Upside Down Peach Cake

Peaches! My favorite fruit on this entire earth. I have yet to have any luck planting peach trees here on the farm. No luck, as in I killed two of them. Probably because I brought them home and then failed to put them in the ground for several months. Not my best plant parenting. Luckily, we are a stone’s throw away from the great peach producing state of South Carolina which actually out produces Georgia in peaches. This year I received a text from a friend that one of her other friends would be making a trip to a nearby peach farm and was willing to take orders. Between myself, my mother, and my mother-in-law we ordered two and a half, twenty-five pound boxes. I was in peach heaven!

We enjoyed a few fresh ones and froze the majority for future use, but one recipe that I absolutely had to make before the summer was over was this fantastic variation on Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I love it so much and will likely never make the traditional tropical version again if I have the option. Give it a try and see if you agree.

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 Upside Down Peach Cake

11 tbps unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3-4 large peaches, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tbps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk

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Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a 10” cast iron skillet, melt 3 tbps of butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and let melt until it melts and bubbles to make a sticky, thick syrup.

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Remove from heat and allow to cool five minutes. Place the peaches in the pan in a circular pattern.

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In a large mixing bowl, beat 8 tbps of butter with the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla then the eggs.

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In a separate bowl, mix the flower, baking powder, and salt. Stir half of the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Stir in the milk. Stir in the remaining dry mixture and stir just until mixed. Pour the batter of the peaches spreading it to the edges of the pan.

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Place in the preheated oven for 60 minutes or until the edges of the cake pull from the sides and a knife poked into the center of the cake comes out clean (pushed only through the cake portion, not the fruit).

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Allow the skillet to cool for 20 minutes before flipping it over onto the cake plate. Allow to cool slightly and then serve while still slightly warm (with vanilla ice cream as a bonus treat).

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Pimento Cheese

It took me a good couple of years to create the perfect pimento cheese recipe to fit my tastes. I searched and searched cook books and blogs for that tasty blend of smooth cheesy goodness and sharp pimento flavor. Alas, I was unsuccessful. Instead what I present to you here is a recipe that I built piece by piece during my search. For me what makes this recipe perfect is as much the technique as it is the ingredients. I want pimento cheese to have a smooth texture and consistent flavor in each bite. I loathe tasting chunks of sharp cheddar or bland cream cheese in a spread. I believe that use of the electric mixer for this recipe is key.

PIMENTO CHEESE

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature (Not the end of the world if you forget to set it out and it is still firm from the fridge. You will just have to blend with the mixer longer.)
1 cup finely grated mild cheddar cheese (MUST be fine grated and MUST be mild)
1 cup finely grated  monterey jack cheese  (again, MUST be fine grated)
(Note: Two cups of a mild colby jack blend works well here, just make sure it is finely grated)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 fresh pimento
1-2 fresh jalapeno peppers (option)
(Note: For this particular batch I used dehydrated pimentos and jalapenos from our Spring 2015 garden. Dehydration removes many of the oils from hot peppers giving them a much milder flavor when re-hydrated. I am not a fan of super hot heat in this recipe, but using the dehydrated peppers gives the perfect balance of jalapeno flavor and just a hint of heat. Below are photos of the dehydrated peppers when they first hit the water and then about two hours later.)

 

Dice the pimentos (and optional jalapenos if using – removing the seeds to reduce the heat if desired) in a food processor and pulse until the peppers are very finely minced and blended well.

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Place the pepper mixture along with all other ingredients in an upright stand mixer with the paddle attachment (a hand held mixer would work just as well). Blend on low to medium speed until all ingredients are well incorporated and you can no longer distinguish the individual ingredients except for the bits of pepper.

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Serve immediately with crackers, fresh veggies, or on sandwich bread. Place left overs in a resealable container and place in the fridge.

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Happy Homesteading and God Bless!

Jennifer

Sweet and Sour Wild Duck

I’m so excited to share another great wild duck recipe! As I mentioned in the Wild Orange Duck post last month I am always on the lookout for good recipes to use with the wild duck Neal brings home from his hunts. This particular recipe was largely inspired by a recipe found in After the Hunt: Louisiana’s Authoritative Collection of Wild Game and Game Fish Cookery by Chef John D. Folse which is on the shelf at a dear friend’s house. I’ve had a copy of the recipe for some time, but just now got a chance to try it. I made a few changes, but not much. I doubled the amount of duck, doubled the flour coating ingredients and deep fried the duck instead of pan fried. Everything about this recipe came out delicious. The duck was flavorful and moist while the sauce was the perfect blend of sweet and tangy. I served it with white rice and broccoli that was frozen from last spring’s garden. It made enough for two meals of two servings each. The leftovers the next day were just as good as the first night. Make sure to include this recipe on your list next time you have duck brought home by your own hunters.

Happy Homesteading and God Bless!

Jennifer

SWEET AND SOUR WILD DUCK

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Ingredients:

8 wild  duck breasts cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp cornstarch, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp and 3 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
18 oz chunked pineapple, drained with juice reserved

Directions:

In a large bowl whisk together the beaten egg, 2 tbsp cornstarch, olive oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, salt, and white pepper. Add the cubed duck and coat. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for one hour.

In a saucepan whisk together sugar, vinegar, 2 tbsp cornstarch, and 3 tsp soy sauce. Place reserved pineapple juice in measuring cup and fill with enough water to equal one cup. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until thickened. Add pineapple and turn sauce down to lowest setting to keep warm while preparing duck.

Heat a deep fryer with oil to 350 degrees.

In another large bowl blend  flour and baking soda. Toss the marinated duck in batches. Deep fry duck in batches (however many you need in order to fry in single layers – it took me three). Let drain on plate with paper towel.

In a large bowl toss duck in sauce to coat. Serve over rice.

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Hummingbird Cake

I’m not sure when the first time I ever had Hummingbird Cake was, but I do know it was many years ago after I had moved to Laurinburg as a college student. I remember loving every scrumptious bite and wondering where this Southern tradition had been all my life.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago while standing in the grocery store aisle where I saw the 50th Anniversary issue of Southern Living (Feb. 2016).

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Being one of my favorite magazines I grabbed a copy and let it make a home on my living room end table until I had a quiet moment to enjoy it. Low and behold, the Hummingbird Cake was featured as a reader favorite from 1978 with many appearances since then.

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It had been so long since I had last enjoyed a delicious slice of this favorite of Southern cakes that I just had to find an occasion to make one. When a going away party was planned for a friend I grab the opportunity and got to baking. 
For those who have never had Hummingbird Cake I would describe it as a sweeter carrot cake with a bit more texture due to the fruit chunks.

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE

3 cup flour
2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
8 oz crushed pineapple undrained
2 cup chopped bananas
1 cup chopped pecans (optional – I omitted)
shortening/flour for greasing pans
Double batch cream cheese frosting (One patch = 8 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 16 oz powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla)
1 cup chopped or whole pecans for decoration (I chopped)

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Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together flour (I sifted the 3 cups first), sugar, salt, soda, and cinnamon. Add oil and eggs, stir until just moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, and bananas. Pour into 3 well-greased/floured 9″ round cake pans. Bake 25-30 mins. Cool in pans for 10 mins. Cool on wire rack out of pans for 1 hour. Layer with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle top with nuts.

The batter is very thick and chunky so don’t be alarmed when it doesn’t resemble other cake recipes.

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I recommend freezing the layers before icing them because it is a very tender cake that is easy to tear when icing. I also prefer thinner layers of icing than many people which is easier to do with a frozen cake rather than a fresh cake.

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The nuts are optional both inside and outside the cake. Neither Neal or myself care for nuts in our cakes very often and think this recipe is just as great without them. Neal suggested fresh fruit as a top garnish and I might indeed give that a try next time around. However you choose to top your Hummingbird Cake, I hope you enjoy this Southern classic as much as we do.

Happy Homesteading and God Bless!

Jennifer

 

A Homemade Christmas with Snickerdoodles

Christmas Day is nearly upon us! This year we have tried hard to personalize our Christmas giving with treats made here at the farm. Our friends and family will be enjoying some of the canned and dried goods we put up during the summer joined in baskets with baked goods and home crafts. Each basket is unique based on what we know about the person receiving it. Neal’s mother loves orange marmalade while our friend Kellie hates pickles. Equestrian friends will find horse themed home crafts in their baskets while other friends will find crafts that fit their passions. We hope that these baskets are not only enjoyed by their recipients, but also bring a little bit of our home into theirs. It warms my heart to be able to share with others the blessings we have received throughout the year even if they aren’t in the form of the more common store bought gifts.

One thing found in all the baskets is a jar of cookies! Nothing fancy and not even holiday cookies by definition. Just good old fashion, made from scratch, classic favorites. One of those is the Snickerdoodle. A favorite since I was a child and new one for Neal. My recipe was copied from a worn out index card in my mother’s recipe box. I was fairly certain it was the very one found in the Betty Crocker Cooky Book. When I found a copy in the Scotland County Memorial Library I was able to confirm that was the case. I have loved the Betty Crocker Cooky Book since I was a child. I remember carefully turning each page making sure to not rip the delicate pages. The pictures were so colorful and expertly laid out. It made each cookie look even more delicious. As an adult I still love the book, but for different reasons. I have found the recipes to be timeless and fitting for the traditionally stocked family kitchen. Rarely do any of the recipes call for ingredients that I can’t easily find either already stocked on my shelves or carried at the local grocery store.

The recipe as found in the book is…

Snickerdoodles

1 cup shortening (part butter or margarine – I do 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix shortening, 1 1/2 cup sugar, and eggs thoroughly in large mixing bowl. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Blend flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Stir into the shortening mixture. Mix 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon in small bowl. Shape dough into 1″ balls. Roll balls in the sugar/cinnamon mixture to cover. Place 2″ apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. These cookies puff up at first, then flatten out.

I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to bring this dough together and it makes for fast and easy work.

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I also use duck eggs for all my baking instead of chicken eggs. Chicken eggs are something we sell quite a bit of here on the farm and during the winter months the chickens do not lay as often so sales drop during this time of year. I try to reserve as many of my chicken eggs for my regular customers as I can by making the duck eggs my personal go-to in the kitchen. Duck eggs are richer in protein than chicken eggs and for that reason are preferred by many bakers though I personally haven’t noticed such a big difference in my bake goods that I have preference. They do make much richer custard pies though and will never make another one without them. Duck eggs are a bit larger so I do have to watch that my recipes do not have too much moisture due to the larger eggs. This recipe was right on the edge and I could probably have added a tad bit more flour without issue, but I did not and it worked out just fine.

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One thing I have learned while baking this year is that I have been making drop cookies and ball cookies entirely too large for much of my adult life! I’ve always had to cook my cookies longer than recipes said and often was not happy with the results. One day I was honest with myself about how well I was really following these recipes and realized my idea of a teaspoon drop or 1″ ball was closer to a tablespoon drop or 3″ ball. This season I tried hard to keep my cookies a much more reasonable size and it sure made baking them much easier and I was much happier with the results.

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Here are my new and improved Snickerdoodle balls made as a much more conscientious baker. I baked mine for exactly 9 minutes and then allowed them to cool on a baking rack before I put them in the jars for our gift baskets.

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If you’ve never baked cookies from scratch, perhaps always having used the pre-made dough available in the grocery store, I highly recommend giving it a try. It is super easy. Even if you don’t have a stand mixer you can mix everything by hand just fine. I think you’ll like the finished product much more not to mention the pride in knowing the love and work you’ve put into it yourself.

Happy Homesteading and God Bless,

Jennifer