Again, don't forget to enter the contest! There will very possibly be several posts in the next day, so make sure to read them all :)
First off, I know I mentioned that I made Vegetable Stew (p. 131) earlier in the week but I hadn't actually eaten it yet--so I didn't think it was fair to blog about it yet.
Dad had given me a bunch of vegetables from his garden and I needed to use them: okra, onions, a couple hot peppers, and a few tomatoes. Vegetable stew seemed like the perfect dish because it used almost all of the vegetables.
It was an easy start. I always like when a recipe starts with melting a half stick of butter. Yum!
Next step--chopping up a bunch of okra, celery, and an onion. At this point I ran into a problem--I only had two cups of okra, not four cups. No problem, I just halved the recipe. I know a lot of people HATE okra, but I personally like it quite a bit. Yum! Everything is ready to go!
The vegetables are then added to the butter...I had high hopes for this stew, since okra is a great thickener (it is the ingredient that makes gumbo thick).
At this point, tomato, brown sugar, paprika, and water are added. The tomato I decided to add was a orange tomato, which made the stew a strange orange-y color.
Then onto the best part of the recipe--3 slices of fried bacon! Any recipe with bacon in it is a winner in my book! I didn't add any meat to the stew, but ham would have been DELICIOUS in it.
So how was it? Really really good. If you hate okra, don't make this recipe, because it definitely is okra-heavy. If you like okra, have I got a stew for you!! I made some rice and poured the stew over it--delicious. I think it would be really good on couscous too. I hope you all enjoy my awesome 70's style bowls--I can't wait to get new dishware at some point.
I listed out all of the recipes that I've made--and I've been sadly deficient in cakes and cupcakes. I know why--it's because I am terrified of making baked goods because of the altitude. I swear I used to be a great baker--friends, back me up!! But now I'm nervous...so I decided to make High Altitude Peach-Pecan Upside-Down Cake (p. 751). This has actually been on my to-make list several times, so I had the pecans on hand. I also had some peaches. I started to peel, half, pit, and slice them when I noticed that they were really mealy. I HATE mealy fruit. The peaches were organic (I don't tend to buy organic but they were on sale for a dollar a pound) which don't seem to keep as well. Fortunately, I had some nectarines (conventional) on hand, which were in perfect condition. I HATE peeling fruit, and the nectarine's pits did NOT want to come out. I probably should have blanched them first....
I started by making the batter. First step, the dry mixture. The dry mix had a TON of spices...cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The wet mixture was more typical except for honey and buttermilk....uh oh....
I don't keep buttermilk on hand and hadn't planned on this recipe, so I hadn't bought any. Thank you google! Apparently, pretty much a tablespoon of acid mixed with a cup of milk is a substitute for buttermilk. I used lemon juice and let it sit for ten minutes.
The wet mixture:
Mixing the dry into the wet--I decided to mix it by hand since cakes seem to be more fluffy when they are hand mixed.
I don't have an ovenproof skillet (definitely going on the wedding registry) so I placed a cake pan on the burner (I was very skeptical of how this was going to work) for the cake. Butter and brown sugar were stirred right on top of the stove.
Honey, cardamom, and nutmeg were then mixed in. Honey, honey, honey...do I have any honey? Oh yeah! I have TONS of honey. I bought a vat of it at the farmer's market in Des Moines last winter (it was an indoor market). The real reason I bought it was for dog treats but I haven't used it yet.
I wasn't confident at all that Josh was going to like this cake considering he don't like cardamom....and this recipe has a LOT of cardamom in it. Josh also doesn't like fruit mixed with cake or cookie--and, thus, isn't a fan of upside-down cakes. I ADORE upside-down cake and really like fruit mixed into desserts (raisins in cookies, etc.).
At this point, the peaches/nectarines need to be arranged in the syrup. The recipe says to "pinwheel" the fruit. How exactly do you create multiple pinwheels? Or was I supposed to make one huge pinwheel? I couldn't figure it out, so mine was more abstract.
The pecans were then tucked in around the fruit (rather willy-nilly):
The batter was then poured over the top of the mixture. The recipe said not to worry if the batter seemed skimpy, but I thought it looked fine.
It looked great! I couldn't wait to flip it over! Unfortunately, I had to wait ten minutes.
So what did it look like?
Awesome! Perfect! Wonderful! It popped right out and was complete--no sticking at all :) I was thrilled. And it smelled delicious. But what is the last line of the recipe?
(Whipped Cream, 754)
Now those of you who are familiar with TJOC, you know that parenthetical statements mean that the ingredient or step is not required. But what a great idea! I love whipped cream. I made Sweetened Whipped Cream (p. 754), one of seven whipped cream recipes in TJOC.
First step, whip the cream in a cold bowl (I popped the bowl and the beaters in the freezer for about a half hour) until thicken.
Great, so far, so good. Next step, add sugar and vanilla to the cream. No problem--and I used the good vanilla too. I don't know why I even buy imitation vanilla--I hate using it.
Next step, back to beating. I was nervous--the whipped cream section makes it clear you can over-beat the cream and ruin it. But I think I did a good job--it looked (and tasted) wonderful.
So how was it?
AWESOME! This is a spicy, strong cake--almost a spicecake. It was TERRIFIC. I would highly recommend it to everyone--not just those at high altitude (and this is totally the cake I'm making if Pieknits and Mr. Pieknits ever come to visit me). The whipped cream was a great addition and ice cream would be great on the top too.
That being said, the cake didn't keep that well. The fruit got really strange looking--so make it when you plan on gorging yourself on it in a day or two.
Oddly, the whipped cream kept quite well!
I'm behind in posting and I did a rather lot of cooking this week, so keep your eyes open for more posts!