I’ve been flooded with waves of nostalgia for the last 24 hours — first, sorting all my worldly belongings and then cramming the stuff that made the cut (sorry, faux-suede boots from 2002) into a cargo van and trucking it for two hours, from Mtl to home sweet home in the Gatineaus. Saying goodbye to Mtl and all the memories it holds wasn’t the easiest way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but two hours in the car can do a lot to erase tension… and coming home-home can work miracles. I thought I was I was feeling pretty much fine by the time we approaching the final hill before Chelsea on the A5, but as we dipped down the last little gully and I saw the “Chelsea” sign, every muscle in my body let go just a little bit more.
After we unloaded the van, we used it to truck some family belongings from my grandfather’s house to my dad’s and then from my dad’s to my mum’s. Out it all came: photo albums (my first bike, my first ice cream, my first laugh), Barbies, Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shops, Playmobile, those crazy Bossons heads that always hung on my grandad’s mantle.
And then the third wave of nostalgia. My month-long orientation for this Kenya trip is being held at Carleton University. So here I am, seven years later, back in residence. Walking through the tunnel to the residence commons, the murals on the walls made me nostalgic to the point of dizziness.
So that’s what’s been going on… but enough about me. Here is some news you can use: butter, brown sugar, peaches.
Fannie Farmer’s Peach Upside-Down Cake
This is wonderfully retro, but not in the canned-fruit-whipped-cream-and-Jell-o way. It also fits with the nostalgia theme, since it was one of the few desserts my mum made as a treat. Warning: extremely sweet.
Preheat oven to 400. Get yourself a 9×9 baking pan or large cast iron frying pan. In it, place:
- 3/4 c butter
Into the oven it goes. It doesn’t have to be preheated yet, we just want the butter to melt. Once it has (3 to 5 min), remove from oven. Pour off 1/2 c of the butter into a measuring cup to use in the cottage pudding (this will make sense in a minute). I repeat, pour off 1/2 cup and reserve — this recipe will be a heart-stopping/clogging disaster if you don’t heed my words. Now, add to your 1/4 c melted butter:
- 1 c brown sugar
- chopped pecans to taste (completely optional. I never do this.)
Mix it all together and spread it out evenly on the bottom of the pan. Now, lay out on top of the butter/sugar mixture, in a single layer, cut side down:
- one 28-ish oz can (the big cans) halved peaches — about 9 halves
Try to put them as close together as possible, and let them drain at least a little bit as you go. Now you have a little landscape of peachy mountains. Sprinkle with:
- lemon juice
Next, you need to make cottage pudding (which you can bake on its own if you want to skip the peach upside-down part, a.k.a. you are crazy). I really hate the name cottage pudding because it reminds me of the term “cottaging” — it’s not the gay part that turns me off, it’s that while I’m making dessert I don’t want to think about anyone having random sex in public washrooms. Anyway. Beat well:
- your 1/2 c melted butter from before (you followed my directions, right?)
- 1/2 c milk
- 1 egg
Whisk together, in a separate bowl:
- 1 and 1/2 c flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c sugar
Stir the wet mixture into the dry one, spread it over your peachie bumps, and bake for 30-35 minutes — until golden brown on top and cooked through. Insert a knife to check for doneness. Otherwise you’ll think it’s done, start to serve, and then have to Frankencake the thing back together so it can bake longer. (See right.)
Once it cools a little, you can flip it out onto a serving platter, or just cut-and-scoop it out of the pan if it’s just you, your manfriend and a terrible movie. (The first time I made this we were watching Twilight. Didn’t even bother to pause the movie while we baked. Oh the nostalgia.)
Top with ice cream or whipped cream. Praise be to peaches.