Fall Forage…

It’s early Fall, when mornings are cooler, days are slowly but surely getting shorter and evening deep blue skies are a bit darker hue. Armed with clippers, I went out to see what I could see, a Fall Forage that inspired me to bring a bit of early autumn indoors to enjoy…IMG_0182

I found bright purple Beauty Berries, almost fluorescent in color, the Glory Bower’s pale blossoms are now magenta and dark blue berries…a few Figs still left unripe, leaves still crisp and green…plump and orange-y Rose Hips…IMG_0196

Lichen laden branches pale and ghostly alongside unripe celadon Nandina berries… Clipping and cutting, my bag was getting full and interesting…A papery hydrangea nodding her summer head.IMG_3484

Frilly ferns and fronds under leaves just thinking about changing to Fall colors. Chive seed heads bright and white cheerfully stood alongside unforgettable spidery blooms from a fall bulb I can’t recall! Lavender and pale blue wild blooms growing near thick leaved sedum- always my Autumn Joy…IMG_0189

When I spread out the morning’s bounty from my early Fall Forage… I lined them up like the scouts they were- to let me take their beauty shots. They behaved so nicely… I couldn’t stand to let them go to waste and wilt. What would my Fall Forage look like in a bouquet… IMG_3495

Then a fleeting thought. What if I could somehow take a photograph that resembled an old oil painting…You know the ones with black backgrounds.

I think they call them Old Masters. IMG_0199

A happy coincidence I will admit, a quick and blurry picture, with not a single brush stroke except from the Master Gardener Himself and random clippings from an early morning Fall Forage.

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine- Oh my, on days like this! *Plants are not listed in order.

Sweet Spicy Snack Crackers…

IMG_3290In the South, we’re known for hospitality, especially for our ability to offer pickup foods at a moment’s notice. ‘Y’all come over, no- we’re just having pickup foods’ … It could be as simple as parched peanuts…or quickly toasting some buttery salted pecans, even  pulling some cheese straws from the freezer and baking them off to put in a little silver bowl.  I have to admit having a little snack greatly improves conversation! We tend to keep a box or bag of a favorite cookie or cracker, but we do have our standards! The best is a little 1 inch square cheese cracker we’ve all been eating, all across this country since the 1920’s! It’s dangerous for me to be in the vicinity of a bright red box of Cheez-its®! IMG_3287

The all time favorite snack cracker of my lifetime- Cheez-its®, to my way of thinking can hardly be improved upon; now, with so many different flavors on the market why would anyone even want to try? Well, on a scrap of paper found in one of my cookbooks- I had scribbled-

  • Cheez-its®
  • Melted Butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cayenne and Salt
  • Bake

*No measurements, no oven temperature, no bake time…were on that scrap of paper!  Who even knew why I kept it? Recently, I needed a new pickup food. Of course I had a box of Cheez-its squirrelled away in the pantry! I have to tell you, everything else on that list has a permanent place here too! I thought about it- and here’s how I made them:

Camellia’s Cottage Sweet Spicy Snack Crackers

  • I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, and poured the entire box of  Cheez-its (12.4 oz size) into a large mixing bowl (approximately 4 cups more or less)
  • I lined a sheet pan with parchment paper and I was ready to go!
  • Cheez-its are baked not fried, so I melted a stick of Salted Butter on low heat.
  • I mixed together 3/4 cup of firmly packed Brown Sugar, added 1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon, a couple of pinches of Cayenne Pepper (go easy here) and poured them into the melted Butter.IMG_3288
  • On low heat, I waited until the Brown Sugar and spices were almost dissolved.
  • I poured the whole pan of spicy sweet mixture over the Cheez-its and tossed to coat them well, then spread them out in a single layer.
  • They were baked for 12-15 minutes, tossing occasionally until the crackers were shiny and the edges were carmelized.

After these Sweet Spicy Snack Crackers were pulled from the oven, I sprinkled a bit of Sea Salt over the top- not much now… When the crackers were cooled, I do admit to having to break some of them apart.  *If not serving right away, I would recommend storing them in an airtight container.IMG_3289

The results after just one try- were, to my taste- worthy of offering as a pickup food to drop in company!  I had some plump red grapes, a few fresh figs and small tangerines on hand. Okay, to make it seemed more like a healthy snack! It didn’t hurt that the kitchen smelled warm and spicy on an early Fall Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Cheez- it® are a registered trademark of Kellogg- under the name of Sunshine Bakery. This is not a paid advertisement, just a testimonial of how much we love them here at Camellia’s Cottage!

A Southern Mother’s Advice…

IMG_3477It’s a known fact that Southern Mothers dote on their menfolk and children. Wait a minute, it’s more accurate to say- Mothers tend to dote on their sons, but advise their daughters.  All. The. Time. Especially when it comes to dating. It is highly important for Southern girls, because their daddies have made them believe that no one- I mean in no uncertain terms, is good enough for their daughters.

img_3474.jpgSouthern mothers on the other hand, know what’s good enough for their daughters and what’s not. Okay. Here’s the thing… at some point the mother’s gonna have to write out an Engagement Announcement. For heaven’s sake and the surrounding communities, it better be a good one! For instance, when she asks- ‘Does he have a job?‘ a Southern Mother wants the answer to be an unequivocal ‘Yes’ even if he has a trust fund. As long as he has some gumption and it’s honest work, she can make the best of it-

  • Mechanic? ‘Harold Joe Smith is heavily invested in Automotives,
  • Pulpwooder? Buzzie Thompson is invested in Timber,
  • Farmer?  Billy Mack Hopkins III has acres of Prime Real Estate or
  • Coal Miner? Mickey Richards has Mining Interests.’

IMG_3457And if he has the semblance of a Last Name for a First Name, a Southern mother can get a decent write up for the paper. If he doesn’t have a Last name for his First name he’s probably a Yankee or a Redneck.  It doesn’t matter if his granddaddy was as crooked as the Mississippi River, a Southern Mother can overlook and explain it as a colorful eccentric background.. Now, if the young man in question is a descendent of Buster Crabbe- his rugged good looks might have translated into Tarzan on the silver screen then, but a Chest so Hairy it comes up out of the neck of his shirt? That is completely unacceptable. If his hair is like Conway Twitty or Willie Nelson, she will charm him right out of wearing it like that- Put him in a Navy Blue Blazer and Khaki Pants and no one will ever know the difference.

Basically, the Southern Mother wants the young man to have Good hair, Good teeth and Money. She can generally take care of the window dressing, especially if he smells good, too.IMG_3463

Now, if the young man asks if the Southern girl lives close to a Church or School Parking Lot because he needs to park his 18 wheeler there– for a first date? Okay, that’s not okay. ‘Sara Jean, you are not climbing up in the cab of that truck on a first date, what if he plans on takin’ you to a honky tonk or a truck stop then what will you do? And his CB handle is ‘Hauling Trouble’ !

Now, if he has money or comes from money? Even if he is ugly as homemade sin, the Southern Mother can work with that, too. She’ll talk about his triumphs on the football field or the golf course and say, ‘Well, for goodness sakes! Who would want a man to be wan and pale anyway?’ Especially if she can smell old money. IMG_2283

Southern girls have to endure the Inquisition… *Warning these are trick questions, so be careful of pitfalls here. The list of questions a Southern mother will ask, include but are not exclusive to:

  • Do you like his looks?
  • Does he have enough sense to get in out of the rain?IMG_3464
  • Does he clean up well? (If he does, no matter what he does for a living she will consider him to have potential.)
  • Does his wardrobe consist of T-shirts with sayings on them? Does said Tshirt have a pack of cigarettes rolled up in one sleeve?IMG_3466
  • Does the yard dog bark and growl when he comes to the door? Better yet, does that sensitive House Cat of yours screech and arch her back when he comes around?
  • Do children whimper and run?
  • Are you taken with him?
  • Is he conniving or wishy washy?
  • Does he have a limp wrist or a firm handshake?
  • Is he stubborn as a long eared mule?IMG_2121
  • Does he gallivant around?
  • Is he a thug or a hoodlum? Does he act like a hooligan?  (She will be checking for a prison record).
  • If he has a big set of keys jangling in his pocket and a big billfold with a chain hanging from his belt loop, she might smell money, yet not equate it with class.
  • Does he wear lifts in his shoes?
  • Is he Old School or Wild as a Buck?
  • ‘Are you just boring him to death Mary Lou or does he have narcolepsy?’
  • Are those his Real Teeth or does he have a Plate? ‘For heaven’s sake, he needs help with that halitosis! The cheapest thing you can buy is a peppermint!
  • Does he Yodel?IMG_3467
  • *Now this is important! Does he wear cut off jeans, a Speedo, or Board Shorts to the beach?
  • Is his hair a natural born color or is it green, blue or purple?
  • Is he a dude or a dud? ‘Gaynelle, is he a dude or a dud, that is the question…’
  • When you’re with him, is it Moon and Magnolias or a Buttermilk Sky and Blackeyed Peas?
  • Does he have a tendency to Howl at the Moon or just when it’s a Full?
  • Is he so Sweet it makes your Teeth Hurt?IMG_3471
  • Does he go by to check on his mother? Or, does he still live with her?
  •  Is he a Man of the Cloth? This is truly a trick question…

‘Now, you know Merry Beth, preachers that thump a Bible and run the rails have a tendency to stab you in the back, however- if he does actually wear a collar and cloth- well, now that’s different.’ Not. Really. But still.

  • Does he mostly take the Southern daughter to dance halls and honky tonks and is- ‘too drunk to kareoke’ ? (That’s coarse and common no matter how much money he has!)
  • Does he have any common sense? Is he able to extend common courtesy?  Does he have a sense of common decency? Hint: this may be the most important run of questions. Decency…

Now, even after all that, the prospective one will still have to have a ready answer for this one or she will never approve…‘Young man, who are your people?’ Remember she has a di-rect line  that rings into the State Archives Director’s Office. Really.

Assuming he’s passed all the tests, he still has to get past Daddy- who leaves the Porch light on if the young man seems nice. If Daddy is worried the lucky couple is lingering too long, the Porch Light will be flipped on and off. If his precious baby daughter doesn’t come right on in… Daddy will turn on the Floodlights as he opens the door- looking down the barrel of  his BB gun. Don’t get me wrong- Daddy doesn’t want to hurt him, just scare him a little bit.

It’s a wonder any Southern couple actually makes it to the Altar! But if he’s a good one…don’t let him get away! Even if you have to hog tie him and drag him fightin’ tooth and nail, get him to the altar! If you’re taken with him, if he makes you laugh, if he has some gumption and a sense of common courtesy and decency; the main thing is…when you can’t imagine life without him? Marry him, then dote on him like only Southern ladies know how!

Oh me, sadly all of this can or has happened.  Yet, like all good Southern tales, this one is part truth, part myth and part outright lies.

Love y’all, Camellia

*This is a humor piece, please don’t ever point a BB gun at anyone! * A huge thank you to all the Southern girls who contributed to the Inquisition, you know who you are! * ‘too drunk to karaoke’ is good ol’ southern boy, Jimmy Buffet’s line *Almost all photographs are part of the Camellia’s Cottage collection, please do not use without permission. *The vintage photo of the beauty queens holding large coins and the three cute old ladies are AOL images and may be subject to copyright

 

Bear Cubs…

IMG_3417Brown Butter, Brown Sugar and Pecans, now that makes a special cookie. There’s nothing like coming home from school to an afternoon snack- especially if it’s warm and home baked! Something sweet after a meal or before bedtime is extra good! Bear Cubs have been on my list of must-try cookies  for a good while… They aren’t true Shortbread but filed away with my favorite Shortbread recipes, this old cookie recipe made with browned butter, brown sugar and pecans has a notation- ‘not a true shortbread cookie’ – But so close…so deliciously close, it would make a hungry bear cub very happy!

I suppose, the way the pecan is inserted makes the cookie look like it has a tiny bear paw print! I’ve seen similar recipes by other names-

  • Brown Sugar Shortbread,
  • Brown Babies and even
  • Browned Butter Cookies.
  • Without the pecan, I have also found several recipes which were made for fussy babies!

I like the name Bear Cubs….They are an excellent After School treat, wonderful for Holiday Cookie Swaps, delicious at Baby Showers and alongside a cup of Coffee or Tea is just perfect.  Even a Grumpy Bear of a man will settle down if you give him a few Bear Cubs!IMG_3426

Bear Cubs aren’t overly sweet cookies. I find them easy to make, easy to freeze and even easier on the tastebuds. Don’t expect them to hang around long once they’re baked! The method for making Bear Cubs is unusual. Butter must be browned and cooled first.

 

 

 

 

Browned Butter – Melt 3/4 cup of salted butter on medium low in a small saucepan; for approximately 5 minutes heat until nutty brown. There will be foam on the top when it’s hot from the butter fat, but as it cools the foam will subside. Strain it for clarified brown butter- but for Bear Cubs, simply cool the browned butter along with the tasty brown bits before incorporating it into the mixture.  (Southerners generally use salted butter but you may use unsalted and add a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients.)

Camellia’s Cottage Bear Cubs

  • Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) of salted butter – Browned and Cooled,
  • 1 1/2 cup Brown Sugar- packed firmly,
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk,
  • 2 cups of Self Rising Flour, 3/4 teaspoons Baking Powder,  (if you use AP- add  1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder plus 1/4 teaspoons Baking Soda) ,
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract,
  • Approximately 30 pecan halves cut crosswise in halves,
  • A few tablespoons of Granulated Sugar. for dipping.

Sift Self Rising Flour and Baking Powder, set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cooled Brown Butter in a large bowl until fully incorporated and fluffy. Add whole egg /egg yolk and vanilla extract to Brown Sugar/Brown Butter mixture. Mix very well. Stir Flour Mixture into the Butter Mixture in 2-3 batches mixing well after each addition but do not overbeat. With rounded Tablespoon, scoop cookie dough and roll into balls. Then dip roll each ball in granulated sugar, placing them 3 inches apart on a parchment lined sheet pans. Press each ball with a small glass until the cookie is about 1/2 inch thick. Take a pecan piece and insert cut side up in the center of each, as shown. (*At this point Bear Cubs may be frozen on sheet pans for 45 minutes to an hour then stored in freezer safe bags.)  Bake each sheet pan on center rack for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Cool in the pans, then transfer to cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container. Makes 4 dozen. IMG_3416

I have to admit, these Bear Cubs don’t hang around any longer than a bear raidin’ a trash can! Bear Cubs are wonderful all by themselves and excellent with Vanilla or Caramel Ice Cream. I think these Brown Butter cookies will become a favorite Autumn treat! Make up a batch of dough to keep in your freezer! *Do not thaw, additional baking time may be required.

The  South’s mountainous areas have always had Bears- remember Davy Crockett? He was from Tennessee! Bears are now seen occasionally in populated areas, I heard a Mother Bear and her Cubs were seen walking through a gated community just a couple of weeks ago!

 

 

 

 

If you find yourself in a den filled with cute little Cubs and growling tummies, a tired Momma Bear or a Grumpy Old Papa Bear- give ’em a Bear Cub!  I’ve heard if you eat one of these sweet Bear Cubs before bedtime- you’ll hibernate very well!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine! *Bear Cubs should not be given to very young children- unless made without pecans, which could be a choking hazard or in the case of nut allergies. *Bear Cubs will remain crisp if covered tightly, but are easily crisped up when toasted a few minutes in a 350 degree oven…well, if they last that long!

Stormy Weather…

IMG_3212‘…when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us go to the other side of the sea.’ And leaving the throng, they took Him with them, just as He was, in the boat- and other boats were with Him. And a furious storm of wind ( of hurricane proportions) arose, the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled. But He was in the stern of the boat asleep on a leather cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Master, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Hush now! Be still!’ and the wind ceased, (that is, sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was immediately a great calm- a perfect peacefulness…’ Mark 4:35-41 KJV Amplified VersionIMG_3209

Please notice first- ‘other boats were with them’. When a storm comes- you will not be alone. Others are affected by the same storm; others will suffer and others injured by strong winds- and there are others who will be blessed by what He does during that storm – even though they are not ‘in the same boat’ with Jesus; the storms we endure affect others, right? …

The part of the Amplified passage which I love best- is how the ‘rebuked’ storm reacted to Jesus. ‘And the wind ceased- sank to rest, as if exhausted by its beating and there was a great calm- a perfect peacefulness’.

If you have ever been through a hurricane or a tornado or any ‘Act of God’ afterwards there is a great calm; an almost perfect peacefulness. As the damage is assessed… The weather may be peaceful, yet the path of destruction is astounding…IMG_3223

The cleanup work is ahead; the wreckage yields it’s own suffering. Keep in mind that though the Galilean storm stopped raging- the disciples had to bale the water out of the boat. Storms have aftermaths.  Excerpt from ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’

As Hurricane Irma continues her destructive path, a devastating earthquake has damaged an area outside of Mexico City and cleanup efforts continue from Hurricane Harvey- we would remember those affected by these Acts of God- situations beyond human control, as the insurance folks call them- we know these are Natural Disasters of Epic Proportions. It is always appropriate to remember that God does care about us all.  May we each do what we can to ease the suffering aftermath these folks now face, here and around the globe.

Love y’all, Camellia

* These beautiful photographs were taken by Jeremy Miniard. Find more of his wonderful work at jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com  Four Days- the Lazarus Principle written by Brenda Wyatt can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and other fine booksellers. More information about this book may be found on our ‘About Us’ page.

Parched Peanuts…

IMG_3424Parched is the Southern term for Roasted in the Shell Peanuts… Peanuts have always been grown in the South, yet when the Boll Weevil wiped out Alabama’s Cotton Crops in  in the early 1900’s, we came to fully appreciate the value of peanuts. George Washington Carver, at the famous Tuskegee Institute had been busy experimenting with the humble peanut.  By 1916, the scientific study of peanut agriculture was an effort to replenish soil depleted by constantly growing cotton, Carver introduced the South to the benefits of Crop Rotation! And Yes, it was the humble peanut, which rebooted the soil with nitrogen. Peanuts are actually legumes, not tree grown nuts. But what to do with all of those peanuts?? Smithfield® Hams boasted feeding their hogs with peanuts. Peanut Butter became a staple in the Southern diet.  Virginia, along with other southern states takes pride in Peanut Soup. Carver himself offered over 100 ways to use peanuts. However, this Southern snack food, the Parched Peanut had to be among the Top Three Favorites…

  • At Ball Fields, Circuses,
  • Hamburger Joints, Cattle Sales,
  • in Honky Tonks, Pit Barbeques and Zoos-IMG_3409

Folks tend to sit or walk around with a warm brown bag of parched peanuts! Peanuts are harvested from June to September. They are washed of the soil, then put on long tables in the sun to dry… these are what we call Raw Peanuts. When the raw peanuts are dried sufficiently, they’re put in big burlap bags and generally hung from barn rafters to store and dry out before being sold to markets or parched at home as a special treat. Believe it or not- even at the finest soirees- it’s not uncommon to find a big bowl of Parched Peanuts.

Peanuts are not the southern cash crop they once were; however small farms still grow peanuts for enriching the soil and for private consumption. There are some who parch shelled peanuts, however, there is nothing like the flavor of peanuts roasted in the shell, the aroma is wonderful! A curious thing about Parched Peanuts is that there is no specific recipe for them!

  • Some say- put the raw peanuts in a heavy Cast Iron Dutch Oven in an extremely hot oven- for an unspecified time! Until done.
  • Most say spread peanuts in an even layer on a sheet pan to parch,
  • Some say ‘salt the peanuts shells heavily’ – Other purists don’t.
  • Where recipes differ is the oven temperature.
  • Some say- heat the oven to 500 degrees, put the peanuts in; then turn off the heat; others say- spread raw peanuts on single layer baking sheets with the oven on low heat- (250 degrees generally) Parch until the peanuts are done…Okay.

The only way I know to tell you how to parch peanuts is the low heat method 250 degrees up to 350 degrees, then after 30-45 minutes…check. It could literally take several hours…IMG_3424

You will get the hang of burning your tongue when you check the peanuts. The husk is dry, the skins are dark red and fall off easy. If the peanut is still chewy not crunchy– put back in the oven.  Then there is always an instinct to parching peanuts. There are surely those who are born to be Parched Peanut Whisperers or Sniffers…they have a knack for just knowing… Burnt peanuts are awful…I say this with experience! Throw them out! However, I do recognize the time to check is by the nutty aroma. These days, I buy bags of ‘roasted peanuts’ – they will be stale… To revive them.. Parch peanuts in the shell on a single layer at 300 degrees for…well at least 30-45 minutes; checking after 30 minutes. Then comes a knowing… the sweet aroma of fresh Parched Peanuts… I whisper a sigh…IMG_2569

Now, listen darlin’ , Cotton may no longer be King in Alabama, yet every time I get a whiff of Parched Peanuts… I know he’s makin’ a comeback! Thank You Lord for the beauty of this red scrabble hard Alabama dirt, for fields ripe with harvest when the Cotton is high and for the humble peanut!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Our heartfelt prayers are with the wonderful people of the South’s Sunshine State, Florida- for safety and shelter from Hurricane Irma.

SEC tips…

IMG_3370You know summer has taken it’s last gasp, not by the Heat Index but by the First Kickoff of the SEC…Southeastern Conference Football is major in the South! In fact football season is so important to us, it considered the height of poor taste to plan a wedding during football season! No, I. Am. Not. Kidding… There are rules for what we wear on Game Day- here at Camellia’s Cottage, of course we wear Officially Licensed SEC garments, team colors and particular to the ladies, there is a lucky Elephant Necklace, that must be worn with the elephant facing left- do not ask me why- it has just proved lucky! IMG_3410

All over the SEC region, there are certain foods which are considered ‘team foods’ – here in Alabama for Bama fans- Do I hear a Roll Tide? Since the days of Bear Bryant- our lucky foods are: Golden Flake Potato Chips Barber’s Onion Dip and Co-cola otherwise known as Coca Cola™! All are made or bottled right here in Alabama!

On game days, all over the SEC- Tailgate Food is served from the tailgate of an humble pickup truck, from RV’s, all the way to an Upscale Campus Affair- with food served on a sorority’s mahogany table draped with antique lace tablecloths, complete with a Chandelier hanging from a Live Oak tree! On some campuses, you might find a crazy fraternity serving …uh, cold drinks from a casket! It’s true. The food can be elaborate or simple- but always delicious and appropriate to the home team! When we watch games at home, there’s always popcorn, parched peanuts, cream cheese, party crackers and pepper jelly, chips with dip or celery sticks and…last week we had pit BBQ baby back ribs! Now, if you’re looking for actual football tips- you might be barking up the wrong tree here! I do, however, scream and holler during the games, it’s just more fun!

SEC stands for other lesser things too! For instance, the South Eastern Corner of the United States is:

  • The only region to be occupied by the Federal Government, where handsome men have worn military uniforms for years and to this day, the South Eastern Corner of the U.S.A. can proudly boast that our folks arguably sign up more often for military duty than any other region! We love our soldiers!
  • We have a history of courageous women who opened their doors to bears, raids and standing armies, faced tornadoes and hurricanes and they helped settle farms, homesteads, taught school, kept their families strong, yet are smart and beautiful all at the same time, with possibly more beauty queens than any other part of America… though it could be that we have more opportunities to serve as Peach Queens, Cotton Queens, Mardi Gras Queens and more… is there a Bo Weevil Queen? Anyway, we think we’re prettier for sure!
  • The South Eastern Corner is where children played in the dirt with silver spoons or found arrowheads in the backyard, learned how to fish before they were knee high to a grasshopper, little girls still wear Big Hair Bows, monograms abound, sandcastle building is second nature and all of them can charm the horns off a Billy Goat any day of the week!IMG_3408
  • The South Eastern Corner had more Dry Counties than any other part of the country, but still make the best Bourbon in the world. In fact we lay claim to the best Iced Tea and the best Soft Drinks (which we never call them!) Anyone who loves Coca Cola, Royal Crown and Pepsi would agree!
  • The South Eastern Corner is the only place in America where folks actually pull off on the side of the road near a homemade sign that touts ‘Boiled Peanuts’ and are excited about it! …Okay- it’s an ah-quih-ed taste! If you aren’t from here, let’s just say you probably won’t acquire a taste for ’em.
  • In fact, put a Barbed Wire Fence around the entire South Eastern Corner and eventually it will turn into a literal Nut House….peanuts, pecans, hickory nuts so hard you’d have to run an 18 wheeler over ’em to crack the shells… But where else but the South could George Washington Carver figure out how to enrich the soil and feed the masses with peanuts in this land flowing with Milk and Peanut Butter sandwiches?IMG_3411
  • The South Eastern Corner of the U.S.A. is where Church Choirs still sing with a Twang or fill the rafters with Soul; and where Gospel, Country, Beach Music and Motown are loved in equal measure.

I wouldn’t take anything for living in the SEC, for the football, the people and the good food! I have to admit – my personal favorite SEC stands for- South Eastern Cooking Tips! Here’s to Butter Balls and Spicy Shrimp and Shells!

Butter Balls are an old French method of food preparation for enriching sauces and gravy- keep these in the freezer and grab a few – you will be surprised what this simple little ball of flour and butter will do to make pan juices silky or definitely enrich the sauce for Spicy Shrimp and Shells! (Yes! the South Eastern Corner’s Food has a strong French Influence!) I made the Butter Balls recently, while I was cooking some bacon wrapped steaks to enrich the sauce. Let me show you…

Camellia’s Cottage Butterballs Soften 2 sticks of salted butter (if using unsalted butter add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt) lightly mix Butter into 1/2 cup of All Purpose Flour, do not use more flour! With a teaspoon or your clean hands, scoop up a small bit of the butter/flour mixture and shape into rough butter balls no larger than a teaspoon, placing on a parchment lined pan. Butter Balls take no time to make, but make a world of difference in your cooking! Freeze at least 4 hours. Carefully store in a freezer safe container. Use to enrich sauces, pan juices and gravies.IMG_3271

Spicy Shrimp and Shells is a quick and easy recipe, full of flavor. This dish can be elevated to Party Status, can be stretched to serve a crowd, is wonderful served for Sunday Supper or eaten cold as a most delicious and different Pasta Salad! Add garlic bread and sliced Summer tomatoes and you have a complete meal! Most of the ingredients are pantry staples and here, we keep shrimp in the freezer all the time!IMG_3401

Camellia’s Cottage Spicy Shrimp and Shells

  • Prepare 12 ounces of Seashell Pasta according to directions.
  • Steam 1 cup of chopped Broccoli, drain and set aside
  • Drain 3/4 -1 pound of  uncooked Gumbo Shrimp (approx. 65-70 per pound) peeled, tails removed if desired
  • On low heat, combine 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped garlic, zest of a whole lemon, 2-3 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, a good amount of freshly ground black pepper, add salt as desired.
  • Stir until butter has melted and spices are combined IMG_3395
  • Saute Shrimp in batches until pink- Do not over crowd shrimp.
  • Place all shrimp back in warm skillet add 1-1/2 cups of pasta water, steamed chopped broccoli and 3-4 Butter Balls-
  • Cook on low until Butter Balls have been absorbed. No more than a minute or two. (If you have not made Butter Balls, add 2-3 teaspoons of butter)
  • Squeeze the juice of zested large lemon over pan straining seeds.  (Caution- do not add lemon juice utntil the end otherwise shrimp will become tough) I often make thin slices of the squeezed lemon and add to the Spicy Shrimp Mixture, for extra lemon-y flavor.

    IMG_3398

  • Drain Seashell Pasta. Put in large serving bowl, add Spicy Shrimp Mixture.
  • Sprinkle liberally with Parmesan Cheese, believe it or not- using the cheap type blends in best! Toss Spicy Shrimp and Seashells. Top with 1/2 cup of chopped green onion tops.
  • Wonderful with crusty garlic bread. Serves 4-6 depending on how hungry you are!IMG_3401

No matter what your favorite SEC team is, no matter where your favorite place to be in the South Eastern Corner, I know you’ll enjoy South Eastern Cooking Tips. Come back often to the Cottage for more! And always, I hope your SEC team wins unless they’re playin’ mine!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine. Parched Peanuts are a southern term for roasted peanuts! Continued prayers for victims of Hurricane Harvey and for those in the path of Hurricane Irma.