Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I always hesitate to use the phrase, "Just like mom used to make" or "Just like Grandma used to make". I don't know about you, but my grandmas just weren't those types of women. They were special alright, but not in the traditional apron-over-the-best-dress kind of way.

I almost would classify this as, "Just like grandma would have made if she had a cast iron pan and wood stove".

I happen to have both. And as I type, the fragrance of warm, buttery, brown sugar-y, goodness fills the air. This recipe is from a 1920's cookbook. There is no known exact date as to when this cake came to be. Some say it originated from a recipe that was then-titled, Pineapple Glace"...but it's hard to say!

Here it is, in all it's glory!

6 T butter
1 C packed brown sugar
7 slices canned pineapple
Maraschino cherries and pecan halves
1/4 C shortening (I use lard...don't hate me. But it's from my own pig, so it's okay.)
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 C milk
1 t vanilla

In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and simmer until the sugar melts. Remove from heat and add the pineapple slices, arranged. Place cherries and pecans in the center of each slice. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350*. (Or, if you have a wood stove, crank up the heat until you can place your hand in the oven for only 3 seconds before it feels like your skin will burn off.)

Blend shortening (or lard) and granulated sugar until thoroughly mixed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully combined. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to shortening mixture, alternating with milk. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour batter over the pineapple in the skillet and bake for 35-45 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate once it's cooled for 15 minutes or so. Top with whipped cream (homemade, if you can) and serve.

Heaven on a plate!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Making Cheese

We are trying to become more and more self-sufficient. There are a few things that have stood in our way of that goal. The most annoying one is cheese. Cheese just kind of stands there in the grocery store mocking me, taunting me. I can hear it say, "Na, na, na... you can't make me". THEN, it sticks it's tongue out at me. It's not a pretty thing. I stand there, head down, shoulders slumped, and say, "You are right. I can't make you." And then I pick up an over-priced package of cheese and slink off. AND IT GLOATS!

So, I took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and became determined to make cheese. I told myself, "Self, it can't be that tough. People have been doing it for thousands of years without such modern equipment as a thermometer or rennet tablets." By the way, you might not want to know where rennet comes from. Turned my tummy a little, but I pressed on.  I found a mozzarella recipe. I got my milk. I got my stainless steel pot, rennet, citric acid (from a dear friend), thermometer, and I prayed.

I absolutely have to tell you that it was so much fun. Once I realized I was doing it right, I just couldn't stop giggling. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who has asbestos hands and he could help me with those 145* curds. My hands were red and swollen at the end of it, but, by golly, we had mozzarella cheese!

I will be purchasing a new digital camera as soon as I can. I know most people do better with a visual aid. However, let me just tell you: It can be done. It was smooth and creamy (a little too salty, but we rinsed it off) and oh, so good!

My advice to you: try something new. It might work, it might not. If it doesn't work, try again. Don't quit or give up just because of one "non-success"!

I'll post the recipe I used as soon as I can find it again...
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