When it comes to early Spring, Southerners are still thinking Greens…no, not events and color coordination or updating our wardrobes. No, we’re thinking about –

  • Turnip Greens.
  • Mustard Greens.
  • Collard Greens.
  • Spinach, Kale and Cabbage.

In the land of Beauty Queens, Festivals, Farmer’s Markets, Scenic Drives, Coastal Delights and a long growing season- what we eat may be our favorite topic, and Greens are almost always on the menu! We talk while we eat- about food and crops; frost or drought- maybe we talk about who’s sick, if they got well and of course who died and when- then… we always want to know how well folks ate after the service. If it’s true that ‘you are what you eat’…Southerners would be tinged with shades of Green.

Greens- We know how many ways Greens are fixed, and most of us know how they’re supposed to be cooked! In fact, in the South, we watch in horror when folks who’ve never even heard of Salt Pork,  Fat Back or Ham Hocks, sit there and try to tell us how to fix Greens! I love to see someone with a buggy full of big bundles of Greens at the grocery store! I whisper- ‘I’m going home with you!

It could be that cut and come again Turnip Greens kept the South from starving. Greens are the legacy left to us by Survivor Chefs. It hasn’t always been easy being green. When fields were laid fallow, abandoned, destroyed by natural disasters or hordes of insects, war or unrest- the foragers and those who grew or sold cut and come again crops of Greens kept starvation at bay.  Leaving the turnips in the soil, the tops would replenish quickly. The tailgate of an old truck farmer would sputter along through neighborhoods or park on the side of the road, pulling in like the truck’s looking for a place to choke out and die. He’d sell a whole load- while working under the hood, so he could get back to the farm.E20F6EDB-B78F-476E-A573-90E84B601147

Southern Farm Tables have always been laden and bountiful. There might not be much meat- but always, fresh or preserved vegetables ruled the table, in great steaming bowls or casseroles. These days. the Farm to Table movement, showcases seasonal vegetables in amazing ways-  you can bet Southern Greens take the starring role!  Well, if you don’t count desserts. Still. A humble Mess of Greens is always welcome and make a fresh appearance almost year round. Served at country clubs or country kitchens, if you give a Southern Gentleman, a Good Ol’ Boy or a Redneck- the menu for a Blue Plate Special – he never struggles over what to order- ‘I’ll take Turnip Greens.’ Count on it.

In the South, Dinner is eaten in the middle of the day- Supper might be a bowl of Greens swimming in Pot Likker, dotted with bits of Ham and a fat wedge of Cracklin’ Cornbread. A meager meal- no… a favorite way to end the day. Humble Greens aren’t saved just for New Year’s Day, even though we’re superstitious enough to believe Greens mean Money, especially if you eat them or dream about them… I’m taking no chances! We eat Greens every chance we get!

594FBE2F-FF5D-43D2-ACA6-21FC4B6E6D7BNowadays, we call Dark Leafy Greens- powerhouse foods, then put them in Smoothies or Juices- I’ll take Pot Likker any day. Turnip Greens, when they’re cooking, emit tart, sweet, pungent vapors…Even when there’s nothin’ much left in the house but a few dried beans, a bit of salt pork, a cup or two of cornmeal- an onion and if you’re lucky a sweet potato or two in pantry… you can make a meal. And always, always, if Greens are on the menu, there will be Pepper Sauce, so hot it will make your cheeks pink and set your tongue on fire- dousing the Greens.839A9B10-636C-498B-B514-F2DF3DA2D25C

Now, if’ you’re not well versed in the art of Southern Greens- don’t go thinking we cook them down into a mushy mess- No. Think Steamed Cabbage with Meat Loaf, Stuffed Peppers, even Corned Beef with a side of field peas and fried okra. Or, recently, there was a warm spell, so I fried some Pork Chops, baked Sweet Potatoes and added Wilted Spinach Salad with a tart warm onion-y dressing poured over the greens; Crisp Bacon crumbled on top and wedges of bright yellow eggs. Turnip Greens aren’t cooked to death as some folks think… Fresh Greens have some texture if you cook them right and for sure they aren’t greasy. Here’s how you make them:

Camellia’s Greens Southern Style

*Prepare the Greens: Rinse and drain.

  • For Turnip Greens: 3-4 lbs of roughly torn Greens- Turnip or a blend of Mustard and other tender greens- Remove any damaged or yellowed leaves and cut away thick veins or stems, though I do use smaller stems for texture.
  • For Collard Greens: (If using Collards-don’t blend with other types since they are sturdier greens.) Use 2 pounds- *Make sure bruised or yellowed leaves, tough stems and ribs are removed. *For faster cooking, roll collard leaves, then slice in very thin strips)9B117BF7-F50C-48B2-B510-B0A62766D619
  •  For Steamed Cabbage: Take a large head of Cabbage, core and thinly shred with a knife.
  • For Wilted Spinach Salad, remove large stems and bruised or damaged leaves, place in a large salad bowl. Do not cook! The hot dressing will slightly wilt the greens. Recipe for Wilted Spinach Salad follows below!

*All Greens, whether cooked or eaten raw in salads- are treated the same way to prepare. A word of warning: Unless you buy washed greens, you may have to rinse turnip and mustard greens several times! *Rinse Greens and drain, but do not worry if they are still damp. (Damp Greens do not hold or absorb as much fat!) You will need:

  • 3 slices of Bacon or Salt Pork.
  • One large Sweet or Yellow Onion- sliced or diced.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Pepper Sauce or Apple Cider Vinegar.

Fry bacon or salt pork in a deep Dutch Oven to cook Greens or a skillet if making the dressing for Wilted Spinach Salad. Remove Bacon and reserve. Pour off excess fat- leaving approximately 3-4 Tablespoons in the Dutch Oven. Saute Sweet or Yellow Onion in reserved Bacon Fat, until onions are almost browned and opaque.

  • For Cooked Greens: Quickly add Prepared Greens or Cabbage to the Hot Dutch Oven and toss to coat. Salt generously.
  • You may need to add a small amount of  liquid to sautéed greens-  approximately 3/4 cup of water- please do not drown! Reduce heat.A65C9B2D-371C-4549-90C0-0CD6C32F5524
  • Simmer Greens, stirring and tossing occasionally. When Greens have wilted, add Pepper Sauce or Apple Cider Vinegar. This step is critical to Good flavorful Greens– the vinegar-y pepper sauce dissipates the pungent odor; but more importantly adds a wonderful flavor which makes  up the famous Pot Likker.
  • Once the Greens have been tossed and turned- Cover the Dutch Oven and The Cooking Down phase begins… for Greens: I tend to cook down Cabbage until tender, Collards are a sturdy green and require more cooking time, Turnip Greens cook down fairly quickly but count on steaming about 30- 40 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure they aren’t scorched- need more liquid or to test doneness.81AEF25C-3176-479F-8D5D-FAD6AC380933
  • Granted, some Southern Cooks let their greens steam longer- I think this is personal taste. Cabbage generally does not give off as much liquid as the Dark Leafy Greens.
  • Reserve the Pot Likker, you may want to use it again- but after one use- discard. Most of us want some of the famous liquid in our bowl of Greens! please note! *Pot Likker is the remaining liquid in the pan with Cooked Greens.
  • *Some folks make a heartier Pot Likker by cooking a Ham Hock in 2 -3 cups of water in a separate pan before cooking their Greens. When I make Greens with Ham Hock, I generally pull off the bits of ham, saute the ham in the bacon fat before adding the greens.  If you do make the heartier Ham Hock Stock-use some of the Ham Hock liquid if needed.
  • *Variation for Turnip Greens: You may also cut up peeled Turnips into a small dice and cook with the Ham Hock. Strain out the cooked turnips and add some of the Ham Hock liquid when the greens are cooked, toss in diced turnips gently with the Greens.
  • *Variation for Steamed Cabbage: Add a cup or less of diced cooked ham while onions are sautéed in Bacon Fat, OR you can proceed with the Ham Hock Liquid if so desired. Pot Likker isn’t a product of Steamed Cabbage- though the remaining liquid is very good!
  • *Collard Greens benefit greatly from steaming in the Ham Hock Liquid since they are a sturdy green and require a longer cooking time. Ham Hock adds more flavor, especially if you like Collards very tender.

To Serve Cooked Greens: Drain Greens, reserving that wonderful liquid. Crumble Bacon or Salt Pork on top! Ladle in Bowls or Serve as a perfect side for almost any southern meal!

EB810457-F734-4866-ADAB-F0AA7DB75EE0Camellia’s Wilted Spinach Salad

  • Don’t cook spinach! Instead, place prepared and drained Spinach leaves in a large bowl.
  • Boil a few large Eggs, then peel and set aside with the fried Bacon. *If you have some Spring Onions, chop them and toss with Spinach Leaves.

*For Wilted Spinach Salad Dressing:

  • Fry Bacon, set aside to drain. Reserve drippings
  • In a large skillet- Saute Onions in bacon drippings
  • Add 3 tablespoons or more of Pepper Sauce or Apple Cider Vinegar to the sautéed onions and bacon fat until heated through. Do not add water!

This makes a Wonderful Warm Dressing for the Spinach leaves. Pour the hot briny onion dressing quickly over the fresh spinach leaves, tossing as they wilt slightly. Garnish with crumbled Bacon and wedges of Hard Boiled Eggs, it’s a scrumptious Southern Chef Salad!

Southern Greens are what our ancestors tended to think of as a Seasonal Tonic, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals- they are seriously good for you! I tend to enjoy cooked greens from early Fall to early Spring. The weather is so fickle in Early Spring, that a bowl of greens or steamed cabbage tends to hit the spot like a bowl of Soup! Fresh greens, such as Spinach, Spring Garden Lettuces hit the spot from Spring until it’s too hot and they bolt or go to seed! And coleslaw is great year round! It was drilled into my head from an early age, that to have a balanced meal- you must have a green vegetable on the plate!

Our Southern Mothers were fond of telling their daughters- ‘Eat your greens- they have B for Beauty Vitamins and those greens have minerals to make you strong!’

The South does tend to have an inordinate amount of Beauty Queens, y’all! The men tend to be good looking too! We love our Greens…dark and leafy, shredded Cabbage, Spinach cooked or in salads and our Green beans, Asparagus, Broccoli, Early Peas, Baby Limas, Cucumbers, even Poke Salat all make up a critical part of the  Southern Dinner Plate! Now, about that Poke Salat- that’s sort of dangerous eatin’ but Cracklin’ Corn Bread?…umhmm, the only danger there is making yourself sick eating too much!211A193F-8CF4-451D-94C3-05191CF7C918

We’ll just have to wait until another time, for that! But Greens, oh my! At home on a plate of Barbeque, at a Catfish Fry, on our Famous Vegetable Plates, Church Suppers, Potluck Suppers or even Holiday Meals… Greens are always welcome!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Poke Salat is a foraged Green, since a portion of it is poisonous- I’ll probably never tell you how to make it, but those who know how- and I’ve eaten it a time or two…it’s delicious!

*Many Southern cooks use other and different techniques, I love them all! We tend to enjoy any and all methods, but almost always you will find a bottle of little pickled peppers in vinegar on Southern tables as a condiment, essentially for dousing Greens or even Barbeque, and that flavored vinegar is what we call Pepper Sauce!

*All photographs are obviously mine.

Listen, Every Bunny…

5656A51F-AC18-449B-A04C-7973BED5C810Listen, Every Bunny… the Humans are gonna lose a whole hour when their Clock Springs turn forward! They’ll all be saying-

‘I’m late, I’m late for a very important date! No time to say- ‘Hello’ . Goodbye. I’m late. I’m late. I’m late.’

And the worst thing is…they learned it from one of us! The White Rabbit. Yep, that’s what he told the Human named Alice, right before she fell down the Rabbit Hole! So, for the next few days- listen up Every Bunny- Watch, look and listen…get ready to Spring Forward and hop out of the way into Daylight Savings Time!

Oh, me… couldn’t resist! May as well have some fun with it!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Sweet Bunny Rabbit photograph is courtesy of our dear friend Sally Smith and not to be used without Sally’s permission.  Sally and her husband Steve are two very talented artists! Find them at

*Quote by the White Rabbit is from Disney’s Version of Alice in Wonderland, originally written by Louis Carroll.

*Daylight Savings Time is 100 years old this year… that’s right, so turn your clock forward one hour… drag yourself up in the dark and go burn some daylight!

Southern Pound Cakes…

Well, I couldn’t resist- Southern Pound Cakes are mouth watering! And Deke’s Chocolate Pound Cake is especially good! Since today is his birthday- I wanted to share it with you again!

Camellia's Cottage

IMG_2302 Deke’s Decadent Chocolate Pound Cake

Southern Pound Cakes are the standard bearer of civilized Southern Society. You can hold your head up high if there is a pound cake in the house, especially if you have perfected pound cakes made by your ancestors. It is considered treasonous to proclaim another person’s pound cake is better than your momma’s. The Southern obsession with good manners, genteel living and our thinly disguised ancestor worship may be summed up in the humble Southern Pound Cake. ‘This pound cake was mah momma’s recipe and her muhtha before her- why mah family’s been making pound cakes for at least 7 generations. If ah’m not badly mistaken it was one of her ancestors who brought the first pound cake over on the Mayflower or they surely would’ve starved to death!’  We can say that without shame or the benefit of DNA testing – because we know who we think we…

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Pink Fluff…

ED3E9926-A38A-4138-85CF-C2BA010C2FCDI made some Pink Fluff. From the cradle to the grave, for any occasion, Pink Fluff seems to bring colorful cheer or soothing comfort.  Baby Showers, Wedding Teas or Bereavement food- Pink Fluff can adapt to the occasion. We Southerners do love our color coordination- Pink Fluff can become Blue Cloud, Orange Whip, Puffy Cherry, Apricot Dreams or pale yellow Pineapple Pillow. Pastel Perfection. It’s been said, if the girl’s dress matches the punch- chances are she’s a bridesmaid; if her sash or corsage matches the Fluff, she’s in the bridal party.  Groomsmen even get in on the act- wearing color coordinated ties, cumberbunds (pronounced- cum-bah-buns in the South) or at the very least the boutonnieres match the punch and fluff. Tough guys might not admit it, though as one recipe exclaimed – Pink Fluff – but men love it! 

B8F21724-9E24-412A-9ED9-705C06ECCDDABaby Showers may offer Blue Cloud if the baby is a boy, Easter Dinners might have several colors of fluff to match the décor of Dyed Eggs, Easter Bunny Ribbons or Egg Hunting Children’s Attire. Young ladies- wait, who am I kidding? Ladies of all ages do love Pink Teas and Luncheons with Petit Fours, Colorful Punch, Tea Sandwiches and Table Linens in a profusion of pink cloud perfection; always Pink Fluff has a starring role on the luncheon plate, as a light or frozen fruit salad.

BD94623B-0D98-4AFF-AD6F-601FF7AA5C04As light as angel wings, Pink Fluff seems entirely appropriate as Funeral Food- really…it’s the perfect thing- easy to digest, soothing and cool. The dearly departed would love knowing her family is enjoying the heavenly concoction – Pink Fluff.  I am proud to say, I know ladies who still think to include this light and tender dish to bereaved families. I combined several recipes to make mine. 71FC1F79-7954-4018-9C23-F09442231FE7

The old ones relied on sugar preserved fruit, whipped cream, cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. The newer ones rely on dry sweetened gelatin, non-dairy whipped topping, cottage cheese, canned pineapple or pie filling and often included miniature marshmallows, chopped pecans. Best of all, when the season begins to warm and the air is tender but thick with humidity, no cooking is required for light and sweet Fluff.

Camellia’s Pink Fluff 

In a large bowl, mix Jello and non-dairy Whipped Topping. Thoroughly combine. Add one container of small curd Cottage Cheese. Blend in Strawberry Pie Filling and a large can of Crushed Pineapple with juice. Blend well. Refrgerate until ready to serve. Keep for days chilled! Serves a crowd. 2AE0A37E-D759-426E-9CA1-1E0F806EC6C5

*To change out flavors, use different pie fillings or fruit- for instance Blueberry Pie Filling and Berry Blue gelatin will make a wonderful rendition of Blue Cloud. Lemon Pie Filling, Mandarin Oranges and Orange Gelatin transform into a wonderful Orange Whip Cherry Pie Filling and Maraschino Cherries with chopped Pecans is another classic rendition of Pink Fluff . Fluff may be frozen and served using an ice cream scoop.**Don’t knock any Fluff, Dream Whip or Cloud until you try it!

If you know how to make Pink Fluff – I strongly suspect you were born and raised in the South. If you recognize Orange Whip or Blue Cloud – you’ve lived in the South long enough, attended various occasions where this mid century delight, in all of it’s various forms has been served .

As light as angel wings, Pink Fluff defies culinary category- Is it a congealed salad or is it a decadent dessert? Some use it as a dessert – As one Church Hen from the excellent cookbook – ‘The Church Ladies’ Divine Desserts’ said – ‘It’s a sin to tell a lie, but if you need a last minute dessert that looks as if it took you hours to make, you should try this one.’ Mrs. Nuntiata Buck’s* version is called Cherry Fluff.  Several other versions include Pink Fluff in the Salads sections of their Cookbooks with the admonition- ‘Substitute flavors  of gelatin for a variety of taste and to match color schemes’

Many congealed salads, from Tomato Aspic to Apricot Dream are found in old Southern cookbooks. Though Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing Lettuce Seed to the New World and Thomas Jefferson popularized Lettuce Salads in Early Spring- Southerners simply could not keep fresh lettuce chilled throughout the year especially in warm weather- so Fruit based, cool Congealed concoctions were thought to be essential at mealtime in our hot and humid environs, where fruit abounds to such a degree that fruit was preserved, jellied, dried and even made into wine. Serving fruit at mealtimes was an essential part of the early Southern diet. Mid-century Post War recipes for sweet fruit salads are found in abundance, as commercially made gelatin became widely available and refrigeration was possible, the recipes became more numerous and refined.CD3EE6DF-7AEB-4893-8660-DF3EB073C7D0

I made Pink Fluff. It’s for a children’s party but it could just as easily have been made for the sick, a wedding, the sad, a bridesmaid luncheon or a tragedy. These last few weeks have brought relief, sadness, sickness and even light and airy happiness to our own sweet cottage door- perhaps that’s why I chose to make Pink Fluff. There are few of life’s events where soothing food is not welcome. If you don’t know what to do or say- make a comfort food offering. To coddle and make over folks in times of sadness or at special occasions. Offering a plate of good food is either festive or restorative and I have to believe -always welcome.

Love y’all, Camellia

*A huge thanks to Lucky and JuJu for the inspiration and recipe input for Pink Fluff! *’The Church Ladies’ Divine Desserts’ written by- and compiled through the efforts of a multitude of African American Church Ladies is one of my personal treasures, you may be able to find a copy of it on *Frozen Pink Fluff tends to darken a bit, I think due to the sweetened condensed milk and is a wonderful alternative to ice cream. *All photographs are obviously mine.

Flowering Quince…

BA4C50A3-9B7B-4E25-9B76-115643026FEBThe Flowering Quince, symbolic of Love, Prosperity and Blessings coupled with Energy in the midst of Adversity blooms in early Spring. The spiny shrub bursts forth in exuberant color after winter’s chill. To bloom, bring beauty amongst the thorny issues of Life seems to me a worthwhile aim and a reflection of God’s Grace within…

Wishing you a blessed Lord’s Day.

Love y’all, Camellia

B46475F6-06D2-42BC-A81C-0FEFC62BDDBF* Photographs of the Flowering Quince here at the Cottage, are obviously taken by me this week, during an unseasonably warm February.

Southern Macaroni and Cheese…

9DAB44D7-5A97-4F75-9591-EFAA23D66764Southern Macaroni and Cheese sits warmly quivering on a plate when it’s been scooped out with Sharp Cheddar Cheese strands as thin as guitar strings, mingled with a rustic egg Custard clinging to an absurdly small amount of round elbows of macaroni. This is the iconic comfort food of my youth- well, if you don’t count a hot bowl of buttered grits. My mother, my grandmother, my great aunts and their double first cousins all made it basically the same way. Some were busy homemakers who took care of their families, paste waxed hardwood floors, sewed draperies, our dresses and even doll clothes; others were busy working women who also found time to cook- but with an amazing affinity to cook food fit to eat. My grandmother was a busy florist who also took care of my granddaddy and her son who was a disabled veteran- there was no time and certainly no reason to mess up extra pots and pans to make a fine Béchamel Sauce when baking a dish of macaroni and cheese. Could she make fine sauces? You bet she could- and did. I recently found, written in her own beautiful hand*, a cheese sauce so delicate, it was unbelievable.

DC22850C-036B-4EED-989F-09D1789D43D3Still. Nothing so delicately wrought as a béchamel sauce fit her idea of what a big hearted  dish of common elbow macaroni and red wax rind Rat Cheese, as they called it, coarsely grated along with a seasoned custard made with fresh eggs and whole milk; apparently her folks agreed. Fresh from a hot oven Southern Macaroni and Cheese wasn’t made with a sauce- No, our family’s macaroni and cheese was fine- more than fine…mouth wateringly divine. It was a work of obscure art, barely noticed on a plate lunch- Mimi’s was a perfectly seasoned custard base with a triumphant topping of a half pound of cheese laced with a smidgen of bread crumbs if she took a notion or had the time and inclination.  7D2D1ABC-13CD-40CF-BE05-154ADD8315CB

The absurd thing about these home chefs, is that very few wrote down their wonderful but commonly served recipes. I’m always frustrated when I’ve tried to re-create the old recipes including classic Southern Macaroni and Cheese. Though, guess what? I rarely write the recipes down either! Always tweaking, trying my best to make it taste like the well remembered comfort food. And mostly I do a decent rendition of an old heirloom rendition. So much is about feel, taste, texture- the type of pan and whether it’s properly seasoned …the pan and the recipe! Maybe grandmother’s old cheese sauce recipe provided a new clue- and so did a recipe from her cousin Ruth’s basic Macaroni and Cheese- wisely bound into a family cookbook! Both jogged my memory of Mimi’s near perfect palate when it came to seasonings. The sauce had dry mustard and I certainly recall the familiar pinch of cayenne pepper!

Chef Scott Peacock recalls his own Alabama mother’s Macaroni  and Cheese; he makes note of the fact that ‘mouse cheese’ isn’t as readily available these days and  modern cheddar cheese ‘needs the addition of… dry mustard to heighten the flavor.’  Well, there you go- surely, my grandmother must have added dry mustard and cayenne pepper! All of these years…who knew what one little pinch could do? Some southerners put a bit of grated yellow onion in the custard, I prefer the tops of green onion on mine!

1FF36D60-7A5C-46C2-857E-FD0886F55FAFWe Southerners love our Plate Lunches- a Meat and Three or a Vegetable Plate which almost always includes Macaroni and Cheese prompting that old corny saying-

‘Only in the South would Macaroni and Cheese be considered a vegetable!’

Ah yes, go ahead and make fun- we can take it- because we never ate a whole plate of Mac and Cheese and called it a Meatless Meal…okay, we can’t because those green vegetables had bits of ham or Salt Pork and the Okra might be fried in Lard! The point is, we never ate just a plate of macaroni and cheese! Vegetable Plates are almost augmented with Macaroni and Cheese, Squash Casserole or Scalloped Potatoes- cheese dishes are always a hit as a side on a plate lunch. We all have childhood memories of someone, anyone who could make a meal with bits of meat, cheese and vegetables. Southern Macaroni and Cheese was considered a side dish and anyone who ate a whole rich plate of Southern Macaroni and Cheese- could bypass the emergency room and be taken straight to Johns- Rideout Funeral Home!  Rich, yes. Whole Plate of it. No. Side dish, yes! So, here goes my latest and hopefully greatest rendition of Southern Macaroni and Cheese. I’ll call it mine because I still can’t be sure it is exactly our family recipe- just as close as I can get!

9DAB44D7-5A97-4F75-9591-EFAA23D66764Camellia’s Southern Macaroni and Cheese

  • You will need: 1 – 1 1/2 cups of cooked small Elbow Macaroni (please cook it first! and please do not add more than called for!)
  • 3/4- 1 lb. of Sharp Cheddar Cheese (grated- please do not buy it pre-grated!)
  • 2 large eggs or if you’re feeling generous you can add 3,
  • 1 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of Dry Mustard, 1/2 teaspoon Salt and a pinch or two of Black Pepper.
  • 4 Tablespoons Melted and cooled Salted Butter (plus more butter for buttering a 9×9 glass baking dish)
  • Scant handful of Bread Crumbs – unseasoned.

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook and Drain Elbow Macaroni- don’t over drain please. Allow to cool. Butter 9×9 glass baking dish. Spread Elbow Macaroni evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. For uncooked custard base: In a mixing bowl, beat eggs slightly- add whole milk, 1/3 lb of the grated sharp cheddar cheese, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, salt and black pepper. Blend custard mixture very well. Pour custard mixture over the cooked elbow macaroni. Drizzle 4 Tablespoons of Melted Butter over all. Top with scant handful of breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, briefly, the mixture will be puffed much like a soufflé so work quickly. Top with remaining cheese- there’ll be lots of it!  Bake at 350 degrees for an additional 10 minutes or until custard is set and the topping of crumbs and cheese is melted completely. (If the macaroni and cheese seems slightly soft- no worries…it will set as it cools.) Serve immediately! Serves 4-6 generously.

2873CAD0-CD65-45A9-A209-F98D20C1257CIf doubled, this will make a nice buffet dish but should be set in a covered chafing dish to keep warm. It is good with stronger meats such as beef or ham, though most folks won’t turn it down no matter what you serve it with! A vegetable plate practically begs for it!

My grandmother’s food was a gift- and so was she! She seemed to have radar and knew when I was feeling low. The phone would ring and she would not suffer my whining, instead she would regale me with what she had been cooking. I recall one day, she had cooked a small roast beef, pale green butter peas, tiny buttered yeast rolls, a side plate of sliced tomatoes, radishes and green onions along with her beloved ‘Mac and Cheese’ and planned to take some to work with her the next day. My spirits were always lifted by her calls and her cooking. Her wit, her strength and her many talents still amaze me. I hope you’ll try Southern Macaroni and Cheese, it isn’t southern style, it’s the real deal.

Love y’all, Camellia

  • * Johns-Rideout is a famous funeral parlor in the Birmingham, Alabama area. We joked quite a bit about it, the typical southern morbid humor! ‘John’s Ride- Out’ to the cemetery- umhm
  • *Quote from Alabama born chef- Scott Peacock- is from – ‘The Gift of Southern Cooking’ by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, page 184.  I’m always trying to improve and preserve the gift of Southern Cooking passed down to me!
  • *When the word hand was used – it is colloquial for handwriting, which was a highly prized skill- I hope it still is!
  •  * I loved making macaroni and cheese for my family, however, I must admit my children, being children- preferred the dreaded boxed macaroni with bright orange ‘cheese’. However- they’ve now embraced the wisdom of this future generation concerning great food-  They highly prize and value the Farm to Table movement, and use the freshest ingredients available in their own food.
  • In the wisdom of the past, at least one of our Founding Fathers and also an amazing American President- Thomas Jefferson, might have been the first one to record and exult in education and wrote often of fresh farmed food in his personal diaries and letters! Jefferson is also credited with popularizing Macaroni in the United States of America! He loved his life overlooking his highly prized University of Virginia. His beloved home and gardens Monticello in Virginia are still bringing lessons generations later. We’ll assume this Southern Gentleman ate Southern Macaroni and Cheese!
  • *photographs are obviously mine!