top along with yummy peach juices

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the top is brown and the sugar has formed a glaze,
It is imperative to serve this cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Home churned is preferred, but a quality vanilla bean variety will do just fine. Enjoy and please leave a comment with your results.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Aunt Lucille's Peach Pie and the Peach Stand

My husband's Aunt Lucille lived just outside of Vienna, Georgia on a farm loaded with lots of peach trees. She made a fabulous open faced peach pie that was a favorite of my husband and all of his cousins that met there every summer for a family reunion. This pie was one of the very first desserts that I learned to cook as a new bride. It is very simple to make with perfect results every time. I use the Pillsbury roll out pie crusts and everyone always raves about my homemade crust. I'll never tell!

As many of you know, I have just sold my family home of many years and have relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina. I am always on the lookout for fresh produce and a good meat market. I have only been in Charlotte for one week and have had great success at the Peach Stand in Fort Mill, SC. It is only about 15 minutes from Lake Wylie where I live and has the most fantastic meats and fresh produce. I have been on a search for peaches for Aunt Lucille's pie as well as my World's Best Peach Cobbler and was directed to the Peach Stand by several Carolinians. My daughter and her joined my there today for a terrific lunch. She had the Ultimate BLT with Fried Green Tomatoes and pimento cheese. I had the Pita Chicken Salad wrap. It was some of the best chicken salad that I have ever eaten, including my own. After our delicious lunch, we journeyed to the meat market for a quick preview. The steaks looked amazing.

Our main mission of the day was to select the perfect basket of peaches along with some South Carolina tomatoes, grown in the richest red clay imaginable. We succeeded and headed home with out prized possessions.
Aunt Lucille's Open Faced Peach Pie never tasted better. Here is the simple recipe that is suitable for the most novice pie baker.

Aunt Lucille's Open Faced Peach Pie

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter or margarine- cold and cut in small slices

Blend together the sugar, flour, and butter with a pastry blender or very clean fingers and hands- the hand method is by far the easiest.

Place half of the mixture in an unbaked pie shell.
Peel about 6 or 7 ripe peaches, cut them in half and remove the pit. Place them on the sugar, flour, and butter mixture that has already been placed in the pie shell.

Top the peaches with the remainder of the  prepared mixture.

Bake in a 325 to 350 degree oven until top is golden brown - this should be 30 to 40 minutes.

Always top with vanilla ice cream.

This pie can be wrapped in saran wrap and then in foil and frozen before it is baked. It will turn out perfectly, just like fresh, if baked within six months. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fried Okra - My Mama's South Georgia Method

If my mother was given a good cast iron skillet, she could fry anything. She used her dutch oven for frying okra, green tomatoes, quail, dove, and chicken. She used a shorter but larger frying pan for frying catfish, bream, and shellcracker. Her secret was not hurrying and never overcrowding the pan. She also was perfection at seasonings. I have found her recipe for fried okra. She always fried in peanut oil. It did not smell up the house or smoke heavily. It is very expensive now, but I still splurge and use it for my fried favorites. 

Try to find very young and tender okra. You will not want hard edges that can be quite chokey. 

South Georgia Fried Okra

2 cups Peanut Oil
1 large egg - lightly beaten
a little water- maybe a tablespoon
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 cup fine cracker crumbs - this is one sleeve of saltines - or cracker meal can be used
1 1/2 teaspoons salt should flavor the breading 
1 pound okra with the stem removed that has been sliced into rounds. . 

Line a broiling pan or platter with a brown grocery bag. 

Heat the oil in a cast iron Dutch oven or other deep, heavy skillet. Whisk the egg, water, and buttermilk together in a small bowl. In a paper bag, combine the flour, cracker crumbs or meal, salt and pepper to taste. 

Dip the okra into the buttermilk milk using a lunchroom size slotted spoon. Place the okra in the bag and shake, shake, shake until well coated. Using another slotted spoon that is completely dry, remove the okra from the bag, and shake to remove the the excess oil. 

Fry the okra in hot oil until deep brown, several minutes. Drain on the prepared grocery bag and sprinkle with extra salt. Serve immediately. 

The serving tray will probably not make it to the table. My people stand around waiting for each batch and eat it as soon as it is cool enough to not burn their mouths. Enjoy!