What a difference a day can make!

Bill Pesch

HOME COOK: Bill Pesch is pictured in his kitchen, which he says sometimes "resembles a disaster area." Photo courtesy of Bill Pesch

I went from famine to feast in a single day. I'm talking about mangoes, of course. As I mentioned in my last column, the chickens got my first ripe mango. The next day, the sky opened up and it rained mangoes from heaven! I got up extra early to scope out the situation before the chickens came down from the trees where they sleep at night. I could hardly believe my eyes! A deluge of ripe fruit littered the ground under my mango trees. I filled a plastic bag with about 40 mangoes. I immediately cut up a few of them for my grandson, Koein, who shares his grandfather's love for the luscious ripe fruit!

I left the rest of the mangoes on the kitchen counter for my family to see. I knew that once they saw them, they'd start pondering what new mango recipes I'd come up with. That thought consumed me all day while I was at my office. I actually found it hard to focus on work because my obsession with mangoes was getting the better of me. In the middle of some project, I'd innocently google "ripe mango recipes" and before I knew it, 30 minutes had gone by! I'd click off my google search and try to focus on my project again. But a few minutes later, my anxious fingers pressed the mango recipe search again, and away went my attention.

As the workday drew to an end, I started wondering how many more mangoes I'd find when I got home. As I pulled into our driveway, I spied a flock of chickens gathered below the outstretched branches of the mango trees. My blood pressure shot up and I slammed on the brakes, grabbed a recycled grocery bag from the backseat, and made a mad dash from my car to the mango trees, loudly clapping my hands and yelling "get out now!" to my feathered adversaries.

As the chickens scattered, I surveyed the scene. Initially, I was despondent. What I saw resembled a tragic battlefield. Bruised and battered mangoes laid all over the ground. Some had been penetrated by sharp chicken beaks, while others had suffered mortal wounds. Their orange innards were splayed wide open, beyond any hope for culinary redemption. But, as I looked closer, my hopes brightened. Yes, the chickens had ruined a number of the mangoes, but many fully intact fruits were scattered about! I quickly plucked the good mangoes from the ground and dropped them into my plastic bag. Excitedly, I ran inside the house and proudly displayed the bounty to my family.

Over the next few days, this cycle repeated itself. I placed the growing number of plastic bags full of the golden orbs into our outdoor refrigerator. I promised myself I'd cut them up before they spoiled. True to my word, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, I started operating on the mangoes, surgically severing the fruit from the seeds. Certain family members, whom I shall not name, had promised to help me with this tedious task. But alas, at the hour of my need, they were nowhere to be found. For six hours I sat by myself at the kitchen table and processed about 10 pounds of mango slices. My fingers were throbbing by the time I finished.

I froze most of the fruit, but saved a few cups because some friends were coming over for dinner that night and I was determined to make a mango cobbler for dessert. The problem was, I had found two cobbler recipes that had caught my attention. After giving the matter some thought, I decided I'd host a bake-off. I would make one of the recipes that night and the other one next weekend, and let my family members and guests decide which one they liked best.

The first recipe comes from the Philippines and was authored by Lucy Apostol. This is not a traditional cobbler recipe. There is no crispy topping, but it is very tasty nonetheless. Give both recipes a try, and let me know which one you like best.

Week 30: Mango Cobbler

Ingredients

1/4 cup of margarine, softened

1 cup of sugar, divided

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups ripe mangoes, sliced

1 cup water

Steps

1. Place the fresh sliced mangoes into a small pan and add 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer on the stove at medium-low heat for 2 or 3 minutes, and then remove the pot from the stove. Strain the juice from the pot and save both the mangoes and the juice separately.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Spray a 9x9 cake pan with vegetable oil.

4. Cream together the softened margarine and 3/4 cup of sugar.

5. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

6. To the margarine/sugar mixture, add alternately the dry ingredients with the milk and vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer, beat well until smooth.

7. Pour batter into the pan.

8. Place mangoes over the batter.

9. Pour 1 cup of the fruit juice over the mangoes.

10. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

11. Cool and serve with whipped cream and/or ice cream.

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