Southern Cheese Custard Pie…

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This is settled fact- the closer you are to someone who can make Southern Custard Pies, the better your life will be. The smoothness of a plain Sweet Egg Custard pie or a ragged Coconut Custard pie conjures up the most soothing Southern comfort imaginable. Southerners are no strangers to Savory pies- we love our Chicken Pot Pies and our hand held Meat Pies, but one Savory pie has eluded us during this day and age, because somewhere in our youth or childhood, a Southern Cheese Custard pie became an upscale lady’s luncheon or a miniature party food- and it was called by a fancy French name- Quiche. At country clubs or cobbled lane cafes, at private parties- the cheese custard pie was elevated and re-named to reflect the French Influence over our rustic home cooked food to newly fashionable Southern cuisine. In my older cookbooks- I have found Cheese Custard pies which  are slightly different from what we now know as Quiche, and frankly I have recently tried making fillings with the standard quiche piecrust or the old style cheese custard pie with a buttery cracker crumb crust. The old style crumb crust tastes better and lighter to me. Think of the difference between a graham cracker crust and pie crust; then think of a cross between a casserole and a pie, then add eggs, cheese, gentle spices and savory sautéed vegetables then baked to oozing perfection, well I’m drooling writing this! And ladies, listen up! When you call it a Cheese Custard pie instead of a Quiche- well, believe me, real men won’t just eat it- they will finish off every last crumb.

The Cracker Crust is always the same-

  1. Crush one sleeve of buttery crackers (not saltines)
  2. Melt 5 Tablespoons of butter (no substitutes!)
  3. Mix together and press firmly into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate (think graham cracker crust for sweet pies)
  4. Do not pre-bake.

While the cracker crumb/butter cools down, mix Savory Filling. Now, here is where it gets interesting- you can basically raid your refrigerator for the filling-as long as the ratios are right you are good to go.  The constant is:

  1. 2 Large Eggs
  2. 3/4 cup of sour cream or cottage cheese and-
  3. At least 12 ounces of some sort of hard cheese.

If your vegetables need to be sautéed or parboiled do that- onions, squash, mushrooms, green peas, broccoli, spinach are all good choices, you will need one cup total after lightly cooking the vegetables you choose. You do not have to add meat in a Southern Savory Cheese Pie, though most call for chopped ham or bacon, even shrimp- all of which add so much to the flavor. For this Southern Spring Savory Pie,

  1. I made the Cracker Crumb Crust.
  2. I preheated the oven to 375º
  3. Then I chopped 1/4 cup of fresh Green Onion Tops and 3/4 cup of parboiled, drained Asparagus Spears, cut in one inch pieces- don’t measure- just eyeball it!
  4. I used 5 slices of crisp Bacon rough chopped.
  5. I had about 6 ounces of Swiss Cheese and a little more than 6 ounces of Muenster Cheese, which I grated. *Here the measurement is not critical but don’t go over 12-14 ounces.
  6. In a bowl, I lightly whipped 2 large eggs
  7. Then added 3/4 cup of sour cream
  8. Next, I added grated cheeses, the green onion tops and asparagus
  9. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir.
  10. Then I added the chopped Bacon, gently stirred into the thick mixture.

I carefully poured the thick mixture into the cracker crumb crust, sprinkled lightly with red pepper flakes, then baked in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Let Spring Cheese Custard pie cool for at least 5 minutes, before cutting into 6-8 slices, since it is a rich pie. img_2213

With this Southern Cheese Custard Pie, I served Oven Roasted Shrimp, thinly sliced Navel Oranges on a bed of lettuce with a dessert of Strawberry Shortcakes. A slice of this pie and a citrusy fruit salad would also be a nice luncheon. The variations are endless. Let me repeat, the closer you live to someone who can make sweet or savory Southern Custard pies, the better your life will be!

Love y’all, Camellia

* Ritz® or Townhouse® crackers are good choices Photographs are obviously mine.

Prayer for Hope and Healing…

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O Eternal Emmanuel, we are thankful You dwell among us. When we recall the masses of people who walked with You, the favored ones seem to have been the sick, the maimed, the infirm, the overwrought and always the children. As birds twitter and soft sunlit breezes blow open the first blossoms of spring- there are those who sit in waiting rooms with white knuckled strain waiting for diagnoses, eyes hollowed out from pain, are now glazed over with hopelessness, wheelchairs hold those weakened by injury and disease; weary and worn caregivers wrap the infirm in whispers of love, while wondering how much longer they can hold out, even as some loved ones fumble with that gauze curtain that separates this life from the next. Down hushed corridors and disinfected hallways, pleasant voices direct patients to labs, treatment rooms and sophisticated machines that hum, whoosh and beep. We confess it is in the dim rooms, the sweat soaked sheets, the twilight terrors that we cry out- ‘When God, when?’  Clinging to hopelessness like fretful children, who have been there so long, it feels like home. Before the break of dawn, whisper a gentle reminder of the time when You were pressed on every side, yet You felt a feeble feminine hand reach out and touch the Hem of Your Garment. She had spent all she had on all manner of treatments and physicians- with desperate hope her fingers touched the Healer in White Linen. Help us recall the one with useless limbs on his sick bed of pain, the one with congenital blindness, the one who was tortured with uncontrollable seizures, the many with decaying leprous sores, and the faithful woman who was bent double for 18 years! They were loosed from the grip of infirmity. We know You saw them, You heard their cries, for You have said- ‘Even if it were possible for a mother to forget her own child, I will not forget you- you are engraved on the Palms of My Hands’.  Even now, we hear the swish of angel wings ushering humanity to the Throne of Your Mercy, where heavy sacks of heartache are piled up, hope has burned into ashen heaps, broken dreams are puddled at Your Feet, prayers are murmured for weak hearts to be strengthened, for endless pain to be removed, for chronic illness to be relieved and for spirits to be lifted. Prayers are offered for those who serve the sick, for those who stand ready in surgical gowns, for those who monitor life supports- that they would be ever aware of Your unseen Presence and the support You give to the patients who depend on their skills. Grant to them all, unfailing certainty that prayers are heard and Grace is given. May we never forget that You are still guiding gifted hands, still granting healing wisdom and still performing miracles. For those recovering in hospital beds alongside the beeps and hums of mechanical companions, we pray You will enable these to hear the rustle of guardian angel wings, the whir of dancing cherubim, the exquisite light of Your Presence and above all these precious words- ‘I will bind up the wounds, heal the broken hearted, console and comfort the afflicted, give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for sadness, a garland of praise instead of a heavy burdened spirit. In the Valley of Achor, the vale of trouble will be found a Door of Hope… The Son of righteousness brings healing in His Wings. I will never leave or forsake you. Ask and receive that your joy may be full.’* To the One who explored the vast measures of pain and deepest treasures of human suffering on the Cross of Calvary and rose victorious- grant to the Infirm hope and healing in our Magnificent Savior.  Amen. img_2212  


Love y’all, Camellia

*Scriptures are derived from Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 61, Hosea 2:15, Malachi 4:2, Hebrews 13:5, John 16:24  Photographs of Camellia’s Cottage white daffodils are mine.

February Fun…

img_2170Well, here we are in the middle of February! And while the major holidays are over, February has several celebration days besides the big one- Valentine’s Day!  The Chinese New Year is rarely celebrated in the South but that doesn’t mean we don’t take notice-this is the year of the Fire Rooster, which began on January 28.  My sister usually informs me of what year it is after she picks up her dry cleaning or if I get a hankering for Chinese food, I let her know. We can rest a bit easier if we’ve been told- it’s a good year.  You can bet we know about Ol’ Red Roosters in the South.

And of course, I completely forgot about Groundhog Day until Weezie Walters told me that a neighbor has seen a groundhog- right here in our neighborhood! I don’t know about up North, but Spring has sprung here- Daffodils, Flowering Quince, Hyacinths are blooming their heads off right beside Winter lovin’ Camellias! This Southern Groundhog must have tunneled down here, and hasn’t met his shadow yet! I was told to watch out for something that looks like a beaver but with a bushy tail- now, I ask  you, when and where does one station oneself to watch out for a suspicious groundhog? ground-hog

Southerners are a faith filled but naturally superstitious folk and February is the month for it! For instance, if there are big flocks of crows flying or landing in the yard, well we’re in for some cold weather. Some are consulting the Farmer’s Almanac even now, reading the signs to decide when to plant certain spring crops or watching moon phases for one reason or another. almanac-questionalmanac-public-domain

Those who were watching the moon with their sweethearts on Valentine’s Day saw something special- Jupiter and the Full Moon had a late night rendezvous- here’s a Heart Nebula better known as heart shaped cloud of cosmic gas- oh lord, don’t let me get started on that one! valentines-day-rendezvous-of-jupitar-and-the-moonIt seems like we’re always watching the moon, shooting for the moon, eating or throwing Moon Pies® in Alabama! I’ve been asking my local grocer when they were going to get Moon Pies in- no one knew; but they all wanted one! As I was headed out of the store this week I spied them, turned around, grabbed two boxes and went through the line again to buy them! img_2170

Moon Pies® are made in Chattanooga Tennessee which kisses the right shoulder of North Alabama and this is the 100th anniversary of this particularly Southern confection. They were the large cheap treat of working men- coal miners, factory workers, laborers and were famously eaten along with big swigs of RC Cola® which had a full two ounces more than other famous cocolas, as we say it. If flush with cash the working men were also known to buy a Grapico® and a small package of salted peanuts which they poured right into the bottle! Way back in 1951 Big Bill Lister recorded a song called ‘Gimme an RC Cola and a Moon Pie’ the combination was so popular!  Moon Pies® have never really gone out of style- still a favorite parade throw. Folks will risk their neck to get hold of one during a parade! I know this to be true, my husband bought cases of them to throw in parades for more than a decade.

Here at the Cottage when young children wanted a snack and we were lucky enough to have Moon Pies in the house- it was a big treat to put one in the microwave for about 45 seconds and watch the marshmallow in the middle rise. A warm double-decker Moon Pie® can’t be beat! Recently, I saw a recipe for making homemade Moon Pies! Will wonders never cease? But really, I don’t think home bakers will put the Chattanooga Bakery out of business, making the big  four inch round graham crackers sandwiched with marshmallow, then coated with chocolate or yellow banana flavored icing continues to make us nostalgic.  There is even a story of a lady who really never knew how to cook, much less bake- who had forgotten to have a dessert on hand; not to be deterred she layered the Moon Pies in the bottom of a Pyrex® dish, ran them in the oven for a few minutes to soften, then topped the whole mess with whipped cream and maraschino cherries- then asked her guests how they liked her recipe! img_2170

I’m told they raved over it. In Mobile, Alabama, since New Year’s Eve 2008, a big yellow lighted Moon Pie, is raised by a crane 200 feet in the air and slowly lowered, much like the Ball Drop in Times Square. The first year they had the world’s largest Moon Pie baked, that weighed 55 pounds! Lest you think, it’s only pore working folks and street revelers that like Moon Pies, consider that up in North Alabama, Saturn V rockets were built and NASA has a huge presence. It has been reported that any time a successful launch is made the preferred celebration food by Aerospace engineers is the famous Moon Pies® and celebrates the 1969 Moon Walk. Crazy in Alabama, maybe…February Fun for sure! In the meantime, I’m gonna get me a warm Moon Pie, an RoC Cola, a flashlight and go sit on the porch, maybe I can spot that bright eyed bushy tailed Groundhog!

Love y’all, Camellia

* Groundhog. Almanac and Rooster photographs are public domain, Valentine Moon is from http://www.space.com and may be subject to copyright. All other photographs are obviously mine. Moon Pie, RC Cola and Pyrex are registered products and this is not a paid advertisement for any of them- we just love them! Visit http://moonpies.com/about for more information.

Valentine Help for Southern Men…

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Valentine’s Day is fraught with problems for Southern men- a veritable minefield for them. Why? Because the South is a matriarchal society. Southern mommas take care of all the holidays- the gift buyin’, the decoratin’, the meal plannin’, the teacher gifts, the cookies and cupcakes- even perfect cellophane goodie bags for – Every. Single. Occasion known to mankind. We might let men think they are in charge of a deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving but it’s a woman who has a back up roast turkey just in case his fryer catches on fire. Valentine’s Day is the exceptional holiday- she may have done everything for the children’s parties but Southern women don’t think it’s asking too much for Billy Bob to turn into a Sugah Daddy on Valentine’s Day. Billy Bob is expected to become William Robert Smith the fourth, master of all things romantic on just one little bitty day of the year! Is it any wonder that Every. Single. Year- men manage to blow it? They need Valentine’s Help.img_2163

Knowing the average male attention span is short, this is the short list-

  • Avoid anything fuzzy, filled with helium, or a good deal, like boxes of chocolate you forgot to remove the sticker ‘buy one get one free’.
  • Southern women think of Hurricanes when we hear the word Frederick and we tend to think of certain Secrets as our gift to you not the other way around, if you get my drift.

Now that I have your attention gentlemen, remember Valentine’s Day is for her, not you. Please don’t go in a store and buy lingerie– you are going to bomb on this one because just when the sales clerk asks the size you will fall into the trap of saying ‘Well darlin’ she’s about your size’ and boom! Too big or too little will not be forgiven any time soon!

  • Do not- I repeat- do not buy her a digital bathroom scale, sign her up for a membership in a gym, buy sugar free candy or a trial membership in a weight reduction program even if she has been asking you if you think she needs to lose weight- that is a trap.
  • Dinner and a movie is a safe bet- unless dinner is fast food and the movie is ‘Chainsaw Massacre’, Jaws, or ‘Walking Tall part 2’.
  • Please don’t complain about the prices at dinner or at the movies.
  • Whatever you do- don’t have photo booth pictures blown up into framed 8×10’s, she may have thought it was cute at the time but on her desk? probably not.
  • And speaking of desks, you might want to check and see if the florist has multiple orders going to her workplace, you wouldn’t want her to be mortified if she is the only lady there with no flowers! I have known women who have called the local florists and had her own flowers sent to cover for you! You will never live this down.
  •  Speaking of flowers, we do know the difference in  florist flowers and those bought at a big box store or the grocery store, and whatever you do, please do not buy a neon blue orchid.
  • Also, going to look at trucks, tractors, single wide trailers or pre-fab storage buildings is not her idea of a romantic outing.
  • Neither is taking her car for an oil change, new brake shoes or having the tires rotated even if they throw in the Valentine Special of hot pink fuzzy seat covers- this is your duty to see about her safety and welfare-not a gift. If you’re thinking automotive- buy her a new car.
  • Please don’t buy household appliances of any kind, a new vacuum, a toaster, a leaf blower, or an electric drill.
  • Do not buy her an apron, oven mitts or dish towels, in fact do not even think of buying her a trinket of any kind that you saw at a truck stop or restaurant gift shop.
  • A shirt with an arrow that points your direction and says- ‘I’m His’ or matching Tshirts is to be avoided at all costs for Valentine’s Day.img_2159

A beautiful card is a nice touch unless you have neglected to read the inside of the card- it may look good on the outside with romantic wording ‘You are so beautiful to me…’– but on the inside- a picture of an orangutan- sayin’ ‘A face only a mother could love’ – Even if you read it and got a big kick out of it all; believe me, this will not be well received, any more than:

  • Wrinkle, hair removal, anti-aging products or the perfect shade of nail polish which you think will save on manicures.
  • Hand written coupons for anything will not read Sugah Daddy- no matter how nice your handwriting is, that’s just for cheapskates.
  • Candy is always a nice touch as long as it isn’t a fun-size bag, a quarter pound chocolate heart or a cheap store brand with four pieces in it, go for broke here and get the kind of candy sold in free standing stores, even if the price is ridiculous.
  • And if you’ve been dating a while, please don’t buy a hard candy diamond shaped plastic ring, a big old fake diamond keychain, a heavily over advertised open heart or a boxed set of jewelry on the sale aisle- listen up! She’s wants a real diamond not a friendship ring!
  •  Married or not-Diamonds are actually a man’s best friend!img_2165

Southern men need help on Valentine’s Day. No matter how hard you’ve worked that day- she’s expecting you to show the same energy and enthusiasm you had for the SEC Football Games.  When you pick her up, please don’t say-

  • ‘Are you wearing that?’  no matter what she has on.
  • If she asks you if her shoes look funny please don’t say ‘Well honey, they aren’t hilarious’
  • If she says her hair looks awful – refrain from saying- ‘It doesn’t look any worse than usual’ .

Some final advice: If she’s over the age of five, she does not want a bouquet of lollipops, a stuffed animal of any kind – no matter what size it is, or a bunch of helium filled balloons! And remember above all else- Valentine’s Day is for her, gentleman, not you. If you can’t remember anything else, remember that, or believe me darlin’, you won’t forget it for a whole year or maybe a lifetime…

Love y’all, Camellia

*These helpful hints were taken from an informal poll of Southern ladies who have experienced some frankly disappointing Valentine’s Days. The poll was non-scientific of course and based solely on the horror factor of it all. The photographs are mine.

 

Smart, Sassy and Southern…

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While the rest of the world was watching the Super Bowl, I was watching one of my favorite football movies- The Blind Side starring Alabama’s own Sandra Bullock who portrays a Smart, Sassy and Southern lady. I have known ladies just like the character she portrays. It would be a mistake to think all southern women are proper southern belles. Some are smart, sassy and frankly sensational, the kind I remember folks calling a ‘Pistol Ball’ or a ‘Spitfire’. This is the type of woman who may have grown up working at her daddy’s truck stop. Before she was 13, she insisted on adding showers, a cafeteria, a gift shop and her daddy was making a huge profit to boot- enough to buy up several other truck stops, join the Jaycees and have the local country club open their arms wide to welcome him, his money and his sweet wife. His  lovely daughter moved through that country club like a hot pink Mack truck with shiny chrome wheels, she could charm the horns off a billy goat, the kind of girl that hiked up her ballgown-chased the boys and made them cry.  A Smart, Sassy Southern girl has an uncanny ability to wear high heels, walk and chew gum at the same time. This southern girl generally errs on the flashy side of good taste, pops her gum and honks her horn at anyone who would dare get in her way. She literally invented the concept of multitasking – why by the time she’s grown and married- she can:

  • Organize the garden club by botanical assets,
  • Get all of the costumes finished in time for the holiday programs,
  • Decorate her home,
  • Practically runs her husband’s office,
  • Makes sure it doesn’t rain a drop on the Annual Bake Sale.

She wears the most stunning ball gowns, is the most outrageous flirt, dances every single dance, but when the ball is over it’s time to take off her dancing shoes and get back to work. She knows more about football than her sweet daddy, her husband and the coaches- especially if she has a son on the field! It’s a sight to behold watching her chew out the referees and leave them feeling like they’ve been charmed by a rattlesnake. And they like it- Men love Smart, Sassy Southern ladies.

  • She’s confident, doesn’t try to hide her assets and uses them to her best advantage.
  • She’s territorial.
  • She still looks online to see if some Yankee is trying to sell the family silver.
  • She rarely forgives a wrong, has a long memory and a short temper- but somehow comes off as a Sassy Southern Lady with a soft underbelly for the downtrodden and poor.
  • She has high standards and doesn’t mind imposing them on others.
  • She has an exaggerated concept of Justice, if you know what I mean.
  • She’s opinionated.
  • She uses colorful language when and if it will drive home her point in an exceptionally charming way.
  • She can drive a pickup or a Mercedes with equal ease- maneuver might be a better way for how she drives and how she lives her life.

She can play three sets of tennis in all white or tramp through the woods to kill those pesky wild boars with relish. I know, I’ve tasted the jerky she made from that wild boar, and by the way she gets so sick and tired of alligators sunning on her pier at the bay house- her morning routine is target practice. Sometimes I think her ancestors were the ones who captured and locked up poor ol’ Geronimo when he spent some time locked up in Fort Morgan, Alabama!  She loves beach music, big sunglasses, designer jeans- on the tight side of course and has a tendency to wear more gold than Fort Knox. Having her hair and nails done isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. Chances are she married a man who made it big in:

  • Trucking,
  • Construction,
  • Logging, Excavating or
  • has his own chain of Auto Parts Stores.
  • He might seem like a tough guy at work but at home? He simply throws up his hands and says ‘Whatever you decide to do is fine with me.’

Smart, Sassy and Southern ladies never make a serious habit of waiting on dreams to come true- they go out, takes risks and knows where life is happening. She will not be on the sidelines, unless she’s cheering the longest and loudest for her boys.

She’s the most passionate deep red Camellia in the bunch and will always be a smart, sassy southern girl through and through. I hope you meet at least one in your lifetime.

Love y’all, Camellia

The Blind Side by Warner Brothers is available through Amazon.com and other major retailers of DVD’s. The production photograph of award winning actress-Sandra Bullock in her role in the Blind Side- may be subject to copyright. the-blind-side

Photographs of red camellias which are in bloom now and are mine!   In addition to being an area where big bay houses are located-the actual Fort Morgan by Mobile Bay, Alabama was the site of many things including holding the famous American Indian Chief Geronimo for a brief period of time. *Bold Quote is taken from:

‘Never allow waiting to become a habit. Chase your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now.’ Author Unknown

Sailor Girls…

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img_2144Several months ago I wrote this tribute to my sister. Well, today’s her birthday and I just wanted to say… ‘Hey doll, Happy Birthday! When I’m with you it’s as if someone has waved a magic wand and everything is funnier, more outrageous and definitely sweeter. Have a wonderful day.’img_2146

I hope you all enjoy reading ‘The Sailor Girls’ all over again! She’s amazing!

Love y’all, Camellia

Camellia's Cottage

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My sister and I are just 26 months apart. Our sweet Momma made most of our clothes and loved to dress us alike, as you can see- here we are the Sailor Girls. Cathy and I have sailed life, through rough seas and smooth sailing, but always and forever- she is my anchor. We don’t look alike, her eyes are velvet brown, mine are a funny shade of green. She has always had better hair, but I don’t begrudge her for it. She is right handed and I write with my left hand.  As you can tell, she has always had better taste in clothes- I wanted to wear red socks with my sailor outfit- she chose the classic white. She was my first and best teacher. Shetaught me how to read and write at age four- when she was just six years old! I don’t guess it’s…

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