Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Commercial Properties - Staten Island Peach Cobbler

Not sure how, but recently Brenda and I veered off into a short conversation about TV commercials, specifically the Bright House Network commercials with Jim the installer and football great Derrick Brooks.  I love the "bromance" between Derrick and Jim, and they always make me smile, especially when, at Derrick's insistence, they sit down to watch a DVR'ed episode of "Days of Our Life" ("can't a man watch his stories?")

I have no idea why, but I love watching commercials that, despite the endless repetitions, affect me each and every time they are shown.

The one that still stands out as my very favorite, hysteria-inducing commercial of all times had Steven Colbert stalking Mr. Goodwrench regarding tires.   The line "those poor cows, those poor rubber cows" can still set me off into a fit of laughter so loud and so prolonged that my pets seek shelter.  Another huge favorite were the GEICO cavemen commercials, but they're gone now.  I like Flo from Progressive and Lily from AT&T.  During basketball playoffs, I never tire of Chris Paul's State Farm commercials (Chris and his "twin" Cliff Paul, separated at birth).  Animal icons such as the GEICO Gekko and the AFLAC Duck are okay, but the California milk commercials feature cows that crack me up.  What is it with me and cows?  And I hate milk, too.  Oh, and Maxwell the GEICO pig - his original "whee whee WHEE!" commercials left me in a puddle.

The Wounded Warrior Project, St. Jude's, Shriners Children's Hospitals, and any commercial involving pets are likely to rip out a little piece of my heart, but the saddest commercial ever was televised only one time, during Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002.  Google "Budweiser Respect" and follow any of the You Tube links to watch it.  (I tried, I really tried to fix the broken link with absolutely no success.  The good news is, I edited the whole darn post.)

I developed a real affection for those Sprint Framily Plan ads, featuring the Frobinson family in which the father is a hamster, the mother doesn't seem to notice that dad is a hamster, the daughter has little birds twittering around her head, and the middle son's college roommate, Gor-Don, wears black lipstick reminiscent of Tim Curry in Rocky Horror, and considers the hamster to be his dad as well.  Unfortunately, Sprint dumped the whole Framily Plan campaign after just a few short months, and broke up with the Frobinsons, leaving us all hamster-less (and if you think Andrew Dice Clay was not funny as the voice of the dad hamster, you've never watched any of the commercials).

I guess that makes me a victim of television, but I do exercise some discernment.  I cringe at any commercial by an attorney.  I am old-fashioned enough to believe that my profession does not need those ads or big, honking billboards, showing shiny, oversized attorney foreheads, on the side of the road.  Another pet peeve are those weight loss program commercials, featuring a lot of has-been celebrities, and those dreadful weight loss product commercials (although I think the FCC is already on their tails).

My Pop used to say that my grandmother was a victim of television because she might see a product on TV, and would buy it on her next trip to Waldbaums.  It actually didn't happen all that often - she never did get into Hamburger Helper - but occasionally she would rock our world with a brand new product like Rice-a-Roni, frozen vegetables, or liquid margarine.

There are other reasons that I have labeled myself a victim of television, as I explained in this post from the beginning of the blog, and that hasn't changed in the intervening years.  You know it's serious when I am standing in the middle of the living room, pointing at the screen excitedly while watching The Kitchen on Food Network, proclaiming, "see, see?  Geoffrey Zakarian doesn't believe in brining turkeys!"  Or calling Robert to watch how Bobby Flay adds honey to all his super spicy dishes, or how Michael Symon adds cornstarch to his flour when preparing a tempura batter.

I may have 1000 cookbooks, but all it takes is one episode of Giada De Laurentiis preparing shrimp scampi on couscous, and I'm jumping off the treadmill and running down to the computer to find and print out the recipe.  The inspiration I get from watching the different hosts is the kind of victimhood I can embrace.  So I won't be brining my turkey - I never do - but I will be spatchcocking it, which is nothing naughty.

The day has come that I finalized my plans for Thanksgiving dinner.  That means I now have a final menu, and based on that I am going to print out or photocopy each recipe.  Next comes the shopping list, and finally the cooking schedule.  If this sounds excessively obsessive, try preparing even a simple dinner without jotting down a specific plan.  You are going to get stressed, I promise you.  You won't have a chance to sit down and enjoy any part of the dinner with your guests.  You will swear to never ever ever try to cook Thanksgiving dinner again.

Speaking of your guests, there is nothing wrong in accepting their offers to bring a dessert or a side dish or anything else for that matter.  So this year, I took the Staten Island Peach Cobbler off my menu when my mother-in-law offered to supply dessert.  But since I promised my friend Barbara I would give her the recipe, here it is, totally out of season:

Several weeks ago, while coming home from the Atlanta suburbs, we carried through our plan to make our favorite stops along I-75.  This excluded our close encounter with the deer, but included Lane Southern Orchards, or as we always refer to it, The Peach Farm; Ellis Brothers Pecans, also known as The Nut Store; and Carroll's Sausage & Country Store at their Ashburn location.

There were no peaches at the peach farm. Quel disappointment!  But not unexpected, as I was pretty sure Georgia's peach season was over.  Instead, we were confronted by that scourge of autumn ...

Pumpkins, dozens of pumpkins, carelessly displayed and stodgily annoying.  How did someone look at a bunch of pumpkins and see a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Was there some illegal substance being ingested, or was the inventor having an unfortunate brain fever?

So instead, I picked up a jar of Lane's peach halves, thinking that for the first time I would try making the cobbler with something other than fresh peaches.  The peach halves are gorgeous, large, undamaged, and sweet. Although I am not making this for Thanksgiving this year, I expect it will pop up as a family dessert sometime in the next few weeks.  

6 large, firm, ripe peaches
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 stick butter
1 egg
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Wash the peaches and dry well.  Cut in half and remove the pits.  Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Crumble in the butter with a fork.  Add the egg, milk, and vanilla.  Spread the batter thin in the baking pan.  Lay the peaches, cut side down, on top of the batter, 3 across and 4 down, and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.  The batter will puff up to encase about 2/3 of the peaches.  Let cool and cut into 12 squares to serve.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.  This is good at room temperature, or you can give it 30 seconds in the microwave, and then top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The aluminum tin pan queen strikes again, but for some reason I baked this peach cobbler, immediately right of the cream pie, in a glass pyrex dish.  Still came out good.

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