Bathing Suits…

It’s National Swimsuit Day- I thought ‘ of this piece I wrote a year or so ago… and wanted to share it with you! Now, I have to tell you that we don’t say ‘Swimsuit’ in the South… we still call them bathing suits! I hope someone somewhere can relate to this one! Love y’all, Camellia

Camellia's Cottage

IMG_2498I’ve put this off for 7 years. I don’t believe in jumping in headfirst. I stuck my toe in the water yesterday-  it’s almost Open Toe Season in Alabama- I went and got a pedicure, with red polish- of course. The classic summer toenail color in the South is red,  I chose ‘Big Apple’ because truth be told I’d rather be headed to New York City than on a Beach trip where I’ll actually be expected to go in the water. Oh lord, those are scary words. Shopping for a Bathing Suit is painful, especially for a woman of a certain age and stature.  My whole demeanor, posture and bearing change in a dressing room full of bathing suits. Let me make this clear- I live in Alabama, her coastline is one of the most beautiful in all the world- I’ve been going to the beach since I was a child and love it.

However, I stopped wearing Two…

View original post 1,183 more words

Going Away Outfit…

2823124a-f856-4894-a1ac-30945ecce7b9.jpegWeddings have always been a big deal in the South, so you have to know Southern Mothers are reading everything they can get their hands on about the Royal Wedding…You see, we crown our daughters for everything known to man. It’s that royalty thing, I guess…

  • Weddings are supposed to be the one day of the year that a lady feels like Queen for a Day.
  • We hope the groom feels like he’s getting the deal of a lifetime.
  • The bride’s daddy hopes this fellow has at least a few irons in the fire and gainful employment to support his daughter in the style she deserves- Daddy’s gonna take it as a personal insult if he’s given permission to a man who turns out to be a deadbeat.
  • We hope the bride will swoon whenever she sees her groom- the perfect gentleman- okay, we also hope she’ll feel for lifetime, like Jane seeing Tarzan-or at the very least Buster Crabbe!
  • By the wedding day, the mother of the bride, hopefully will have satisfied herself, barring a criminal background check- that the young man has a sufficient pedigree to marry into the family. That his people go back at least three generations right here in Alabama! We must have a decent write up in the paper after all!

When the engagement is settled- the planning and partying begins….lest anyone think this is fun- let me disabuse you of that notion. A few days into the engagement – which should be a reasonable amount of time not years…(long engagements make daddy think the groom is shiftless, aimless or the groom doesn’t have honorable intentions)…and there’s the other reason, rarely stated- the longer this engagement goes on? The more the wedding is going to cost! Little bitty homemade bird seed bags for throwing turns into a flock of released doves, a small afternoon reception at the church turns into an all out champagne filled country club event… you get the picture.  At any rate- just a few days after the engagement…there are only two people still excited about this wedding – the mother of the bride and the bride! Ultimately, no one is excited except the Bride. Everybody has started worrying about the money…money, money, money…that’s all Daddy, the bridesmaids (who have issues as well) and the groom secretly worries about the money- ok, not so secret. How much is this wedding going to cost anyway? And how many parties did you say?AA0DBA26-F8C7-49A7-A577-6A23227EE508

There’s the formal engagement party- the registering for gifts, the formal teas, the sip and sees, the informal showers, the bridesmaids’ luncheon, the after rehearsal party and just when you’d think everyone has suffered enough- there’s the actual wedding, the reception and the honeymoon, by then everyone is sayin’ -‘I thought we’d never get that wedding over with!’ And then there’s the thank you notes but let’s not give ourselves a headache over that one just yet!

In between all of this – there are the clothes to wear to all of these events!  The bride has the added burden of not only-

  • a wedding dress, dresses for teas, showers, sip and sees and luncheons-
  • the Bride also had to have a trousseau,
  • a peignoir set for her wedding night,
  • honeymoon wardrobe and oh yes!
  • The Going Away Outfit!

B012247A-7495-49BB-90E8-4B5348016B16I have not read one word about the royal bride’s going away outfit! Why would any bride in her right mind give up an excuse to have another outfit?  Are Going Away Outfits out of style? Surely not! If there’s no Going Away Outfit to round out the write up in the paper… ‘The Bride and Groom have planned a honeymoon to Chattanooga.. ( Atlanta, New Orleans or Jekyl Island). The bride wore a worsted wool suit that matched her bridesmaids dresses, the groom wore… after their honeymoon, the happy couple plans to make their home in…’ Do you see what I’m talking about? With no Going Away Outfit, there isn’t a decent way to end the write-up in the newspaper! Whatever happened to good write-ups anyway?8482a35a-bc6c-4543-98e2-fdffccd5e8e4.jpeg

The Going Away Outfit was usually a suit or a nice dress with a corsage or  handheld nosegay as they rushed to the getaway car, waving and smiling for the camera. Not only was the Going Away Outfit a fitting way to leave after the wedding…after all, the wedding dress had to be boxed up- ready to send to Berthon’s Blue Ribbon Cleaners and preserved for future generations.42A279F8-8F5F-4B47-BDC4-FB52556D3ACA

The Going Away Outfit was symbolic- it represented a change of status for the bride. Recently, a few friends were discussing this subject and we were dismayed to think these Going Away Outfits could possibly be outdated. My own was a wool suit the same color of the Tropicana Roses in the center of my wedding bouquet and my bridesmaids bouquets too. It was a double breasted number with tortoise shell buttons, I had well made brown leather pumps which would come in handy to wear to church, weddings or even funerals later. One friend said her going away outfit was a brown striped church dress- which her sister borrowed a few months later as her own going away outfit. The rules for the Going Away Outfit were few- 112D02C8-9091-4A55-B944-2F56500F4B1D

  • It should be well made- befitting of her status as a married woman,
  • it should have a reasonably high neck- no low cut skimpy trashiness allowed!
  • The suit or dress should be knee length, not hiked up, with slits or a suggestively short skirt, ahem…
  • We’re not talking overtly matronly but let’s face it- when Queen for a Day is over- you’re headed into Matron of Honor territory, darling!

One friend was finishing up her senior year at Auburn University where she was majoring in fashion design, she made her own going away outfit! This was no easy task! She was taking a tailoring class, she had to design her own flat patterns with measurements taken from a ‘make your own dressform’ which entailed wrapping the body in gauze and flour starch, carefully removing it and mounting it on a stand. She decided to make a linen dress- a sheath dress cut on the bias in what else but Camellia Pink? and a matching Camellia Pink Boucle Coat with lining to perfectly match.

EDCE48EB-5E20-4458-AA23-CAAAC72A8084She married in mid March, so she wouldn’t graduate before her wedding- now, really can you imagine, planning a wedding and making the outfit and all of the rest of it? A dear friend and member of the wedding party, found the perfect two tone leather shoes to match at Kessler’s in downtown Birmingham. Ultimately, she had an orchid corsage and matching handbag to boot! She blushingly recalls that her wedding night peignoir set was white- okay, what other color would it be? So was mine! High neck, lace insertion- literally the whole nine yards…but I’m getting off on a tangent. Another friend married close to Valentine’s Day so her Going Away Outfit was American Beauty Red, she’s been married 35 years and still has her Going Away Outfit- okay…not the skirt but the jacket! The other smiling bride wore a medium green linen suit, while her new husband was decked out in striped shirt and casual pants! Now, why, may you ask was this Going Away Outfit considered  necessary?

B012247A-7495-49BB-90E8-4B5348016B16The bride has been trussed up in her wedding gown…endured photographs, the receiving line, the reception- perhaps the toasts, the cutting of the cake, the first dance and made the rounds to meet and greet the guests.

Imagine it, if you will… she discreetly withdraws from the wedding party- her wedding dress is carefully removed, folded away in it’s box or bagged…she changes into her Going Away Outfit… has a sweet moment with her handsome groom- hair is rearranged and makeup refreshed before she steps out of her bandbox- tosses her bouquet- hugs her mother, he hugs his… FDA17986-05C3-4A76-872B-87853CF5D899

Amid showers of rice, flower petals or birdseed, the bride is squired by her groom to the waiting car, like the dainty and delightful confection that she is- the car door closes with a solid satisfying thud.

C3ADBD7B-8629-486B-94E7-9DC928AEFE0DA box of wedding cake, cheese straws and toasted pecans is handed through the window. The happy couple smiles for one last photograph. Etiquette dictates the guests should stay until the couple leaves for their honeymoon… Sighs are heard among the crowd… ‘I thought they’d never leave!’

I sort of hate it that Going Away Outfits have Gone with the Wind… Here’s the importance of it- presumably, when the bride reappears in her Going Away Outfit, it represents her new status as a married lady, outfitted and ready to take on her new responsibilities- in her home, her workplace and her community. I think it was a sweet tradition and I still maintain- a wonderful way for the bride’s parents to make sure their daughter is prepared for the new important occasions in her life. Let’s face it, for the bride- an opportunity to get an extra nice outfit! Oh me, going down memory lane is fun!

Love y’all, Camellia

*A huge thank you to the Southern Brides who agreed to share their photos! All photographs were edited by me- they are the sole property of the community of Camellia’s Cottage and should never be used without permission. Can’t resist sharing one more…. No bride or the families can ever do it alone! There’s a whole community of folks behind the scenes- helping make it all possible- and that never goes out of style!dffa4905-aaeb-4792-a240-7176dba4fb53.jpeg

*Buster Crabbe was the original actor who played Tarzan, just in case you’re still wondering.

 

Drop Biscuits and Cracklin’ Cornbread…

50189C19-5049-4A7B-BDFB-30F87F907DE8Biscuits and Cornbread are iconic Southern quick breads- made from scratch in a short period of time. Both lend themselves to wonderful variations. Drop Biscuits may have been the easiest of homemade breads, but cracklings added to cornbread- well, it’s from a time not all that many can recall, yet- Cracklin’ Cornbread was and is considered a delicacy.9D3D219A-5E5A-45DC-BF13-E7B27FC3AE79

The first time I recall eating a drop biscuit was when my momma realized she had forgotten to make bread for supper- which was well underway. Drop Biscuits in their purest form are made with a sticky biscuit dough and dropped from a spoon onto a greased sheet pan, then baked. The result is a unique biscuit with a bit more crunch than a normal biscuit due to it’s rough irregular shape, these Cheddar Chive Drop Biscuits are a double variation because ours are made in a cake pan; the result is a tender savory biscuit. Yet, they would be just as good dropped and baked separately on a sheet pan. Here’s how to make:

Camellia’s Cheddar Chive Drop Biscuits 

  • You will need 3 cups of baking mix- do not pack, just lightly filled measures. (I used Pioneer® Baking Mix) 1 1/4 cup of  milk 1 cup of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1/3 cup of chopped chives or green onion tops and room temperature Salted Butter.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease pans with butter. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Gently mix milk into baking mix. Add grated cheese, again- stir lightly (add an extra tablespoon or two of  milk if the mixture is too stiff) 4959A54C-770A-467E-AEE1-1B2268802480
  • Lightly stir in chives or onion tops.
  • On parchment lined baking sheet, using a medium sized serving spoon, drop heaping spoonfuls onto pan leaving space between. You should have 18 biscuits. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of baking mix and put the sheet pan in the freezer for 10 minutes until firm but not frozen.
  • In greased baking pans, gently turn over and place floured side down. 9 drop biscuits in a circular design placing them close together and very lightly flour the tops. 9B92D247-D42D-4D06-A85D-52220A0D6303
  • Butter the tops of the biscuits.
  • Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes (time may vary- for dark pans like mine- baking time was 18 minutes) *I baked one pan of 9 biscuits and tightly covered the other pan to be used at another meal.  Biscuits will be light in color when done- please don’t over bake!A3C1112E-EF81-40AB-AE55-E7A76BB959CB
  • *Variations are endless- bits of cooked sausage or ham, different types of cheese, chopped jalapenos- or make them sweet with the addition of dried fruit or cinnamon and sugar. Baked in a pan these drop biscuits resemble scones or yeast rolls in texture but have the flavor of biscuits. Yum! Make smaller drop biscuits for luncheons or parties for a real treat.

*Travel Tip: Pioneer Baking Company was founded in 1851 by a German pioneer, C.H. Guenther, his baking mixes were a boon for working folks and pioneers since everything but the liquid was included and could be cooked in wood stoves or campfires.

D433D08E-A2B2-4F77-ACD0-4B6E90C9F298Today, if you go to San Antonio, Texas, make sure to go to the Guenther House on the grounds of the Pioneer Baking Company. The house is a restored treasure and the food- oh my! the food is wonderful- a must see and do in San Antonio! An American treasure, where you will find more than just his baking mix- there are waffle and gravy mixes that are wonderful too! Get there early, there’s always a line! Breakfast there is a real treat- just one of their light fluffy biscuits buttered with pepper jelly is divine. If you can’t go there, be sure and try their products!16953BAF-B469-4E9A-84B5-D4203F23BFE7

As a side note- in case you’re skeptical of the German contributions to Southern food, it is believed that Chicken and Dumplings were introduced by Germans who devised a chicken stew with a thin dumpling laid on top, then steamed. Early Germans who came to this country in the early 1700’s contributed in so many ways to American cuisine!  Who can imagine a more iconic dish than Chicken and Dumplings!

8727903D-325C-471E-80FD-1E353F2A0793Cracklin’ Cornbread may disappear if we don’t keep making lard in this country and saving the bits from the bottom of the rendering pots! I know folks who recall hog killings- and the big black iron pots in which lard was rendered from the fat and pork skins, tended mainly by the womenfolk, while the men were handling the larger portions- like hams, shoulders or sides of bacon.

You simply cannot make authentic Cracklin’ Cornbread without genuine cracklings- recently I could only find one grocery store which stocked cracklings in my area. Cracklings aren’t bagged Pork Skins that we all enjoy. Here’s how they look –E6897CA2-3C66-43D5-94AE-B0D277EBAAC7

Cracklings need to be kept chilled or- if you don’t plan to use them often, cracklings freeze well. When times were hard, a pan of cracklin’ cornbread and a bowl of pot likker provided enough vitamins and minerals for survival. I like my cracklin’ cornbread on the thin side, not a big hunk, it’s crispier and has more flavor. The cracklings will become soft and chewy. Here’s how you make-

Camellia’s Cracklin’ Cornbread

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put an iron skillet with bacon drippings in the pan to heat while you’re mixing the cornbread.
  • You will need: 1 2/3 cup of cornmeal mix. *This is cornmeal pre-mixed with baking powder, salt and baking soda. If you don’t make cornbread as often as I do, keep the cornmeal mix in the freezer. 3/4 to 1 cup of cracklings 1-2 large eggs and enough milk to make a loose mixture- approximately 1 1/2 cup of milk or maybe more.
  • Carefully pour hot bacon grease into the mixture, then quickly and carefully return to the hot iron skillet.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cracklin’ cornbread is golden brown. Serve hot and buttered.
  • Great with soups, stews, vegetable plates-loaded with  candied yams, peas or beans and turnip greens- fried okra would be good too! Here’s what I served with my Cracklin’ Cornbread and Cheddar Chive Drop Biscuits- a variation of Jambalaya!8E0A9DE1-2969-4DE4-9B55-4C962B0EEFC8

We’ll have to wait for another day for that recipe! We learned how to make cornbread from Native Americans who were thought to mix up the meal with water and bake hoe cakes over an open fire. Leave it to Southerners to figure out how to make cornbread in all of its many variations! I never add any extra ingredients to crackling cornbread, but I do love Mexican Cornbread filled with cheese, corn and jalapenos. Imagine! Just the wonderful variations in Iconic Southern Foods named here- which had their origins in many different cultures- German, Native American, Mexico, Africa, Great Britain and Jambalaya? French Canadians!

Southern food is our history on a plate or in a cast iron skillet. History that is hard, devastating and  not ever easy to talk about… yet over stoves, sinks and community tables… our differences fade and our pasts come together like an amazing spice blend- each one adding an ingredient, method, heat or even madness stirred into a combination that’s not just fit to eat– it’s a  smorgasbord, an amazing feast for the soul and the senses. Southern Food is a melting pot of what we call- Home Cooking.

Love y’all, Camellia

*Pioneer® Baking Mix is registered product, as are Hormel® Cracklings. This is not a sponsored post by either of these fine companies. *All photographs are obviously mine.

Limeade with Roses and Mint…

89A1EE9D-7E5B-42D7-811B-7740D727B42EWhat a day this is! The Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs and Cinco de Maya…a perfect blend of Roses, Mint and Lime if you ask me. I know, I know there have been recipes for Margarita Juleps and Mint Margaritas…but really this seems to be a time to blend something special. I’m not just celebrating an important Southern celebration- none other than the Kentucky Derby, where you can certainly find some amazing and classic Mint Juleps! I’ve even picked my favorite to win the race! Yet, Cinco de Maya is a fun holiday too- I made it a treat with chili dogs and limeade for lunch today! Though some guacamole would have hit the spot, too. Actually- I’m in the mood to celebrate because the roses here at the cottage are just showing out! Can you believe it?

 

 

A03D9E70-2991-417A-8C53-AC99888026D7

 

So, after I had admired the garden which smells heavenly- I picked some rose petals and fresh mint. Mint, to be honest, is a bit invasive… though run a mower over some of it and the fragrance is…. well like a bit of fresh mint! Mimi often made Mint Iced Tea, so I’m reminded of her when the mint returns each spring- C20EBCCB-9846-4884-ABD5-0235DE0DF9E5

I like to make up a batch of mint flavored sugar syrup for the spring and summer iced tea! Later, while I was stirring up the limeade, I decided to make up something special… to celebrate all of it! Here’s what I did:

99D32BD2-25D3-4D1A-9660-D363A9F8486BCamellia’s Limeade with Mint and Rose

  • Mix your favorite Limeade concentrate according to directions, reducing the water by 1/4- *I prefer reduced water limeade concentrate to making fresh limeade for this particular drink.
  • Chill the pitcher of limeade thoroughly.
  • In another pitcher, muddle together a handful of fresh mint leaves, 4-5 limes quartered, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and one teaspoon of rose water until thoroughly mashed and mint leaf and lime peel oils have thoroughly combined with juices, sugar and rose water. *Alcoholic version: add a jigger or two of your favorite Bourbon or White Rum to the muddled mix.
  • Invite your guests to ‘season’ their own glasses if this isn’t strong enough. Also it is wonderful to mix up sugar and salt and lime zest to rim the glasses! *I prefer the non- alcoholic version- but hey! some folks prefer a more celebratory drink!
  • Add Limeade to Muddled Mixture, chill very well. Top off each glass with a bit of club soda for fizz!
  • Pour into glasses with finely crushed ice. Load with more crushed ice if preferred.
  • Garnish with mint leaves, a lime wedge and of course a rose petal makes it extra special!

While Camellia’s Limeade with Mint and Roses was created for the combo of the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Maya, it’s also a perfect drink for a Garden Party or a Bride’s Sip and See!  While you’re at it- why not mince a few clean and chemical free rose petals and a 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater to your favorite shortbread! Limeade with Mint and Roses is a wonderful refreshing drink for any occasion!

We visited Churchill Downs several years ago- the racetrack and grounds are amazing;  the whole Louisville area is beautiful, with bluegrass fields, horse farms and distilleries. We were there the week after Derby and the Roses there were beautiful! While at the racetrack, tour guides showed us a special area where very special racehorses are buried. Horses have been buried since ancient times for various reasons- however, at Churchill Downs, the horses, in the traditional manner of burial- just the Head, the Heart and the Hooves are buried symbolically…

‘The head for determination- the will to win, the heart for the spirit and courage of the horse and the hooves for the speed to run the race; oh, that humans would run the race with the qualities of champion horses… Religion often dictates the proper way to bury the dead. Devotion dictates how we honor that which has died….Wherefore, seeing we also are encompassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ‘ from chapter 25, Cave Dwellers and Racetracks- from  Four Days- the Lazarus Principle by Brenda Wyatt.

I think whenever we celebrate life in all of it’s many forms, we have decided to live, really live. Do what lights you up, what makes your heart sing, what makes you run the race set before you with patience and joy!-  like Racehorses or these exuberant Roses. Find ways to celebrate life- and if you need refreshment?  Limeade with Roses and Mint  just might hit the spot!

Love y’all, Camellia

P.S. Now, ladies- I’ve lived in places where Blue Laws were in effect, and in dry counties if you get my drift… so, obey the law! If you decide to imbibe-You’ll have to drive well over two counties away to make sure no one sees you buying that liquor- so be sure to persuade a gentleman to procure it for you, just not on Sunday! And for heaven’s sake when you drink- no swigging from a bottle or can- drink from a julep cup or a fine glass; hold it above your waist, otherwise it’s trashy.

*Rosewater is available at most grocers or online- use it sparingly; a little dab on each wrist and behind each ear is nice too!

*All photographs are obviously mine. *Four Days- the Lazarus Principle was written by me- I gave myself permission to quote from it! Available on Amazon.com and other fine booksellers. *

My Derby Horse is number 13, I not a very good gambler but I liked the looks of him and had sort of a Cinco de Maya sounding name- Bravazo! I plan to lift a glass to the winner whoever it is! 99D32BD2-25D3-4D1A-9660-D363A9F8486B

Spring Greens…

336F7848-F827-4504-BBFD-CB6DA2CB3C82

It’s no secret that Southern folks love greens- turnip greens, mustard, collards and cabbage are found on almost every table almost all year round. Spring Greens bring on a whole host of other greens we enjoy- in our meals, in our homes and of course outdoors!

Green is symbolic of Spring in so many ways, of-

  •  Life, renewal, nature and energy
  • Growth, harmony and freshness
  • Safe and secure environments and also Possibility, hopefulness
  • Military Green is thought to be symbolic for peace- an oxymoron, yet who but those who have been battle have a greater desire for peace?
  • To the superstitious among us- we do look for signs! Green was thought to have healing powers! Before I hear Heckle and Jeckle cackling over that… we must remember our spiritual teachings seem to bear this out too! ‘He makes me to lie down in tender fresh green pastures…He refreshes and restores my life.’ From the amplified version of Psalm 23.
  • Green is the most restful color to the human eye and was thought to improve vision.
  • Green relates to balance and harmony in nature- and tends to balance the heart and emotions- some go so far as to say green calms the head and heart- who knows? Green seems to have a calming effect on me!
  •  Many Interior Designers treat green as neutral- and tend to use it always adding greenery and live plants. Designers and landscapers tend to create opportunities for pleasant views toward gardens or natural scenes.

Spring is a busy time here at the Cottage. I’m sure it is for you- here’s a few things we’ve been doing to bring Spring Greens into our lives! Everything seems to have greened up at once, yet Southerners still tend to keep our houses closed up due to changes in temperatures and of course pollen!

House Plants not only freshen the look of room but can actually make the air cleaner. Hint: Spring is a great time to find bargains on houseplants when a lot of us are concentrating on outdoor planting! We recently replaced some of ours- after clearing clutter and ridding cobwebs evident with sunny days!  And what a fun way to reward our spring cleaning- with fresh plants! Here are a few of my favorite Spring Green Plants-

  • Angel Wing Begonias- I love these tuberous plants which are happy indoors and on covered or screened porches in the warm weather- their grayish green leaves with red underneath make it a show plant for our neutral palette.3B97FD25-91F1-4922-A848-03BC73E7A9BC
  • For shape and ease of growing- Sansevieras- or my favorite name for them – Mother in Law Tongues– see how they mimic ‘flames’ in front of fireplaces for Spring and Summer and can be outside in low light too!F3586D2F-87DD-46FB-AA85-4A856C817452
  • Fiddleleaf Figs are popular with interior designers and can be quite large- this one is elevated and seems happy with it’s nest of twiggy dried angel vine! It is a member of the Ficus Family. 0BA659CE-DBF4-418E-969B-B08142109C1F
  • The bonus for all three of these plants is a low water requirement- actually the quickest way to kill house plants is to overwater them! The interiors here had an immediate lift from greenery, even on dreary or rainy days!

Another fun project for you or the children! Hang on to those Celery Root bottoms when you used up the stalks- keep in the crisper drawer; then, spring clean the crisper drawer, remove, then press the root end into a container of soil – Look at the results from 3-4 celery roots! The Spring Green Tops (don’t expect them to ever grow long stalks); The celery leaves are wonderful added to salads or sprinkle over soups and stews for a fresh Spring Green flavor!55A65A09-CC77-4F80-AE40-0EFAACF394C5

I don’t buy ferns for indoors – they tend to make a mess dropping leaves, however Asparagus Ferns do extremely well outdoors. Cut back in the fall- keep in a covered space until you need a bit of color in the house later in the year. They are generally reliable in the South, some even grow back! C641536F-608A-4106-8864-77C83FC16886

I have already put away heavy winter throws- and added Spring Green color with the addition of sofa pillows- just that simple addition makes a world of difference to transition from winter to warmer weather!

 

 

This is the time of year I’m working down the freezer and pantry- on cool days there’s still nothing like vegetable soup or… on warmer days I can lighten up a meal with certain frozen vegetables, that frankly are almost as good frozen as fresh- Green Early Peas, Uncut Green Beans for my Green Bean Bundles, Broccoli and Spinach are standbys.9E263837-172A-44A6-A98B-EB4C0724551E Brussel Sprouts from the freezer are already trimmed and blanched- Saute them in bacon fat – crumbling bacon as a garnish. For refreshing Spring Brussel Sprouts- after sauteeing -add lemon zest and juice to make them sing!

Early Peas are so versatile in Chicken Pot Pies or on their own- I’ve been making these for years as a side dish- Parisian Early Peas are made by sauteeing thinly sliced sweet onion or spring green onions and shredded lettuce in butter- add the peas and steam until tender, just a few minutes truly.

 

 

The weeds are growing, well like weeds. For the southern forager, weeding also means setting aside dandelion greens, tender garlic chives and wild spring onions =- added to tender leaf lettuce and dressed lightly with lemon juice and olive oil, it’s Spring Greens on a plate!23B20B84-640A-4BB2-8780-C3660E959A34

As if to commemorate Spring- the first Peony bloomed here at the cottage. I took it as a beautiful remembrance of a very special lady. Our mother loved Spring Greens- all greens really. She was a green eyed beauty, a native of Alabama, a soft southern belle, who wore a delicately beaded celadon green dress to my wedding. Mother considered green to be a neutral color in her artistic pursuits- as a decorator and in her own home she always used green in some way and even set her first table as a bride with ivory plates ringed with green ivy. F85DFF31-7C5F-48C2-9A0F-8FC25495CCED

Mother loved gardening and thoroughly enjoyed arranging flowers and participating in several garden clubs. I suppose I will always associate Spring Green with Momma- I was born in Springtime and she died last Spring, in early morning one year ago today. Her laughter, love for her family, friends, community…and oh, especially children– was as joyful as Spring. She was definitely a Spring Tonic, fresh as Spring Greens, her whole life. May we all partake in the joys of Spring Greens wherever we find them and cherish those with whom we share them.

Love y’all, Camellia

*all photographs are obviously mine taken right here at Camellia’s Cottage

Shoepeg Corn Salads…

5583D0B2-C0D4-4D83-931D-D6EBFB498397It’s a truth, the closer you live to a corn field the better your life will be. Okay, I know the corn stalks around here are just knee high to a scarecrow- still, there’s nothing like the taste of fresh corn. I recall the very first time this city girl tasted corn just pulled from the stalk- I have never forgotten it. It was a life altering experience. Honestly, fresh in the field corn is almost as sweet as candy! As soon as it’s pulled, believe me when I say- the sugar starts turning into starch, no comparison to fresh pulled.

There are old tales about folks who would send someone out to the corn field and tell them to stand ‘right ready’ for pulling ears of corn. Not one minute before the water starts to boil, someone else would holler from the house- ‘Pull the corn! now!’ And some were so crazy about fresh corn- they managed to get a big kettle dragged out to the field, hoist it over a wood fire, get the water to a rolling boil and actually cook it field side!

You won’t find that happening too often these days- but the truth is… Southerners do love our fresh vegetables- you’ll find us talking food, funerals, family events and fuming about the weather- especially this time of year! Now, soon there’ll  be family gatherings and celebrations, covered dish and potluck suppers coming up and we’ll need to take something special. I was fiddling around, trying to figure out a special dish to make while also working down the freezer; I came across a bag of shoepeg corn. Flash frozen uncooked corn- especially if it’s shoepeg corn is always a good substitute for fresh while we wait on this year’s crop! Shoepeg Corn is generally white uncut corn- the whole little kernels look like old timey shoe pegs, actually I always think of a little child’s offering to the Tooth Fairy when I see the kernels!  You might find shoepeg corn under the unremarkable name of ‘Uncut Corn’. What a shame! Not nearly as descriptive as shoepeg! Okay, so I couldn’t decide between making a Shoepeg Corn Salad or it’s variation- Cornbread Salad to send to a covered dish supper. Both salads have the little kernels of corn in them, I just made both, one to send and one to keep!

I made both from memory, but if you’re looking for a recipe in Southern cookbooks? The only ones I found were in old regional Alabama cookbooks. Not to be deterred- I realized that Corn Salads are an uncooked variation of the old recipes for Macque Choux, found mostly in the coastal South. The story behind Macque Choux is this- Native Americans showed the French Settlers how to make a mixture from corn, onions and tomatoes cooked quickly in fats or butter. Folks started adding other stuff, like lima beans, field peas; even bits of ham or tiny bay shrimp to the mixture depending on the region. Oh my! that sounds good too. Sorry, I’m going off on a tangent here- let me just tell you how I made it!

 

Camellia’s Shoepeg Corn Salad

In a large bowl combine-

  • One 12 oz. bag of Shoepeg or Uncut White Corn (thawed slightly)
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 small purple onion diced
  • 1 cup of diced cucumber (I like mine unpeeled, if the seeds are large, remove and discard before dicing)
  • 1 cup of bell pepper cut in medium dice (I used a green one, if you prefer a more colorful salad, feel free to use yellow bell pepper)
  • 3/4 cup of medium dice celery

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sour cream
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of good mayonnaise (if lemon juice is not in the ingredients- add a generous squeeze)
  • Dash or two of Red Pepper Flakes
  •  * I like to add 2 Tablespoons of Ranch Dressing if I have it on hand. If not, add a bit of garlic powder. Mix well.

Gently toss the dressing with the shoepeg corn and cut vegetables – then salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill. Can be served almost immediately but is better if made ahead so the flavors can meld. It sure looks pretty sprinkled with chopped parsley on a bed of  lettuce!DCAA2A2D-89E9-4493-967D-A24992CE2666

*Variation for Camellia’s Cornbread Salad 074FF050-A35C-46E8-8BB5-5E538C3917B2

  • Reduce the amount of shoepeg corn by half, feel free to add more cherry tomatoes, cucumber, peppers or celery, even a bit more sour cream. Then, mix as directed for Shoepeg Salad, chill.
  • The vegetables will give off extra liquid as they sit, so don’t be surprised by this- the Cornbread will soak up that extra liquid.
  • Before adding the cornbread, add up to a Tablespoon of Hot Pepper Sauce to mixture, depending on how spicy you like it- however- the quantity is large enough to handle more than you think- just add it to taste.
  • Crumble up to a half a pone of Cornbread tossing gently into the Shoepeg Salad. I rarely throw away cornbread- instead I wrap in foil and slide into a heavy plastic freezer bag for other uses like this!

Y’all, this is delicious! Cornbread Salad is a great way to stretch a batch of Shoepeg Salad. Both stand up to being served as a picnic food but both are best served chilled.

Okay, here’s how I served Shoepeg Salad- on a lettuce cup alongside a baked sweet potato and with- oh my goodness, another wonderful treat!7D1DD4F8-2665-4A04-856E-FA063D89A37E

Bacon wrapped Jalapeno Hushpuppies! Now, I want to tell you how to make homemade Hushpuppies sometime- but in the interest of time and working down the freezer, I had a small bag of ready made Fisherman’s Wharf® Jalapeno Hushpuppies- before I baked them on a parchment lined baking sheet- I wrapped each of the hushpuppies with a third of a slice of bacon and baked with the seam down! You may need to increase baking time until the bacon is done. Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Hushpuppies  are so good, I would serve them as an appetizer! Dipping Sauce could be Jezebel Sauce or Cocktail Sauce. So. Good. as an addition to any meal! One of my new favorites!

 

I hope you’ll try out the easy uncooked Shoepeg Salad! Now, I have to tell you- Somebody’s always getting on me about how much of this or that ought to be in there- well…I just make it like I like it! Please feel free to make Corn Salad anyway you like best! I would say if you add baby lima beans or field peas to it- please blanch them first! Diced ham or cooked baby shrimp would be a great addition also, though I would keep it chilled for any  addition of meat!

 

Now, keep in mind- the salad must have tomatoes, onion and corn to have true Macque Choux flavor! I’m taking either Shoepeg Corn Salad or Cornbread Salad to a Memorial Day Picnic that someone has decided to have early so it won’t be so hot and also, who wants to miss Coot’s Picnic on the actual Memorial Day in May! Oh me…

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

*Fisherman’s Wharf® is a registered product. You should be able to find their hushpuppies or other brands at your local grocer’s.

*Hot Pepper Sauce is the vinegary liquid found in pickled hot peppers.

Bevy of Beauties…

When Camellia’s Cottage was just a hope and a prayer- there were a select few ‘Camellias’ who contributed their thoughts as to what it would be.. one very special talented Camellia gave such incredible insights from her vast stores of experience and wisdom. This post was possibly her favorite one of all. Denis Duncan – friend, mentor, a sister in the family we choose for ourselves, fellow lover of books, gardening and this beautiful state we call home- Alabama gave me the gifts of love, laughter and encouragement. One year ago today- Denis passed from this life to the next. Her family had bookplates designed for her vast collection of books- and I am the honored recipient of several books she held in her hands and loved as I do. So! to honor Denis today- I have chosen to re-blog ‘Bevy of Beauties’ . I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Will always love y’all, Camellia

Camellia's Cottage

image

They still spring forth from twisted roots, thick marshes, stark hillsides, rushing rivers, dark coal mines and hard red clay soil of Alabama, a veritable Bevy of Beauties. Let us never forget that Stars Fell on Alabama, that Hank Williams wrote ‘Hey Good Lookin’ , What ya got cookin’  and F.Scott Fitzgerald found his Zelda right here in Alabama.

It’s no coincidence that Southern girls aren’t just cuter, they are stunning beauties. We know this from birth; like Strands of Steel woven through lace christening gowns, ruffled petticoats and tulle tutus. For a select group there is an almost immediate affinity for sparkle, sequins and crowns. Their eyes flash with fury, the art of flirting comes naturally at an amazingly early age. Charmingly, disarmingly  and alarmingly they manage to get their own way, especially with their daddies, brothers and beaus, who are more than happy to go along with it.

Some prefer hats and are devastating, some wear…

View original post 799 more words