Three years ago, when I first started writing – I was sorely lacking in photographic skills. Not much better now, but have learned a thing or two… Anyway, award winning photographer Jeremy Miniard took pity on me and provided some stunning photographs, then generously offered to let me use them! One of the first groups of photographs I asked him about were Doors; Jeremy has a treasure trove of photographs taken during his ramblings throughout Alabama. The doors he sent to me were amazing. They still are! I posted ‘Doors of Alabama’ using some other photographs offered to me- also out of pity I’m sure. This time… a poster worthy collection of Doors of Alabama are all Jeremy Miniard’s work… be prepared to be impressed!
Doors of Alabama
Thank you Jeremy! This journey just wouldn’t have been the same without you! Now. Y’all. I hope you’re inspired as I was by Jeremy’s photography – and also the beauty and history that surely was behind these old doors…peeling paint and all! Now….on your mark, get set and.. Get out there and take some photographs wherever you are! I’d love to see what you come up with! By the way, can you believe we’re still around after three years? Me either. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for your support, for following this blog and for your kind words; and yes! the funny comments too! And as always…
Love y’all, Camellia
And I saved one of my favorites for last!
*All photographs are the sole property of Jeremy Miniard, please respect this and do not use them without his express permission. You will find his work at Remy Photography- jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com
I’ve said it before- the closer you live to a Tomato Vine, the better your life will be. As soon as the weather begins to warm up, southerners start dreaming of summer tomatoes. Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart is an early start on summer- while we wait for our tomato vies to bear. Tomato sandwiches are on our minds. Simple sliced summer tomato slices make an appearance on almost every southern plate. We do everything we can, to preserve the taste of summer as long as we can. I think planting cherry tomatoes offers a head start on the taste only a fresh tomato offers, and yes- the closer you live to a tomato vine the better your life will be.
I believe that fresh tomato pies are a distinctly southern dish. When colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes showed up in my grocery store last week… well, after a bit of testing, we came up with a spring version of Tomato Pie- here’s how you make- Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart.
Using cherry tomatoes, this Spring version of the classic southern favorite, Tomato Pie, is light refreshing and delicious. Served with a mixed green salad and crumbled bacon for a luncheon or as a side for Spring and Easter Dinners, Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart is a beautiful addition.
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
1 9 inchPrepared Pie CrustRolled, not in pie crust pan.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll prepared pie crust in a lightly buttered springform pan. * the pie crust should come up the sides about an inch or less. With a fork prick bottom of crust. Bake 15-16 minutes or until lightly browned. While crust is baking, combine grated Gouda, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup of green onion tops over cheeses and toss to combine. Place on warm crust and allow to sit until filling is ready. *Do not put filling on cheeses and warm pie crust. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, softened cream cheese, chopped garlic and pesto until combined; mix in more red pepper flakes, 1/2 of remaining green onion tops, dry basil and cracked black pepper. * Salt is not added until Tomato Tart is served. Complete melting cheeses in tart Shell by returning to 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly. Smooth Filling over melted cheese while still in springform pan. Carefully remove filled tart and top generously with halved cherry tomatoes, * Discard an juices from tomatoes before topping tart.Top tart with additional green onion tops, a sprinkling of dried basil and cracked black pepper. Cut in wedges with serrated knife. Serves 4-6 generously.
We found - a 10 inch springform pan is the best and easiest to use for this tomato tart. The tart shell may be baked in a shallow 9” baking pan, however, this tart does not lend itself to a deep dish pie.
Perfect for Brunch, a ladies luncheon or even as a side dish on the Easter table, Spring Tomato Tart is great on its own for a meatless meal, however, ours was served with a mixed green salad with lots of crumbled bacon. Also wonderful alongside ham, roasted fish or shrimp-this tart is beautiful, cool and delicious. Easy enough to assemble that you’ll find time to get the ground ready for those summer tomato plants! Welcome Spring with an early Tomato Tart!
Love y’all, Camellia
* All photographs are obviously mine.
*Tip: For easy, quick assembly, we decided to use prepared pie crust, prepared pesto and pre-grated cheeses may be used as well. It makes an easy weeknight meal, if you blend the cheeses and the filling ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. You may, of course, make your own piecrust or grate your own cheese. Here’s another photograph of how ours came together- .
My first serving of Roulage was at a tiny tea room where ladies met for elegant brunch, where mother-daughter luncheons or bridesmaids’ met the day before a wedding to dine with the bride and her female family members. This beloved place was down a cobbled lane on Southside, a place aptly named Cobb’s Lane. When I was a mere teenager, yet I believed I had never tasted any dessert that was more decadent. A deep rich chocolate roll around a cloud of whipped cream. Yes, there were other dishes we enjoyed there, a beautiful salad plate, a chicken imperial, if not in name- regal in taste, though as someone recently recalled- ‘We went to Cobb’s Lane for the roulage.’ And we did.
The Roulage recipe I have is old, it has no attribution, yet I’ve always been told it was the famous Cobb’s Lane Roulage. And while I’ve updated the technique, the ingredients are essentially the same. Eggs separately beaten, confectioners sugar, a few tablespoons of cocoa- no flour no butter- poured into a squeaky clean and dry jelly roll pan. Filled and rolled with lightly sweetened whipped cream – the presentation is always impressive even if the cocoa is uneven when dusted or whether the roll cracks a bit. It’s imperfections are just part of a fresh made Roulage.
The French call the method a roulade, other cultures call it a Swiss Roll. Some have been redundant in calling this version- a chocolate roulage- in the the South, the essence of a Roulage is that it’s a chocolate roll. I suppose I thought of roulage as a jelly roll, but it’s not exactly a simple sponge cake, since the batter does contain egg yolks, but no flour- though the baker does indeed use her jelly roll pan. There are those who’ve tried to improve the unimproveable by adding Bourbon or Grand Mariner to the whipped cream, or by setting a slice of Roulage in a pool of raspberry sauce- still, the classic is best. To be honest, I don’t make Roulage often enough. Or at least that’s what I think every time I make it. Still. When I make a roulage, it takes me back to a tiny, elegant, hidden-away place, called Cobb’s Lane.
The classic dark chocolate roulage, is a light flourless sponge cake filled with whipped cream and rolled, then dusted with cocoa powder.
5 LargeEgg Yolks
1Cup Confectioners SugarSifted
3 TbsDutch Processed CocoaPlus more for dusting
5LargeEgg WhitesStiffly Beaten
1/2PintHeavy CreamWhipped and chilled
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With the whisk attachment, stiffly beat 5 large egg whites and set aside. In another mixing bowl Beat 5 egg yolks until pale yellow. Add 1 cup confectioners sugar. Blend in 3 Tbs of Dutch Cocoa until blended well. Fold in gently, the stiffly beaten eggs whites. Smooth mixture lightly into an untreated 9x13 jelly roll pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes making sure mixture springs back lightly to the touch. During bake time, dampen a kitchen towel *Or you may use a silicone baking mat, which is what I have used with very good results. Put 3-6 Tablespoons Dutch Cocoa in a small bowl with a small sieve. Sift cocoa over a large piece of parchment paper. When roll is baked, turn out onto silicone damp towel immediately. (You may need to quickly loosen lightly before turning out) Trim edges of roll, then roll in damp towel - while still hot. Cool , while covered with an additional kitchen towel. ( Note: I have had excellent results turning the Roulage base in a silicone baking mat, instead of the damp towel, then wrapping the mat in a damp towel. When cool, remove the towel covering the roll and unroll on a cocoa covered parchment which coats the outside of roll. Spread whipped cream over surface, then roll. Place roll on waxed paper, cover. Cover this in plastic wrap securely and chill. With a serrated knife, slice roulage and serve on dessert plates, garnished with berries. ( Roulage may be frozen,if not serving right away. Serves 6 beautifully.
You will need a 9x14 jelly roll pan with a 1 inch rim or a similar size baking pan with rim. The pan must be squeaky clean and undressed to accept the batter.
A silicone baking mat or a dampened flour sack kitchen towel must be used to roll the roulade for cooling. A good grade of parchment paper or a second dry silicone mat or flour sack towel covered with sifted cocoa must be ready to unroll the Roulage, before filling with slightly sweetened whipped cream( you will need 2 approximately 2 cups of whipped cream- please do not use non-dairy whipped topping!
Very old recipes call for the dampened flour sack towel, I used silicone baking mats to roll and cool- with excellent results.
Roulage is best served fresh rolled, chilled and cut, however it may also be made a day ahead, placed infilled with whipped creamin freezer. The roulade must allowed to thaw completely to unroll. Fill with whipped cream, roll gently. Slice and place carefully on dessert plates.
It does take a bit of self confidence to make a Roulage, just remember that the imperfections of a Roulage, only add to its beauty. For really, it’s a dessert that shouldn’t-couldn’t-wouldn’t want to be mass produced perfection. Here’s hoping that some time, you’ll challenge yourself to make a Roulage.
If there’s one thing about February that always delights me- it’s that camellias are in bloom, chocolate is on the menu or in a heart shaped box and love seems to be in the crisp cool air. This year, the red camellias are showing out, a bumper crop of ruffled blooms, and this tickles me because they’ve taken their own sweet time about getting to a point of consistent blooms- the shrub was chosen for it’s double ruffled petite blossoms- in honor of my mother in law- who I loved with all of my heart- who was petite, beautiful and …well, it just seemed fitting to plant a camellia to honor her life with our state flower, the Camellia.
Valentine’s seems to be an oddly conflicting holiday. Oh yes, it’s supposed to be all about flowers and chocolate and romance, yet it’s often a disappointing holiday, even with all of the gift ideas, hearts and beautiful sentimental cards- disappointment often stands in the shadows. Still. Love itself comes in many forms- romantic love, yet also love of family, love of friends and yes, love of place. Other than my own home- there is possibly no place on this earth that I love more than a beautiful historic hotel in Point Clear, Alabama which combines all kinds of love… camellias bloom profusely and a certain form of chocolate stole my heart many years ago.
The Grand Hotel is her name. Close by is Mobile Bay and a quaint town called Fairhope; just down the road is a beautiful small town named Magnolia Springs…now if fair hope, beautiful sunsets, camellias, magnolias and a grand old lady doesn’t give you a clear point of view… I don’t know what possibly could. The pace is slower, Afternoon Tea is served every afternoon, the grounds are filled with huge live oaks that have long gray beards of Spanish moss- under their spreading branches- camellias, azaleas and all manner of distinctly southern plants bloom in profusion around a mossy lagoon. I have visited there during every season of the year, yet February is the time of year I’ve probably enjoyed most- in the lower coastal south- it might get chilly but never so cold as to discourage the camellias or the guests. I’ve been there in formal dress several times in February- it seemed to me, the most glamorous place anyone could be!
Yet, my best memories of the Grand, are of the ones when my children were young and truly learned the exquisite art of dining and dressing for the occasion at a champagne brunch with live music playing softly- tunes like ‘Stars fell on Alabama’ or the more lively- ‘The Alabama Jubilee’. And if there is ever a place on earth for ‘jubilee’ it’s on the shores of Mobile Bay where that amazing phenomenon happens when it’s least expected!
The first time I ever tasted- Flourless Chocolate Cake was at the Grand Hotel, and I recall thinking- ‘What an elegant dessert! Surely, someone could have come up with a more decadent name!’ Somehow, over the years- I was given their recipe for this decadent chocolate dessert. For years, I’ve thought I couldn’t recreate it- and the truth is? Without the backdrop of the Grand Hotel it would no doubt ever taste the same. So! I took the recipe and tweaked it to make the recipe my own – and while our camellia’s are blooming their fool heads off? I decide to try my hand at making it and decorating it with those festive red blooms! So, it was only appropriate to name it- Camellia’s Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s way easier to make it than I’d ever have thought- and decorated with red camellias grown right here at the cottage- it was downright gorgeous and…well, it took me back… Here’s how you make it-
A dense rich dark chocolate cake, made with baking chocolate and cocoa, a mere 1 cup of sugar, no flour at all, and- to deepen the flavor- espresso powder is added. A small slice garnished with whipped cream is an elegant dessert.
2SticksButterCut in pieces- plus more for pan
1/4CupUnsweetened Cocoa PowderMore for dusting pan
2Teaspoons Instant espresso or coffee granules
1/4 CupHeavy Cream
8Ounces Unsweetened Baking Chocolate Chopped
1/4CupPowdered SugarAs needed for dusting
Fresh Mint Leaf, Berries or flowers For garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9 inch springform pan (or a 9 inch cake pan lined completely with parchment paper) Butter pan and dust with cocoa powder. Set aside. In a heavy medium saucepan, melt butter on medium low heat, add baking chocolate pieces and carefully stir until melted. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together large eggs, add granulated sugar, espresso powder and cocoa powder until fully combined. Carefully incorporate melted chocolate and butter until th batter is blended well. Pour batter into prepared pan lightly smooth batter. Bake at 350 degrees on center rack until puffed and set, approximately 35 minutes. Allow cake to cool for a full hour in the pan. If needed run a knife around sides of pan (if a baking pan is used, lift out of pan and fold down parchment ) unmold cake on serving platter. (Cake may be wrapped well after cooling and stored for up to 2 days before serving.) When ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar, add whipped cream and garnish as desired. This is a very rich dense cake, small slices are preferable. 12-16 slices.
And while we’re talking Camellias, Chocolate and Love… here’s a few ideas to make Valentine’s special:
Give or plant a camellia shrub, a special rose even a gardenia to honor a loved one or to beautify your landscape.
Bake a special dessert, cookies or a cake to give to friends and loved ones.
And, since the Grand Hotel has a spa that has been named one of the best in the country- why not make Spa Water for yourself and loved ones- decorated with rose petals?
Or give a spa certificate to a loved one, a friend or even treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure? Maybe find some seasonal flowers (like Camellias) and give a bouquet?
I know. I know. We tend to think of Valentine’s Day as just for couples in love…. I’ve come to believe- love, the sweetest kind is love that’s spread around a bit… so my best idea this year- Determine in the next few days to find folks who could use a hug or a bit of extra love and care- make a card, send a goofy text, write a note, give a call or just visit for a while? Sometimes the best thing of all is to say-
. Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine. *The photograph of that gorgeous sunset was taken by me at the Marriott Grand Hotel several years ago- I’ve been reassured the sunsets are still glorious! *Choose flowers to decorate food or water that are organically grown or that you know the source. *The dark chocolate flourless cake can be made ahead two days before it’s served- so you’ll have plenty of time to make it this week!
Health and Beauty tip: Tea Tree Oil is an amazing oil for skin treatments and comes from the same family as the Camellia. And did you know? Dark Chocolate has been known to soothe a cough more readily than hot tea or chicken soup? Of course, that a bite of dark chocolate that slowly melts in your mouth! And, if the weather permits at all- the best health advice I can give you this week- is to try to spend 15-20 minutes outside everyday- it lifts the spirits and fresh air is a total body treatment!
From the cradle to the grave, in the South- at every occasion of any importance – you can mark this down, a dessert, or two or more will feature lemon. Lemon desserts are legendary and iconic… Lemon Meringue Pue, Lemon glazed Pound Cake, Lemon Ice Box Pie, wedding cakes filled with lemon curd…even our sweet tea is laced with lemon juice! However, these Lemon Squares make a regular appearance on tea tables, at baby showers, holiday dessert tables, bridal teas, anniversary and retirement parties and yes, grieved though we may be for the dearly departed- we tend to consume Lemon Squares in quantities to comfort ourselves. How do I know this? Almost every dark suit and black dress that’s been anywhere near the bereavement buffet bears a sprinkle of a telltale streak of powdered sugar! On one occasion I helped with – Lemon Squares were assigned to more than one trusted baker- but all agreed that Bennie Sue’s recipe should be used for uniform quality. Okay, I made up Bennie Sue’s name to protect the innocent. You know, there’s always at least one Bennie Sue in any southern community whose recipe is considered the gold standard. Rustic and humble in looks- not Bennie Sue, for heavens sake! No, the rustic and humble Lemon Squares- tend to take on a heavenly appearance with their light cloud-like dusting of powdered sugar. I think even the formidable Bennie Sue would approve of this recipe for Camellia’s Lemon Squares!
Cut in bar cookies or tiny squares, Lemon Bars are welcome any time. A shortbread type crust topped with baked lemon curd and dustEd with a snowy powdered sugar topping - it’s a near perfect addition on dessert tables or as a stand alone confection.
ZestLemon from 1 large or 2 small lemons
1/4 teasBaking Powder
3-4TbsLemon Juice* Freshly Squeezed - use zested lemons
Powdered Sugarfor Dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine softened butter, 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of sugar for crust. Do not overmix. Press into an 8x8 glass baking dish for crust. Bake 12 minutes or until pale but dry. Do not overtake, crust will complete baking later. While crust is baking, make lemon filling with remainder of ingredients, except powdered sugar. Mix well. Pour mixture over partially baked crust. Complete baking at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until Lemon Mixture is done. ( press lightly with your finger, if no fingerprint remains, the Lemon Squares are done. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and continue to cool. Dust again with powdered sugar. When ready to serve, for parties, cut into small squares. As a dessert, larger squares may be preferred. * Serving suggestion: When ready to serve, top with additional lemon zest for a pretty presentation and a tart fresh taste.
While they can be made year round, winter is a perfect time for Lemon Squares. Citrus fruit is fresh and abundant. And while we do make these lemon squares for special occasions, they’re the perfect ending for a Sunday Dinner, when they can be cut generously with no complaints!
I do recommend using three small kitchen hand tools when making lemon squares- a wooden lemon reamer – less cleanup for just one or two lemons, a small hand held specialty lemon zester for those pretty little strands and curls that add a zip of flavor, done as a flourish right before serving and- a small fine mesh strainer in stainless steel to seed and pulp the lemon juice for the filling and again for the pretty finale- the sifting flourish of powdered sugar! And we do love to add a flourish, accessorize if you will. And if there’s one thing Southern women know how to do- it’s to accessorize! Oh me, hope you’ll try them some dreary winter day soon!
Love y’all, Camellia
Health and Beauty Tips: Citrus fruits including – maybe especially lemons, are full of antioxidants, Vitamin C and those all important B for Beauty Vitamins. Some think that lemon juice even in a spa juice does help ease symptoms of the common cold. Here’s a Spa Water I made this week, with sliced ruby red grapefruit, oranges and lemon slices. if nothing else it sure was pretty- so pretty, I was enticed to drink more water! And that has to be good for your skin and keep you healthy and hydrated!
* You can find the small kitchen tools, such as the citrus reamer, the specialty lemon zester and the small stainless steel/fine mesh sieves- at fine kitchen shops, including Williams Sonoma. (This is not a sponsored post) And! that pretty green plate? It’s made by Earthborn Pottery right here in Alabama!
We do have some ads now, to keep the lights on… Camellia’s Cottage does not guarantee the quality of any products or services in these ads!
*And… I just made up Bennie Sue’s name- to protect the innocent you know…
Celery is so common in Southern cooking that I would say it’s an unsung hero. What surprises me is that there are so few recipes where celery is the star! Oh yes, we must have in almost everything from soups, stews, casseroles and even our beloved salads from chicken , shrimp, mixed greens and even congealed- we tend to add the refreshing crunch of crisp celery. One of my favorite family stories is when my grandmother… who was meticulous in keeping her spice drawer up to date- tossed a handful of celery seed into her small kitchen garden and was rewarded by surprise! Her own home grown celery! She was delighted and never lived it down! I think she would have loved these fun appetizers!
An excellent crisp appetizer of celery filled with a cream cheese mixture- great with Hot Wings or a welcome appetizer anytime!
1 Large BunchCelery Organic if possible
1 8 oz.Cream CheeseSoftened
1/2 CupSharp Cheddar CheeseGrated- not pre-shredded
1 TablespoonFinely Grated sweet Onion With juice included
1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black PepperOr to tastes
1 Tablespoon Milk
1Tablespoon Finely Chopped Green onion TopsOptional
Separate Celery Stalks. Trim tops and bottoms of stalks and wash well, removing any heavy strings or bruises. While celery dries, combine cheeses and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Spread cheese mixture into center of each celery rib. Press 3 cheese filled ribs together with filling facing the center. Tie each celery bundle with kitchen twine or string. Chill filled ribs for at least one hour. * covered tightly this is a great make ahead recipe. Slice celery blossoms into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Arrange on large edible leaves, such as cabbage or collard leaves. Serves 12-16.
These celery blossoms are wonderful with Hot Wings. Any leftovers should be chilled. They are also a wonderful snack alone or served on a party cracker!
Camellia’s Celery Blossoms are easy to make and a nice alternative to celery sticks on a vegetable platter or even alongside your favorite hot wings . A pretty and delicious appetizer, too! If you’re watching the Super Bowl or managing the food table during the game…I think you’re gonna love them!
Love y’all, Camellia
* All photographs are obviously mine.
* Health and Beauty Tip : Celery is loaded with fiber, high in Vitamin K, helpful in lowering cholesterol and of all things may reduce inflammation and inhibit the growth of certain bacteria in the intestines! That’s a lot of benefits, y’all ! And we all know healthy insides help us be good looking on the outside!
The Gulf Coast states from Florida on over to Louisiana is where the sugarcane grows; you’re in cane syrup and molasses country. Sugarcane is responsible for the famous Southern Sweet Tooth, and most folks think the old fashioned molasses pie was responsible for what we know today as Pecan Pie- and where would be without that? Sugarcane is the number one cash crop in Louisiana, molasses is made by milling sugarcane and sugar beets together, it takes an astounding one ton of sugarcane to make just five gallons of molasses! So… what does that have to do with this gingerbread – well… this adaptation of an old gingerbread recipe calls for one full cup of molasses! And it’s full of spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper along with coffee and cocoa- we southerners have always loved our spices! Then, for good measure- this one also uses the zest of several oranges and at least half a jar of orange marmalade and who would argue that southern states like Florida produce bumper crops of citrus! When I was tweaking this recipe- I recalled how my grandmother wouldn’t let a grain of sugar near her cornbread but occasionally she would butter me a slice straight from the oven and say- ‘Put some of that marmalade on it!’ And oh.. it was so good! I don’t recall eating gingerbread very often- mainly it would be a wintertime cake topped with a lemon curd… any citrus does seem to brighten up a winter day! And… while I was at it? Why not make a cream cheese frosting- the classic for Carrot Cake- another wintertime favorite!
So! that’s how ‘Where the Sugarcane Grows’ Gingerbread came about! Now, you don’t even have to put frosting on it- it’s good with orange marmalade or on it’s own. And since molasses is nutrient rich- and the spices tend to settle a queasy stomach- you might even get away with calling it health food…It’s a dense rich cake filled with enough spices to make the whole house smell wonderful, maybe seem a bit warmer and have a little something sweet on hand! Here’s how you make it:
A moist spicy gingerbread, glazed with orange marmalade while warm then topped with cream cheese icing.
1/2 cupgranulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cupmolassesthick and dark
2 1/2cupsall purpose flour
2Tablespoonsdark cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoonsbaking soda
1teaspoonnutmegfreshly grated preferred
1/2 teaspoonground cloves
1/2 teaspoonblack pepper
1teaspoonpure vanilla extract
1cup hot strong coffee
1teaspoonorange zestor the zest of one small orange
6 oz.orange marmalade
Cream Cheese Icing
18 ounce packagecream cheesesoftened
1 teaspoonpure vanilla extract
1one poundpackage of confectioner's sugarsifted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add molasses mix well. Add eggs, mixing well, then add vanilla extract. Sift flour, salt, cocoa, baking soda and spices together. Add dry ingredients- in 3-4 portions mixing well. Add hot coffee and orange zest to mix. Mix thoroughly but do not overmix ingredients. Put mixture into a 9x9 well greased baking dish, bake 30- 40 minutes, or until center is still slightly moist. (If you prefer to make a gingerbread loaf, add an extra large egg; butter and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for up to one hour.) Remove gingerbread from oven, allow to cool slightly then glaze with 3/4 cup of orange marmalade being generous. When the gingerbread has cooled- frost with Cream Cheese Icing.
For Cream Cheese Icing
In a mixer cream softened butter and cream cheese, add vanilla extract. Then mix in confectioner's sugar one cup at a time until thoroughly mixed and fluffy. Ice glazed Gingerbread. * May decorate with thin strips of orange zest. Chill iced gingerbread for 15 minutes before slicing.
Gingerbread often dries out quickly, the glaze and icing help keep it moist. After the initial chilling, any leftover gingerbread should be wrapped with plastic wrap and covered. Makes 9-12 servings. This is a very spicy gingerbread that I think you will enjoy.
Next time you feel like you need a bit of spice in your life – I hope you’ll try… ‘Where the Sugarcane Grows’ Gingerbread. And as always…
Love y’all, Camellia
* If you want to make a loaf cake- add an extra egg and an extra 20 minutes more bake time, just don’t peek while it’s baking or it will fall! Or, if you prefer more of a bar cookie- pour the batter in a 10x 15 inch sheet pan- seriously reducing the bake time… just until the center is almost set. Cut in cute shapes or squares… oh just do whatever you want to!
If there was a manual for Camellia’s Academy of Fine Arts for Polite Society, there would be an entire section devoted to the proper menus for afternoon teas, bridal showers, various receptions and occasional celebratory parties. And, you may count on Classic Cheese Straws making an honorary appearance on each and every menu. Southern Cheese Straws have been the subject of hot debate for decades…every town has at least one sweet soul who takes great pride in producing the very best cheese straws. Okay, it’s not a hot debate, it’s more like a warm undercurrent. Someone remarked recently, ‘Why, I haven’t made a cheese straw since Captain and Tennielle sang Muskrat Love, I never could get them to crisp up like Gaynelle always could.’ I can’t say I blame her!
Some say it’s too humid right now for making a decent cheese straw.
Others think it’s because a certain baker never shared her grandmother’s recipe on her momma’s side, I think it was a deathbed promise.
Then, some recipes survive, however the oven temperature tends to vary or a critical ingredient is missing.
Even the fact you must be in possession of a proper cookie press has mysteriously been left out.
In fact, it must be said- Blessed is the bride who receives a fine metal cookie press at her kitchen shower and-
Far more than blessed is the southern hostess who has inherited her great aunt Bessie’s cookie press which had her famous cheese straw recipe hidden inside the tube.
I’m not exaggerating here. Classic Cheese Straws are highly prized and the one who literally pressed on through the ages- surviving even ‘Muskrat Love’ persists until this day! Still. I’m not going to tell you my cheese straw recipe is the best, I could get into a lot of hot water! I am going to tell you that this recipe is one of my favorites. And! I personally love southern cheese straws so much that I generally make a double recipe at least twice a year and they’re squirreled away in my freezer. I pull out what I need, put them on an ungreased sheet pan and allow them to thaw slightly and bake as directed. Winter is a great time to make cheese straws, but as my friend who probablydoes make the best cheese (because she does have a genuine handed down recipe) told me recently…’They won’t get crisp if you bakethem on a rainy or humid day’. I agree. Try this recipe- I haven’t left anything out.
Join me in keeping this wonderful tradition alive- it’s an heirloom recipe. It’d be a shame for polite society if the tradition didn’t survive, especially if you live, like I do, where cheese straws are always welcome and the sugar cane still grows.
An old classic cheese straw for teas, showers, receptions or parties!
1poundextra sharp cheddar cheesegrated= *do not use pre-grated cheese!
1sticksalted butterif you use unsalted add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to sifted flour
2cupsall purpose flour
In a food processor, grate sharp cheddar and chilled stick of butter- doing this in batches if necessary. Put cheddar mixture in a large bowl, covered with plastic wrap and leave overnight to soften- do not refrigerate at this stage. Sift together flour, cayenne, paprika and salt (if using unsalted butter). With clean hands, mix dry ingredients into softened cheese and butter- mixing very well until mixture is smooth. On ungreased sheet pan, in batches, put dough through a cookie press with a star tip in approximately 4 inch strips. (If you don't have a cookie press- the dough can be rolled with a bit of extra flour and cut into narrow strips.) Placement is approximately 1/2 inches apart. When sheet pan is filled, chill the pressed dough briefly to retain better shape as they bake. Preheat oven to 350. Bake 15 minutes, checking after 12 minutes. Cheese Straws should be dried out but not browned. Remove to a wire rack to cook. Keep in an airtight container. Makes 4-6 dozen.
The best cheese straws are put through a cookie press, using the star plate. If you choose another design, adjust cooking time.
* all photographs are obviously mine. Williams Sonoma sells a wonderful sturdy cookie press. I also found several good all metal cookies presses sold on Amazon. *Camellia’s Academy of Fine Arts for Polite Society does not exist- though it’s crossed my mind…
Not a lot of cookies are made here at the cottage. Okay, I make shortbread cookies, they’re my favorite plain and also I’ve have experimented with add ins like pecans or orange zest, have even made a variation with brown sugar and pecans as a unique shortbread, but that’s about it for cookies. I do admit to enjoying bar cookies and the ease of making them,. yet I’ve wanted another cookie to add to my repertoire, if it’s a go to recipe that’s a bit different, with a crisp crumb and a bit of texture added, and of course loaded with southern flavors.
I ran across a cookie recipe- from a community cookbook that I’d kept for over 20 years- it called for walnuts and a few other things I knew would have to change before it would be a cookie I thought would taste good and be worth the time and effort. Now… the baker had called the recipe- ‘World’s Best Cookie’. Southerners do tend to exaggerate when it comes to making up a title for their recipes…everything is – Best, Delight, Divine or named, King or Queen– after Royalty or a famous ranch for all I know… Still. I wondered about this world’s bestcookie…it did sound good, and except for the walnuts, had solid southern flavors. I’ve been clearing out my pantry for a fresh start to the new year and I had all of the ingredients on hand. You might have them too!
I tweaked the old recipe and what do you know? It’s a really good cookie. World’s Best, who knows? Still. For me to put our name on it- well, it’s has to be good!
I’ve named these cookies simply Camellia’s Cottage Cookies… easy to make, even easier to enjoy and the easiest to share! Otherwise… well, let’s just say I was standing there eating them one after another thinking- ‘I’ve got to get these cookiesout of here!’ Hope you’ll try them. As always…
A truly good cookie that has everything but the kitchen sink- pecans, oats, coconut and even corn flakes! The butter makes the texture light and crisp. It's a great after school snack or with all that fiber even a quick breakfast treat with a piece of fruit of course...
1cupregular or frosted corn flakeslightly crushed
1cupold fashioned rolled oatsnot quick or instant
1 cupshredded coconut unsweetened is best
3/4cupcoarse chopped pecans
1 cup butterI use salted, if you don't add 1 teaspoon of salt
1cupdark brown sugarmay use light brown
1large egg- lightly beaten
1teaspoonpure vanilla extract
1/2teaspoonpure almond extract
1 1/4 teaspoonbaking sodasifted with flour
4cupsall purpose flour
In a large bowl, toss to combine- lightly crushed corn flakes, rolled oats, coconut and pecans. Set aside. With a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light, about 4 minutes. Add beaten egg, mix well- then add vanilla and almond extracts, beating well. Slowly add vegetable oil until well incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer. By hand, carefully add mixture of corn flakes, oats, coconut and pecans. Then, add one cup at a time of the sifted flour mixture. Be gentle but mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoons on ungreased sheet pans. Flatten each ball of dough with a fork dipped in water - making a cross hatch pattern. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-15 minutes. Check cookies after 12 minutes. Bake until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Makes 3-4 dozen.
I had frosted corn flakes in my pantry and they worked just fine! It's important to cream the butter, sugars, egg, extracts and oil in the correct order- and to do this with a mixer. Folding in the mixture of oats, flakes, coconut and pecans must be done by hand to have that wonderful texture. Depending on the size cookies you make- adjust the baking time accordingly. These are truly good cookies!
I think we’re all ready for a fresh start after the holidays each year. By fresh start, I don’t mean getting rid of everything….more that I prefer to refresh, renew and repurpose what I already have, even what’s worked previously but for some reason has fallen by the wayside in the middle of … well, life. I try not to set goals that honestly set me up for failure, especially when it comes to exercise. Why? Ok, I’m not proud of the fact that I’m not athletic… one of the top posts here was written in the first year- it’s called Instinct or Fitness which regales a few of my various mishaps. Not included was a more recent splat on a sidewalk in upscale Georgetown DC. I literally tripped on an uneven sidewalk about an hour after I arrived with my family. I had made reservations for our first tour- a moonlight ride through our nation’s capitol of the iconic monuments that evening. We had to re-schedule the wonderful tour due to my less-than-graceful splat on the sidewalk! In fact, our first tour of D.C. was in a large rescue vehicle, the EMT’s graciously let all five of us ride to the hospital! I ended up with a few stitches on my forehead, a seriously sprained arm and a torn meniscus! Once again my fall-back exercise after I finished rehab was the only exercise I’ve ever been able to actually do and that I truly enjoy- Yoga! I have literally worn out 2 yoga DVDs and protect my third one like it is gold! The DVD is from Gaiam and is called Yoga AM by Rodney Yee.
With my first knee surgery, also from an injury, I recovered full rotation of my knee and I believe due to this yoga practice. My yoga practice has been sporadic but always effective and enjoyable for almost 20 years now!
A few years ago, I also became intrigued with the health benefits of meditation, using guided courses but inserting special Scriptures when appropriate to enhance my own meditation. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19: 14 ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.’ This practice of meditation became critical to my well being when I underwent a series of radiation treatments in 2017 to shrink a non-cancerous tumor on my carotid artery. Controlled breathingcombined with meditation on special scriptures enabled my anxious and claustrophobic self to not only endure but sail through the treatments with very few side effects! As it turns out, my balance had been affected by mycondition which could explain the falls I had! (Finding underlying health issues is important too!) Still. I’ll never be a great athlete. Finding exercises I will actually do is a priority– yoga is one of those! So! Imagine my delight when Gaiam, a leader in these healthy practices of yoga and meditation along with fine products shared an offer with me, that I could pass along to you! I think yoga and meditation are great for any age- but especially for folks of…ahem… a certain age like me! It improves breathing, circulation, flexibility, posture and is uplifting and energizing. Best of all, many types of yoga are low impact and can be done in your own home, at your own pace and level of capability, no matter what age you may be. I am thrilled to extend an offer to you for 19% off all yoga and meditation products along with free shipping on all orders over $49 from Gaiam to jumpstart your 2019 goals! I think you will find yoga and meditation require very little equipment to get started. The main thing is to find exercises you enjoy and will do, yoga, gardening or… kickboxing? I for one am grateful that a yoga DVD from Gaiam is where I began. And it’s where I’m beginning the New Year; for my health and well being will once again start with my Gaiam yoga DVD. All the best with your own fresh start in 2019!
Love y’all, Camellia
* Click through this link to get your 19% discount with Gaiam