The Southern Rose…

DCAF6AD6-099C-43C6-9695-6A9A625F6DB1Known 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.

348EC34B-4A6B-4662-9D3D-F64072D783F5Asians 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.

BB986053-2EBF-48F7-A4BB-DEAA976AA459Coco 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…

C5CCE609-5179-4CC4-B108-C8035B8D1B48If 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!7B1DC8E0-F5D6-4BFA-A61F-980BB6CAEA18

Moon and Stars…

88BC61EA-42D0-4883-B449-F41012599B9EMagnolia scented Moonlight…

633AC820-1847-4301-B661-EDFD31E891C5Starry Southern Nights…

Orange Beach, Alabama

Moonrise tugging on the tide…

05733021-C4EF-4338-BEE5-32DA84D079F3Or peeping thru Pillow-y Clouds…

Alabama Full Moon

A big full Moon hanging, on a pitch black sky…

3B137700-D079-4228-9756-CD410CB4DB41Twinkling Blinking Star Lights-

633AC820-1847-4301-B661-EDFD31E891C5Wishing us Good Night!

When we consider all, the work God’s Hands have made.. And see the stars– we can’t help but be- in awesome wonder! And, must proclaim- ‘My God, how great Thou Art!’

Our Heavenly Father, seems to have endowed ‘Alabama the Beautiful’ 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 Great Thou 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

A Stellar Pineapple Pie…

D995DF67-165F-4B3E-B3BF-F73F72DAE62BIn a state where ‘Stars Fell on Alabama’, where the Saturn V Rocket was built and where Space Camps may be producing future aeronautical engineers and astronauts for Moon Shots, where NASCAR drivers sprung out of grease pits and musicians like Hank Williams, Jimmy Buffett and Lionel Richey became Stars- it’s not unusual for a Star to reside among us. For over 100 years the Historic Bright Star Restaurant has been earth bound in Bessemer, Alabama. Designated in 2010 as An American Classic Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, The Bright Star is an institution in the Alabama restaurant scene. Opened by Greek immigrants in the early 1900’s not long after Philadelphia started making the iconic Cream Cheese- we Southerners embraced them both.



The Bright Star serves some of the finest food in the South- perfectly grilled steaks, delicious seafood including Greek Style Snapper, Grouper Almandine and Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp and Remoulade Sauce. By day, the Star produces vegetable plates and meat and three platters that Alabama Food Historian-  John T. Edge dubbed a ‘Working Man’s Cathedral’.  The main course food is so good, it’s easy to overlook the amazing pies they churn out every day. The Bright Star serves-

  • Lemon Icebox,
  • Chocolate and Coconut Ice Box Pies made in house and-
  •  a stellar Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie which isn’t chilled- it’s baked! It’s always called- Bright Star’s Famous Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie.

I know of no other restaurant that makes this particular pie- I love it. On my last few visits there- I tried to weasel the recipe from a few servers- ‘Well, you boil down the pineapple with some sugar…and other things’ and- ‘Oh honey I don’t know exactly, they blend cream cheese with eggs and sugar and pineapple..’ All vague, even mysterious.

Well, I knew I’d have to research it; turns out Johnny Cash’s mother baked a pineapple pie which had a double crust, and others made pineapple pies which were sort of like Chess pies with pineapple added. However, there are old southern recipes for Baked Pineapple Pies which include pineapple, cream cheese and pecans. The Bright Star’s Pineapple Pie doesn’t use pecans- it’s always had slivered almonds on top- they use these same almonds generously on their famous seafood entrees. Come to think of it- Almonds would make it more ‘Greek’ than Southern Pecans- so maybe it’s an adaptation one way or another; I simply cannot find the origin of it. I do think Bright Star uses the slivered almonds to great advantage of the overall taste of this pie. I thought I’d give the old recipes a whirl and see if I could re-create it, using almonds and adding almond extract.  I’d never be so bold to call it the famous Bright Star’s Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie…. My version is open to interpretation.  Here’s how I made:C279774E-2E20-4CB9-A0E3-C06D209A23F2

Camellia’s Stellar Pineapple Pie

  • Bake, according to directions- one Deep Dish Pie Crust. (I pressed 1/8 cup of slivered almonds into the bottom of pie crust before baking in a nine inch cake pan- which is how I prefer to make pie crust for single crust pies. ) Do not overbake. Cool.
  • In a medium saucepan- heat 2 (8oz. cans of Crushed Pineapple with Juice I used Dole® Crushed Pineapple) and 1 1/2 cups of Sugar; bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
  • Stir 1/4 cup of Cornstarch and 1 cup of Water in a small bowl, until well combined. Stir into pineapple/ sugar mixture. Stir constantly until mixture is at a low boil. Stirring constantly until very thick- do not scorch.
  • Remove Pineapple Mixture from heat and allow to stand until cooled to room temperature (barely warm).
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, at medium/low speed- mix 4 oz. room temperature Cream Cheese (one half of an 8 oz. package, I used Philadelphia® Brand) with 3/4 cup of Sugar and 1/4 cup of all purpose Flour. Mix until fully combined. Add by hand, one large Egg, 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract and 1 teaspoon of pure Almond Extract. Stir until completely combined and has a smooth creamy texture.
  • Fold cooled and thickened pineapple mixture into cream cheese/sugar and egg mixture. Gently combine and pour into cooled pie crust. *Some recipes called for putting the pineapple/sugar mixture on the bottom of the pie crust, one called for combining the two- I believe it is best to combine them- but it’s your call.
  • Top with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Slivered Almonds.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes. Test with a toothpick in the center of pie- if it comes out clean- pie is ready- if not bake an additional 5 minutes or so.
  • Allow Pineapple Pie to cool fully. I put mine on a wire rack and then chilled for ease of slicing.  This is a rich pie. Needs no embellishment. Serves 8. Enjoy! 47CD3CF4-946C-409B-BA0C-379366C9BBF1

Despite the amount of sugar in this pie, it is not overly sweet, but it is unique in texture and taste. Again, this is an adaptation of the famous Bright Star’s Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie.  Two Crust Pineapple Pies use a filling almost exactly like the first step of this pie but are doubled- the bottom crust is partially baked, then filled and the second layer is put on top or made into a lattice pattern. Other Pineapple Pies are like Ice Box Pies and are generally no- bake mixtures.  Pineapple Pies strike me as the type of dessert that would be a refreshing compliment to almost any meal but particularly good after a seafood entrée.D995DF67-165F-4B3E-B3BF-F73F72DAE62B

Pineapple is used extensively in Southern Cooking- Upside Down Cakes, Congealed Salads, Decorating Glistening Baked Hams and a mixture of cream cheese, crushed pineapple and a bit of mayonnaise, as a filling in delicate Tea Sandwiches. Any way you slice it or crush it- Pineapple is one of my favorites! A true Star.  If you haven’t been to the Bright Star in Bessemer, Alabama, I would encourage you to go!  You will find them at Check out the menu and history!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Quote by John T. Edge Alabama Food Historian on page 30 of  ‘Alabama Food- Classic Dishes, Restaurants and Chefs’ – copyright 2012 Alabama Media Group

*All photographs are obviously mine. Good food, Good fun at Bright Star!



Mimi’s Fried Chicken…

FF937E6D-2D17-4FA3-A650-F4BBB5F6DFE5If pressed, I would have to say my first solid food was Fried Chicken- Grits don’t count, they’re not solid. When I crossed the road from babyhood, the first thing I was taught to make was Fried Chicken. A naturally timid child, learning to cut up chicken is a real confidence builder! I’ve been fryin’ chicken most of my life. I can still hear Mimi telling me to put two Fryers on her grocery list. She was particular about it too- bigger than 2-3 pounds? The Chicken would be tough. Nowadays, it’s rare to find chickens that small. When we got Mimi home from the store, if I was lucky, she’d let me help her cut them up. After removing the small organ meats and setting aside, my first task would be to find the little joint on the top of the breastbone, slide the knife along the bone on both sides and off came the Pulley Bone! Then methodically, I found joint after joint and ran the knife through being careful not ruin the skin. I loved it, had visions of becoming a world famous surgeon.  If I didn’t get caught, I would stand at the sink letting water run through the tiny two chambered chicken heart and experience the great mystery of water pouring in one chamber and out the other. Okay, it didn’t take much to entertain me! Still. Because I helped cut up the chicken, the Pulley Bone was my reward. If you don’t know what a Pulley Bone is, it’s doubtful you grew up in the South. In my research this week- without fail- every. single, person I quizzed mentioned Pulley Bones. Fighting over them, wishing on them- yet not one person said they ever got a Pulley Bone as the reward for helping cut up chickens! So, I have concluded that either someone was pulling my leg, ahem…Pulley Bone or I’m the luckiest girl alive!2D8DB691-F0B2-4DE6-9351-C1A88EAC0B0C

Fried Chicken is iconic- listed in the top 10 Sunday Dinners, Church Picnics and Funeral Foods- why? Well, it’s delicious and cheap. Most Sundays you’ll find me in the kitchen, rattlin’ around cooking Sunday Dinner- as opposed to Sunday Suppers. Last Sunday, realizing it had been a good while, I made Fried Chicken.  Most southern cooks fried chicken on Sundays, especially if the preacher was coming to the house to eat lunch- if he was long winded blessing the food- well… Fried Chicken could lay serenely on the Sideboard until he got through. The same goes for Dinner on the Ground or Church Picnics- good Fried Chicken can wait- but usually doesn’t. One friend told that every summer when her family left for the beach- they’d stop by her grandmother’s house- and out she’d come with a Shoe Box full of Fried Chicken, a snack to eat on the road- ‘It didn’t last long…’ she said. It never does.FF937E6D-2D17-4FA3-A650-F4BBB5F6DFE5

I love Fried Chicken- I eat some version of it almost every week. But what you must understand is- the Fried Chicken of my youth, didn’t come in a bucket- it was more likely piled on a platter, in brown paper sack, stowed in a picnic basket or handed around like manna after a funeral. I see lots of buckets and clinical plastic containers at any and all occasions. I love it all- yet, the truth is- Bought Fried Chicken, as we say- can’t hold a candle to real-home-cooked-in-an-iron-skillet Fried Chicken.

Mimi’s Fried Chicken was a two day affair- one for cutting up the chicken, putting it in a big bowl, then icing and salting it down (brining they call it these days), put in the refrigerator overnight ‘to draw out the impurities’. The truth is- icing and salting down the chicken pieces made Mimi’s chicken- moist on the inside and crisp on the outside- exactly the way good Fried Chicken is supposed to be. Frying Chicken commenced on the second day. I still get tickled thinking of the times sitting next to Mimi,  eating someone else’s Fried Chicken- she would discreetly nod her head to the joint end of a chicken bone- and whisper- ‘Look at that dark end, she didn’t ice that chicken down!’

Last week, I took a wild hair and decided it’d been too long since I’d actually made Fried Chicken. Now, I wouldn’t dare label my Fried Chicken as the best because every Southern family has a gold standard, a recipe or a method they like best.

  • Some soak it in buttermilk, some dip it in an egg wash- I do neither.
  • Even the ingredients are hotly contested. Salt and Black Pepper only? Or add a pinch of Cayenne? What about Paprika?
  • White Lily or Martha White, plain or self rising flour?
  • Single or Double Coat? Batter, Dip or shake in a brown paper sack?
  • Fry in Lard, Shortening or Oil? Deep Fry or Pan Fry?

Now, my research showed- those folks from the original Colonies , who migrated from Virginia…tended to soak theirs in buttermilk, those from South Carolina or Georgia tended dip the chicken in egg. And one insulting tome- said Alabama folks were so poor, they simply didn’t dip in batter at all! I hate to admit it- my ancestors must have been as pore as church mice!

I learned that families who deep fry, almost always had large farms and field hands to feed. Mimi’s recipe is over 100 years old- taught by the household cooks when she was a girl and always declared – Fit to Eat!  Skillet Frying is the way we do it.

*If there’s a secret ingredient- so common that almost no one tells you- it’s that the best fried chicken was first dipped in Self Rising Flour! No exceptions. I’ve known so many wonderful cooks in my lifetime- a detail they tend to leave out is Self Rising Flour- but all of them kept Self rising Flour on hand for the biscuits they made by the dozens. They made their dumplings and fried their chicken and country fried steak with Self Rising Flour too! If you don’t have it on hand, add a bit of fresh baking powder to plain flour.The other secret ingredient is Corn Starch, if you have it on hand use it too.

B76483F4-7E6A-4F29-8210-6C9E082E0F24Now, I’m gonna share my grandmother’s recipe, mainly because I know very few of you will actually fry chicken and those who DO- will fry it the way their own mothers and grandmothers did. Well, I’ve kept you in suspense long enough- here’s the method for –

Mimi’s Fried Chicken

  • 2 small fryers cut up (if your family prefers chicken breasts- buy bone in/skin on and cut them in half or- Smile at your butcher and ask him if he’ll do it for you!)
  • Using Kosher Salt- not Table salt- salt the chicken pieces and cover with ice- at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Remove ice and rinse chicken. *Allow chicken to come to room temperature.
  • In a pie pan, mix together 1 1/2 cups self rising flour, 2 T. of Corn Starch, Salt and a generous amount of Black Pepper- add a pinch of Cayenne, if the preacher isn’t coming, unless he’s Pentecostal and doesn’t mind tongues of fire.
  • Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture. Lay out floured chicken pieces in single layer. When all of the chicken pieces are floured, re-dip them again shaking off excess flour.
  • In a well seasoned iron skillet, heat oil or shortening, no deeper than one inch, or half way up the chicken pieces. I use Canola Oil these days- whatever oil you use must be able to withstand high temperatures. Heat oil to 360 degrees, it will be medium high and needs to remain so throughout the cooking process.
  • Carefully slide a few pieces of chicken into the hot oil- you will know it’s hot enough by the gurgling sound- honestly, I think there’s a choir of angels who know how to gurgle like that!
  • Do not crowd the chicken pieces! Fry a few pieces at a time.
  • Allow the chicken to fry undisturbed for 8-9 minutes on one side. Turn the chicken carefully. preferably with tongs.
  •  Cover with a lid and allow to fry covered 5-6 minutes. Remove the lid, turn chicken and fry without being covered for another 5-8 minutes, turning at least once the last few minutes to insure even browning.
  • Remove chicken and drain on a brown paper sack or paper towel covered Sheet Pan. Make sure the fried chicken is in one layer until cool.
  •  Continue frying until all chicken pieces are fried- I start with the largest pieces and adjust cooking times for the smaller ones.4CA9404E-BF4C-4AF9-8C9E-9959D05F7B72

*Lest you think real fried chicken is greasy- it’s not if the oil is hot enough. I fried 18 pieces of chicken in about a cup and a half of oil, and used less than a scant half cup of oil to fry it- some of which was left on the draining paper! The chicken is done when the juices run clear- no juices? it’s overcooked!

*For Gravy: Pour off and reserve the pan drippings along with those invaluable bits of crust on the bottom of the pan. Reserve the dredging flour for gravy, I prefer to use water or chicken broth instead of milk- but it’s your call. Do not use the gravy to smother your fried chicken! Put it on rice, mashed potatoes or biscuits instead.D1CA7BEC-0D6A-447D-B07F-EE9CC38B70E6

A great piece of fried chicken looks as sturdy as a sisal rug, but is as light and flaky as a croissant. Real pan fried chicken is as rare as old lace in a hope chest. Truly home fried chicken seemed to be a Sunday tradition, a gathering of saints and sinners. The platter was handed around reverently like communion wafers or in gleeful jubilation, when all who are of one mind and one heart agree-

‘Blessed is the Creator of Chickens, Blessed are the chickens who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for this meal, Blessed is the Cook who stood, Tongs in hand like the Baton of a Great Conductor and presided over the Culinary Equivalent of the 1812 Overture- with Skillets hotter than the Devil’s Back Doorknob, the Baptism of Flour and Fire, the Angelic Chorus of Gurgling Oil and the Cymbal Clashing Lids- and Blessed among men who walk the earth, are the Recipients of Southern Fried Chicken.’

Can I get Hallelujah Chorus? Amen and amen! Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

* A big thanks to Judy, who’s one of the best cooks I know and to all of the others who contributed selflessly to the research of this article- you are the most patient of all friends! Your reward will not be Fried Chicken, it will be the re-telling of the ‘Tale of the Three legged Chicken’ by the fella who cannot get through the story without crackin’ hisself up!*A Pulley Bone is what Yankees call the Wishbone, I hope you get one of those little crisp morsels and all your wishes come true! *All photographs are obviously mine.

Closet Keepin’…

1E441439-EDDD-4CE7-8573-8EAE96EA010ECloset Keepin’ is a sentimental journey. Once in a Blue Moon, I reflect on the days when I was a Wardrober… it was one of those fun jobs, I helped all sorts of Southern Ladies build their wardrobes- professional and otherwise. It was my job to keep a record of more than 100 wardrobes- all in a thick black ring binder. What those fine ladies’ were keepin’ in their closets was a different matter altogether. I’m no exception. For many of us, it’s not a matter of what we’re giving away, it’s what we’re Keepin’ in our Closets.  Don’t get me wrong, it happens every year. We set goals, make plans, even resolutions- to clean out our closets- and it really boils down to what we’re keepin’ – not what we’re giving away.

Our mothers insisted on certain things. We had to be ready for any occasion in all four seasons, with add-on’s for vacations, souvenir shopping  and special occasions. One Southern Mother couldn’t rest until she knew there were at least two dark dresses- one winter and one summer, in her young belle’s closet. Just in case, there’s a funeral or a solemn occasion, she wanted her daughter to be ready for anything.

In Closet Keepin’, there’s the Sentimental Clothing Journey, what was worn and for what occasion and when.  There’s the Christening and Confirmation dresses, the Recitals, Dance Routines, the all important Varsity Grouping of Uniforms, Show Choir Dresses and Letter Sweaters. Prom dresses and Beauty Pageants- so many Titled Women reside in the South. Sometime, somewhere when you least expect it- you could be crowned Cotton Queen or Queen for a Day! There’s the Bridal Gown and Trousseau, the baby clothes.. and it starts again… It’s the Memorial, the place where Dreams had a Way of Coming True, and you don’t even have to wear a black dress.  That’s why Closet Keepin’ is important.AF71A172-D9D2-46A3-A2B6-274AF0CBCFFC

There are the moments when we ladies must Rise to the Occasion. We pay close attention to how the light reflects on our hair, in our eyes and especially how it reflects off of the sequins and bugle beads. Southern women do know how to Dress for Impact. We take pains with our looks for the joy of being pretty, having a flirtatious smile, being well liked… or not, since we know it’s not easy to be queen.  It takes a lot of yardage for all of this.

  • Tulle, Chiffon, Satin,
  • Peau de Soie, Taffeta,
  • Feathers, Leather, Silk
  • Ribbons and Fur.

Those party dresses residing in our closets have a faint scent of Aqua Net, soft floral fragrance and sweet memories. Southern women aren’t known for Hiding their Light under a Bushel. We do appreciate Finery and enough Sparkle to twinkle our way through this old dreary world. Frivolous excess, ruffles and bows help. Oscar de la Renta once told our group of sales ladies- ‘I love to design clothes for Southern Women, they’re not afraid to work or wear ruffles.’ Or something unforgettable like that… He was a handsome man who knew what he was talking about!

Most ladies hope to make an Eye Catching Entrance, even more pleased at Being Sought Out, tickled pink to be the Center of Attention, take pains to be Charming Guests, hold a fervent desire to be Gracious to our Hostess, then immensely relieved to make the Grand Exit, as we place a Thank You Note in the mailbox on our way out, handwritten of course.  Okay, not all of us, but still. Our closets are our Great Escape, the place we keep our memories, it’s unrealistic to think we’re gonna pitch those dreams to the wind or in a rag bag. Closet Keepin’ is … what we’d never throw away in a million years. We know the difference between the Sentimental Journey and Reality…

 Our mothers taught us to take pains with our looks- we must not wear clothes that will horrify or mortify- never lose our sense of propriety, but rather try our best to dignify any occasion. If possible look like we just stepped out of a band box.  

We are capable of taking a finely cut, well made Black Dress and having enough accessories to change it out for light years. There’ll always be a good watch, strands of pearls, a sentimental piece of jewelry, even sparkling rhinestones or jewels worn discreetly, of course. Still. A little excess is in order occasionally- a statement piece, an arm full of gold or silver bracelets -even Coco Chanel loved an excessive amount of pearls!

Polite dressing equals polite conversation, or should. Being dressed for the occasion seems to bring out the best in us, most of the time. Alright, I admit it- I’ve fallen victim- to wearing casual clothes too often– they are what a friend’s mother called Restorative Clothes. Soft clothes- worn to restore ourselves, not to wear out in public! Mother wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing things like this- Out! In the yard, maybe- never to the grocery store! ‘If you insist on going around like that- please put on some lipstick!’

Closets are a woman’s War Room, a Dress Up Box, the Situation Room.

We must also have a Wardrobe of Shoes- we all know, some shoes aren’t for walking- they’re for sitting, some are for the farm, some shoes are for walking out – or for exercise. Whichever is most needful. Good Closet Keepin’ has a wide selection.1E441439-EDDD-4CE7-8573-8EAE96EA010E

I have a confession to make here…The Silver Velvet Bejeweled Shoes were actually bought as a set– they were seriously marked down. I bought two pairs- just in case I were to lose some of those rhinestones! I even went back and bought them in Pale Gold- luckily they had two pairs of those, too! And that Mink? Well, I inherited it from a friend’s mother, it has her name- Sybil- monogrammed on the inside. I once wore it on a plane to Montreal, the thought crossed my mind… if the plane went down- the flight manifest might not have Sybil registered! I could have lived without a mink stroller, but it sure came in handy when 18 inches of snow fell overnight in that lovely Canadian City!  The number of times in a Southern girl’s life that it’s actually cold enough to wear a fur is in the single digits.  Yet the luxury of having one, even a hand me down- is a guarantee of Making an Impact, if necessary. Sometimes we do actually give a frivolous garment away as long as there’s no memory clinging to it. I’m proud to say, this year- I did give away my fake fur vest, I just hope I don’t ever feel like I need it!

That’s the problem with making New Year’s Resolutions to clean out closets- it’s the living in mortal fear that something will come in handy, back in style or the time will come when we have to rig something up. And, the Lord forbid, we might need extra rhinestones! That’s  the sentimental journey called Closet Keepin’.

Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs are obviously mine.  *And yes, in the 90’s Oscar de la Renta actually came to Birmingham- and I was honored, along with my colleagues, to meet him.


Boeuf en Daube…


8F7D1942-7147-42E0-8767-B9246742C875If a Southern girl tries to speak French, it’s gonna come out sounding strange… so I won’t try to translate Boeuf en Daube for you… pictures speak at least a few words. My foray into my beloved cookbooks yielded some much needed therapy and also inspiration for winter cooking in a New Year that’s mostly begun in fits and starts. Oh, I had plans, if not resolutions for this, beginning our third year here at Camellia’s Cottage and also personal goals. As usual, I found myself getting sidetracked- almost everyday. For instance, an invitation … ‘Meet me at the cemetery, then we’ll go to lunch’ sounded much better than cleaning out my closet on a day that we finally had some sunshine. It’s true, in the South- we take anything death related seriously– especially funeral food and ancestor worship. And…I had read about some Europeans who are doing what we Southerners have done for years- Death Cleaning – which isn’t nearly as morbid as it sounds. It’s simple- at certain age, women start asking their heirs to pick out what they want from the family heirlooms-

  • Jewelry, Silver, China,
  • the Barbie or Madame Alexander Collection,
  • Art, Books, Furniture,
  • Photographs, Clothes- you name it.
  • With a few subtle hints- ‘Well, you know I might not be here forever.’
  • When that doesn’t work…we cook comfort food for them and drag out some treasures and dole them out.

That’s where Boeuf en Daube comes in- it’s a fancy run of words for Beef Stew- which takes 2 days if you want full flavor and uses up leftover Roast Beef in a delightfully exotic sounding way. Now, a true Boeuf en Daube is very much like Beef Bourguignon, which is also a Beef Stew with lots of red wine and spices in it. Julia Child made it a household name, though few of us could pronounce it, including me. Still. It sounded good. I’ve never made one that I liked- however, the concept of Boeuf en Daube tickles me because it really is a true, No Peek Beef Stew and those French folks mean it, their language just makes it sound nicer.

Daube can either refer to a hearty slow cooked stew usually made with beef- typically using cuts of meat that are tough unless they are cooked low and slow… OR Daube can refer to the vessel it’s cooked in- which was often a covered clay pot.

Now, really I love the Southern implication of Boeuf en Daube because those pesky Dirt Daubers we deal with here, might look like wasps but they cover themselves with a nest of tubular Clay! Nowadays most of us Human Daubers use Dutch Ovens to make our Beef Stew! The point of a Daube is to cook the stew covered. My own personal version of Boeuf en Daube uses leftover Roast Beef. The Roast has been generously salted, peppered, lightly coated with flour- seared dark brown on both sides, then cooked low and slow with root vegetables of red potatoes, carrots, onions and is seasoned with celery, garlic and maybe a few herbs. Beef Stock is added once the whole thing is under way on top of the stove and then cooked in the oven for several hours.






It’s served simply with a Green Salad and Garlic Bread or for Sunday, I might have Baby Green Limas, Biscuits and Gravy or Hot Buttered Corn Bread and other side dishes. For some reason I like Roast Beef best in Winter.9B7D333D-AE6D-4BD2-B28A-8F5A24D7438D

There’s usually leftover Roast Beef for Open Face Sandwiches with Gravy and a side of Mashed Potatoes. But this time – the roast was large, the beef was tender and it seemed a shame not to make a Boeuf en Daube- a Southern one, I think. I did find one similar to mine in *Jubilee!- the Junior League Cookbook of Mobile, Alabama.  Theirs was made from scratch with cubed beef, seared and seasoned with onions and carrots- no potatoes. Here’s how to make mine.8F7D1942-7147-42E0-8767-B9246742C875

Camellia’s Boeuf en Daube

  • From the Leftover Beef Roast Pan, I removed the beef, carrots, celery and onions and cut them in bite size pieces. (I also added sliced mushrooms, since they were on hand)
  • The reserved broth was skimmed of excess fat and brought to a simmer. A slurry of 1/2 cup of water with a heaping Tablespoon of Cornstarch was added to thicken the broth.
  •  I added a bay leaf, a generous pinch of thyme, a half stick of salted butter, about 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar (I like the tang of vinegar instead of the tannin of red wine- but it’s your call), a pinch of cayenne pepper and more chopped garlic to the broth.
  • This was simmered on top of the stove until reduced to a gravy consistency. (You may not need to thicken the broth if already thickened with the Roast Beef)
  •   The beef and vegetables, along with about 1/2 cup of frozen green peas were put into an oven safe glass bowl. I removed the bay leaf from the thick broth.
  • And then… Drum roll, I topped the mixture with a single pie crust, smeared with butter, a sprinkling of salt- then cut slits in the top to vent the crust and sealed the entire thing around the rim!
  • This is indeed a Daube! A Daube can either be cooked in a covered pot OR topped with a crust that seals in the flavor.
  • Instead of low and slow, it was baked in a hot oven- mine was set at 375 degrees- for approximately one hour.

There you have it! Several New Year’s resolutions in one bowl! A money saver, more home cooked meals, cleaning out the fridge, freezer and pantry and elevating an everyday dish to something extraordinary! It was served with a mid century favorite- cling peaches stuffed with a mixture of a small amount of reserved juice, cream cheese, a bit of mayonnaise and chopped pecans on a bed of lettuce! B7707FD8-2E43-44EE-BFE1-3B0BD22F55D7

Not to get all historical on you, but Beef Bourguignon and Boeuf en Daube (without the crust) were both thought to improve in flavor if chilled overnight so the flavors could meld and then be reheated! Both would be a wonderful winter family meal, shared with new neighbors or as a bereavement dish. I hope you’ll try it- maybe yours will be a Poulet en Daube! Pot Pie, Chicken or Beef is a Southern Comfort Food anyday of the week!

Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs are obviously mine. * Jubilee! the Mobile Junior League is a classic cookbook, I found mine on Their recipe for Boeuf en Daube on 85th Street is a much more complex dish than I made and is sure to be delicious!

Roses speak of Love…

055A03E8-DF37-4282-87B9-542C8669F4F1In the language of Flowers, Roses speak of Love…

Whether in Spring Bud- full of sweet possibility and promise…

Or Winter’s gently fragrant comfort, speaking with wisdom, beauty and age.

Both as vibrant and vital to our well being as Love…

‘Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.’ I John 4: 11 KJV

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Photographs of Dried Roses obviously taken by me. The roses were grown here, clipped to adorn our Cottage Christmas Wreath, when dried, the amazing colors and calm fragrance were an inspiration. Pottery tray by Earthborn Studios in Leeds, Alabama, Tena Payne- Potter. Find them at Amazing story and products!F7E34875-1EC4-41BA-B449-FEF066E9BF5F