27 December 2015

Tree-cutting bandits, and a cake

This is the view from the north-facing window in our living room.
Yesterday morning we were in the living room, enjoying views out the windows. Skies were blue and there was no wind. It wasn't exactly what you would call warm outside, but it was much less cold than we expect at Christmas.

Walt noticed a big white van drive up the road. He went to a back window and saw it turn right behind our hedge and drive down the tractor path behind our back gate.

It stopped. Two men got out. They walked along our side fence, where we keep a strip of land three or four feet wide cut and mowed so that brambles and weeds won't grow into the fence and damage it. The two men were carrying small chainsaws.

We watched, wondering what was going on. The men got to the end of our fence and then pushed their way into the woods, moving away from us. Then they chose a tree and cut it down. It was probably one of the ones in the photo to the right, but not the one in the center. We saw the cut tree fall.

Then, a minute or two later, Walt said he saw the white van leave. Now what was that all about? One little tree? Maybe it was dead and they needed firewood. Later in the day, Walt went out and looked. He said the tree has been cut into logs, but the logs are just lying on the ground willy-nilly, not stacked. Somebody does own that strip of wooded land, so it's really none of our business. Just a mystery.


Above is the pineapple upside-down cake that Walt made for us for Christmas. Those are walnuts in the holes of the pineapple slices. The pineapple was sweet and caramelized. The cake itself was tender and rich, even though Walt reduced the amount of sugar and egg that he put in the batter. I wonder if such upside-down cakes were inspired by the French tarte Tatin — or vice-versa.

19 comments:

  1. Well, we know the origins of tarte Tatin are 19th C. I'd be willing to bet that pineapple upside down cake doesn't appear until the 20th C, probably mid-20th C and I would guess was a recipe developed by a pineapple canning company as a promotional tool. I would further guess that the canning company R&D chef was thinking of tarte Tatin when they created pudc.

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    1. The History of the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I wasn't too far off the mark. It's a couple of decades earlier than I thought, and starts appearing in popular cookbooks. It's clearly connected to the tarte Tatin tradition, which goes back further to central European cakes and pies made on the stove top in cast iron skillets.

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    2. The link to the history doesn't work. Anyway, maybe there were other upside-down cakes before pineapple became widely available?

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    3. Here's a link to another site about pineapple upside-down cake. The upside-down cake or pie isn't all that different from a cobbler or even a crumble.

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  2. Pineapple upside down cake is wonderful. It reminds me of the recipe ideas for dinner parties and buffets found in 70's magazines. For me it was a choice of that or black forest gateau!
    I'm pleased that both are becoming fashionable again. Yours looks delicious.

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    Replies
    1. I love pineapple, especially cooked.

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    2. Ken,

      Have you tried grilling the fresh slices of pineapple on the BBQ - yummy :-)
      Snow overnight and a winter storm on Tuesday - expecting between 15-30 cms depending where one is .

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  3. "Just a mystery"....
    Someone get a new chainsaw for Christmas??

    And I think using walnuts rather than cherries is a very nice idea in the downside-up cake.

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    Replies
    1. Good hypothesis, Tim. Christmas presents...

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  4. My mother used to make wonderful pineapple upside down cake in a cast iron skillet. I think she
    originally used a recipe from a Fannie Farmer cookbook. I believe Fannie pre-dated even The Joy of
    Cooking.

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    Replies
    1. I just looked it up. Fannie Farmer died in 1915. The first edition of the Joy of Cooking dates back to 1936. So you are right.

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    2. I have so many cookbooks .. Those great huge things that resemble Encyclopedias .. and the few that I use are small easy to cook recipe books that I found in book store sales.
      But the cookbooks on a shelf do give the impression that I Am A Cook ! :)

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  5. They will let the wood dry out and come back for it..firewood.

    That is my guess and I'm sticking to it :)

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  6. People around here make a casserole dish with pineapple, cheddar cheese, sugar, flour and ritz crackers. They use too much sugar, but the casserole is good- it's really a dessert, just like our sweet potato casseroles are actually too sweet for side dishes. That upside down cake looks delicious.

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    Replies
    1. You must live in the South :)
      I grew up in North Carolina ...

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  7. Oh, my, my, my. Walt's pineapple upside down cake looks very, very yummy. :)

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  8. I love pineapple upside down cake...these days I see it about less frequently than in the past. Like lemon meringue, another favorite, that seems to have disappeared from restaurant menus. My grandmother always made lemon meringue for Christmas.

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  9. I blame it on healthy addicts who hate sugar .
    The complete opposite of me :)

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