Caribbean Hot Chocolate…

3585C44D-99DA-4432-BF26-693A7C7DFAA2The weather had been near perfect for our holiday vacation, but on the morning we were to leave – it turned chilly. Our driver was beautifully spoken, a blend of British and French perhaps, he too remarked on the chill in the air. We spoke of citrus groves and sugar cane fields long gone from Central Florida’s -Orlando; now covered with hotels, shopping malls, hotels and amusement parks; of how the cooler weather this year would affect the prices of fresh fruit later on.

I recalled, as a child, seeing fresh cut sugar cane stalks which looked like thick dark green bamboo. How we would stop at roadside stands and buy a stalk or two- stripped of the dark green outer stalk and trimmed into bite size pieces. The sugar cane is so fibrous, it can’t be eaten, however- the juice was so fresh and sweet. Our driver remarked how he enjoyed that treat too. And, he said he missed his Morning Chocolate which used fresh sugar cane juice. I asked where he was from- ‘Dominica.’ was the reply. Then he told me how his Morning Chocolate was made. I almost swooned- a Caribbean Hot Chocolate! Who would think of such a wonderful spicy blend? Made for decades, it sounded more like an updated health food concoction that wasn’t blended up into green juice! Hot, spicy, chocolate with coconut milk- amazing! D7111B69-E97C-4C99-B2B6-C049F5F8932C

This past week, while recovering from a seasonal cold and trying in vain to have a good attitude about the cold spell we’ve been having… I recalled the heavenly concoction our driver described. That Caribbean Hot Chocolate was so good, I surely had it wrong…I checked my hastily scribbled notes and tried it again- for research purposes only… who am I kidding? I wanted another cup of Caribbean Hot Chocolate! Still. I checked the nutritional values and I am happy to report- it appears to have significant health benefits! Since the driver never claimed to have a name for his Morning Chocolate- and never gave me the exact measurements- and given the fact, that Dominica is certainly south of here…don’t you know I’m gonna claim it? Here’s how you make… Camellia’s Caribbean Hot Chocolate

You will need:

  • Dark Cocoa Powder
  • Cane Sugar Syrup
  • Coconut Milk
  • Ground Cinnamon and Nutmeg- preferably freshly grated. 88CC8A48-93D0-4B00-AE8A-9A9FF0BFFD35

Method:

  • Blend 1 cup of Cane Sugar Syrup with 2 Tablespoons Dark Cocoa Powder in a small saucepan and heat until combined. (*If you aren’t able to find Cane Sugar Syrup- you may make a cane sugar syrup with equal parts cane sugar- preferably unrefined -and water.
  • Heat until sugar has melted thoroughly, chill and store in a jar indefinitely in the refrigerator. *You may also substitute dark chocolate instead of cocoa- melt it thoroughly in sugar syrup, blend until smooth.
  • When combined, add 1 cup of Coconut Milk (low fat or light coconut milk is recommended- especially if you are using dark chocolate instead of cocoa, or if you are watching calories… and who isn’t?)
  • Heat until very warm but do not boil. Pour into mug or coffee cup. Finish with a fresh grating of nutmeg and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, to taste. Enjoy!  3585C44D-99DA-4432-BF26-693A7C7DFAA2

Now, I’m not sophisticated enough to give you the nutritional values, however this is a plant based non-dairy hot chocolate.

  • Coconut milk has been shown to improve the immune system, provide essential electrolytes, helpful minerals like magnesium and iron; great for stress and relieves muscle tension, improves digestion and the protein found in Coconut Milk almost makes it an energy drink!
  • Dark Chocolate or Cocoa is an antioxidant and is said to help heart and brain function and more!
  • Those probiotics so many are fond of, generally include Nutmeg as an ingredient which aids digestion, Nutmeg has also been called a Brain Tonic, relieves pain, and some say is a natural sleep aid (making it a good bedtime drink as well!)
  • Cinnamon is well known for health benefits- with antioxidant properties and as an anti-inflammatory.

Now, I’m not ready to say- it was the cure for my Common Cold but it sure made recovery more pleasant! Our best wishes to our wonderful driver from the Commonwealth of Dominica- I wish I knew your name! All of the ingredients were native to his beautiful homeland with it’s natural hot springs, volcano and botanical gardens! Warm Winter Wishes! I hope you’ll try this Caribbean Hot Chocolate whether you’re fit as a fiddle or under the weather!

Love y’all, Camellia

*p.s. A big thank you for the Winter Mug from sweet Paula! And..I used a cane sugar syrup made right here in Alabama for over 100 years -ALAGA -Cane Sugar Syrup made by Whitfield Foods, Montgomery, Alabama. (334) 263-2541. (This is a blend of corn syrup and cane syrup) You may be able to find cane sugar syrup in health food stores or online at Amazon.com A41AA1F6-78D7-4585-95A5-935B30C0E571

We’ve been nominated for an award!!!

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‘We’ve been nominated for a Liebster award! Can you believe it Walter? I hate to disturb your nap, but Camellia’s Cottage has been nominated for an award!’~ Walter is looking at me like I’m crazy but Allie Mac, Brenda and I are excited around here! I mean, an award? y’all…really?photo Let me tell you what it is…The Liebster Award is given to new bloggers by another blogger. A big southern ‘Thank you darlin ‘- goes to an amazing blogger -Agatha Chocolats ! I think I’ve gained weight just looking at her blog with all of that chocolate! You have to go see what that little Southern girl is up to! To thank her properly here is a thank you note especially for you, Agatha- imageI like Agatha’s blog because of the images she uses- some are even short video clips, the 13 recipes she does once a week, the unusual combination of mystery and chocolate is intriguing and the playful, tasteful way she produces her blog. Currently it has to be my favorite! She has inspired me to be a better blogger.

Agatha had some questions for me when she nominated Camellia’s Cottage-

  • What would be the motto of your blog? Agatha, I would have to say, ‘Our Sweet Home in Alabama ‘.
  • What is your favorite childhood book? Hands down, it’s ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ – I love the question in it- ‘How do you know you’re ‘real’? And the reply, ‘You know you’re ‘real’ when your eyes fall out, your fur gets loved off and you are very shabby ‘ – by that definition, I am well on my way to- ‘becoming real’!
  • What is the best pairing for chocolate? It took one second to answer that one! Coffee!
  • What forms of social media do you like best when connecting with your readers outside of your blog? I’m old timey here, I would love to chat with them by phone or at an old fashioned ‘tea’ .
  • If you could invite 3 people (living, dead, fictional…anybody!) who would you invite? Well, darlin’ I would have to have 2 parties or one ‘dinner in the ground’! If I could have them back for just one meal, I would choose my grandmother, my husband’s grandmother and my precious mother in law for the first party. For the second party I would invite the ever inspirational Jesus Christ, who attended and even served some of the most miraculous meals ever! Then, C. S. Lewis,  one of the most scholarly and prolific authors ever! And of course, Thomas Jefferson- whose wide range of interests never fails to amaze me!
  • What would you serve? Agatha, I would want the ladies to cook for me! My grandmother’s turkey and dressing, my mother in law’s famous fresh coconut cake and my husband’s grandmother made delicious ‘southern baked-with-brown-sugar acorn squash’! For the men I would serve Parisienne Chicken, steamed broccoli, Sweet Orange Rolls, and a Mandarin Orange/toasted almond salad.
  • What are your 5 best qualities? Well now, that’s a hard one- I suppose (1)my sense of humor, (2)my love of place, (3)I hope I am creatively inspirational, (4)my concern for victims of poverty and domestic violence and the welfare of children; and (5)I would never want anyone to leave here- hungry or empty handed.
  •  What is the best thing covered in chocolate? Agatha! I hate being pinned down but I would have to say-  my homemade English Toffee!
  • What is your passion? My threefold passion is a love of learning, reading and writing, all of which come together at Camellia’s Cottage.
  • If you had 3 wishes what would they be?  Bless your heart, who wouldn’t want 3 wishes? (1)I wish Alabama could be experienced, not by the headlines, but by her natural beauty, a place where talent and  technology rub shoulders with farmers, football players, fashion designers and fishermen, where world renowned chefs and home cooks learn from each other; where goodness and greatness show their generosity regularly and where writers and publishers, art and industry exist on a level barely acknowledged; where kind gentle folk work hard, love their families and appreciate what true southern hospitality really is.(2) I wish I could read at least 100 books in 2016- I’ve read almost 50- so I’m making a good start, and finally, (3) I wish folks would choose watching, listening and reading things that aren’t loud and cynical ( where are Huntley/Brinkley?) but factual news which would inform and fill us up with hope and goodwill- I think those things should start with me and hopefully Camellia’s Cottage will do that.

Finally, Agatha Chocolats asked, which is the my most favorite published blog post? No contest! It was the least ‘liked’ or noticed on Camellia’s Cottage- called ‘ Lookin’ for Fame?’ Posted on March 23, 2016, about the amazing music, talent and recording genuises in the ‘Shoals’ of Northeast Alabama -I hope it will inspire you to at least see the ‘Muscle Shoals’ documentary! here’s a link- https://camelliascottage/2016/3/23/look-in-for-fame And we hope to do a part 2 to go with it, because world famous fashion designers, Billy Reid and Alabama Chanin are doing amazing work up that way too!

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There is more to accepting this award, including my personal nominees for the Liebster Award, which I will do in my next post…

In the meantime go take an indulgent visit to- Agatha Chocolats @ https://agathachocolats.com !   Love y’all, Camellia

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Raisin’ Cain in the Pantry…

imageIn an earlier post we talked about shoppin’ our closets, the pantry and fridge- working down what we have on hand. This week, we cleared out the pantry and found 3/4 of a loaf of raisin bread, some raisins, a can of evaporated  milk and a jar of hot fudge sauce. In the south we love our bread puddings! Raisin Bread is almost perfect for a good bread pudding but how could we make this one different? Bread pudding usually has a hard sauce for the topping- we had the jar of Hot Fudge Sauce and who doesn’t like chocolate covered raisins? Hold the popcorn at the movies, give me some chocolate covered raisins! So, what about a hard sauce made with raisins, rum, and hot fudge sauce? We keep some ‘likker’ here just for medicinal and cooking purposes you know…whiskey, bourbon and rum are ‘must-haves’ in the southern kitchen, almost like strings of pearls and white blouses in a southern lady’s wardrobe, got have those accessories! We had plenty of eggs, milk, pure cane sugar and vanilla extract so we were set!

 

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Camellia’s Cottage Raisin’ Cain Bread Pudding

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees if baking right away.
  • Tear 3/4 loaf of raisin bread into large pieces- (we used Pepperidge Farm) in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a Pyrex 4 cup measure, crack 4 large eggs, add one can of evaporated milk, 1/4 cup of brewed coffee, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 stick of melted and cooled butter, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • With a whisk, mix the egg mixture until foamy, pour over raisin bread pieces and allow the mixture to set until the bread is completely soaked – about 15 minutes or you can refrigerate overnight.
  • Butter a 9×12 glass baking dish. Pour in soaked bread mixture. This bread pudding will rise.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes in hot oven. Do not over bake!
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  • Meanwhile soak 3/4 cup of raisins in 1 cup of dark rum (we used Bacardi Dark Puerto Rican Rum).
  • Remove from oven when Bread Pudding is set and tops of bread are beginning to brown. Dot with more butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top- you can use plain sugar if you don’t have cinnamon sugar mixed up. We always have that in our pantry!
  • Lightly drain the plumped rum raisins and drizzle the excess rum over the hot bread pudding. Don’t waste any of that hard stuff!
  • Bread Puddings can be served hot or at room temperature, we let ours cool a bit while we prepared the hard sauce, Rum Raisin Hot Fudge Sauce, are you raisin’ cain yet? We never said this was going to be low cal…

Camellia’s Cottage Rum Raisin Hot Fudge Sauce 

We had a jar of Hershey’s Hot Fudge Sauce which we heated in the microwave according to directions on the jar. We spooned it into a small saucepan and added the rum soaked raisins to chocolate sauce- now, how else are you gonna make hot fudge sauce into a ‘hard sauce’ without the ‘hard likker’?


 

Darlin’ you’re gonna want to keep this recipe on hand, even if you just spoon the sauce  over ice cream! We topped our bread pudding with the Rum Raisin Hot Fudge Sauce, whipped cream and to make it healthy we added that sweet sprig of fresh mint!

Sugar Cane is grown in Alabama, that’s why we’re so sweet! Shoppin’ our pantry is going to be fun!

Love y’all, Camellia

Spring!

The Saga of the Easter Dog…

image  Because my birthday is close to Easter, when I was a little girl, my mother was going to make me a birthday cake; she bought a 2 piece metal cake pan molded like a sheep. imageI was a scared-y cat with a weak stomach, so I wasn’t sure if I could actually eat a sheep shaped cake. My older sister was a born prophet- she said ‘that cake’s gonna look like a dog’.  Baking commenced, the batter began to rise with the sheep’s ears getting singed in the cake tins. I was in a state! When the cakes came out of the oven, my sister said again …’that cake’s gonna look like a dog’… Mother told us to stop worrying- by the time the white icing was swirled on the sheep cake, and shredded dyed green coconut grass was put around the cake it would look just like an Easter Lamb. I looked at the burnt ears and watched as she trimmed its ears- I cringed looking at it! I thought it hurt the sheep~ surely that sheep could feel it’s ears being trimmed. It didn’t help that my sister, the miniature prophetess kept sayin’ the cake looked like a dog! The sheep cake fell over more than once… and just when Mother got the white icing ready to swirl on… the head fell off of the sheep/dog cake! Cryin’ commenced, wailin’really… ‘Y’all get outside and play while I work on this cake!’ We went outside ~ my sister, the pint sized prophet with the shiny brown hair that curled in all the right places, was running and playing while I, the cowlicked black haired, green eyed scaredy cat was sniffing and trying to get hold of myself. Mother finally let us come back inside… and guess what? the sheep cake did not look like a dog! It looked like a big ol’ white fluffy Easter Egg with green coconut and jelly beans surrounding it! How was I ever going to eat a headless sheep disguised as a Prehistoric Chicken Egg! And where were the candles going to be? Dried out, days later -the cake was dumped in trash….the cake pan went in the cabinets and was never used again. Decades later, all grown up~ I was collecting, of all things ~ sheep! I asked Mother if she still had the Sheep Mold…and I am not lyin’, Mother had given that sheep mold to a lady whose husband’s nickname was Jellybean! They had a yard sale at Jellybean’s house, the cake pan sold ~ who knows where it went? Mother felt bad about it…she found another one for me. I never made a sheep shaped cake! The trauma of the ‘sheep/dog/egg’ put a stop to that~ it was put on display with the other sheep at Christmas and Easter …until this year. Ok, y’all know where this is goin’ don’t you? With fear and trepidation, the project was undertaken to see if a sheep cake could actually be baked… imageFour days…I worked on this cake! A dense cake must be the answer~ a brownie mix was stirred up; sure enough the ears  began to burn, I pulled cake out of the oven, carefully scooped some mix from the stomach of the sheep to the ears. Oh gag and oh lord, finally that cake was baked…slightly burned ears but hey, that could be trimmed off…umhmm. I chilled the cakes. I made a thick chocolate filling. I decided no fluffy white icing for sheep wool. I would not use store bought ‘eyes’ either, who wants a sheep with a ‘surprised look’, right? The day before Easter, I melted semi-sweet chocolate. I grated milk chocolate to look like ‘wool’. After I poured the chocolate and set it up as a trial run, I thought ~ this thing looks just like a dog ! Well let me tell you right now sister, I was not going to dye any coconut to surround it! I had already tried and failed to make sugared violets! Oops I’m tellin’ on myself! I was nauseated from eating nearly a whole bag of jelly beans to calm my nerves! My sister~ who rarely uses her gift of prophecy now -told me it would be ‘cute’~ she seems to have switched to the gift of selective lying. I knew different but I kept going … a crack formed on the back of the neck! Oh no, please don’t let that dog head fall off! In the refrigerator the cake went…good, the cake firmed up! more chocolate was poured, more chillin’ ~ I was sort of horrified that there was now a good $20 worth of chocolate in a cake that wouldn’t be fit to eat! Out of the mold, the cake looked just like a Dog! the shaved chocolate was sprinkled around…I was sure it would fall over if anybody looked at it crooked! I surrounded it with Cadbury Chocolate mini-eggs…took a ‘beauty shot’ or 20 maybe…over and over the thought…this thing looks like a dog! She was right! I texted her a photo and told her it looked like a dog and further that cake was so hard it would take a chainsaw to cut it! We got so tickled!  For some reason in the midst of laughing I decided to just accept the idea of an Easter Dog! The moral of this story is –

Bakers,do not try this at home, just bake a batch of brownies. Wait for those prophecies, sometimes it takes years before they’re fulfilled. Embrace the goof-ups in life. They can turn into the funniest moments of your life!

Turns out when we got up the nerve to cut the Easter Dog ~ guess what? the tail section isn’t that bad…let’s just hope that dog head is dried out before we get to it…wait a minute, who’s rev-vin’ up a chainsaw in the kitchen?

Live, love and laugh y’all…life’s short! Camellia