Camellia’s Favorite Cheese Ball Recipe…

49653C9F-73D3-498D-8708-B1D4F2827009This Cheese Ball recipe is a real time saver. I love it because it keeps well chilled, is able to take on different shapes, even freezes like a dream! And ! A Cheese Ball  seems welcome at any occasion! After school goes back in session, football season begins, then tailgating and fall gatherings and holidays seem to come one right after the other! We all know we’re going to need ‘something to take’ or serve! And let’s face it- hardly anybody passes up Cheese and Crackers! This recipe lends itself to as many variations as you can think of! Change up the variety of cheeses, add walnuts instead of pecans, even add dried cranberries- it’s all up to you! now, you have to admit, these cheese balls shaped like big apples would be fun in the Fall! And while you’re at it- make up several types of cheese balls, logs or rings and save a few in the freezer!7C3C2ED8-11B4-4882-A204-2F35408015F5

Here’s how you make Camellia’s Favorite Cheese Ball-

  • One Pound Sharp Cheddar Cheese- grated
  • 8 ounce package Cream Cheese – softened
  • 1 small onion- finely grated with juice
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

In  food processor, mix cheeses. Add in Worcestershire, salt and pepper- blend well. By hand, add in pecans until well blended. Shape cheese mixture into 2 large balls and chill. May also shape into logs or into a ring. Chill.

  • Mix together 1 1/2 teaspoons mild paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. With a fine mesh strainer, sift over cheese balls or logs- even small appetizer size balls served with toothpicks! Serve with assorted crackers. If shaped into a ring, fill with strawberry, cherry or fig preserves. * Strawberry is my favorite!

*For variation, roll cheese balls in finely chopped pecans. Or as another variation- use 12 ounces of Sharp Cheddar and 4 ounces of Cheddar Jack and proceed as above. **These cheese balls freeze well, however- wait to sprinkle with paprika mixture before serving for a prettier presentation.0B3B06E0-84E5-4D1A-BCA1-8A2D2D828C32

One of my favorite ways to serve these cheese balls, is to roll them into apple shapes and cut small branches with a leaf or two attached- just make sure the branch is safe and pesticide free. Cheese balls are wonderful all year round on charcuterie boards,  though especially good for fall gatherings, tail gating, a Halloween buffets and all the way through the holiday season!

Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs are obviously mine!

 

 

Summer Tomato Cobbler…

28BCE555-D761-4B22-93D9-A97676BAA990Summer Tomato Cobbler is a new take on an already fabulous Tomato Pie! Last year, I shared with you how to make my sister’s tomato pie which has been declared by me and many others as the very best recipe for this unique delicious savory pie which is probably specific to Alabama! So why make a Summer Tomato Cobbler? Well…a classic tomato pie is juicy, oozing with cheese and the sour cream filling is amazing; so I wanted to see if making the same recipe into Cobbler form would make it easier to cut, hold it’s shape and also be served to a crowd. The result was the same flavors, yet with a taste all its own and I’ll admit- I want y’all to try both of these delicious pies! The Summer Tomato Cobbler is a bit easier to assemble and rustic- my sister’s Tomato Pie is a more refined and luscious one crust pie, yet both are sure to please especially when summer tomatoes are available! Actually, I’d never make either pie without vine ripe tomatoes!

87C53B8B-A4F9-4E6F-B41B-9A045CA737B5Here’s how you make Summer Tomato Cobbler- You will need:

  • 3 Summer Tomatoes- I used a mix of one ripe Chandler Mountain* Tomato, one under ripe tomato (even a green tomato would work) and one Roma Tomato. Cut these into at least 1/2” slices.
  • One single crust pie crust dough (I used prepared dough for test purposes which was flat and round to fit a regular 9” pie.)
  • 8 ounces of sour cream
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of a good mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup of green onion tops
  • 8-10 fresh Basil leaves
  • 2 cups of finely shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup of finely shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt

To prepare Summer Tomato Cobbler-

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • You will need a 9×9 square glass baking pan.
  • Combine sour cream, mayonnaise and green onion tops, for the filling.  Set aside.
  • Blend together the finely shredded cheeses. Set aside.
  • On a lightly floured surface or marble surface- roll out prepared pie crust very thin- approximately 1/4 inch- into a flat round approximately 12” in diameter.  Cut center of dough into an 8×8 inch square. Save scrap dough to layer the Cobbler.
  • In the bottom of the baking dish, place half of the tomato slices to cover the bottom. * In a bottom crust tomato pie, the difference is that the tomatoes are peeled and drained- there’s no need to do this with the Cobbler.
  • Evenly place half of the Basil leaves over the tomatoes, lightly sprinkle tomatoes with cracked black pepper ( do not salt the tomatoes, the cheeses and filling add enough seasoning)
  • Dollop tomatoes evenly with half of the sour cream filling and 1/2 of the blended cheeses.
  • Top this layer with all of the scraps of pie dough.
  • Next, repeat second layer of tomatoes, following the same order as the first layer- yet topping with the 8 inch square crust carefully placing the dough right on top of the cheeses.
  • Press this square dough topper slightly to make contact with the cheese. *This is an important step! The cheese and dough bake together to make a wonderful top crust!
  • Lightly spread top crust with butter. Cut slits in the top of crust, then lightly sprinkle the dough with sea salt.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until top crust is a beautiful golden brown and cheese is bubbly. May take up to one hour.
  • Allow Summer Tomato Cobbler to cool slightly before serving in squares. * Makes 9 generous squares.

1E2D4303-3A40-4451-858D-DFE1AAAC6149Take a look at that upper crust! It’s flaky yet dense with cheese flavor! And the tomatoes took on a roasted flavor! I’ll admit, I couldn’t stop at just one serving!

So, what did I serve with this Summer Tomato Cobbler? Fresh field peas, slices of mild sweet onions and jalapeño cheddar corn muffins! It was a take on the south’s famous vegetable plates! If you must have meat- this Summer Tomato Cobbler would go well with grilled fish, baked pork chops, stuffed peppers, meatloaf or a cool slice of ham! Other sides which would be a wonderful wilted spinach salad, a mixed green salad lightly dressed, even stuffed eggs would be delicious too!

28BCE555-D761-4B22-93D9-A97676BAA990Summer Tomato Cobbler would be at home for Sunday dinner, a ladies luncheon or on a summer buffet table! It’s also wonderful at room temperature! If you want to have a variation- Feel free to add crumbled bacon or finely chopped ham to your tomato cobbler! The main thing is to enjoy summer’s best bounty- the fresh tomato! And never forget- the closer you live to a Tomato Vine the better your Life will be!

Love y’all, Camellia

* I used prepared dough for testing purposes and because not everyone has the time or inclination to make pie crust from scratch- can I make my own pie dough? You bet I can! And I do feel it would be wonderful! I also think this cobbler might be absolutely fabulous made with green tomatoes too! * Chandler Mountain Tomatoes are highly prized- grown specifically in a mountainous region of northeast Alabama- right here in our own county!8B47A286-B10D-44F4-A499-9D1A73B5FD39

3 Easy Summer Desserts…

AF2E721F-68DA-41F7-BB06-8841C9A8AAD5Summertime… and the livin’ is easy…’ except when you need to show up with something in your hand for a picnic or a gathering. Or maybe it’s too hot to cook! Or you’re having unexpected company… or you just want to add a dessert to a simple meal and really who wants to miss out on the summer fun slaving away in the kitchen? A lot of folks say- no matter how wonderful the meal is- what guests remember most is the dessert!

Here’s 3 Easy Summer Desserts that will be easy to assemble and unforgettable, I promise! Salted Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes, Fresh Strawberry Trifle and Tropical Grilled Pineapple will have your guests raving and you’ll be cool, calm and collected! 458AC00D-643F-4A97-93B7-84AC680F5496

Salted Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes. Now really, who can resist that? And it’s really just an easy assembly of vanilla iced cupcakes from your favorite bakery (or make them yourself), microwave kettle corn and good quality caramel sauce (I found several high quality brands in the ice cream topping section)  Finish with a light sprinkle of sea salt and you’re done! An easy-to-carry dessert- just surround cupcakes with extra popcorn to keep them steady- assemble when you arrive and you’ll have an easy irresistible dessert!66D45DF0-3D87-447C-B32A-8CE71E9AC240

Fresh Strawberry Trifle. If a show stopping dessert is what you need- this is it! You will need a good quality pound cake, at least a quart of fresh strawberries and for this- I would recommend whipping the heavy cream yourself! Cut up 1/3 of fresh strawberries, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of sugar, let stand until strawberries have absorbed the sugar; drain the liquid (this strawberry juice is wonderful added to iced tea or lemonade!) Fold softened strawberries into 2/3 of the whipped cream (that’s the pink cream you see in the photograph)

6DCEDB17-C2B0-4CD8-9970-B151A32C2835Assemble Trifle by layering pound cake, fresh cut strawberries, pink strawberry cream; repeating until the Trifle bowl is full. Spread the remaining whipped cream over the Trifle and chill until ready to serve! Beautiful, delicious and easy!1C00C736-953D-4964-B77B-836240B1BAEB

Tropical Grilled Pineapple.  If the grill is already fired up, you’re more than halfway there to this luscious dessert. You will need fresh pineapple, vanilla ice cream, sliced almonds and grated coconut- feel free to guild the dessert with pineapple preserves found among most ice cream toppings at your local grocer. Most grocer’s sell fresh pineapple, peeled and cored, or cut and core your own. Slice pineapple into 3/4 to 1 inch slices, brush with honey and grilled 2-3 minutes or until slightly caramelized (don’t over cook) Lightly toast 3/4 cup of grated coconut and 3/4 cup of sliced almonds. That’s all the cooking required! Assemble by placing a slice of grilled pineapple on a plate, top with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, pineapple preserves and finish with toasted coconut and sliced almonds. A tropical paper umbrella is also festive and fun!

I’ve loved having a few recipes for delicious, easy desserts in summertime or anytime- I hope these 3 will become a few of your favorites! And who knows you might be singing…’Summertime… and the livin’ is easy…’ and be cool, calm and collected too!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine. * Feel free to make substitutions with homemade or purchased items!

Beaches of Alabama

8CE602A6-47CD-47EE-988D-3AD9CD5D388DMaybe it’s the to and fro of the tide that pull us south to the Beaches of Alabama… Our hearts yearn for it. Perhaps Southern Saltwater flows in our veins; we need the Gulf’s infusion every now and then. To stand in the sea casting a line or in solitude as the ever patient Egret watching the horizon…

The ancient rhythm of the tides echo the soul’s heartbeat. White Sugar Sands gently scrub our bare feet of ordinary workday cares…

Gulf Breezes clear our heads to dream of sandcastles again; built in a day- gone the next.  Yet always worth the temporary wonder…4280158F-0438-4EBA-B088-1ACE439CBE38

‘Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should be empty, open, choiceless as a beach- waiting for the gift from the sea.’ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

A sunrise walk. A perfect shell. Tiny sandpipers chasing seawater…running out, scampering back on twiggy feet while the ocean plays it’s foamy game. Beaches of Alabama- the jeweled land of Royal Reds, Brown Pelicans, Crystal White Sand, Sapphire Skies and Emerald Water.

We are like Boats waiting…Rocking our silent lullabies. Tethered, waiting to be set free- to sail away to the Beaches of Alabama. 04687649-5A23-40C6-B25F-A010BF0E832A

Stunning sunsets, breathtaking colors- then gently the air, sky and water turn to shimmering priceless Twilight’s Gold.

Take a child, a sweetheart, old friends or heartache to the Beaches of Alabama… patiently wait for the enchantment to begin…

‘Alabama just breaks my heart- it’s so pretty, it just breaks my heart into little pieces’ Michael Lee West

Here in our Sweet Home Alabama, summer vacations, we know- the Beaches of Alabama have their own special magic- a tonic all year round. Salt Air, Sunlight and Gulf Waters- refresh, renew, heal and restore…

Love y’all, Camellia

*All of these glorious stunning photographs are the sole property of Jeremy Miniard. We are perpetually grateful for his generosity in sharing them with us! Find Jeremy at jeremy.miniard.fineartsofamerica.com

*Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s quote is from her landmark work- ‘Gift of the Sea’. * The absolutely true quote…’Alabama is so pretty… it breaks my heart in tiny pieces’ by Michael Lee West is from her wonderful and zany book set in Alabama…’ Mermaids in the Basement.’ Both would be tremendous beach reads this summer!

*Beaches of Alabama was first written here on Camellia’s Cottage in July 2017 and has been slightly edited and updated. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

 

Camellia’s Southern Lemonade…

499FDD87-DCF8-4370-A106-5CB0841C9D0FLemonade was so common in the South that finding a recipe for it is almost impossible! We just knew how to make it- and when we did …it was usually for a picnic or a special occasion. Believe it or not even Orangeade was first made from real oranges. And then…it was mass produced. Local milkmen delivered small glass bottled orangeade and lemonade with a paper tab, that children drank at school and vacation Bible School alongside cookies which I still recall as a delicious combination! Only a few years later, mass produced lemonade and orangeade in wax paper cartons large and small were available.  With the space age came mass produced citrus drinks and powdered versions of fruit flavored  drinks like Tang or Koolaid; we loved those drinks too… anything to quench thirst in hot humid climates. Still. There’s nothing really to compare with homemade southern lemonade.

AD871F7F-F103-4839-AB18-019C22FD3E5FThese days, I find myself craving the real thing, real southern lemonade- I’ve conjured it up from memory and honestly, it’s worth the effort- and really? There’s very little effort to it, and believe me a pitcher of homemade lemonade will make anyday feel like a special occasion! Here’s how you make Camellia’s Southern Lemonade:

  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup of fresh squeezed Lemon juice (approximately 4-6 medium size lemons)
  • 4 cups chilled water
  • Ice.
  • Mint leaves, lemon and lime slices for garnish are optional. Also optional- add a few maraschino cherries and a tablespoon of cherry liquid to make Pink Lemonade.

In a small saucepan, combine lemon zest, sugar and 1 cup of water. On low heat bring to a simmer until sugar has completely dissolved, to make a lemon flavored sugar syrup. Strain and chill. In a pitcher, thoroughly combine 1 cup of lemon juice and 4 cups of chilled water. Add chilled lemon sugar syrup, again, until thoroughly combined. Add plenty of ice and garnish as desired.499FDD87-DCF8-4370-A106-5CB0841C9D0F

Now y’all, the sugar syrup is easy to make- you can keep it in a glass jar with a tight lid in your refrigerator for at least a week, maybe longer…Believe me, you’ll be glad you did! Here’s hoping your summer is the best ever with lots of Real Southern Lemonade alongside a few nostalgic cookies!

Love yall, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. * Koolaid and Tang are registered trademarks. *And, here’s a sneak peek at an upcoming Instagram image and short story- if you get a chance check out our feed there too! We’re having lots of fun!616FFD83-4940-47F3-A4C2-3A9A87ACAC0D

Mimi’s Potato Salad…

1C51F9A2-FDC4-4AD0-9C9A-8BEA42BBD9C3Mimi’s Potato Salad is, of course my favorite- though I have to admit that any Southern cook worth her salt generally has a recipe that is her family’s favorite too! And, it’s crazy, yet many southerners add potato salad to their meals almost all year round! Mimi didn’t. She considered it a Spring and Summer side dish or even put a scoop on a plate and with a few extras like tomatoes and crackers, she considered potato salad to be a light lunch or a cool supper.  Here’s the thing. Mimi was particular about her food and the way it was prepared and for what reason and why. She instilled things like this into my brain- I can still hear her now…

‘ Now, grate that onion! Who wants to bite down on a big chunk of onion in their potato salad!’ Then later she would say- ‘Grate those boiled eggs on the coarse side of the grater!’ Why? Boiled eggs can look unattractive if they aren’t perfect and especially unattractive all mixed up ‘with a mess of potatoes’. Also Mimi simply liked the look of the coarse grated boiled eggs! Don’t ask me why. I was just a simple soldier and followed my orders. BCBE8261-9C75-45F1-AD3E-07437867028F

Mimi’s Potato Salad was singularly simple with few ingredients.  Many southern cooks add other things to theirs, which is fine and also tastes wonderful. Still. If a recipe is the flavor from your childhood or family- I believe we tend to enjoy our own version the best! Mimi used russet potatoes, in spring, she sometimes combined new potatoes and russets, making sure they weren’t peeled yet were cut to approximately the same size. There’s an art to it- unpeeled potatoes hold their shape better, then it’s easy to slip the skins off after they’ve been brought to fork tender, definitely not overcooked! Cut the cooked and peeled potatoes into approximately the same size for the potato salad. (If the potatoes were overcooked? Start over. You don’t want mashed potato salad.)

4EB9992C-96BC-4B6C-9955-046200ADADFCWhile the potatoes are cooking, grate the onion and mix up the dressing of good mayonnaise, yellow mustard and spices. Now, Mimi’s rule for the celery was to either do a fine dice or thinly sliced. You might not want to bite down on a big chunk of onion, yet the celery gave her potato salad a subtle flavor with just the right amount of crunch and a pretty color. Again, I followed orders. My mother did too! Mimi boiled her eggs along with the potatoes- claimed the calcium from the egg shells made potato salad healthier. Who knows?  I do it too. Gently mix the potatoes into the dressing and chill. This made the potatoes firm up and gave the flavors time to develop. Here’s how you make Mimi’s Classic Potato Salad:

Mimi’s Classic Potato Salad

Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: potato

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes- scrubbed and washed
  • 2 large eggs- hard boiled, peeled and grated
  • 1 -2 stalks celery- fine sliced or diced
  • 1-2 tbs finely grated onion with juice
  • 3/4 - 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teas yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teas cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Boil potatoes with skins on until fork tender, not over cooked. Allow potatoes to cool slightly, slip skins off of potatoes and dice into approximately 3/4 inch cubes or slightly larger. Finely slice or fine dice celery. Grate onion reserving juice as well. In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, yellow mustard, grated onion and cayenne, until combined. Add diced potatoes, grated boiled eggs and celery, toss gently so as not to break cubed potatoes, gently to combine. Chill. Flavors will develop. Serve with a sprinkle of paprika if desired. This recipe doubles well.

With the spring and summer get togethers in full swing, I think you’ll enjoy Mimi’s Potato Salad, feel free to put whatever you want to in it. Some like pickles or olives. I personally will still be following orders… I sure wouldn’t want to think Mimi was rolling over in her grave if I didn’t! Oh me…

Love y’all, Camellia *all photographs are obviously mine!

3 Lessons of Spring…

We’ve posted 3 Lessons of Spring and one strong suggestion on Instagram in the last few days. I thought you might enjoy them too!

This rather humorous photograph of a planter we have here at the cottage, was about to be planted with a few bedding plants… I decided to snap a photo of her first! She’s inspiring don’t you think?

B21EFFCA-536B-4BAF-A5F1-DC5ED4E7390C ‘The mind is a wonderful thing! It’s where creative ideas begin, where we learn, where emotions form and where we make decisions. Deciding to use ideas, knowledge and emotions for good is the highest form of humanity.’


30C47988-A6F4-40E4-A463-38FEDA229E84Eggs might be the ultimate food form of Potential. This photograph inspired us. ‘Potential, that’s one of the wonderful emotions I feel in Spring… nothing says it better than a basket full of eggs by my front door. Little Johnny Jump Ups aren’t really Spring flowers here, but they seem to rejuvenate themselves right now- and they have the potential to re-seed. now, that’s a lesson too! I hope your Spring brings you an awareness of potential all around you…not to mention the marvelous potential you hold within!’


These bearded irises were passed along to me by my grandmother many years ago- the deep purple is amazing and thrills me every year! This was shared with a lesson I think of every year!

A8A57D14-8713-4E66-BCE4-FDBC60D796B2 ‘Bearded Irises are standing tall in all of their glory…what a lesson they are! Standing up, not afraid to show the world who they are and own their unique beauty. And! Despite an unfortunate name, bearded irises welcome the day with gladness!’


Those 3 Lessons of Spring speak volumes without saying a word…

  • Deciding to use our minds for good, like the planter, it looks like a brilliant idea is sprouting.
  • To see potential in our world and within ourselves…whether it’s at the end of life’s cycle or like an egg- at the beginning!
  • To stand tall, like the regal Iris, despite an unusual name and short bloom time is a lesson to us all… to seize the time we have, bloom where we’re planted and in our own unique way.

Now, here’s a strong suggestion…it’s Time to Spring Clean… we can get sidetracked and buy things we don’t need! So, here it is! Shades of Blue…DDFFEC62-7066-49D5-8847-862AF386BB87

‘Shades of Blue… natural dyes, indigo, prints and stripes, chambray, madras, Oxford cloth and denim. Blue is beautiful year round, especially in Spring and Summer! I’m Shopping My Closet first- then checking the choices with my favorite catalogs- for updates this season!’ It’s a spring closet clean out and a money saver too!

I love Spring…pollen and all..lt inspires me with its beauty and lessons all around! What will you do this Spring? I’d love to hear! I’ll be back soon with good tips, good thoughts and yes, good food!

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. Follow @brendawyatt_ on Instagram for more tips and ideas! I’ve found new friends and seen the astounding things so many are doing! Happy Spring, yall!

Cottage Strawberry Cake…

Cottage Strawberry Cake… www.camelliascottage.com

There may be no Spring layer cake that’s as welcome as Cottage Strawberry Cake. I’ll admit my skills as a cake decorator are few- yet decorating this cake with fresh strawberries makes it look so appealing and beautiful! I sort of went overboard and pulled some wild and domesticated strawberry leaves and runners (washed well mind you! Then kept them fresh in damp paper towels until time to decorate the Cottage Strawberry Cake.

Whole strawberries may be served alongside the slices and provide a welcome tang to the sweet cream cheese frosting. Not being a proficient Cake baker either, with few exceptions. I used a name brand good quality cake mix and enriched it with milk, melted butter, pure vanilla extract and an extra egg to make a denser more flavorful cake.

I think anytime you use a boxed cake mix of any kind, it’s a good idea to enrich it and also to make homemade frosting! This frosting has fresh strawberries in it- which changes the texture a bit- the recipe has a few suggestions if you prefer the smoother texture. Here’s how you make Cottage Strawberry Cake

Cottage Strawberry Cake

A beautiful 2 layer cake with cream cheese icing and sugared strawberries. Impressive showing for Spring- especially if fresh strawberries and if you can find wild strawberry leaves and stems! 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Duncan Hines Strawberry Cake Mix * made according to our swap outs
  • 3/4 Cup Whole Milk (reduced by 1 Teaspoon)
  • 7 Tablespoons Melted and cooled Butter Plus more unmelted butter for pans
  • 3-4 Large Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 Cup Fresh Strawberries- hulled and chopped Sprinkle sugar over berries and cover
  • 12 Ounces Cream Cheese Room temperature
  • 2 Sticks Butter Room Temperature
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1 1/4 Pound Powdered Sugar Sifted
  • 1 Quart Fresh Strawberries- whole for decorating the cake

Instructions

  • For Cake- prepare 2 - 8 inch cake pans: grease with butter, then flour lightly. ( Lining pans with parchment paper rounds is also a good idea) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (If using dark coated pans- reduce oven temp to 325 degrees) Blend cake mix, milk, melted and cooled butter and 4 eggs(3 eggs unless you want a denser cake)  in a large bowl until moistened. Add vanilla extract. Blend well.  (Do not mix according to box Directions!) Divide the batter equally between prepared pans. Bake cake layers on center oven rack for 26-30;minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. (Check after 25 minutes) Cool layers in pans on a rack for 15 minutes! Turn out of pans and cool completely - this is important! 
  • For Frosting- In a deep bowl or your stand mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment- not whisk! Blend together cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar until thick consistency. Drain Room Temperature! sugared strawberries very very well. Fold into frosting. * Frosting may change texture when strawberries are added, you may add more powdered sugar if needed. Chill frosting until slightly firm before frosting cake layers. decorate with whole strawberries and greenery- if you don’t have wild strawberry leaves, mint leaves work well. Chill cake before serving. 8-10 slices. 

Notes

Feel free to add a few drops of red food coloring to Frosting, though strawberries should add the color you want. If concerned about the texture of the frosting, you may substitute up to 1/2 cup of strawberry jam. 

 

Our Cottage Strawberry Cake reminds me of a sweet and dear friend every time I make it, and isn’t that what any dish we make supposed to do? Good memories of sweet folks we’ve known and loved is the best reason I can think of to bake or cook anything! Hope you’re enjoying this Spring weather and dreaming of all the good things ahead…

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine.

Camellia’s Tomato Soup…

0DD6894D-C3D1-438F-9055-3CED4FFF4668Tomato Soup is iconic, especially when it’s homemade and if you use fresh tomatoes or … like I did last summer, I halved small Roma Tomatoes, then a quick freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan, bagged and kept them in the freezer, for such a time as this! Camellia’s Tomato Soup is almost as easy as opening a can and my oh my! Far more delicious! Served simply with a grating of Parmesan Cheese or any Cheese you please served with crisp oyster crackers or the equally iconic Grilled Cheese, you have an easy delicious meal!

910A386C-397E-4717-AFAB-4E8FE44AC7DCSpring is a wonderful time of year to make this Camellia’s Tomato Soup since some days are still cool. And, let’s face it, who wants to spend hours in the kitchen when you can be outside! Okay, I know the pollen is coating everything with sneezy yellow powder. Still. You can’t beat warm spicy  tomato soup for seasonal allergies either! Here’s how you make- Camellia’s Tomato Soup!

Camellia’s Tomato Soup

Perfect all year round, especially in the spring and fall, when the weather may be cool. Serve with the classic grilled cheese sandwich or for a fresh cool taste- serve with grated cheese- your choice, a bit of red pepper flakes, celery sticks and crisp saltine or small oyster crackers. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 4-6 Cups Small fresh Roma tomotoes/ halved May use large cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Slice Bacon Uncooked
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Thyme leaves- chopped Reduce amount if using dried Thyme
  • 1 Tbs Chopped Garlic Finely chopped
  • 1 Large Onion sliced thickly Separate into rings
  • 2 Tbs Chili Sauce or Tomato Paste * chili sauce is a prepared product similar to ketchup
  • Fresh cracked Black Pepper To taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes To taste
  • Kosher or sea salt To taste

Instructions

  • In a large covered pot place halved Small Roma Tomatoes, add 2 cups of chicken stock, drape piece of bacon across tomatoes- begin on medium high heat to bring stock to a boil, add chili sauce or tomato paste, sliced onions, chopped garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, thyme and cracked black pepper. Stir gently to combine.  Cover pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer for up to one hour or until soup has thickened

Notes

If you prefer, the skins of the tomatoes may be removed or blended into a smoother consistency. I’ve found this unnecessary as the skin is very thin and tends to add a rustic delicious quality to the soup. The bacon fairly melts into the soup also. And, if the fresh thyme leaves only are used...there is also no need to remove the stems. 

Here’s a beautiful version of a Grilled Cheese to go alongside Camellia’s Tomato Soup. Tip:  Feel free to get creative, with grilled cheese sandwiches almost anything goes-  Here, I used two types of cheese, American and Swiss, put a few slices of pickled jalapeños, dipped the whole sandwich in a mixture of whisked egg, topped with grated Parmesan, then fried in melted Butter!45A0D467-02DE-41FC-A2C6-4989CBE73D88

A plain grilled cheese works too! Also, the Tomato Soup practically begs for garnishes, I have topped this soup with crumbled bacon and made cornbread croutons; or a drizzle of pesto for an Italian version. For a TexMex version- add a dollop of salsa and one of sour cream, add chopped onions and chunks of avocado is delicious with crisp corn tortilla chips- umhm soo good! I hope you’re enjoying Spring, filled with hope and good food!

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine.

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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.