Peach Upside Down Cake for Dad – by Debbie Ambrous


Peach Upside Down Cake

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

6 peeled and sliced peaches

2 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup self-rising flour

¼ cup of milk

Preheat oven to 350º F.  Use a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet.  Put butter and brown sugar into skillet and place over low heat to blend and cook until mixture bubbles, remove from heat and arrange peach slices over sugar mixture.  Break eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until thick and fluffy, add sugar and beat until thick.  Fold in flour and milk alternately.  Spoon batter lightly over the peaches.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Cool in skillet for 10 minutes.  Then invert into serving plate.  (Most experienced cooks have this recipe, or possibly one even better.)

I was thinking of Daddy.  It always happens around this time of year.  With so many memories surfacing in my mind, I decided to bake a peach upside down cake, his favorite dessert in our home.  I could take some of the cake to Mama.

     To share my memories with anyone, I must say first of all that Daddy loved the Bible.  I’m still learning about him, hearing stories about how he helped one person or another.  Or, very often it’s something funny he said or did.   I could go on and on with recollections of what he meant to me; but at this moment with my writing, it is his value of humor and smiling even when it hurts that is a shining example for me.

Excerpt from my book, soon to be published by Amazon A French Opportunity

In New York, we rode the subway, a surprising experience for a young girl used to riding around on country and small town roads in cars and trucks. Daddy had to stand on our first subway ride, and he was definitely unprepared for this new mode of travel.  He didn’t realize he should grab a strap or bar and hold on! When the train car started to move he stumbled and swayed all over the place to gain his footing.  He joked that he knew where Elvis learned the “Twist.”  People around us laughed.  He knew a good joke when he heard it, even if he was the creator, so he told that one, reenacting the gyrations, for many laughs and knee slaps by the men who visited in his cabinet shop when he returned home.

Humor covers so many awkward moments.  It’s a common language when words are not mutually understood.  A smile and a humble display of humor opens doors, leaves a good impression, creates new relationships, and it should be packed in any traveler’s luggage.

 The jokes I heard were simple, clean and just plain “corny.”  Daddy tuned to the Grand Ole Opry radio show and later to Hee Haw on TV since they had the brand of humor and songs that he liked.  I turned up my nose at most of it, but those songs and jokes penetrated my personality anyway.”

Mama’s much-loved family photo with some of Dad’s old carpentry tools. He was a skilled craftsman with a cabinet business that my brother Tim Reeves has expanded and managed with great success. The measuring ruler was a gift from our beautiful and talented sister Rachel who died from breast cancer.  Yes, that is me in the middle of the photo.

On September 18, 2001, we were gathered for the news that George Reeves had died.  There was no humor or laughter for us on that somber day.  Daddy had those days in his life too, days of grief, pain and distress.  Perhaps to overcome those times he developed his cheerful, hopeful and even entertaining outlook.  Although, most of his jolly personality was natural, shaped by his upbringing and bubbling over wherever he went.

Jim listened to my outpouring and comforted me saying, “I’m just glad he let me marry you.  He put me through the wringer there for a while, testing me out as to whether I was good enough for his daughter.  But let me tell you one thing, you had better not keep a calendar on the wall with the date of my departure circled when I kick the bucket.”

Wedding Anniversary circled on French calendar

“Don’t you worry, I don’t even have a calendar on the wall except the 2003 French calendar.  The only calendar I will check is the computer Outlook calendar to see whether you finished your ‘Debbie Do list’.  Are you ready to go yet?  What are you doing now?”

Photo taken through glass door.

Jim said: “I’m watching the hummingbirds at the feeder.  They’re not flying gentle-like to the flowers, the little dudes are zooming around almost colliding in the air and dive-bombing your zinnias.  I think that sugar water has fermented into rum, and they’re high on too many shots from the feeder.”

“Jim, do you have a license for that operation?”

Don’t tell me I married him because he is like Daddy! 

(Don’t forget to take a look at the France page.  The nice gentlemen on the French page would have enjoyed meeting Dad.) Thank you for visiting A French Opportunity!






No Dessert for Isaac!

We were waiting on Isaac and hoping he wouldn’t come.  Isaac was buckling his sandals and deciding which white sands he would devastate along the panhandle.  We wished he would take a nap on his waterbed and calm down.  Now, the uninitiated may think Jim and I should have no fears since we are 100 miles from the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.  Think again.  We know better.  In 1995, Hurricane Opal, a down right Diva of hurricanes, had one hissy fit crashing into the panhandle with 144 mph winds. She dug her stilettos into Jim’s home place, our current remodeled home, when we were safe in Florida, sitting by the pool watching the peacocks when we should have watched the NBC peacock.  Ms. Opal and her friends, the tornado gang, uprooted a massive oak and tossed it on the cute Alabama house leaving a gaping hole in the roof and branches jutting through the windows.

I arranged cheerful zinnias while listening to the weather news of Isaac.

We hastily left our Pina Coladas by the pool and drove to the scene of Opal’s garden party.  Standing in the front yard, we grieved, but the tears were not so much for the house. Our deepest hurt was the loss of the beautiful, spreading oak tree that once shaded the white swing, pink azaleas and blue hydrangeas. When Jim was a young boy he built a tree house and climbed to the highest limbs.  Fortunately, he didn’t fall from his leafy spy tower to land in his red wagon and miss out on marrying me in his promising future.

Worrying that the hurricane would come calling, I hoped Isaac would not rearrange my interior decorating.   What do you do when you are worried or facing problems, other than pray?  We cook, and we EAT!

Emile Henry pie pan with juicy dessert, all for us and NONE for Isaac.

If an unexpected bill with excessive numbers by the dollar sign arrives in our mailbox by the purple-flowered althea bush, I eat a whole handful of Hershey’s kisses.  When the car breaks down on the interstate, I rummage the food bag from the last pit stop and eat the cold, limp, leftover French fries – that do not even deserve the name “French” – while I calculate the auto repair bill.    Sitting in the hospital waiting room, we eat donuts and drink stale coffee.  When the worst news arrives and a funeral comes our way with dark clothes and an even darker hearse, we sit down to a big spread with fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob; and would someone pass the sweet potato pie?

Jim, the dessert is cooling down. Better come soon, or it’s all mine!

Baking a pie seemed to be an excellent idea while Isaac played footsy in the Gulf waters.  I had big, juicy blackberries.  No, I didn’t pick them.  I’m not like Brer Rabbit, one of my favorite fictional characters from my childhood.  He was fond of briar patches with brambles and berries, but rattlesnakes are fond of these prickly patches too.  I will keep my hands and feet out of the sticker bushes.  At my urgent request, Jim escorted a non-poisonous, ugly, un-invited, long, wiggly snake from our premises just a few days ago.  He has pictures, but before you ask to take a look, may I remind you that I said “ugly” in my descriptive sentence above?

The television in the far right corner distracted our attention.

My juicy, purchased blackberries, bought with good money, were swirled into a French Yogurt Cake.  I was anxious to try the recipe that I had found on a wonderful blog that I enjoy reading.  You can easily find the recipe on her website.   You will love Kristin, an American who married handsome, French, Jean-Marc.  She touches hearts with her warm stories, and her pictures of France are magnificent.  But don’t leave me alone here in Alabama, remember to come back to see me.

We will cut a BIG slice for you, our VIP guest!

Isaac was a “no show” in our neighborhood.  I’m sorry he left sadness in other towns.  Please remember those who suffered loss from the hurricane.

A French Opportunity had a VIP guest in the “Reply” area this past week.  (Actually, all of my visitors are VIP’s.) Lynn McBride left a lovely comment and listed my link on her gorgeous website  that has delicious stories and recipes.  Ms. McBride lives in the Burgundy region of France in a chateau.  Have I teased your curiosity enough? Go ahead and visit, but “Ya’ll come back!”