Oh thank heaven that I had already begun this posting – the recipe was in place, and all I needed to do was write my intro. The site where I store my thousands upon thousands of recipes is down for maintenance. They are sorry for the inconvenience. Inconvenience is an understatement.
My plan for today (meal wise, not blogging wise) was to try a new recipe for Roast Beef. The recipe, ingredient list and step-by-step instructions are locked away while the site undergoes maintenance. It would be one thing if the recipe were in one of my hundreds of old cookbooks lining the shelves of my study. Oh no, that would have been too easy a solution. This was a new recipe, one I had not tried before. Typically, on days that I’m trying something new, I print out the recipe in the morning. Then it’s off to gather ingredients and set up my kitchen prep table for whatever the day has in store. Over a cup of coffee, I’ll read the recipe, and note any changes I plan to make. (I NEVER follow recipes exactly – I like to play around a bit, first on paper, then in execution). That’s fine; in a well-stocked kitchen there’s always a Plan B. I can still surf the internet and turn my roast into President Ford’s Braised Eye of Round Steak instead.
Once upon a time we weren’t so darn dependent on our electronic devices. Such a simple time. A few cookbooks or a collection of index cards were all that were needed. Everything was at your fingertips. No need for a Plan B. This day reminds me of another day a few years back . . .
It was an evening in April, tax day to be precise. We sat glued to the TV; enthralled in something completely mindless, when the lights flickered, but only for a moment. A brown out. For those unfamiliar with brown outs, it’s a reduction in electrical power. You may have lights, but they are dim. There might not be enough power to run everything in your home such as major appliances. For us, the kitchen was very dim, but the living room had power – at lease to the TV and cable box. We could hear some of our neighbors outside. Some were in complete darkness; others had power to the back of the house, but none to the front. Some street lights were still lite, others were out completely. The dip in power lasted about twenty minutes, and then total darkness. This meant no electronic devices – no internet (except maybe the smart-ass phones) – lap tops had no internet access because the cable boxes had no power. No TVs – we were unplugged. Naturally, we went outside to see how much of the neighborhood was affected. I stood on our driveway and listened. No music playing, no TVs flickering – only the natural sounds of the night. And hushed voices of bewildered neighbors. Then the “miracle” happened. Neighbors gathered in the street and began to do something that was a strange concept to a good many of them – they talked to one another! Face to face – not in a text or face book up date, but actual conversations. Some shook hands, introduced themselves to each other for the very first time. Wow!
Growing up in the era BEFORE TVs were commonplace in homes, evenings were spent outdoors – neighbors visiting with neighbors. Most women did not work outside the home. While husbands were off to work and children off to school, the women gathered together, sat down to coffee (and cake); making plans for the weekend – neighborhood barbecues or caravans to the lake for a picnic. Neighborhoods were built around places of worship, and churches held socials. These days, we are lucky to get a wave from a passing neighbor. (Unless you live in farm country where everyone waves). No one looks up – or out these days. Human interaction is an unknown concept in this world of gadgets and gizmos. Brown outs are good. Recipes locked in a site under maintenance are good. Cooking from memory and from the heart is good.
Here’s to nostalgic, bygone days and ladies gathered around the kitchen table drinking coffee served with warm Coffee Cakes. These fine ladies bound neighborhoods together and forged friendships that would last a lifetime.
Blackberry-Peach Coffee Cake
Ingredients – Topping
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Topping: Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Add flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg; beat just until blended. Set aside until ready to use.
Ingredients – Coffee Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and sliced fresh firm, ripe peaches (about 2 large peaches, 7 oz. each)
1 cup fresh blackberries
Garnishes: fresh blackberries, sliced peaches
Cake: Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and flour 9-inch spring-form pan. Set aside. Prepare Streusel Topping (recipe above)
Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low-speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pan; top with sliced peaches and blackberries. Pinch off 1-inch pieces of Streusel Topping, and drop over fruit.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until center of cake is set. (A wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center WILL NOT come out completely clean.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours).
Dust with powdered sugar. Garnish, if desired. Option: Omit Blackberries, increase peaches to 3 cups.