Sunday, July 13, 2008

On houses, protocol, and peaches

Hi'ya pals,

There have been many bright moments since I wrote last.

Two of my favorites are the littlest: Firstly, we have been looking at this old farmhouse in the Carolina's, wondering if it might be a good place for us to have as an occasional home. It is part grand old home, part farm, part historical landmark. It needs someone, either a Rehabilitator or a Sucker. My Dad's love for history was handed down, when we are shown an old house we see its history, not problems too inconceivable to attempt to remedy. As we debate the finer points of historical renovations and doing proud the family who worked that land for 150 years, I was pleased to be reminded of Bunny Williams book, An Affair with a House. The book is a definitive and loving recounting of a lifetime spent in stewardship to a grand old home. It does seem one might like to take their time in deciding to which old place to give a lifetime and a new heartbeat. We do need more growing space, always. And Josh also thinks it would be nice to have a silo. Since I am from the 'burbs originally, I am in no position to second guess.

Secondly, while once again wandering Charleston unsuccessfully searching for a sideboard (owing to my inability to concentrate in that town altogether.), I noted that Charleston Recreation has several week-long summer class offerings. One of them is Southern Protocol and is a regular part of camp rotation in Charleston. Children begin with a week in the age 3 to 6 group and advance later to the more senior mannered group, ages six to ten. As readers of Blushing Hostess Entertains will attest, I love nothing better than protocol and love that a business which protects saying just enough, dressing neatly, and encouraging lovely dining habits, thrives. Though no surprise it would do so in the gracious City of Steeples.

Oh, my. And in this last week there have been moments I would care to forget. Ah-hem, the silent expletive rich dialogue I had with myself noting the work of a plumbing contractor, who will now be known as Mr. Fix-One-Break-Two-Others. The barrage, well, that happened after several confused, head-tilting back and forth minutes staring at his dastardly home "improvement" and thinking no way is that guy ever going to work for Bunny Williams...

It was past time to stop staring at the broken wall, fixtures, and tiles and move on to something far more pleasant and fragrant, like peaches. The season is in full swing all over and who can resist the rising scent of peach pie from a kitchen? That is summer Sunday supper lofting gently on a hot breeze through the porch window and down to the field. That, my friends, is the best fragrance on earth. Which brings me to a delicious but frustrating item.

I was looking for an old, old recipe I lost from Southern Living Magazine, a publication which I generally have no use for culinarily for two reasons: The recipes are pantry-kitchen sink type of stuff. You know, pull out 15 cans, heat, spread over chicken, bake. And secondly, unlike Gourmet and Bon Appetit, they have not cataloged all of their recipes on their internet site. If you are looking for something of theirs which has not been archived, you are left to rely on every Tom, Dick, and idiots transcription methods at hideous, ineffective places like and the like where they no more read or edit their own stuff than actually make any of the food they mention.

In any event, in its otherwise useless culinary life, Southern Living did one thing right: The Georgia Peach and Praline Pie, published in 1998 and virtually off the publication radar ever since. I searched high and low (very, very low, did you know there are some very illicit websites with food names? Well you know now, and so, unfortunately, do I.) and finally found this unreliable piece of trash which does two things I cannot tolerate in a recipe: It does not give you measurements for the same ingredient divided: In other words 1 cup plus 1/2 cup flour divided, and instead combines them. Once you use 3 tablespoons of the the 1/3 cup flour it does not define how much is remaining to be used elsewhere. Secondly, in my book, if the recipe has two distinct parts the ingredients should be separated. Filling from crumb topping, in this case. If you have the patience to sort through this recipe, this is an amazing pie, or tart. If you don't, I will never blame you. But swing on by of a Sunday evening, and be sure you've left room for pie.

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