Every year after school is out, our young community teenage girls have a 3-week “summer camp” with several of our Sisters. This year they went to New Hampshire for the event.
They were very excited and eagerly looking forward to the many activities ahead of them: lots of time out of doors, hiking, swimming, boating and gardening. I knew that nature crafts would be a part of their learning experiences, and also that there would be indoor activities such as housekeeping and of course, some cooking. I made them promise me that they would surprise me by making something new and different from any of their old standbys. They did not let me down, but kept their promise and came up with this scrumptious, raspberry peach upside down cake, inspired by a raspberry picking event that none of us knew would be happening before they went to camp. I could not have been more pleased!
Slice peaches. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
Place 6 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until melted then add brown sugar and cook until both are combined and melted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Arrange peach slices in a circular pattern (overlapping if needed) in skillet on top of sugar. Add raspberries in areas not covered with peaches. Set aside.
Cream together vanilla, 6 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy. Add eggs and beat until the yellow disappears. Add sour cream and blend.
On low speed, add flour mixture and beat just until combined stopping to scrape the sides a few times. Pour batter onto peaches and smooth out to the edges.
Bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges to release and invert onto a cake plate allowing the cake to cool another 10 minutes.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
One of my favorite breakfast recipes is a special Swedish crepe called Plattar. I asked Sr.Madeleine, who is currently studying lace making in Brugge, Belgium, how this came to be one of their family recipes, a recipe she makes for her two daughter’s birthdays every year. This is what she wrote me.
“Swedish Plattar is a recipe from a collection of Swedish recipes celebrating the seasons of the year. The author of the recipe remembers her mother preparing these recipes to remind her family of the goodness of God. Personally, when I was young I had not learned to cook or bake; I too, like the writer, wanted to both cook for my young family and to emphasize the love of God and His goodness. Swedish plattar was by far the biggest hit! I made it regularly every Saturday morning for my family, standing patiently beside the electric frying pan (popular in those days) until many Swedish Plattar were made and the the hungry mouths of all were filled. Swedish Plattar takes time to fry, so the making is a labor of love (due to the sheer volume of the batter, and the number you need to fill someone up!). The smudges and dribbles on the page make the recipe easy to find in the cookbook, and also attest to its perennial popularity. My daughters and I are all three nuns now and they as well as I continue the practice of making Swedish plattar for celebrations of God and His goodness.”
Apple Fritters… crunchy, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth on the outside, cinnamon-y dough with apple chunks on the inside. I can’t think of a better use for our apple drops that we are collecting in the early hours of the morning. A delightful early morning treat to pair with a steaming cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning.
Pour oil into a cast iron or other heavy duty skillet so that it is approximately 1 ½” deep. Heat oil on medium high. Oil is ready when dough floats to top. (don’t let it get too hot or the fritters will burn!)—do a little tester with the dough to be sure the oil is hot enough.
Prepare the glaze by stirring the milk (or half and half) and sifted powdered sugar together in a small bowl—you want it to be a fairly thick glaze.
Prepare the fritter by combining the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in milk, vanilla and egg until just combined (add enough milk to make a thick batter).
Fold in apple chunks
Carefully add dough to the oil in heaping tablespoons. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are browned.
Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack.
Drizzle glaze over the apple fritters while they are still warm. Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side.
Best served warm. Enjoy!
September is season unto itself on Cape Cod. As many of our visitors return home to school and work, there is a quieter spirit. Yet the air is warm, gardens are full, the beaches are less crowded and the sunsets are beautiful. We are enjoying the best month of the year here. There is still lots of outdoor living to be done before the crispness comes with days of shorter daylight. Thought this recipe for one of the best and freshest tasting gelatos might be just the thing for some of those late summer warm nights.
It’s strawberry season on Cape Cod! If you take a walk around the community, you’ll see an abundance of perky little red berries peeping out from under their lazy green foliage in many of our gardens. If we can get to them before the deer and rabbits, then we are bound to have some scrumptious desserts here in the Convent, which is a rare and welcome treat!
Summer on Cape Cod usually conjures up images of days at the beach followed by ice cream and sunsets. We are fortunate to have cream from our Jersey cows, freshly picked strawberries, and a generous donation of agave nectar, so I set out to make a creamy homemade strawberry ice cream. I found just the recipe to pull all of these together. Start it the day before as it needs to chill before transferring to your ice cream maker. Enjoy this on a hot and humid summer day and you are sure to feel refreshed!
If your strawberries aren’t already pureed, do that in a Cuisinart (I used a potato masher to leave some good chunks). Add lemon juice and set aside.
Beat eggs and egg yolk together very well. Set aside.
In a heavy pot, heat half and half and agave nectar over med-high heat until temperature is 180 F. Stir frequently.
Drizzle ½ cup of hot mixture into eggs, whisking briskly. Add another 1/2 cup in the same manner. (This keeps the eggs from scrambling).
Then, drizzle egg and cream mixture back into the pot, whisking briskly.
Turn heat down to med-low and bring to 190 F, stirring bottom constantly. To check for doneness, dip a metal spoon in the pot. Remove. Run a finger through the custard coating the spoon (like parting the 'custard sea'). If the custard stays on either side of the stripe (doesn't run in to fill the space), then it's done.
Strain into a 2 qt. bowl and add all but 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree to this.
Cool in an ice bath and then transfer to fridge overnight.
Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is done, take the remaining 1/3 cup of the strawberry sauce and swirl it directly into the finished ice cream. Freeze again, if needed, before serving.
If you should be up and around at 5:30 every a.m. you are apt to see two young sisters making their way down the road to the barn to milk our 3 cows. These gorgeous brown guernseys keep us well supplied with quality fresh milk every day. This makes it possible for us to produce our own yogurt and soft cheeses which we have doing for some time. Only recently however, have we begun to use the Crockpot method which results in a wonderfully thick satisfying yogurt with little to no effort. Combine this with our homemade granola and some fresh fruit and you have a beautiful, bright, healthy breakfast that is a favorite at the convent.
We decided to offer it for our last oblate retreat and it was met with such overwhelmingly positive response from so many we have decided to serve it again in the near future. Perhaps you would like to give it try even if you don’t have any cows of your own. Healthy Summer Breakfast!
Crockpot Yogurt -
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes approximately
Cool Time: 3.5-4 hours
Cure Time: 10-12 hours
Drain Time: 2 -4 hours (if thicker yogurt is desired)
Ready In: Next day
What You will Need:
Some Type of Cooking or Dairy Thermometer
A Wisk or Fork
Muslin, Plyban Cheescloth or some woven type of woven cloth
Bath towel or woolen scarf
Oven or Other draft free warm location
Heat the first four ingredients (through the vanilla) in a skillet,
then add the next 2 items (oats and cinnamon) and mix well
Spread evenly on paper lined sheet pans. Bake 1 hr 15 min on 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Leave granola in oven overnight and package the following day --
mixing in the raising first and breaking up chunks
Place the gallon of milk into the crock pot and cover. Heat the milk
slowly until the milk is between 180 Fahrenheit - 190 Fahrenheit it is vital to heat
the milk to at least 180 Fahrenheit.
Allow the milk to cool to 110 Fahrenheit (takes 3.5 - 4 hours). Milk should not be
a higher or lower temperature. There may be a skin formed on the milk
(if you are using non homogenized or raw milk). If so, carefully remove it.
Place 1 cup of the warm milk in a separate small bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of
starter yogurt to the cup of milk. (no more than 2 Tablespoons - that is all you
With a fork or whisk, gently stir the starter yogurt into the milk.
Next, pour the milk back into the crock pot and stir gently from side
to side. Do not stir in circles, use a careful and slow up and down
lifting motion across the length of the crock.
Lift it out of the electric base and place it in a cool oven. Lay a
bath towel or shawl around the crock and leave it undisturbed
overnight or for 10 - 12 hours. You want the milk to stay nice and
warm. An oven with a pilot light or electric light turned on works
great. Do not disturb the milk and keep the oven door closed. After
10 -12 hours your yogurt should be solid with a layer of whey on the
top. If you like thicker yogurt, you'll need to drain or carefully
pour off the whey by pouring it into a colander lined with cheesecloth
that has been set on top of a large pot.
It takes about 2 hours of draining to make a thick natural yogurt, and
about 3 or 4 hours to make a Greek style yogurt. Next, yogurt can be
stored in a refrigerator or cooler to keep it sweet tasting. Some
people prefer a tart yogurt and leave it out at room temperature for
over 24 hours. The longer it stays at room temperature, the tarter it
will become. Save a little back for the next batch!
*(any kind of yogurt, but must have both the active
and live cultures of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus
thermophilus. Read the label to be sure that you have the right
Yogurt can be sweetened with jam, sugar, honey, or whatever you like.
At the convent, we received a wonderful donation recently of Agave
nectar. This natural sweetener has made some lovely batches of yogurt
for our guests!