‘Can’t tell a lie’ Cherry Crumble

63D8CAAD-C974-410C-B96E-2B2852568EE4When I was in grammar school, George Washington’s birthday was apparently an opportunity to teach students about our very first president, to have us do a coloring sheet of Washington’s profile or standing beside a cherry tree with an axe in his hand and to teach a basic value- truth telling.

The way the story went… as a young man, George chopped down a cherry tree on his home property. Some teachers embellished it by saying how valuable the cherry tree was or that Washington had been told not to cut down this particular tree and in show of strength and prowess with an axe or as an act of rebellion, young George chopped down the cherry tree. I’m not sure exactly how the story goes, but I imagine the whole country became fond of cherry pies because of this famous legend.

Allow me to digress here… I went to grammar school after oil lanterns and quill pens went out of style- the electric light bulb had been in use for decades by then… and we had heroes like Superman- who leaped tall buildings in a single bound and lo and behold-here he comes to save the day … Superman even hopped through windows in a swirling cape, tights and a rigged up superhero outfit as the announcer proclaimed that Superman was for ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way’. A holdover no doubt from patriotic reels during World War II.  I miss those old black and white yet colorful TV shows!

Anyway, Truth was taught as a value though the retelling of George Washington’s youth– for when the harsh question was asked- ‘Who chopped down the cherry tree?’ George didn’t shift blame…he boldly said, ‘I cannot tell a lie, it was I who chopped down the cherry tree.’ Now, lest you think we as a nation were the only ones profoundly affected by the tale of George and the cherry tree- the nation of Japan, donated cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin right in the midst of our capitol city- also named Washington! A celebration which is well attended every year- the Cherry Blossom Festival.

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So! Recently I concocted a humble cherry crumble and had to name it-  ‘Can’t tell a lie’ simply because… the cherry crumble was a failure on my part. I was trying to recreate my grandmother’s beloved recipe for Apricot Casserole by substituting sweet cherries! The failure was due to the fact that I didn’t calculate how many cherries would be needed and it just didn’t come out as I hoped it would. Still. I liked the flavor and the texture. And! Here it came to save the day! An heroic crunchy dessert topper for Sunday Dinner. I thought I would save this recipe for President’s Day weekend after we’ve all had lots of Valentine’s chocolate and need to get back to simple honest food. So here’s how you make Camellia’s Can’t tell a lie’ Cherry Crumble:

‘Can’t Tell a Lie’ Cherry Crumble

To honor Our first President, George Washington- According to legend, as a young man, Washington cut down a valuable Cherry Tree. Rather than allow someone else to shoulder the blame- The young George uttered the famous line ‘I cannot tell a lie.’ This cherry crumble is a particularly good topping for ice cream. 

Ingredients

  • 1 Stick Butter Melted
  • 2 Sleeves Ritz Party Crackers Crushed roughly
  • 2 14 ounce cans Sweet Cherries Reserve liquid from 1 can
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg Freshly grated
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar Plus 1/2 cup sugar for reserved cherry liquid
  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar Packed
  • 3/4 Cup Sliced Almonds

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt one stick of butter. In a small saucepan, add 3/4 cup reserved liquid from cherries and add 1/2 cup sugar and boil gently to make a simple syrup. Add almond extract to this mixture. While syrup is cooling- add drained cherries.  Crush party crackers roughly, add spices and sugars, then pour melted stick of butter over the  crumbs. In a buttered deep dish pie pan or 9x9 baking dish, press one half of buttered cracker crumb mixture. Layer cherries and syrup over the crumbs. Top this with the rest of the crumb mixture and top with sliced almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden. Allow to cool.  Cherry Crumble is delicious over ice cream. 

Notes

If desired, more butter may be dotted over top of crumb and almond mixture before baking. Cherry crumble is a quick and delicious dessert any time of year! 

Full disclosure, with the leftover crumble, I decided to try making an ice cream dessert with some of the crumble on the bottom of a loaf pan, vanilla ice cream layered on top, then added more sweet cherries and to finish, topped it with more of the cherry crumble. The sweet cherries may freeze, so if you decide to do this variation, here’s my suggestion: Slice the ice cream dessert ahead of time- to allow the cherries to thaw out a bit! Or.. omit the sweet cherries and save them as a topper! I can’t tell a lie about this- if I make it again, I’ll probably make the ice cream cake and add the sweet cherries as a garnish but- oh my! it did make a pretty dessert!

I hope y’all are having a restful enjoyable President’s Day weekend. I also hope they’re still handing out coloring sheets and teaching about ‘Honest’Abraham Lincoln and ‘Cant tell a lie’ George Washington in schools- I personally colored his hair light brown with reddish streaks instead of the all white styled wig we see in his portraits. Oh me! I hope we won’t forget to tell the stories and be thankful for this nation and our historic heroes!

Love y’all, Camellia

  • *All photographs are obviously mine.
  • *We’re still working on and updating this site, thank you for your long suffering patience! Just blame it on the tech challenged blogger!
  • *Soon, I’ll be posting that famous Apricot Casserole so you can try it or save it, with our new features- the WPRecipe Makerand the shopping app from Chicory.
  • *While this site is being updated, I hope you will follow us on Instagram- @brendawyatt7769 or click the icon link on this page…we’re posting something almost everyday over there!  And… any advertising you see on this page does not necessarily represent the views of Camellia’s Cottage!

Lemon Squares…

From the cradle to the grave, in the South- at every occasion of any importance – you can mark this down, a dessert, or two or more will feature lemon. Lemon desserts are legendary and iconic… Lemon Meringue Pue, Lemon glazed Pound Cake, Lemon Ice Box Pie, wedding cakes filled with lemon curd…even our sweet tea is laced with lemon juice! However, these Lemon Squares make a regular appearance on tea tables, at baby showers, holiday dessert tables, bridal teas, anniversary and retirement parties and yes, grieved though we may be for the dearly departed- we tend to consume Lemon Squares in quantities to comfort ourselves. How do I know this? Almost every dark suit and black dress that’s been anywhere near the bereavement buffet bears a sprinkle of a telltale streak of powdered sugar! On one occasion I helped with –  Lemon Squares were assigned to more than one trusted baker- but all agreed that Bennie Sue’s recipe should be used for uniform quality. Okay, I made up Bennie Sue’s name to protect the innocent. You know, there’s always at least one Bennie Sue in any southern community whose recipe is considered the gold standard. Rustic and humble in looks- not Bennie Sue, for heavens sake! No, the rustic and humble Lemon Squares- tend to take on a heavenly appearance with their light cloud-like dusting of powdered  sugar. I think even the formidable  Bennie Sue would approve of this recipe for Camellia’s Lemon Squares! 

Lemon Squares...

Cut in bar cookies or tiny squares, Lemon Bars are welcome any time. A shortbread type crust topped with baked lemon  curd and dustEd with a snowy powdered sugar topping - it’s a near perfect addition on dessert tables or as a stand alone confection. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Butter Softened
  • 1 Cup Flour Sifted
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • Zest Lemon from 1 large or 2 small lemons
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Tbs Flour
  • 1/4 teas Baking Powder
  • 3-4 Tbs Lemon Juice * Freshly Squeezed - use zested lemons
  • Powdered Sugar for Dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine softened butter, 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of sugar for crust. Do not overmix. Press into an 8x8 glass baking dish for crust. Bake 12 minutes or until pale but dry. Do not overtake, crust will complete baking later. While crust is baking, make lemon filling with remainder of ingredients, except powdered sugar. Mix well. Pour mixture over partially baked crust. Complete baking at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until Lemon Mixture is done. ( press lightly with your finger, if no fingerprint remains, the Lemon Squares are done. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and continue to cool. Dust again with powdered sugar.
    When ready to serve, for parties, cut into small squares. As a dessert, larger squares may be preferred. * Serving suggestion: When ready to serve, top with additional lemon zest for a pretty presentation and a tart fresh taste. 

While they can be made year round, winter is a perfect time for Lemon Squares. Citrus fruit is fresh and abundant. And while we do make these lemon squares for special occasions, they’re the perfect ending for a Sunday Dinner, when they can be cut generously with no complaints!

I do recommend using three small kitchen hand tools when making lemon squares- a wooden lemon reamer – less cleanup for just one or two lemons, a small hand held specialty lemon zester for those pretty little strands and curls that add a zip of flavor, done as a flourish right before serving and- a small fine mesh strainer in stainless steel to seed and pulp the lemon juice for the filling and again for the pretty finale- the sifting flourish of powdered sugar! And we do love to add a flourish, accessorize if you will. And if there’s one thing Southern women know how to do- it’s to accessorize! Oh me, hope you’ll try them some dreary winter day soon!

Love y’all, Camellia

Health and Beauty Tips: Citrus fruits including – maybe especially lemons,  are full of antioxidants, Vitamin C and those all important B for Beauty Vitamins. Some think that lemon juice even in a spa juice does help ease symptoms of the common cold. Here’s a Spa Water I made this week, with sliced ruby red grapefruit, oranges and lemon slices. if nothing else it sure was pretty- so pretty, I was enticed to drink more water! And that has to be good for your skin and keep you healthy and hydrated!

  • * You can find the small kitchen tools, such as the citrus reamer, the specialty lemon zester and the small stainless steel/fine mesh sieves-  at fine kitchen shops, including Williams Sonoma. (This is not a sponsored post) And! that pretty green plate? It’s made by Earthborn Pottery right here in Alabama!
  • We do have some ads now, to keep the lights on… Camellia’s Cottage does not guarantee the quality of any products or services in these ads!
  • *And… I just made up Bennie Sue’s name- to protect the innocent you know…
  • *All photographs are obviously mine!

Egg Custard Pie…

9D879E52-F825-4B79-9CA1-533545189D57On Southern Dessert Tables, Egg Custard Pie is a Classic.  Custards were brought to the Colonies by the British and remained popular in the South, especially when boiled or baked in small custard dishes- From fancy Crème Brule to humble Banana Puddings- we do love our custards! When times were hard and cooking was done to survive- Egg Custards were thought to be comforting and necessary.  Filled with eggs and milk, ingredients on hand in most southern kitchens, Egg Custard Pies are rich but not overly sweet.  Some even thought, the sick and recovering should be fed Custards – to fatten them up! Leave it to the Southern Sweet Tooth to make a Dessert out of a Comfort Food! Some custards are cooked then poured into a baked pie shell. Cooked Custards may Scorch. Filling an unbaked pie shell with the custard mix- is a bit easier.  Custards aren’t hard to make, but then again…

  • An Overbaked Egg Custard Pie?  A telltale crack in the center.
  • Under-baked Custard? Too thin and wouldn’t set up. CF494A8D-61DE-4815-A268-94E1AD22EEF2

A Southern lady’s baking  skill was tested by her Custard Pies! Egg Custard Pies aren’t made that often any more- but we still have fond memories! I can hear it now…

‘Florigene could charm a bird out of tree just being who she was- but when she baked her Custard Pies- a whole flock of folks came around’

My mother in law, Eleanor, was famous for her Custard Pies- Coconut, Egg  and Chocolate Custard Pies. I wish I had kept count of how many times someone told her how much they loved her Egg Custard Pie- so Eleanor would surprise them with one! Quietly serving the pies to her family- I’m not sure we always appreciated her skill. Custard Pies seemed to be a favorite of hers. When she died, over and over folks whispered, ‘I loved Eleanor’s Custard Pies…’ More than a decade has passed since she crossed over from this life to the next, yet those pies are still remembered fondly. Recently, I had not one, but two friends exclaim over the virtues of  Egg Custard Pies- yet neither could recall when they had last eaten a homemade one. 

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As the holidays approach, I think of my mother in law so often. Before, it seemed like stepping on sacred ground- to try to bake Egg Custard Pie. In fact, I would not even try to replicate her famous pie. The recipe I used is not hers- I don’t have it. I researched old cookbooks and found several that seemed close- my adaptation makes two pies- one to keep and one to share. And I changed it up to be more like a deep dish pie, by using a cake pan instead of the more shallow pie plate. The ingredients are always the same- it’s the method and the measure that differs from recipe to recipe. Eggs, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla poured into an unbaked Pie Shell and baked, then chilled. Here’s what I came up with-

Camellia’s Cottage Egg Custard Pie 

  • Preheat oven to 375º
  • Line Two 8 or 9 inch Cake Pans with your favorite pie crusts.
  • In a mixing bowl, measure 2 cups of Sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 Tablespoon- All Purpose Flour and 3/4 teaspoon of freshly grated Nutmeg.
  • In another larger bowl, whisk 6 Large Eggs, beating until well combined.
  • Add dry ingredients to whisked eggs, mixing until well combined.
  • To egg mixture, add  2 cans of Evaporated Milk (not sweetened condensed) plus 1 cup of whole milk.
  • Then add  1 tablespoon of Pure Vanilla Extract and mix until all is combined well.  *The purists insist on straining this mixture- I didn’t. 647AFB91-AA01-4E1B-8C1E-7EA5147A6492
  • I poured portions of the mixture into a glass pitcher for ease of pouring the egg custard mixture into the Two Unbaked Pie Shells.
  • Grate more Nutmeg over the top of the Pie Filling.  *If pans are full- place them on a large sheet pan for baking.
  • Bake Egg Custard Pies for one hour- checking after 45 minutes to see if Custard is set. *Mine were baked in 8 inch Pie Pans and needed the full hour.  2A0EACEF-59C4-4A2A-9B90-67656897C1BE
  • Remove from oven to cool, the filling will be puffed but will settle.
  • Chill completely before serving so the filling flavors will be well developed.
  • Makes 2 Deep Dish Pies. 8c942e73-4c3a-4de0-bae0-cbcccf540837.jpeg
  • Keep refrigerated until serving. Any leftovers also should be kept chilled.
  •  *This is a rich but not too sweet pie. Approximately 8 servings in each pie.

My goodness, y’all! This Egg Custard Pie is good! And, next time- I might consider coating the top with granular sugar, then with one of those kitchen torches- Brule the top! Let’s just hope I don’t set the house on fire! This Fall, try making the comforting Southern Classic – Egg Custard Pie, for Sunday Dinner or even for the Holidays! Your Dessert Table will be even more popular!

Love y’all, Camellia9D879E52-F825-4B79-9CA1-533545189D57

*all photographs are obviously mine

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!