Reading List…


What we’re reading at Camellia’s Cottage right now may surprise you! We love to read cookbooks! Regional Cookbooks from folks who are known and better yet, not well known at all! I have one irreplaceable cookbook written by double first cousins on my grandmother’s side of the family, the stories and tips are delightful! Then there are the Junior League Cookbooks, which never fail to amuse me; not to mention the mouthwatering recipes in each and every one! I also love to read the Lee Brothers Cookbooks and the legendary Pat Conroy’s Cookbook has amazing recipes and stories. There were two fictional books by Southern Authors, The Path of the Child by Sojourner McConnell and All Over but the Shoutin’ by Pulitizer Prize winning- Rick Bragg; both are wonderfully written novels but I found myself drawn to the food in each! Sojourner’s Thanksgiving feast and Rick Bragg’s momma going out in early fall and finding a ‘hardheaded cabbage’ brought about sensory images!  Reading cookbooks as literature is fun! image

The added information is priceless. In Recipe Jubilee, the Junior League of Mobile cookbook-One lady says ‘ Crumble bacon with your fingers until it is pulverized’ What? Another gives the recipe for  Pommes de Terre Souffles, a fancy way of making French Fries- when she says – ‘If they don’t puff up- start over’ – my hearts sinks over that one! Then in the Party Punch section, one lady who undoubtedly is- pre-Cise …submitted a punch recipe with an enormous amount of likker (liquor) which serves 98-100 people! The very next recipe has an enormous amount of spirits as well, yet she ends her recipe by saying ‘It serves…well, I don’t know your guests!’ I love this lady! She is not precise, she shows her humor is a delightful way!silver-punch-bowl

Folks from Mobile are blessed- they can just scoot over to New Orleans in a few hours…so you will find recipes from famous restaurants submitted by – I feel certain-formidable society ladies like Mrs. Frank Webb. Read this Pineapple and Yam concoction-

Arnaud’s Pineapple and Louisiana Yams Flambe a la Germaine

Boil 2 yams and slice. Roll 4 slices of pineapple and sliced yams in flour, then milk, then flour again. Fry pineapple and yams in oil or shortening until golden brown. Place a cherry in center of each pineapple. Place pineapple and yams in oven dish and cover freely with sugar. Bake in moderate oven for five minutes. When ready to serve, pour rum over mixture and light with a match and then, pour sherry wine over all. Serves 4.

Just the name of the recipe is a mouthful! It occurred to me how much trouble this recipe would be just for 4 people! Not to mention the risk in burning down the house!  Mostly I thought this recipe for pineapple and yams from the famous Arnaud’s and other recipes might deliberately be vague since there is not quite enough information to actually make them.I am completely enamored by the names of recipes found in local cookbooks– like-

  • Elegant Spinach, No Peep Stew, Yellow Birds, Oyster Crackers Deluxe
  • Dump Cake, Florida Snowball, Dirt Cake, Mama Dee’s End of Summer Soup
  • ‘Ain’t Mad at Nobody’ Turnip Green Casserole, Elephant Stew
  • Bob’s Firehall Potatoes, Barbi’s Spinach Dip and Bread
  • Wanda’s Cheese and Beef Spread, Baptist Pound Cake, Preacher Cookies
  • Dixie’s Favorite Gingerbread, Christmas Rocks, Pecan Cocoons
  • Chicken Barbequed with a Spanish Flair and Marinate these- quicker than you can say the name- ‘Quick’ Italian Marinated Japanese Mixed Vegetables’

And these recipes just scratch the surface! My mother’s double first cousin even devoted an entire page to ‘Perfect Iced Tea’. You can’t make this stuff up, y’all- it is high drama to me! Imagine the meetings and the tastings and the jockeying for space -whether by a bunch of cousins or society ladies! The Lee Brothers Cookbooks and Pat Conroy’s cookbook- Recipes of My Life- have stories that  capture and hold the imagination! image

Then there are the most highly prized recipes of all– the ones handed down, like my grandmother’s Macaroni and Cheese which is fairly precise in measurement, yet written by a person who truly cooked by taste and feel. This macaroni and cheese is more like a soufflé than the standard recipe made with a white sauce- it is one of the comfort foods of my childhood.

Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. 1 cup of cooked elbow macaroni (yes just one cup) 1 Large Block of fresh grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese ( I use 12 oz.) 4-6 Large eggs, milk? I use about 1/4 cup whole milk-( I use approx. 1/3 cup) melted and cooled butter, salt, cayenne pepper to taste.(Start with a pinch though I use 1/2 teaspoon) Butter a 8 inch wide/3 inch deep round oven proof dish or soufflé bowl. In a bowl, crack eggs and beat. Add milk, salt, cayenne to taste to the eggs. Add 1/2 of grated cheese and cooked elbow macaroni. Pour into buttered baking dish, top with the other half of the cheese. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until egg mixture is set and cheese is bubbling. Serve hot. *This is very good.


I think I’ve gained weight just reading these wonderful cookbooks and more! Try reading a local cookbook or one of these! Let me know what cookbooks you’re reading! I hope you’re enjoying them as much as we do here at Camellia’s Cottage!

Love y’all, Camellia

Here are a few to get you started:

Recipe Jubilee is a retired cookbook from The Junior League of Mobile Alabama

Pat Conroy Cookbook Pat Conroy is from South Carolina

The Path of a Child by Sojourner McConnell from Birmingham, Alabama

Lee Brothers Cookbooks – Matt and Ted Lee are from Charleston

All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg from Piedmont, Alabama

AOL image of Silver Punch Bowl may be subject to copyright

Marching Southerners…

For the Love of the Game-

“In a region where fans bleed their team’s colors- fall’s favorite game still takes our breath away. I know why I love it. It goes back to nights in Paul Snow Stadium, when the Fighting Gamecocks of Jacksonville State whipped Troy…We never looked away at halftime. With a great pounding of drums and sounding of brass, the Marching Southerners, in perfect step, would sweep onto the grass. They played music from our history…And the beautiful Marching Ballerinas, in red velvet, kicked those white boots high in the air. Why do we love football? How could we not?” Rick Bragg, Alabama author

In Alabama, football season is sacriligious-ly sacred. It is considered tacky and  inconsiderate, to get married during football season. If you feel you must ‘fly away’ – please stay on life support until after football season, otherwise please note: funerals can be delayed so as not to inconvenience football fans. If a southern lady is in the family way and told her due date coincides with football season, the gynecologist is made to understand that labor must be induced well ahead of the tailgate party. That’s just the way it is.

We teach our children to speak softly and courteously with one exception: ‘You can yell your heart out at football games!‘ In Alabama, our children know how important the Iron Bowl is and you won’t find it in the china cabinet!  We expect our children from infancy to love football, watch football and participate in football- whether it is on the field, on the sidelines or in the stands- and by that I mean:

  • Play Football, be a trainer or be a water boy
  • Be a cheerleader or in a pep squad
  • Participate in a Marching Band!

Everyone knows Alabama’s football teams spawn Heisman Trophy Winners and National Championships! But did you know that the ‘Best Band in America’ is right here in Alabama? Yes, it is. The band became famous on it’s own, then Alabama writer Rick Bragg extolled the JSU Marching Southerners in his book- ‘It’s All Over but the Shouting’ and continues to do so as a columnist for Southern Living Magazine. If you don’t think Jacksonville State’s football program- a recent National Football Champion in their division and the Marching Southerners are intertwined- just watch this:

I am a Marching Southerner parent- with 6 years of some of the most exciting performances I have ever seen on the field, at a Broadway Show or concert, I consider it to be a privilege beyond measure.  Even if the football team wasn’t winning- the Marching Southerners were! I was actually a band parent for 14 years- starting in junior high, high school and all the way through their college years. What marching band does for students is nothing short of amazing – they learn the life lessons of being on time, having your instrument and clothes in order, being prepared, working as a team, learning music– which will stay with them for a lifetime. Unlike sports, you don’t ‘age out’ as a musician. And- marching band students learn – Mathematics, Sociology, Foreign Languages, Physical Education and History! When my children were in high school, we first became acquainted with the power of the Marching Southerners at band festivals. The Southerners were the exhibition band- inspiring teenaged musicians to play and play well-watching stunning performances which were not half time shows! That’s what the Southerners do- their motto is ‘Changing lives one show at a time’. The current Director of Bands is Dr. Ken Bodiford, he started out at JSU playing a big tuba, called a 20J- these instruments weigh 55 pounds!droppedImage jsu 20j's

The drum line is legendary, and though never confirmed or denied, the movie, Drum Line- was reported to have used JSU Marching Southerners as one of their ‘reference’ bands! I could go on and on- the brass section, the clarinets, the Marching Ballerinas- all are precision based and these are the musicians and music educators of the future! Students from all over the region, the United States and beyond play for this marching band! The Marching Southerners will celebrate their 60th anniversary this year! So, to honor that and also to give you a wonderfully loud taste of the South- please watch as much as you dare of the 1999 Bands of America Grand Nationals performance- there are many more up to date- but only a few videos in which both of my beautiful daughters are on the field! Blow Southerners! Blow!  Love y’all, Camellia


Congratulations to Dr. Ken Bodiford, Director of Bands, JSU Marching Southerners on 23 years of directing the finest band program in America!

Rick Bragg Southern Journal –

‘All Over but the Shouting’ by Rick Bragg is available at and major booksellers

Southern Living magazine-

Drum Line- the movie is also available on