Archive for July, 2011
After such a memorable feast, a stroll makes sense, and so we walked back along the lane to Nanking East Road, passing the original location of Greenleaf, where we enjoyed many fine meals. Note the logo above the red wall, of a green leaf on white background. Ao Ba or Greenleaf refers to the beautiful island of Taiwan, which is shaped like a green leaf floating in the blue sea.
Have a look around this amazing city of Taipei, Taiwan.
After a long but diverting and worthwhile journey across one continent, one ocean and a good chunk of a second continent, we arrived in Taiwan at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Though I slept only a few hours on the plane, the excitement of completing the journey and Being Here!!! at last dissolved my exhaustion. I stayed awake unpacking, planning activities (yes, that’s heavily focused on meals and snacks, though not completely) for several hours, then slept well until 7 a.m. Our brimming-full Sunday is zooming by — I imagine the cartoon clock with the hands whizzing around the face. Here’s a kickstart on this first day, lunchtime visit to the food court at Shinkon Mitsukoshi Department Store, where we feasted on noodles, dumplings, rice, and fruit smoothies.
Here’s my favorite lunch item for today.
Then it was quick reading-and-nap session in air-conditioned comfort, followed by beauty salon indulgence and then visit to our cousins’ home, where their warm welcome came with cool sliced fruit. More photos on my Facebook page. Gotta go — time for dinner!
Nancie’s Shenandoah Valley Blueberry Cake
Enjoy this simple, delicious cake for breakfast, a tea party, or a midnight snack. If you can’t pick your own blueberries in the Shenandoah Valley, don’t worry. The cake comes out just fine using fresh blueberries from wherever you are, or even frozen berries from the grocery store. This recipe comes from Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle Books, 2007).
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
Heat the oven to 375 F, and generously grease a 9-inch square or round pan.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and beat with a mixer at high speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl, until the mixture is smooth and light.
Stir in half the flour mixture, and then half the milk, mixing just enough to keep the batter fairly smooth and well combined. Add the remaining flour, and then the milk, mixing gently. Stir in the blueberries.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 375 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden, springs back when touched gently in the center, and is pulling away from the sides of the pan.
Serve the cake right from the pan, warm or at room temperature, cut into squares. Or if you made a round cake layer, cool it in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for 10 – 20 minutes, loosen it around the edges, and then turn it out to finish cooling on a wire rack, top side up. Makes 1 cake (8- or 9-inch layer, square or round)
Copyright Nancie McDermott, 2011
As soon as I learned about the Pie Party for July 5th, 2011, I counted myself in and started trying to narrow down my pie-options. The more options I have, the faster I melt into indecision and confoundedness, so I limited myself to summertime essentials which around here runs to blueberries, blackberries, and peaches. Not that we don’t absolutely love and dote on every kind of pie throughout the summer, from buttermilk and chess to lemon meringue and pineapple-coconut — but I limited myself to the ones that particularly say “Summer is here!”. My wonderful cousin Libbie’s kind invitation to join her and her family down in Holden Beach sealed the deal — I knew we’d be driving home on Saturday before #PieParty day, with frequent opportunities to stop off and buy some fresh ripe peaches from the sandhills of North Carolina.
We stopped along US Highway 17 for peaches, okra, corn, ‘maters, creamers, ‘lopes, cukes, and homemade ice cream to sweeten the drive home. We got white peaches as well as regular peachy-peaches. They have a lovely flavor, but for pie making, next time I would leave them out, because they cook up looking like apples rather than peaches and don’t soften up quite as much.
Nancie’s Fresh Peach Pie
Pastry for one double-crust pie
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour, cornstarch, or tapioca flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mace or grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a deep 9-inch piepan with pastry, leaving at least one inch hanging past the rim for sealing the crust. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace or nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a fork to mix them well. Pour this mixture over the peeled, chopped peaches, and gently tumble and stir to coat them fairly evenly. Turn the peaches into the prepared piecrust and even them out, so that they are mounded up toward the center of the pie pan.
Dot with butter, as they used to say — meaning dib and dab the butter bits around the top of the pie in an effort to ensure that no peach quadrant is neglected in the baking process. No worries — it will all come out fine. Place the top crust over the peaches, press to seal it to the bottom crust around the edges, and then turn the bottom crust up and over to enclose the edges of the top crust. Pinch and press and crimp, using any method you like to seal most of the peaches and juices inside the piecrust. Going around with the tines of a fork is one way I love that always does the job.
If possible, line a big baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the pie on this baking sheet. Put the pie in the 425 degrees F oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 45 to 60 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on top and underneath and the pie is bubbly and juicy. You may need to put foil or another cookiesheet underneath the pie, as peaches are extremely juicy and may want to bubble up and out onto the floor of the oven.
If the pie is browned beautifully on top but still not done on the bottom, cover the top with foil and continue baking at 325 for another 20 to 30 minutes. A glass pie pan allows you to see the crust and judge whether it is done. Cool on a folded kitchen towel or a wire rack for 30 minutes or longer, and cut while warm or at room temperature. Wonderful plain, but vanilla ice cream or whipped cream give the peachy juices somewhere to show off even more, so consider this when planning how to enjoy your peach pie.
Happy Pie Day! Happy Cooking! Happy Eating!
Gratitude to all my Pie Pals who got this party started, and I’m delighted to have my post here ready to put out on the virtual windowsill, so I can zoom across the worldwide web and check out all the pies that everybody else has been making and sharing around this sweet ol’ world.
Happy Summer 2011 to one and all!