Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese…

B9307548-5C4F-417D-ADC4-F1859960544FMimi’s Macaroni and Cheese is a wonderful memory in my life. Southern food is like that. Southerners have a strong emotional attachment to the methods, the flavors, the ingredients in our heirloom food. My grandmother’s recipes surprised me. As I became more aware of the cultural influences on Southern food, I realized her heritage influenced her food choices.  Depending on where our ancestors came from, who their people were and the food that was available to them in this country. It depended on who raised the food or who cooked the food, too. If you look at the ingredients in her Macaroni and Cheese, you might note that her family probably had lots of chickens and probably raised dairy cattle too. There’s lots of eggs, butter and cheese, she always used these in her version. 531AED76-DFC2-4543-8839-11416A2EE89F

I also know her uncle managed a large family farm.  Mimi knew that French Huguenots were part of her ancestry. Her cooking, whether she knew it or not, is decidedly similar to rustic French cooking. The method for making Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese is like a soufflé made with eggs rather than with a cream sauce. Béchamel is a more refined sauce of French cuisine, heavier I would insist.

716C20DC-9567-49C7-8028-75ABA3400DE0Look at the close up- Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese is light…almost fluffy from the eggs- yet with deep flavor of strong cheddar cheese and includes the spiciness of cayenne pepper, even red pepper flakes if you choose. The spicy heat in this recipe is also found many southern recipes, especially in the Coastal South. Okay. I’m sorry to be getting into a primer on the history of southern food! Without further ado, here’s how you make Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese-

Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese

This version of the classic Macaroni and Cheese has a light, spicy cheesy quality almost like a soufflé and is in fact best baked in a soufflé dish. 
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 6 Eggs Large
  • 1/3 Cup Whole Milk
  • 2 Cups Freshly Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese Plus more for topping
  • 1 3/4 Cups Cooked Pasta (Elbow, Linguine, Small Shell)
  • 1/2 -1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper Spice is to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes Optional
  • 1/2 Stick Butter More for buttering the baking dish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter an 8 inch soufflé dish or 8x8 glass baking dish. In a deep mixing bowl, whisk eggs lightly with whole milk and cayenne pepper. (May add cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt also). Gently add shredded sharp cheddar to combine. Add cooked pasta, combining well, but with a light hand. Pour mixture into a buttered soufflé dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until puffed and golden.  (less time for a more shallow baking dish) Serves 6 generously. 

It must be said, Macaroni and Cheese was never served as a main dish. Our famous vegetable plates usually included Macaroni and Cheese, it was served along with Baked Ham and fresh Green Beans too. Macaroni and Cheese is an iconic southern dish. I love Mimi’s version of Macaroni and Cheese- it’s loaded with cheese, it’s low on pasta and doesn’t have the creamy texture many modern recipes do. I won’t argue you down if you prefer your family’s version of Macaroni and Cheese. Though, I do hope you will try Mimi’s version!

Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese

While you’re at it- hold on to the recipes of your memories. Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese and other Heirloom  Recipes were a motivating factor-when I began writing this blog! Good food, good memories and gracious southern living. You know, in the South-  we never say ‘goodbye’ – We say… ‘Y’all come back.’ I think the southern food, was always the reason they did. Now, let me know how your mommas and grandmommas made theirs!

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine.

10 Beautiful Ways to stay Hydrated..

948407C9-974C-4732-A031-DD6C00912C54These 10 Beautiful Ways to Stay Hydrated have given me the motivation I needed to meet one of my goals this year, and I’ve got 10 tips to help you get started too! I’ve challenged myself to stay hydrated and… and well, drinking all that water is healthy and all…for a few weeks, it was going great. Still. As I got into this whole staying hydrated thing, I needed a bit of incentive. Here’s what happened- I was taking part in something else- a food photography challenge. For that, I needed a photograph of citrus fruits. Running out of time…no time to bake, no time to cook – a deadline was looming. Here’s what happened-35C41FF2-F32E-4B4F-A0FC-2FB30FFB197F

I made up a pitcher of pretty water. In fact, I thought it was beautiful. The kind I recall seeing in luxury spas and fine hotel lobbies. Beautiful ways to stay hydrated. Yes, I could do that! Just the incentive I needed. Tip 1: It’s easier if you make up a whole pitcher, similar to Spa Waters I’ve seen! With lemon, mint and cucumber! Let’s just say it’s a refreshing combination! DF8AEF91-2282-45BD-A406-CE4008D4B128

One thing led to another. I figured out that- Tip 2: Staying hydrated isn’t just water, it’s cranberry juice, apple juice, citrus juice and weak tea too. So I included those too.  Thin slices of cucumbers or apples are easy and a refreshing snack too! This one is a re-run of Apple in Glass which I’d tried last Fall- the rerun was wonderful again!

C22A277A-EE39-48CA-BAC5-5CD9C734AD6D.jpegOne of my favorite ways to stay hydrated was an iced tea with lime and mint. Beautiful don’t you think? This time, I made a simple sugar syrup infused with mint. Mint Tea was a beautiful way, my grandmother made iced tea. All the best Sweet Tea in the South starts with a Simple Sugar Syrup– which is – Tip 3: One cup of water simmered with One cup of sugar…until the sugar has dissolved. With Mint Tea, the process is the same except fresh mint is infused into the sugar syrup. Kept chilled, sugar syrups last a long time. See that little jar sitting next to the glass of Iced Mint Tea? That’s the simple syrup made with mint! Which we seem to grow prolifically! Tip 4: Mint Simple Syrup is also wonderful to pour in your morning coffee! 235A23C5-6851-4703-871F-D75471D83442

If you want an extra treat- Rim the glass!  Tip 5:For the Iced Tea, I cut a lemon or lime in wedges, mix a bit of sugar and a bit of salt in a bowl, rim the glass with the citrus wedge, then dip the rim in the salt and sugar mixture for a refreshing and beautiful glass of tea..or juice.. or water.F05E8CD4-761C-4205-B005-5C25CF6558B7

Here I did that with orange zest, a bit of salt, a bit more sugar and believe it or not- I grated a dehydrated strawberry too! Tip 6: Dehydrated fruit is wonderful grated for rimming a glass or mix with powdered sugar and decorate almost anything!  The glass above, with oranges, strawberries and a rim of sugar, orange zest, a bit of salt and grated dehydrated strawberry was my beautiful glass of water this morning! Tip 7: Adding a bit of salt to the rim or the glass, makes me thirstier!

ADBF8513-BD28-42F3-AB00-C27A5F327BEDTip 8: Add flowers to your water! Here and the opening photograph, I’ve used flowers- little violas or rose petals are so beautiful, just make sure they are pesticide free! Not just for your water, they sure look pretty floating in a cup of hot tea!79F2811C-5D5A-44D8-9EC2-0D16FC9DC7B9

With spring and summer headed our way, it seems the garden is springing up weeds- these dandelions and yellow flowers all came from ‘weeds’ Here is another tip I love- Tip 9:  Add leaves or tiny berries to Ice Cubes ! Look at these with shamrocks and wild strawberries!

 

We’re talking good luck here! Tip 10: To make pretty ice cubes, try anything small that you wish! Here’s how you make them- pour a bit of water in the bottom of the ice cube tray, in each section place clean leaves or berries, make sure they fit. Put in the freezer for a bit- to stabilize the leaves. Then fill the tray up and freeze. Okay, truth? If you’re in a hurry… just fill the tray up and insert a leaf or berry, but if presentation’s important? Do it my way! Now, I know you want to see that pretty glass of water with a viola again- So here it is! 948407C9-974C-4732-A031-DD6C00912C54

We all want to look and feel our best, you’ve read the science and seen the articles about how important it is to avoid getting dehydrated… So! I’ve been on a mission! The result was 9 Beautiful Ways to Stay Hydrated! Now, make yourself some of this pretty water! And, I’d love to see how you’re  staying motivated too!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Here’s another shot of my morning glass of water… I couldn’t decide which was prettier!F05E8CD4-761C-4205-B005-5C25CF6558B7

* All photographs are obviously mine! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram- we’re posting almost daily!

Camellia’s Strawberry Cobbler…

D6DAEABB-F18C-45D7-8262-B633FA42A02BAs soon as I see little wild strawberries springing up in the yard, I start thinking about making a Strawberry Cobbler! Now, you know I love almost any kind of Cobbler, though in the Spring, it just seems festive to bake a fresh Strawberry Cobbler. A4051FF8-E743-468A-AEC2-078415677988

There was a Strawberry Pie, famous in the 60’s that was basically a pie crust, a thick glaze with big fresh strawberries and loads of whipped cream, that will always hold a sweet place in my heart, just like fruit cobblers evoke certain memories that are always good! Well, this Cobbler, is a bit different from the other cobblers I make, because it does have a glaze-y looking filling very similar to the aforementioned restaurant pie.

The difference is…when it’s baked, the glaze acts as a thickener and the strips of pastry act like dumplings- which gives it that juicy cobbler look- the glaze makes it richer gives the Strawberry Cobbler a brighter, prettier look! And…the sugary buttered pastry top- makes it pretty and gives more texture to the Cobbler!6EC8E3E1-5551-4D99-A20B-83BD2CDA6AE4

Here’s how you make- Camellia’s Strawberry Cobbler…

Camellia’s Strawberry Cobbler

A beautiful and easy spring dessert, filled with a thickened sauce and fresh strawberries- topped with a sugary crust! Perfect for any occasion! Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s a dream...

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Strawberries Cut in chunks and slices
  • 1 Pie Crust For single crust
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar Divided, plus more for topping
  • 2+ Cups Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Corn Starch
  • 1/4 Cup Strawberry preserves
  • 1 Stick Butter No substitutes

Instructions

  • Hull and cut strawberries into slices and chunks, discarding ant bruised areas.  Add 1 cup of sugar over the strawberries, set aside.  In a medium saucepan, heat water, cornstarch and strawberry preserves whisking and bringing to a low boil,. Add 3/4-1 cup of strawberries , 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 stick of butter into the cornstarch mixture, lower heat and stir often until the mixture is thickened. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a square glass baking dish. Roll out pie crust, cutting the sides off to make a square roughly the size of the baking dish. If desired, with a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut a heart shape in center of crust. Working quickly, add fresh strawberries to cornstarch mixture and toss lightly to coat berries. Pour into prepared baking dish. Dot with butter. With the strips of pastry, mix into the berry mixture like ‘dumplings’. Taste mixture for sweetness, if needed, sprinkle more sugar over filling before topping with large square pastry, which has been buttered. * do not crimp pastry edges- it will cook freeform on top of the cobbler.  Sprinkle pie crust with more sugar. Bake at 375degrees for 45- one hour. Allow to cool, filling will be very hot! Serve with a good quality ice cream, if desired. 6-8 generous servings. 

Right now, grocers are beginning to get in the smaller spring strawberries- Look for them, they make almost every dessert extra special! Spring Strawberry Cobbler was on my list to test when I realized it was Pi Day too! Well, for all you mathematicians out there,  in this case, Pi R are Square!

And… think you aren’t a math whiz? If you’re a baker, believe me you are! So, Happy Pi Day, from someone like me- who could eat pie every day! Especially, Strawberry Cobbler with a big ol’ scoop of ice cream!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

Doors of Alabama…

105FF74C-B6D6-4E87-A0EF-152CC880117CThree 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

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7C9AC56D-50F6-4311-86EE-32B22FEC71F2Thank 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! E90E7D9E-F75A-438B-BF27-6CEC82C5FA30

 

*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

Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart…

EAA1A2A5-F5EF-4157-8D82-E423F01FD20EI’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. 93018598-28BA-415C-8D2F-F188B0491246

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.EAA1A2A5-F5EF-4157-8D82-E423F01FD20E

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

Ingredients

  • 1 9 inch Prepared Pie Crust Rolled, not in pie crust pan.
  • 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes Halved-Mixed colors preferably
  • 4 Ounces Gouda Cheese Freshly grated, may use Swiss
  • 4 Ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese Finely grated
  • 2 Ounces Parmesan Cheese Grated
  • 1 1/2 Cups Green Onions Tops Chopped
  • 3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 2 Ounces Cream Cheese Room temperature
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Prepared Pesto
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Dry Basil Crumbled
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Cracked Black Pepper To taste

Instructions

  • 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. 

Notes

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- .

8 Tips for Creating Memory Gardens…

006CD037-D4B8-4F22-84E0-D092A1D064D4I didn’t set out with Memory Gardens in mind… though the idea began to form when my grandmother shared some Hosta and Spiderwort, then an old gardener sent Daffodil bulbs and another shared Bearded Irises. My father in law, sent a few Redbud saplings from the family farm and my mother showed up one day with a sapling called Glory Bower, which blooms in the dead of summer when nothing else will. The Glory Bower is in bloom near one of our daughter’s birthday and always reminds me of her, beautiful and generous. Each year it seemed, I had memories of my family and others who had generously shared plants. Here’s a closeup of Spiderwort-C85AFD07-43D8-4885-BDF0-61350C33BC6F

Tip #1 Memory Gardens can be scattered throughout the landscape or in a designated place. I do both.

I had an idea of purchasing a tree or a shrub on special occasions or in memory of a loved one…So, a memory garden was forming as I was learning about where, what and when to plant. On several occasions I gave a living plant instead of sending flowers and often bought one to be planted here at the cottage. Without really planning a Memory Garden, my garden was making memories for me.E2A910D2-F038-42C2-830C-21D87D3833BF

Tip #2 Think perennials. Memory Gardens aren’t just about trees and shrubs- Herbs, like Rosemary- for Remembrance, Lavendar for Love and Devotion,Sage for Long Life and Wisdom- are great memorable additions. The bearded irises weren’t given to me by my grandmother yet, she loved them, so they remind me of her, always. Bulbs, Ferns, Hosta, Shasta Daisies are wonderful and can be planted in the garden, near a loved one’s birth date. Perennials as bereavement plants which die down but return year after year are a hopeful reminder of the resurrection.

E5345747-53BA-4FBC-ACD5-07CE39E9AA4CWhen we re-did the front yard- a parking area in front of a picket fence changed things.  A family member gave me two heirloom roses- New Dawn, they are the ones at the end of the fence. Every year, I’m reminded of her beauty, her thoughtfulness and her kindness. The pale pink roses still grow proudly at each end of the picket fence, And they bloom close to her birthday! A tiny gardenia shrub was bought on sale… it reminded me of a dear friend, who had loved a fragrance with a distinct gardenia note, the shrub is now so big- it has to be cut back!  I planted a hedge of holly, that was perfect behind a garden bench given to me by my sister, it reminds me of her everyday.   On and on it seemed, I was given plants or buying plants that evoked memories.  The garden began to mature… What I found as the years went by… is that Light changes everything.82EF6299-6536-4585-89C5-B974EEE7B2D6

Tip #3 Even if you have established a specific area as a Memory Garden- be prepared to divide, move or even replace plants. When this occurs, I try to use memory plants in another more appropriate site, especially with adequate light.

1040EFD8-827B-426C-AFEA-DDB9B4429969Trees grow. Sun loving plants find themselves in the shade. Trees fall. Shade loving plants shrivel in the sunlight. Trees even age and die. The soil is disturbed or other trees crowd them out. And, these elements affect our yard to this day. So! It became important to me to establish areas where my memory plants had the best chance of survival. And some memory plants need dividing.  I didn’t want to lose the old heirloom plants, so I divided them and spread them throughout the garden areas; still purchasing memory plants along the way.

Tip #4 Memory Plants are all occasion! Births, Milestones such as graduations, Weddings, Anniversaries, in addition to the Loss of a Loved One, are the perfect opportunity for memory plants. The main criteria is choosing a plant which evokes a memory of the occasion and the loved one.

CA33CF63-8BCA-4BE3-989D-E998FD69019BLittle Gem Magnolias were planted in memory of my Aunt Iva and my precious grandmother, Mimi. Yet the occasion when the magnolias were purchased commemorates our daughter’s wedding. They were used as a large display in urns at her wedding reception.  I like to call these Little Gems- my ‘Steel Magnolias’; which Mimi and Aunt Iva certainly were, as were other southern ladies for whom I purchased the same small magnolias.  Those magnolia trees and a few camellias I had purchased evoked to wonderful memories throughout our garden, not to mention the beautiful large blooms!

Tip #5 For very special occasions you may choose to plant a specimen tree or large shrub. Be sure to site the tree for its own specific needs for soil and light.

10FF4451-1BCD-467B-A5AF-7B652D5ED689If you’re getting the idea that my memory plants were placed at whim, you wouldn’t be far from the truth, I planted for the conditions the plants and trees required. A freeform Memory Garden was more like it… until 2006.My mother in law died. I was devastated. I worked furiously in the garden in the days following her death. Being on my knees, seemed the right place to be; brought to my knees by this blow of her death- I could be alone, I could dig, yank weeds, weep over the least tiny bloom- gardening helped. Have you ever felt like that? Immersing yourself in a hobby or physical tasks that free the mind? Gardening was therapy for me. Shortly after her death, to honor her , we were given a piece of statuary, an angel.

10A4D15A-1A5D-453F-96FF-7F7D6AC6325B It seemed too large to put on prominent display in the front of our house…. as I continued to work out my grief- a spot toward the back of our yard, kept catching my eye… it was a clump of dogwoods, they were in bud.  It seemed to be the perfect spot! So, that’s where she is…my angel and my first attempt at a specific Memory Garden. At the base of the angel, were planted miniature daffodil bulbs from a funeral basket of spring flowers my sister gave our family. They have multiplied over the last decade. In the Spring since the Angel was placed, it still surprises me-  if anyone glances this way, passing the cottage- down the side yard toward the dogwoods… there is an Angel. The spot for her Memory Garden was somehow, by some miracle- chosen for me, not the other way around. We have since lost some dogwoods, planted some roses and crepe myrtles. 4AB961E2-804F-48FC-AAAE-DCFCB15FF953

Tip # 6 Be careful buying statuary. Use it sparingly. Place it appropriately, so that it’s shape and size work with your garden. Sometimes your site will tell you where it needs to be placed!

B2760811-B63E-4AED-BF05-FB6A0C0567C1So! I have continued my practice of buying memory plants. In 2017, I planted a camellia for my friend, Denis who died that spring.(photo above) I planted ten azaleas when my mother died, also in the Spring of 2017. Five azaleas for her grandchildren and five for her great grandchildren- she adored them all! Those were interspersed in the existing garden. Still. She has her own specific Memory Garden.F2F581E9-7D70-4B27-8336-7A6B4D6BDD6F

Friends and family bought hydrangeas for my mother as well, she loved hydrangeas and I do too! They are in shades of pink, white, green and blue that can only be called ‘hydrangea blue’. I planted them in groups by color, not mixing them so it’s more pleasing to the eye. There were a good many, so- for my mother… there is a hydrangea garden along a side yard and around the back deck- areas which  were never intended as a memory garden. Yet it seemed to chosen for me. I plan to add and add to it until the hydrangeas say- ‘No more, please’.  Memory Gardening has been a source of great joy to me.  I tend to name the plants- Denis, the Camellia delighted me, when she was full of blooms this year!2F91DB41-12F4-4A73-AA67-A60391CE5160

Tip #7 Add to your memories all at once or, perhaps a better plan is to gradually add to it, as I am doing with the hydrangeas and camellias.

C72C813D-0039-4267-BD1D-FEA018DD4E86Last fall, my beloved Walter, a Himalayan cat who had graced us with his presence at this cottage, died. I had to do something for Walter, I was almost inconsolable.  My sister had given me a statuary cat, more than a decade ago, it had never found a permanent site. At age 17, I suppose, Walter had lived a long life- I never imagined the grief I would experience when he died. So, I created a very small Memory Garden for him… under one of the azaleas planted for my mother, the statuary cat was placed, with an engraved stone which epitomized Walter…it says, ‘Do no great things, only small things with great love.’ Rose petals fall on this small piece of statuary, it isn’t visible from the street, but I see him every day as I go to my car. Somehow it comforts me.  I have recently planted a few scraggly violas near him hoping they will re-seed. There are lamb’s ears nearby too. Each one seems to be a bit of those small things only a family pet is able to bring to a household.

B4A154E7-B044-424C-8ABD-14285FFE8CA7Now, I’ve gone all sad sack on you and I don’t want you think Memory Gardens are just for bereavement- they aren’t! Plant memories for any occasion- name them or not, but as you plant- you are putting down roots, you are making a garden, you are making your home, your neighborhood, your world a more beautiful place!

Tip # 8 Don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Your local garden shop is a wealth of information. Ask them to suggest plants to use, what the plant will require, and how large it will get. You may need to have specimen plants installed, sometimes a garden center will be able to suggest a service. Ask for help- your plants willlove you for it!

Like I said, I didn’t set out to create a Memory Garden… now, that I have, the memories make me a better gardener. When a baby is born or a beloved friend passes on… I hope you will visit your garden center and pick out a special plant. And if the notion strikes or if there is a space in your garden, perhaps you will plant it and start a Memory Garden of your own… now, if you excuse me, I need to go outside and plant a Leyland Cypress named Wayne…

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. The quote near the statuary cat is attributed to Mother Teresa. My husband’s dear friend, Wayne died right before Christmas, an evergreen was given to the family and the Leyland Cypress is to be planted here at Camellia’s Cottage.

Lemon Angel Roll…

Light as a feather, filled with a rich lemony filling, Lemon Angel Roll is a match made in heaven. Impressive in looks, it’s surprisingly easy to make. Angel food cakes have enjoyed a love affair with southern cooks for a long time…I recall angel food cakes filled with strawberries and topped with whipped cream. Someone came up with the idea to cut an angel food cake in half, scoop out a tunnel on each half, filled…usually with a light and airy strawberry cream filling or peaches, when in season, paired beautifully with angel food cake.

One of my most distinct memories of angel food cakes was for a day long double event- my high school sorority had dubbed as the Heaven and Hell party (yes, it’s sounds scandalous- we were teenagers! Actually it was fully chaperoned!). The event was held in beautiful homes during the summertime when naturally- the weather was quite warm!  The afternoon party was a swim party- the dessert was Devil’s Food cakes, spicy foods, including deviled eggs’ then lways.. little bowls of  red hot candies were scattered around.   In the morning, we hosted a ‘heavenly event’. The food was…well, it was divine.  Angel Biscuits filled with slivers of pink ham, pink fluff set in molds, turned out and centers filled fruit- often, cotton candy, tiny petit fours and of course Angel Food Cake featured prominently for the morning party. We wore pretty sundresses, I think one year I wore pastel pink…or maybe it was blue. Jelly Roll cakes seemed to have been in fashion too.

Now, I’ve made angel food cakes and of course, the Roulage which is a rolled flourless chocolate cake- however the Lemon Angel Roll, is a recipe that has been languishing in my recipe box for over 30 years. Okay, I don’t have a recipe box. Still, I do have recipes like this Lemon Roll, I run across about once a year, though I never seem to get ‘around’ to it.  I mean come on- a rolled cake? I’m no pastry chef. This was the year I thought. If the Lemon Angel Roll failed? Who would know? Or care? So, while I had that jelly roll pan out to make the Roulage… I made a Lemon Angel Roll. What I found was this- if I can make it? You can!

Here’s how you make Lemon Angel Roll….

Lemon Angel Roll

A light, airy rolled cake with a tangy lemon filling. 

Ingredients

  • 1 15 ounce Angel Food Cake mix
  • 1 14 ounce Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Zest of one lemon Approx. 2 teaspoons
  • 4 Ounces Whipped Cream 1/2 cup heavy cream- whipped
  • 4-6 Drops Yellow Food Coloring Optional
  • Confectioners Sugar For dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees- (cake mix may not give oven temperature) Line a jelly roll pan (approx. 15x10 inch)  with parchment paper , clamp parchment around the edge (do not grease parchment or pan!) prepare angel food cake mix according to directions being careful not to overbeat. Spread 3/4 of the batter into lined jelly roll pan. Discard the rest of batter. Bake 20-25 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly. Immediately! Turn onto a kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. ( Loosen sides of cake if necessary before turning. ) Peel off parchment paper and discard. Beginning at the narrow end, roll up cake and towel in jelly roll fashion. Allow to cool thoroughly. For filling- combine sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and zest; mix well. Fold in whipped cream. If desired tint with yellow food coloring. Unrollcaje, trim edges. Spread with lemon filling (you ma have extra filling) Reroll the cake. Chill, seam side down. If desired spread extra filling in a skim coat over the cake, if not- heavily dust with powdered sugar. Cake may be frozen up to 2 weeks or stored in refrigerator for a few hours. ( Cake must be thoroughly to slice evenly. Garnish with citrus slices or berries. Very pretty light dessert. Makes 6 servings. 

I chose to follow the old recipe and use the Angel Food Cake mix since this was a test run…A tip: Do not overwhip the cake mix and … use 3/4 of the batter if you’re using a jelly roll pan, otherwise it will overflow. Discard or bake the excess in a mini muffin pan. You may have excess filling- I would recommend filling the Lemon Angel Roll as thick as possible and saving the excess to serve on the side. The original recipe called for coating the outside of the roll with the excess filling then coating with shredded coconut on the top and sides. I feel this would have been a better combination if filled with Lime – and this would be a wonderful variation. The original also called for bottled lemon juice- no ma’am, use the real deal and zest the lemons first! I preferred the more classic presentation of confectioners sugar and berries. The Lemon Angel Roll seems to fit with a few things we’ve been sharing on Instagram and an upcoming post on Memory Gardens! Hopefully an angelic photo or two as well.

Of all the flavors of the south, lemon might just be one of the most prominent flavors in my memories of good food and good times. All the best to you this coming week!

Love y’all, Camellia

*The old recipe came from a thin cookbook put out by Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. *All photographs are obviously mine!

Camellia’s Christmas Sweets…

B3E430F2-2101-4333-A94A-CB3D14962C14We’ve been busy in the kitchen making Christmas sweets and treats! At the same time, we’re in the process of making some much needed renovations to this site – Camellia’s Cottage! Still. Here’s what we’ve been up to- There’s Classic Christmas Fudge-AEBF7E43-EA8B-47F2-B965-2DD63ECCD080

We intended to make some chocolate truffles but got sidetracked making some adorable Chocolate Mice!21B6FFC3-19C3-4E7C-9E70-A33CC32A99A1

Then, there’s Alabama Pralines… an amazing recipe which doesn’t require a candy thermometer!B707ECBF-D6AF-486E-BEEA-F7D6FF44D5F1

And we couldn’t leave off the old Southern Favorite- Divinity… she’s finicky at times, though this time- this batch turned out pretty as a picture!EAE1B7B2-724D-4C3B-84C5-5C6DC73D95C4

We’ve made Sugared Apricots…A15FB696-1BA3-4E17-AD4B-FC57C390BDED

And! Three batches of Toffee! Amazing how butter and sugar can be boiled up into that luscious golden crunch with milk chocolate or semi sweet and toasted chopped pecans blend into this amazing candy! B3E430F2-2101-4333-A94A-CB3D14962C14

Tomorrow  is pound cake making day, with Mimi’s Pound Cake making a welcome appearance! These will be gifts for some very special family members ! DB7E9C45-1389-4C3B-A4FE-FB8DE38D4125

Hopefully, these Christmas Sweets will be welcome additions on Holiday Tables! I hope your Christmas Sweet and Treat making is going well… would love to hear what you’ve been making!

Love y’all, Camellia

* Follow us on Instagram as we continue the renovations. We’ll continue to share a post or two in the meantime. Then by the New Year, hopefully you’ll find more user friendly recipes and shopping lists too!

*All photographs are obviously mine!

Happy Halloween!

7FF6A75D-BACC-4F30-9D34-ADC866642DEAThe Pumpkins…

Have been picked. 48864312-4B54-47B2-8C1F-4949AB6A7837

The Treats…

18741288-56A6-47DC-BC09-0CD18C6720D8Have been made… A823409B-1FB8-4E49-8AC0-8D9C083EA62F

The Crows…

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Have paused to roost…

On Halloween night, when the Moon drops low… E11F506B-667E-471A-94E4-327986AC3A03

We’re hoping Royalty will stop by.

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Here’s wishing everyone a fun, safe and Happy Halloween!

E7E2934C-A221-426A-88EC-33A9CBDE251A Love y’all, Camellia

*Regardless how busy you are- Paperless Post is there to help you with some of the cutest holiday e-greetings you ever seen! While you’re waiting for Trick or Treaters…it’s so easy- you can send a few good wishes out- it’s not too late now or for any of your holiday or special occasion needs! 54330ACF-D5E4-40CD-90A7-E84B9382D0BB

* All photographs belong to the Camellia’s Cottage Community and should never be used without express permission granted. (the moonlit night was taken by award winning Jeremy Miniard! Find him at jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com *This is a compensated post by Paperless Post!

Late Summer’s Verdant Path…

D4E1475A-AC7F-4E3D-90FE-43D32B92985EThe best ways for me to find enjoyment in late summer’s neglected garden, is not in hacking away in disgust or to yank and pull or sweat and swear – though I do admit to a bit of that mingled with my worst complaints…

  • “That’s right let me go out of town and you decide to run wild!’
  • ‘ Choking out your companion plant is as coarse and common as talking religion or politics!’ or…
  • ‘Okay, really? Staging a hostile takeover in this heat? What’s gotten into you?’

Now, as amusing as it is- to talk to our plants this way…it doesn’t work, the damage has already been done! Faced with difficult and mundane jobs like pulling weeds, I enjoy taking a stroll, framing a view, documenting with a few photographs, thinking of my best words, waxing poetic even humming the sweetest melody, in fact- it surprises me that I usually don’t do these things first! But when I do…

I find crisp cool ferns, an unusual view through an errant Mimosa,

13B44B76-0C30-4A74-B0F3-545A80506EFBHydrangeas, this time several on the wane and one amazing fresh green one made even more beautiful in a hazy light.

Views through a garden bench, beauty entwining itself up and around wherever it may find the opportunity…

 

Soft and sweet Lamb’s Ears and an iron bird hiding in rampant rose canes and even Autumn Joy beginning to bloom.

Now, normally I don’t use words like verdant in the course of everyday conversation- but the word did come to mind… ‘Verdant means- Abundant, green vegetation, lush green lawns or rich forestation.’ Weeds or not- that’s what we have!

2CA12AE5-AEE0-4B44-8F90-2D8991616A7EStill.  Verdant was one of the good words… followed by Decent, Fresh, Trustworthy, Wholesome, Bighearted, Devotion, Wholehearted, Loving and Kind.

My good words were followed by Phrases like- Cool and calm, Soft and tender, Milk of Human Kindness, A sweet embrace… Try it! Good words and gentle phrases usually bring forth the Poetic!

‘Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms…So doth the woodbine, the sweet honeysuckle Gently entwined. Oh, how I love thee! How I dote on thee!’ from A Midsummer’s Nights’ Dream-

Or what about these?‘In life’s uncertain voyage, I will some kindness do them.’ Timon of Athens and  ‘Beauty lives with kindness.’ Two Gentlemen of Virona  – and a personal favorite…

‘To me, fair friend, you never can be old.’ Sonnet 14 All by the poet emeritus of good words….Shakespeare

87F1B149-CA3A-4654-81D4-5417384F49D7It was time…The gazing at pictures, the doodling, dawdling and daydreaming had to stop or nothing would get done. I must admit, my greatest gardening challenge became one of my sweetest musings…

390DD5C5-0D91-48EF-9890-C55C5D71AFA1The Angel Vine had become rampant squalling baby – crying out for immediate attention. A pair of water meter readers couldn’t even find the meter since the Angel Vine had completely covered it over… fiercely verdant? Perhaps not a good phrase… I pulled it back to show them where it was…and decided I could amuse myself no longer. I began pulling and outright hacking and cutting…. and then it happened again…Ah yes, a song… a lullaby… okay really I thought of Willie Nelson’s ‘Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground’ about an angel with a broken wing that Willie fell in love with, that was my first thought. Kept in check, Angel Vine is such a sweet planting…tiny brown vines dotted with tiny green leaves. Angel Vine is a native of New Zealand also known as ‘Mattress Vine’ … so yes, as overgrown as it was- eventually a Lullaby came to mind. May I pause here? I’ll admit it- at first a gardening song starts as an annoying hum…I can’t put words to the tune… but when I do? I am amazed at how perfectly it does fit the situation. Angels, mattresses for cradles and little children…came to mind. The neighborhood is quieter now….children have gone back to school when I’m at my gardening chores…. I began thinking of the times I sent my first graders off to school- it never got easier, I always cried and prayed….counting on these beautiful and promising words for children-

 ‘Become as little trusting loving children. Whoever receives and welcomes one little child is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven… and also welcomes Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, whoever entices him or hinders a child’s progress from right thought and conduct… Anyone who causes suffering to a little child- a millstone should be hung around his neck and be thrown in the depths of the sea… Beware that you do not despise or demean one of these little ones… See that you do not offend one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven are always in the presence of and earnestly watch the face of My Father’…’Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Me.’ 

Stern warnings concerning treatment of children from the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of St. Matthew. So yes, pulling back that Angel Vine I thought of Guardian Angels…prayers for all little children-the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

F81C0824-BDC4-490C-9955-972A1041A154I found myself humming an old Welsh lullaby …Sleep my child let peace attend thee, all through the night.  Guardian Angels will defend thee, all through the night.’

All the while thinking of angels. The pile of trimmings was quite large, I wound the Angel Vine into a verdant wreath and hung it’s delicate form on the Front Door knowing it would stay fresh for only a few short days. My Late Summer’s Verdant Walks, like childhood-   don’t last long, but the memories will be cherished a long while.

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine. *The Scripture is from Matthew 18- my interpretation- alongside the Amplified Version of the KJV *Please don’t get any grand ideas that I’m an expert on memorizing Shakespeare! It’s a trick I employ to try to match up my ‘best’ words with poets or quotes from famous folks!  *’All Through the Night- a Welsh lullaby is generally sung around the Christmas holidays- but so beautiful I couldn’t resist. I found no author credited for the song.