Every year I am gobsmacked by the camellias growing in my farmhouse gardens. Frilly, bright, small. medium and large, they remind me of the dresses of girls ready for cotillion.
During the spring and summer, I fret over seed selection and getting the ground ready, then tending plants so I can get bouquets to market. These camellia arrangements come with none of the toil. It’s as if God says, “Here, Daughter, rest and enjoy.”
In a world explosively bitter and cold, not unlike this time of year, these flowers remind me that there is beauty in simple things if we would only look. They also remind us to be gentle, kind to each other.
My walk netted a bodacious bouquet.
Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen at Flowers Proper.
I ran out of eggs and didn’t want to drive to town, so I tried an egg substitute. Using up last years sprinkles (you know, a few of this kind, a few of that kind-oh they don’t go bad, do they?), I made these eggless cake mix cookies.
1 box vanilla or white cake mix
2 egg substitutes (for each egg needed, do this:1 tablespoon water, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons oil)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
A bowl of miscellaneous sprinkles
What to do:
Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix up the egg substitute, set aside. In a big mixer bowl dump in cake mix. Then add the next 5 ingredients and stir together. With a scoop, drop mounds of cookie dough into the bowl of sprinkles, one at a time, coating each cookie. Place a few inches apart on cookie sheet, as these cookies will spread. Bake until the tops crack open and the bottoms are slightly browned. Twelve minutes or so. Cool on wire racks. These cookies are very crisp and are great for dunking, if you are so inclined. Makes about 2 dozen.
Zinnia season is over. Collected spent flower have been drying on the kitchen table. One flower center produces hundreds of seeds. And one seed planted next spring will bring many blooms. It is a picture illustrated in John 12:24.
“Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
I know that there are those who hate candy corn. And those people are nuts. Which is what gets mixed with candy corn to make a mix that tastes like a Payday candy bar. In a bowl, mix two small bags of Brach’s candy corn or one big one and a small can of Planter’s cocktail peanuts. Serve up for movie night or the football game or in your child’s lunchbox. They will thank you. And you can say, “You’re welcome.”
A friend and I both needed a break so, a road trip was in order. We drove south and then along US Hwy90 and stopped in many of the cities that dot the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I have not been on the coast since I was a teenager. We’ve all done that Ship Island trip… a right of passage, dontcha know? I had remembered Biloxi, Gulf Port, Bay St. Louis as kind of run down and parts of the coast seedy. My impression as a teenager, now mind. Keep reading, please. A revitalization of the coast has happened since Hurricane Katrina. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is alive and well and open! The architecture of the old homes and new residences is spectacular. The updated boardwalk is inviting and kept very well.
Here are recommendations:
White Pillars. 1696 Beach Blvd, Biloxi
White Pillars sources practically everything they serve locally and their wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly. One of my new favorites is the coffee at White Pillars. They filled our cups with a beautiful blend from Coast Roast Coffee and Tea. We asked where they were located and made a beeline to get some. Here’s the address: Coast Roast 2510 16th Street, Gulfport. They will grind your beans, while you wait. Great service.
In Bay St Louis, we found eats at The Mockingbird Cafe. A very friendly, casual place with good food. Address: 110 2nd St, Bay St. Louis
For shopping, try The Shopsat Century Hall. If you have a corner in your home that needs cozying up or a gift, this is the place. I bought a little white unicorn made of tin. Address:
112 2nd St., Bay St. Louis
The fourth town we visited was Ocean Springs. Home to the Walter Anderson Museum, this revamped downtown is filled with boutiques and art galleries. Address for the museum:
510 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs
Here are two shops we recommend:
The Pink Rooster 622 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs
Ifound lovely, vintage looking table linens and my friend found handmade jewelry. Local artists’ works filled the old house turned gallery/shop
The Candy Cottage 702 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs
Let them put together a sweet gift box, filled with homemade chocolates, pralines or other old fashioned confections. I spent the week looking for salt water taffy and found it there. The best I’ve ever had.
I did wake up in time for breakfast this morning. A fried blindfolded egg (my Daddy taught me), with mayhaw jelly on an #Bay’sEnglishMuffin, a side of bacon, yogurt with a chopped banana and a cup of #CommunityCoffee. Notice the pretty linen napkin and #FireKing dishes. The journal front says to write your story. To do that well we need to slow down a bit. Saturday mornings are my favorite time for that. So, use the lovely dishes. Go to the linen cupboard and get out a pretty napkin. Slow down when you can. Lord knows life will speed up soon enough. Blessings for a quiet Saturday. https://www.instagram.com/p/CEeZ4bLBrli7RNW6t8EpDTrq4V1MHOv0jm0XIM0/?igshid=67rnucfggj9g
Earlier in the year I put up mayhaws in quart size freezer bags, for later jelly making. Today, I thought, would be the day to fill the jelly cupboard. Well…
I have been extremely tired, TIREDall week. It’s Saturday and the bed was really comfortable. Marigold needed to go out at 6 this morning, but I went back to bed. Just A few minutes more of sleep, I told myself. Didn’t get up till a quarter to 9. I never sleep that late. Guess I needed the extra rest.
The usual big farmhouse breakfast was skipped this morning. Marigold missed her Saturday bacon.
Anyway, I gathered supplies to make the jelly, placed the berries in the Dutch oven to cook down. Being tired, I had trouble staying focused. Multitasking is usually my strong suit, but I got distracted and the berries burned, stuck to the pot burned. Cue the sad music.
Sad for a minute, all was not lost. Juice in the freezer was put in a freshly cleaned Dutch oven and I started over. And now my jelly cupboard runneth over.
It has been a busy day in the Exile’s Kitchen. Fresh bell peppers were cored, blanched, shocked and placed in freezer bags for future meals.
Jalapeno peppers were made into jars of pepper jelly.
A simple recipe, here is what I did:
Finely chop 1 small red bell pepper. In a blender, puree 1 cup jalapeno peppers that have been seeded and deveined. Place both kinds of peppers in an 8 quart pot. Over medium high heat, add 1 1/2 cups white vinegar. Bring this to a boil and add a box of Sure-Jell. Stir in, gradually, 6 cups of white sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Return mixture to a boil and add a few drops of pink food coloring, if you wish. Ladle into hot sterilized jars, seal with lids and waterbath process for 5 minutes. Remove from canner and wait for sound of the lids sealing. That delightful, happy pop is so satifying. I taste tested with a potato chip in place of cracker.
Next in the recipe line up was Easy oatmeal Cookies. This recipe makes a bunch, sure to fill up your favorite cookie jar.
Preheat oven to 350° and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a big mixer bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup lard, 1 egg and 1/2cup brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Add 1 yellow cake mix, 2 cups quick oats, 1/4 cup of dried craisins, raisins, salted sunflower seeds and pecans. Incorporate well. Using a cookie scoop, drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Using a small glass dipped into granulated sugar, gently press each cookie. These cookies spread a little, so don’t crowd them. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then move to a rack to finish cool.
I haven’t written about Marigold in a while. She made three years in late March. An easy going bloodhound, she’s a good companion in all ways but one: riding in the car. She enjoys the car ride, but alerts everyone on the streets that she’s out for a ride. Saturday afternoon was no exception. Big barks, happy whimpers, nose smudges on the windows; she fills the back seat.
Just before getting to a crossroads, I saw a long white hearse, followed by a big white van. Oh no, I thought. A funeral procession, followed by many cars with their lights on. Now, in our part of the world, it is a courtesy to pull onto the shoulder of the road, as the funeral passes. So, our progress to our destination was delayed. Marigold doesn’t like to wait. Here was her reaction.
Here is something I am good at.
Blessings for a great August from the Exile’s Kitchen.