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Stella Belle Palmer’s Mississippi Peach Cobbler

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    6 People
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Family Story

That summer, sunburnt after a long day of playing down at the clay pits, I would sit at the round dining table in my grandmother’s kitchen, in the chill of the air-conditioned house, watching her cook. Knowing the recipe by heart, she moved with confidence and purpose, making a cobbler that was juicy with peaches and sugary syrup, laced with tender dumplings inside, and topped with a golden crust. It all sounds so idyllic, but that summer, at eleven years old, I was a sulky and misunderstood bookworm, listening to Janis Joplin on the radio and yearning to grow. That same year, my grandmother had gone back and finished two years of courses, finally earning her high school diploma. It seemed to me that making cobbler, even cooking in general, was a magical secret, known only to adult women. After she died in the 1978, I assumed my grandmother took that recipe with her. I tried many times to recreate her cobbler—all the versions were pretty good, but none had the special qualities of my grandmother's. Decades later, I visited my mom at her little little house in Pensacola, Florida. As she lay in her bedroom, sick with COPD, I cleaned out a closet to keep myself busy. Tucked into an envelope labeled “favorite recipes,” along with descriptions of dishes using ingredients like jello and dried onion soup mix, I was thrilled to find a copy of the cobbler recipe, written by my grandmother for my mom. In the recipe, my grandmother doesn't describe how to make the crust, only referring to it as "dough.” She knew my mom would understand what she meant. She signed off with "Call me," and "Mama." (PS: In writing out my grandmother’s recipe, I’ve added instructions for the crust, based on a simple pie dough recipe of my mom’s. Just between you and me, I would add a pinch of salt to both the peaches mixture and the dough.)


1 Step

Combine peaches and sugar in saucepan. Cook on top eye (burner on stove top) until juice becomes thick. Add lemon juice and reduce heat to a slow simmer. Prepare flour dough: add shortening, flour and most of the milk to a mixing bowl. Mix with fork, then floured hands. Do not over work dough. Sprinkle with more milk or flour, if needed. Shape into a ball. Roll out dough with a rolling pin until thin. Put a layer of dough in your baking pan, then spoon on a layer of peaches and juice. Chip 1/4 stick butter on top. Repeat so that you have 2 or 3 layers of each, ending with crust. Top with remaining chips of butter. Put in oven at 375 degrees and brown and cook top crust. Call me. Mama


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