CLOVER, COUNTRY COOKING, & MIRACLE PEACH COBBLER: Just-For-Fun Book Review

CLOVER by Dori Sanders, was the first book to call to me from my recently unpacked library. I love the cover. It reminds me of the original cover of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. Clover suffered a parental loss similar to James’s, a somewhat typical plot device in children’s novels. However, this book is not marketed for children even though the main character is 10 years old. The fact that Dori Sanders broke through genre norms in a fashion similar to Mark Twain with Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer inspires me. It shows me that I can write about the Saints in a non-traditional way.

This is good because “traditional” religious writing really means “patriarchal” religious writing, and I intend not to write according to that viewpoint. Ever. And, knowing this about the books I haven’t written yet has caused a stumbling block for me because I had believed I wouldn’t be able to sell my manuscripts to a publisher or build an audience for my books.

I realize now that it was important for me to learn there’s a wide world of publishing out there. Also, the patriarchy is breaking down, so I shouldn’t worry about selling a book to a collective who’s main purpose is to silence the intelligent feminine voice. Out of respect for Dori Sanders and her descriptions of polite Southern ways, I will refrain from uttering my usual expletive of what the patriarchy can go do with itself.

Anyway, Clover is a great book about grief, adapting to change, and learning how to get along with a different kind of folk. It’s rich in distinctive voice, southern culture, and delicious descriptions. I highly recommend it.

I enjoyed DORI SANDERS’ COUNTRY COOKING: Recipes and Stories from the Family Farm Stand even more. It’s a yummy and satisfying read filled with authentic southern recipes and family traditions. Highly recommend!

This cookbook also taught me something about my own writing direction — I don’t have to include actual food recipes in every book I write. I could, in fact, write several saintly books, and then write a saintly cookbook with all the foods I mentioned in my earlier books. I’m not sure that’s the way I want to go, but’s it nice to know I could go that way.

I originally learned about DORI SANDERS’ COUNTRY COOKING in a magazine. That’s another reason why I was led to read these books. To remind myself how important it is to read magazines and books just for fun or to become informed about the world without it being specific research. Not everything I do has to be productive and with a solid end result in mind. I contemplated not even posting this book review, but I see now that writing about fun stuff serves a purpose in and of itself.

I didn’t recognize the logic in doing fun stuff just because it’s fun before now because the former abusers in my life disapproved of my sitting around reading which looks too much like doing nothing. Since they were addicted to work, I had to earn their approval and affection by working long hours, too. My narcissistic ex husband “supported” my writing as long as he didn’t actually have to cover for me with the kids, chores, or errands while I was writing. Writing was always a “get-to.” Something to be done only when I finished doing everything else. The thing is, moms never finish. They can stop, but they never finish.

As my children grew up, I was able to do the research and writing for the posts I’ve written here, but it’s short writing. Nothing as luxurious as diving deep into novel writing and being a craft-first bohemian about it in a don’t-bother-me-I’m-in-the-writing-zone kind of way.

Their psychologically abusive work ethic was so embedded in my default programming, that as a stay-at-home mom, I felt compelled to spend many hours a week volunteering as it was a “more appropriate” use of my time than sitting around at home reading and writing. See, writing was too fun for me, so it wasn’t something I could consider as work. *sigh*

Growing up, my mother referred to any lengthy reading as a waste of time. Once, as an adult, when I still felt I could talk to her about changing the way she treated me, she responded with, “Stop reading books! They’re ruining everything!” Yeah, for real. She panicked because she knew that if I kept reading books, eventually I’d escape her control. Which I did.

I’d like to say I’m feeling much better now. But I’m not. I am getting there, though, in baby steps. I’ve dedicated the rest of the year as reading time. I need to practice sitting around, cozy underneath a blanket and a cat, reading magazines and novels. Because it’s fun and for no other reason.

I’ve worked really hard for a really long time on my escape and recovery from psychological abuse. I’m free of it, and I’m healed. Yet, as my therapist warned in our last session, “Things might surface that you didn’t know were problems before.” What’s popped up now is I’m tired. I need to take a long rest break.

I need to learn and practice how to read for fun or watch TV in the evenings at the same time that I’m writing a book during the day. Not dedicate all my available time to writing. That form of writing works for articles or blog posts, with down time in between, but not for bigger projects. It’s not sustainable for a longer work.

I really can write for a certain amount of time each day, and then put my project aside, live my life, take care of business, and relax. It seems I just need to psyche myself up for it, to get my space together before the show, as it were. I can do this. I will do this.

And when I do, I’ll think about Dori Sanders and how clear she was in understanding her own motives for writing her books:

But I can still turn to the farming life for roots, for those influences and traditions that have remained basically the same through the years. Today we farmers still subsist mostly off the fruit of the land, living from harvest to harvest just as in earlier times.

Our original family home no longer stands. The old wood-burning cookstove has rusted into pieces. The silver teas are a thing of the past. But precious recipes are still intact, and the tastes and smells of the foods of my childhood let me know that I can go back again. I hope this collection of recipes and memories will take you back, too, to a world of old-fashioned family cooking and Southern country warmth and hospitality.

In honor of granting ourselves the time and effort to relax into our own hospitality, let’s join Dori Sanders in the kitchen and bake something miraculous for ourselves and other important people:

(The recipe is Dori’s, the photos are mine. I swapped out fresh peaches for flash frozen peach slices because peaches are out of season, and it was easy.)

EASY PEACH COBBLER

As this cobbler bakes, the batter bubbles up through the peaches to form a crusty topping. For that reason, some cooks call it “miracle pie.” Whatever you call it, it couldn’t be easier.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar, or to taste

3 teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

1 cup milk

4 cups peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced fresh peaches (5 to 6 medium peaches)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Several dashes ground cinnamon or ground nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour the melted butter into a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup of sugar, the baking powder, and the salt and mix well. Stir in the milk, mixing until just combined. Pour this batter over the butter but do not stir them together.

In a small saucepan, combine the peaches, lemon juice, and remaining cup of sugar and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour the peaches over the batter but do not stir them together. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg if desired.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden-brown. Serve warm or cold.


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