News from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mock Apple Pie and Desperation Cake

The day has finally arrived when my new western romance is on the press and due for release September 1. Though it has been a month since my last blog, and the world is full of harrowing events that deserve examination, the event calls for something lighter. Writing any novel takes the author on many journeys of research. Maddie called for more than most. One chapter involved an old fashioned  barbecue to celebrate Abe's sixteenth birthday. The entire town of Peachville pitched in, everybody bringing a food dish. I wanted to have old recipes that had been in families for years and that sent me browsing through my collection left over from the days I wrote a cooking column for a newspaper. I'll share a couple of them with you.
The first is Mock Apple Pie, a creation that is at least as old as 1940. It's an invention of the Ritz Cracker people.Though called "apple pie," it doesn't have any apples and was all the rage in the 40s--something like "Green Bean Casserole," which is a must at Thanksgiving. Start with a baked pie crust. Crumple 36 Ritz crackers into the crust. In a saucepan boil 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, 2tsp. cream of tartar for 15 min. Add 2 tblsp. lemon juice, grated rind of 1 lemon, some butter and cinnamon. Cool. When cool, pour syrup over crackers.

Desperation Cake. The story is this was created by a cook on payday. The cupboard was bare and no money to shop, so this is a dessert made from almost nothing. Beat one egg and a half cup sugar. Add 1 cup flour mixed with 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt. Then add 1/4 cup milk, 3 tblsp. melted butter and 1 tsp. vanilla. Bake in a greased and floured  11" x 7" pan in preheated 350 degree oven 25 minutes. Serve with any syrup or crushed fruit.

Okay, one more. Chocolate Gravy.  This is one Maddie, who is from New York, never heard of, but is a Southern favorite, served with biscuits. She becomes acquainted with this along with sweet tea and Jalapeno Corn Bread. Melt 2 tablsp. shortening in skillet. Add 2 heaping tblsp. flour and heat until golden brown. In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup sugar, 4 tblsp. cocoa, 2 cups milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Pour into skillet mixture and cook until thick. Serve over hot biscuits.
Go to my website to read more about Maddie's Choice.

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