When we see Chilton County Peaches have arrived … we know something special is about to happen! The first peaches of the season are generally not Free Stone peaches- which are far easier to peel, slice and eat! The early peaches are still delicious and thin skinned- so, leave on some of the peeling when eating or cooking with them. While a bowl of fresh peaches is perfectly wonderful, making a Peach Cobbler was on my feeble mind!
Now, I have to complain a little… the cobblers I see in perfectly good magazines or cookbooks aren’t the way we made cobblers! No ma’am… ours had a top crust and scraps of pie crust dough were hidden in the fruit mixture to thicken the whole thing up! You can see how’s it’s done for a BlackBerry Cobbler…it’s the same method regardless of what kind of fruit Cobbler we make-
Those globs of biscuit dough you see on other folks’ cobblers might be alright to some, yet I can tell you without a doubt- Mimi wouldn’t have let it pass from her kitchen to her table! Believe me, when cobblers are made like this- you won’t have time to take a beauty shot before someone has started serving it up!
Here’s how to make- Camellia’s Peach Cobbler
8 cups of fresh peaches- cut in uniform size pieces (6 cups peeled and 2 cups unpeeled)
1 cup granulated Sugar mixed with 3-4 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick Butter (melt 3/4 stick- cut 1/4 stick in small pieces) plus more to butter the baking dish
Pie crust for single crust pie
Pure Cane Sugar ( for dusting top of Cobbler)
In a medium bowl, toss fresh peaches with sugar/corn starch mixture and allow to macerate for several hours. * preheat oven to 350 degrees. There will be excess juice- drain and reserve juice. In a buttered oven proof 1 1/2 quart glass baking dish put macerated peaches and 1/3 of the reserved juices. Add spices and gently combine. Roll out single crust dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough to size of baking dish leaving 1 inch excess. Trim extra crust into pieces; with a fork or spatula submerge dough pieces. Dot mixture with butter. Set aside. Place pie crust round on top of peaches, cut slits in top so that steam can escape. Pour cooled melted butter over top crust. Then sprinkle pure cane sugar over crust. (Granulated Sugar may be substituted) On a parchment covered sheet pan, place unbaked Cobbler to catch any juices that might overflow during baking. Bake Cobbler for 45 minutes to one hour, until bubbly and the crust is browned and golden. Allow Cobbler to sit until cool, as fruit filling continues to thicken as it cools.
If you’re wondering why that Cobbler is so pretty and pink- it’s those unpeeled peaches! Serve with whipped cream or an all time favorite- a scoop of good vanilla ice cream! Cobblers are wonderful all year round, yet when the peaches are ripe? It might be the easiest and best dessert for any occasion!
Now, if you’re in Alabama, head for Clanton, and start looking for a water tower shaped like a big ol’ peach! The Peach Park is an exit or two down the highway, you’re in Chilton County- where these beautiful peaches were grown…in fact in farm stands all over the state you’ll find Chilton County peaches! I love them almost as much as the ones pulled from my Uncle Charles’ peach tree!
Known as ‘The Southern Rose’ … the Camellia grows very well in our climate. Around old home places and in botanical gardens, you will almost always find Camellias- I love them. They bloom in late January, February and on into March when almost nothing else is in bloom. In the language of flowers, Camellias are the epitome of enduring love. Most flowers shed the blossom petals first and then the center is left to fruit or to fall later; not so with Camellias- it blooms and then falls intact, unseparated by age or demise.
Asians considered the Camellia an appropriate wedding flower- in part because of the union of petals and calyx, which remain together for the lifetime of the blossom. The base of a Camellia is a fading but beautiful reminder of enduring love. The Colors of Camellias range from Deep Red to Pink to White with multitudes of hybrids in between.
Red is symbolic of love and passion,
White for eternal love and
Pink for a longing for one who is missed.
An evergreen plant with beautiful glossy leaves, it looks good year round. Camellias seem particularly suited to this year of the Winter Games in South Korea. Koreans consider Camellias as a symbol of faithfulness and longevity. Alabama’s State Flower is the Camellia, generally considered as a Red Japonica- and almost always considered The Southern Rose– since many cultivars of roses are more difficult to grow.
Coco Chanel, the great fashion designer preferred Camellias to all others and used them in her iconic designs. Here, at Camellia’s Cottage, our Red Japonica Camellia is putting on a show. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t resist…
If you are looking for a gift plant (hint: would be great for Valentine’s- give an IOU if you’ve forgotten!), a great housewarming gift, a bereavement plant or if you are planning your own garden- Camellias are always and forever, a sweet romantic addition. I hope you enjoy our very own Southern Rose!
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine. They taken early this morning, in which the light seemed to change the blossom color!
When we consider all, the work God’s Hands have made.. And see the stars– we can’t help but be- inawesome wonder! And, must proclaim- ‘My God, how great Thou Art!’
Our Heavenly Father, seems to have endowed ‘Alabama theBeautiful’ with an extra measure of beauty- day or night! The ‘Night Skies’ photographs were taken by our very own Star! The Award Winning Jeremy Miniard! Camellia’s Cottage has been blessed to have Jeremy as an enthusiastic part of our team for almost two years! Since January brought not one but two glorious full moons and several stunning star filled nights- I asked Jeremy for a collection of Alabama moon and stars and- as you can see- he never disappoints! The struggle is coming up with words when his images speak volumes. Enjoy!
Love y’all, Camellia
*Words from the first part of the last paragraph are obviously a play on the iconic hymn- ‘How GreatThou Art!’ by Stuart K. Hine
*Stay tuned for more about Jeremy’s awards, we are thrilled for him! The photographs contained within are the sole property of Jeremy Miniard and are used with permission. Find him at jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com
The Farmer’s Markets and Produce Departments might look like Autumn, but in the South the weather is still very warm. We love fruit of all kinds, we grow a lot of it- melons, peaches, figs, plums, citrus and more. Yet, in the lower South, Apples are mostly grown in backyard orchards along with Pears, Persimmons and Crabapples, usually not as cash crops. Almost everyone wants a few fruit trees to enjoy. Folks find ways to can, dry and make small batches of –
Apple Cider Vinegar and
Apple Juice and Cider for our winter pantries.
Yes, we do love Apples! There’s nothing like biting into a cool crisp apple, then smearing the rest of the apple with peanut butter! I couldn’t resist some pretty red Apples at the grocery store. While I was slicing them thin to oven bake some Apple Chips- it was hot outside! So, I decided to take a whole different direction with my Apple Slices-
I poured some apple juice, grapefruit juice and a bit of lemon lime soda in one glass for a tangy brew and another with a blend of cranberry/apple juice and a bit of tangy pink grapefruit juice for a icy rosy glow.
I loaded the glasses up with ice and dropped a handful of thin apple slices in each glass- my version of an early Fall- Apple Snack in a Glass!
A cinnamon stick might have been delicious too! Even, Iced Spice Tea might be nice or a light wine…
Why, I bet you could even come up with 101 ways to enjoy it! I think this will become a new favorite on these warm Autumn Days! I might be pining away for cooler weather, for making oven baked Apple Chips or Dried Apples made up into Fried Apple Pies! Meanwhile, make an Apple Snack in Glass, go out on the porch and enjoy! Umhmm, it doesn’t hurt it’s so refreshing and pretty, too!
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine. *Apples were sliced thin on a mandolin- be careful those things are sharp!
My father in law would have loved his funeral last week… I know, I know…he was ‘absent from the body but present with the Lord’. Still. If he could have been in the body, he would have loved his Home Going – all of it. But then I’m getting ahead of myself… Wallace Wyatt, Sr. was my father in law for decades, he lived to be 93 years old- he had a long, well lived life. He was born in Cool Springs, then made his life just a few miles over in Beaver Valley- in his beloved St. Clair County. A county older than the State of Alabama, where he served the people for 14 years as their Judge of Probate. I remember he told me once that being Probate Judge was the closest thing to the role of a pastor within our government- with duties ranging from adoptions, marriages, guardianships and of course the end of life business with wills and estates. He said that a good probate judge needed to know and love the people he served. He did. He passed this on to his son- ‘To know and love the people he served.’ This is the motto of a true public servant.
He was surprisingly well travelled for a home body. I recall when he and my mother in law went to Israel, they were in their sixties but both of them rode camels, one of the camels thanked him by spitting in his eye! For their 50th anniversary, one of his daughters asked my father in law if he had gotten their mother a gift- he replied, ‘Well, I bought her a pre-paid funeral plan!’ Of course he got her more than that! On their 60th anniversary- if you can believe it- the two of them went for a little anniversary trip to Cheaha State Park, the highest point in Alabama. She would die less than two years later. I still miss her every day. Two days after his funeral, would have been their 73rd anniversary, he went to a far higher place to spend it with her.
Always a generous man, when he worked for Alabama Gas Corporation, he ran up on a young girl who was blind, her family told him she was learning Braille. He couldn’t get it out of his mind; so he talked to his Union Brothers about her. Those men raised enough money to buy her a Set of Encyclopedias written in Braille!
Mr. Wyatt was one the Tom Brokaw’s ‘Greatest Generation’– a World War II veteran, who got lost from his unit in France… it was an experience he rarely talked about. Someone at the funeral told me that- lost from his unit in a foreign country in the middle of a war was frightening enough but my father in law ran up on a Mortuary Unit. They fed him and furnished him a place to sleep with the living and the dead. The next morning, the soldiers told him he was welcome to join up with them, he graciously declined saying- ‘Well, you boys sureare nice and I appreciate what you’re doing; a mighty fine job of it too- but if it’s all the same to you, I think I’d ruther be at my own duties then do yours!’ Can’t say I blame him.
The last years of his life were spent at beautiful Veterans Home in our county- the Colonel Robert L. Howard Veteran’s Nursing Home. When he died, his body was prepared…then- while ‘Taps’ was played, his flag draped body was rolled down a long hallway lined with fellow Veterans- standing or in wheelchairs, gave him a final salute- some with arthritic hands. This is called ‘The Walk’ and is a fitting goodbye to an Old Soldier; he would have loved it.
His firstborn child was a ‘war baby’, Wallace Jr.(above) -Next, were his pretty girls- following soon after his son, Carol Jane, the next, Eleanor Kay was born 6-7 years later, the last was a late in life baby, Vicki Lynn. Then there was me, his favorite daughter in law. Really.
The first time I went to their home in Beaver Valley, newly engaged- I got ‘TheTalk’… He explained, ‘Our family doesn’t believe in divorce, you’re in it for the long haul,just so you know.’ Sort of put the fear of God in me with his bright blue eyes- I nodded in perfect understanding. He restored perfect harmony by playing a stereo record – It was his favorite gospel music group- The Swanee River Boys.
I should say right here that I knew nothing about gospel music- does ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’ count? As the Swanee River Boys sang so smooth…I could not believe my ears! Mr. Wyatt alternately sang-All Four. Parts…
High Tenor, have you ever?
Well, I can tell you now…I still have never heard anything like it. What I was about to find in this huge family that embraced me… they all could sing or play. In fact I was told, if a baby was born Tone Deaf in the Wyatt family- they pinched their heads off at birth!
Can I just say right here? They (the entire clan) told me stuff like that all the time, for the shock value I guess or maybe they had detected I am practically tone deaf. I’ll have you know, my children have perfect pitch! Needless to say, there was music at the Funeral for my father in law, last week- just enough and just what he’d like and I tapped my foot a time or two.
A full blown Wyatt event, family reunion, wedding or funeral closely resembles an Ant Bed, occasionally a Fire Ant Bed, depending on who’s there. Pine Forest Baptist was the host of the Ant Bed last week, for decades my father in law was a Deacon there. For the record he would have loved having so many members of his family and the folks that he claimed kin to at his Home Going.
He would have loved the ladies in sensible block heels, flats (me), cowboy boots and four inch heels- especially if they were toting a Crock Pot or a Casserole Dish- Oh my! He would have loved the food, do I need to describe it? Groaning Church tables loaded with Food were Begging for Mercy. That’s the most poetic way to describe it. The only thing that was missing was my mother in law’s Coconut Custard Pie.
Pine Forest Baptist is a small Rock Church nestled in a piney grove, the smell of pine always permeated the dinners on the grounds, surrounded by beautiful farmland. Then there was a growth spurt and a fine Trade School was built across the road….Several sent out directions to the funeral service- my favorite was:
‘Head north on 231 toward Ashville,at the crossroads right at the Trade School, turn right like you’re going to Rainbow City, Pine Forest is beside Dollar General on the right.’
Pine Forest was at capacity, there were fine suits and designer dresses, Versace ties, denim and sequins, work clothes and a few in Military Uniforms- My father in law would have loved it all. His youngest nephew, Danny- the only one who has become a memberof clergy was lined up to preach the funeral, three Nieces were asked to sing a favorite gospel song- ‘Unclouded Day’ , his Grandsons were the Pall Bearers and a handsome group that was! This is a family that can put on a funeral at the drop of a hat. My father in law would have loved-
hearing his Nieces sing for him one last time,
he would have loved Danny’s sermon,
he would have loved the Masonic Funeral Rites which were done in such a moving way by Brother Talley.
Mr. Wyatt would have loved hearing Taps at graveside and-
that the Flag which had draped his body was given to his son.
Yes, he would have loved his Home Going- but most of all- I know he would have loved hearing the recording with his old friend Buford Abner of the Swanee River Boys- the foot tapping upbeat- ‘When I Wake Up That Morning’
Who knows? He might have been singing along- All. Four. Parts. As his favorite daughter in law, I would have loved that. There will never be another like him. For sure. William Wallace Wyatt, Sr. was greatly loved. He will be greatly missed … May he rest in peace.
Love y’all, Camellia
*Okay, I know you want to hear it- take it away Swanee River Boys! https://youtu.be/CVFWDnJtV88