Friday, September 30, 2016

Summer in a Bowl {A Children's Book Review}

It's not everyday I am given the opportunity to review a children's book, in fact this is the first time I've ever done one, but I am thrilled to be able to so ... it's such a fun book!

Joan Leotta, author
First, a bit about the author, Joan Leotta. Including essays, poetry, short stories and young adult fiction, Joan is a versatile and award-winning author, poet, and story performer. She has been playing with words on paper and on stage from the first time she could hold a pen and climb, and gathers inspiration for writing and performing from everyday incidents and objects. She has been a story performer, mostly for children, for more than thirty years--including historic characters and folklore shows. To her credit are four young adult novels, numerous plays and poems, and a picture book called "WHOOSH!"

Joan attended Ohio University and Johns Hopkins, where she concentrated on international relations and economics. Joan grew up in Pittsburgh now lives, and spends a lot of time walking the North Carolina beaches, with her husband Joe. Her motto is "encouraging others through pen and performance."

Joan Leotta crafted this tale from her own memories of gardening and occasionally cooking with her Aunt Mary and the countless times she tired new things and foods at her father's urging. Joan has a strong commitment to using natural foods and to providing wonderful meals for family and friends. Joan writes food articles for the local newspaper and is on the Board of the Waccamaw Slow Food USA Chapter.

Her latest book, Summer in a Bowl is a delightful story about a young girl, Rosa, and her Aunt Mary. Rosa visits one day during the summer months and helps Aunt Mary harvest a few things from their garden, which is then made into this delicious soup. Rosa is hesitant to taste it at first until her father tries a bowl and enjoys it, so Rosa tentatively tries it and likes it. “What do you call this?” Rosa asked.“Summer in a bowl,” Aunt Mary said. “Once the vegetables make friends, they make a soup that tastes like summer.”

It's a sweet story about gardening with children, and teaching them to eat healthy food, without going overboard or being pushy. Rosa is curious to try it because she helped collect the vegetables and helped her Aunt Mary cook them ... sometimes that's all it takes; someone with the wisdom to guide a child, all while making it fun to learn and experience new tastes.

In your new book, Summer in a Bowl, you talk very fondly of Aunt Mary. Who was she and what are your fondest memories of your time spent with her?

So glad to have a chance to spotlight the real Aunt Mary! She was my Uncle Ernie's wife, my mother's sister-in-law and the mother of three of my dear cousins—John, Diane and Ernie. Aunt Mary died of cancer when I was a young woman.

Aunt Mary was an avid gardener, and a wonderful person. She made it possible for me to be a Brownie Scout when my Mom (who worked) was unable to take me to meetings. Aunt Mary did make that soup and my Dad did taste a bowl of it on one memorable afternoon when I was four or five years old.

Aunt Mary with Joan's cousin, Diane

Yes, the day memorialized in the book, really did happen! However, in real life that hot late summer day was not part of a regular babysitting arrangement. Yes, I did help her harvest and I did watch as she made the soup. Years later I remembered that afternoon and how Aunt Mary made "menestre" and began to work on making it myself.

Fast forward another number of years and my cousin Diane and I were talking and she mentioned she did not have her Mom's recipe for soup. The soup in the book, and repeated here, is exactly the same as the one Aunt Mary used to make. I simplified it a bit so it would be easier to make with children. In general the creative process does sometimes need to take a few liberties with reality.

Do you thinking gardening with children, or teaching children where their food comes from, is essential in our world today?

We are in a health crisis in the US ... too much sugar, too much artificial food. Real food is important for everyones health and a good place to start is in childhood, building good habits of eating early makes it easier to have good habits when we are older. Gardening makes that food farm connection, and can be done even in a city! Yep, containers, in apartments, small rectangles of veggies in a tiny house garden –city kids who live in food deserts can have a real food experience of their own with just a bit of thought.

Plus, once they make that connection and once they grow something they are more likely to try it ... though my own heroine, Rosa, needs her Dad's good example to give her the final impetus to try the vegetable soup!

Literacy is vital to all of us. What makes children’s books in particular so vital?

Children's books are the way children become interested n books as a source of ideas. I write books that share a loving (real or almost real) experience of mine, hoping to give children something to identify with ... my family is like that! Or to use as a refuge when their own lives are not so much fun ... I wish my family was like that! Adults often use books in this way as well.

Books teach analysis, order in thought, self-expression. This new book has space for the child who owns it to add in their own ideas. It is my hope that children will come to this book sitting on the lap of a parent or favorite Aunt, reinforcing books as a form of love, while also coming to an interest in gardening and healthy eating.

Joan's soup bowl ready to make Aunt Mary's Summer in a Bowl Soup

Aunt Mary's Summer in a Bowl Soup 
(recipe compliments of Joan Leotta)
Serves four or two and two portions to freeze

6 cups water or low sodium, no-msg, chicken broth
4 tbls olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cups cut up greens of any kind from the garden-combination of kale and baby spinach.
2 fresh tomatoes cut up salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional, 1 medium yellow squash and 1 medium zucchini, diced.

Put the large pot on stove. Add olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic together until onion soft, about three minutes. Add celery and carrots sauté, for three minutes. If you are using either or both squashes, add now. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add greens, sauté  for one minute Add water (or non-msg low sodium chicken broth). Add cut up tomatoes (this will make the broth golden colored); Stir well.

Cook on medium heat for at least two hours, stirring every twenty minutes or so. Before serving, taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.

Serve while hot. Store leftover soup in the refrigerator, or ladle into containers and freeze.

Joan's Tips on Gardening with Children 

The tips below are about using gardening to grow relationships with each other and food rather than about learning the finer points of gardening.

  • Talk with your child about what will fit best in the size of the child’s plot/pot and how long each will take to go from seed to plant.
  • Define all gardening terms for your child.
  • Visit the garden daily. Mark off the visits on a little calendar.
  • Use a combination of seeds and “starter” plants to demonstrate more rapid progress.
  • Write down or draw pictures (for pre-readers) to illustrate the child’s specific daily duties for: feeding, watering, thinning and weeding. Do not use chemicals to weed or feed since these could be harmful to the child.
  • Be sure to supervise thinning and weeding the first few times to avoid errors.
  • When “crops” come in, talk about the uses of that herb or vegetable or flower.
  • Select recipes together and use the item in a meal.
  • If you are growing flowers, pick and give them to someone. Use them to decorate the table.
  • Take photos at each stage to document the experience so the child will be able to enjoy the experience over and over again.

Your state’s agricultural extension service is another good place to find gardening information that is specific to your part of the country.

Summer in a Bowl Book Giveaway! Enter to win a FREE autographed copy for yourself, your children, nieces, nephews or grandchildren.

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For more about Joan Leotta
Visit her website
Like her on facebook


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Journey Cakes { a 1775 vintage recipe }

A few weeks ago my friend, Kathy, at Old McCaskill's Farm gave me a bag of Rice Flour form Carolina Plantation Rice because she knew I would use it, make something with it and share the recipe. I guess she knows me pretty well! On the tag on the back of the rice flour was this recipe for Journey Cakes, a circa 1775 recipe from South Carolina. Well right then and there I just knew I had to make them.

What in the world is a Journey Cake?  Legend has it, these cakes would help sustain travelers while they journeyed for long distances, so if you're getting ready to go somewhere, make sure you pack a few of these along! Once I made them I saw this made perfect sense. They are light, nutritious and very portable because they are small. Nowadays they are largely used as a side dish to and grilled or roasted meat.

Carolina Plantation’s White Rice Flour is carefully ground to a fine consistency in our century-old stone-buhr grist mill. We use only our most aromatic rice for this flour to produce a smooth texture and unforgettable taste. Rice flour is a favorite ingredient for gluten-free baking. They also use this flour in our award winning fish fry. 

Carolina Plantation Rice comes to you from the only colonial plantation in the Carolinas to grow rice for commercial sale: Plumfield Plantation on the Great Pee Dee River. This special grain has an aroma and taste that you won't find in any normal grocery store variety. Once you've tasted it, you'll never go back to your current brand. 

Carolina Plantation reintroduced aromatic rice to South Carolina in 1996. With rice once again in her fields, Plumfield Plantation proudly serves a truly distinctive taste of the 18th century southern rice plantations. (source: Carolina Plantation Rice)

2 cups cold cooked Carolina Plantation rice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup Carolina Plantation rice flour
1 1⁄2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400. Stir together rice and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. The batter will be very thin.

Fill greased muffin tins 1/2-3/4 full with batter and bake 18-20 minutes or until brown around edges.

Rosemary-Garlic Journey Cakes: Add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh or dried rosemary and 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic to batter - this is the option I baked. I also added some shredded cheddar cheese to a couple for variety.

Tomato, Parmesan, and Kalamata Olive Journey Cakes: Add 1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped; 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese; and 1/4 cup minced Kalamata olives to rice mixture.

You can watch a video here from America's Heartland on the Carolina Plantation Rice and catch a few more recipes!


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sweet Potato Cornbread

Updated September 2019

I received my friend, Jackie's cookbook, Sweet Potato Love: 60 Recipes for Every Season in the mail as a complete surprise. Oh she told me she wanted to send me something, but I had no idea what it was until it arrived. Such a sweet gesture, and it was even autographed!

Jackie is the popular blogger behind Jackie Garvin's Syrup and Biscuits. I had the pleasure to review her first cookbook last year, "Biscuits -Sweet and Savory Recipes for the All-American Kitchen" which is where I finally learned how to make light, fluffy biscuits ... no joke, only took me about 30 years to learn how to do it right because I'm a northern gal and I never watched anyone bake biscuits until I was well into my adulthood.

Naturally I was super-excited to make a recipe from her new cookbook and couldn't wait to get cooking. 

I chose her Sweet Potato Cornbread because it has cheese and BACON in it, and she talks about using it as a dressing with some Cornish Hens in another recipe. Seemed like a winner to me, so off I set to make it. Oh my goodness, am I ever glad I did ... it is amazing!!

1 sweet potato, baked and mashed
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 eggs
2 cups buttermilk (make your own by adding 1 tbls. lemon juice to 2 cups milk)
2 cups cornmeal
2 cups self-rising flour (make your own by adding 3 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt to all-purpose flour)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sugar (added to heighten the sweetness of the sweet potato and offset the savory of the cheese and bacon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large cast iron fry pan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve drippings; set aside.

In a large bowl, place baked, mashed sweet potato; add eggs and buttermilk and stir until combined. In a separate bowl, add self-rising flour, cooked and crumbled bacon, sugar, shredded cheddar cheese and corn meal stirring well to combine.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. If batter is too stiff and just a touch more buttermilk.

Pour reserved bacon drippings into a hot 9-inch cast iron skillet or baking dish. Spoon batter in and bake 45 minutes or until top is browned and cornbread is cooked through.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cut into pieces and serve with lots of fresh creamery butter.

Also seen on weekend potluck



© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake has a very interesting history! It is one of my favorite cakes to make for special occasions, and makes the perfect cake to take to backyard cookouts or gatherings. Serve it with a dollop of fresh whipped cream to really bring it "over the top!"

Did you know? 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake was invented because several other convenience items were developed that gave the housewife time to make a cake pretty as well as delicious

The idea of cooking a cake upside down, is an old technique that started centuries ago when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. It was easy for cook to add fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan and a simple cake batter on top and put it over the fire to cook. Then flipping it over onto a plate was a natural way to show the pretty fruit and let it run into the cake as well.

The idea of the pineapple soon after 1911 when one of James Dole's engineer had invented a machine to cut his pineapples into nice rings. Soon the convenient and pretty rings were used in this age old technique of the skillet cake. The invention of the maraschino cherry added the necessary color needed to make this cake stunning.

The first recorded recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake:

According to John Mariani's ( The Dictionary of American Food and Drink , Revised Edition, 1994), "The first mention in print of such a cake was in 1930, and was so listed in the 1936 Sears Roebuck catalog, but the cake is somewhat older." In Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads (1995), Sylvia Lovegren traces pineapple upside-down cake to a 1924 Seattle fund-raising cookbook...While rooting around in old women's magazines I found a Gold Medal Flour ad with a full-page, four-color picture of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake--a round cake with six slices of pineapple, candied red cherries, and a brown sugar glaze. The date: November 1925." American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson (p. 432) (source: The Kitchen Project)

1/3 cup Butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
12 slices Dole pineapple well-drained
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, stems removed (or fresh sweet pitted cherries)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbls baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
3 large farm fresh eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1/3 cup butter in 9 x 13-inch ungreased baking pan in oven. Stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar. Spread mixture evenly in pan. Arrange 12 pineapple slices on top. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice, if desired.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in bowl; set aside.

Combine 1 cup brown sugar and 2/3 cup butter in bowl; beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Continue beating, adding eggs 1 at a time, until well mixed. Stir in vanilla.

Gradually add flour mixture alternately with milk, beating at low speed and scraping bowl often after each addition.

Gently spread batter over pineapple. Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Loosen sides of cake from pan by running knife around inside of pan. Invert cake onto serving platter; let stand 5 minutes. Remove pan. Cool completely.


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Exploring the Charleston Tea Plantation and Angel Oak Tree

For two years we tried to go the Charleston Tea Plantation and stop by the Angel Oak Tree. Each time, either due to weather or other conflicts, this trip had to be postponed and rescheduled to another date. It was so frustrating, I almost didn't think it would ever happen, but then, all of a sudden a date worked out, and we were on our way! Everyone was so excited!

We met up at my house early Saturday morning, got everyone situated as to who was riding with who, or driving themselves, and we were off, 6 of us and 4 year old Parker who loves our farm trips!

After just about 2 hours travel time, with a rest stop en route, we arrived at the Angel Oak Tree. Oh my goodness it is magnificent! We felt like ants walking around under it and for good reason; it is huge!

Local mythology claims the tree to be over 1400 years old and the oldest living thing, east of the Rocky Mountains. A more reasonable guess of the magnificent tree’s age would be between 300 and 500 years old. Regardless of its age, the Angel Oak is one of the most beautiful, inspiring and often-visited trees in the southeastern United States.

The tree is 65 feet tall with a diameter of 8.5 feet and has a shade area of approximately 
17, 000 square feet. The longest limb is 89 feet long and it has a circumference of 11.5 feet. From tip to tip Its longest branch distance is 187 ft.

The property on which the Angel Oak stands was originally part of a land grant to Abraham Waight in 1717. Waight became a prosperous planter owning several plantations including The Point where the Angel Oak stood. The property passed from generation to generation, acquiring the Angel name when Martha Waight married Justis Angel in 1810. The City of Charleston acquired the Angel Oak and surrounding property in 1991 and the Angel Oak Park was opened to the public on September 23 of the same year." (source: Angel Oak

After about 20 minutes of "ooooing," "ahhhhhing," and capturing the moment with our phones or cameras, it was time to get in our cars and head a few miles down the road to our destination of the day, The Charleston Tea Plantation! Once we arrived, we quickly parked our cars and made our way into the tea room.

The Charleston Tea Plantation is located on historic Wadmalaw Island in the heart of the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  We're just a few miles south of the historic city of  Charleston. The history of the Island dates back to mid-June of 1666 when it is believed that Captain Robert Sanford and the crew of the Berkeley Bay landed on the shores of what is now known as Rockville, South Carolina. On June 23, 1666, he and his crew claimed the land for England and the Lords Proprietors. Today, Wadmalaw is considered to be one of Charleston's most unspoiled islands. It is approximately 10 miles long and 6 miles wide. The Island's only connection to the mainland is a bridge that crosses over Church Creek. 

Home to The Charleston Tea Plantation, Wadmalaw provides the perfect environment for propagating tea. With its sandy soils, sub-tropical climate and average rainfall of 52 inches per year, Wadmalaw possesses idyllic conditions for the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. This plant is currently used to produce both black and green teas and exists in over 320 varieties on the 127 acre grounds of the Charleston Tea Plantation.

The Charleston Tea Plantation was purchased by family-owned Bigelow Tea Company in 2003, when it became the dream of Eunice and David Bigelow and local partner Bill Hall to combine talents and share their love of tea as a vibrant piece of Americana for all to enjoy. Today, the beautiful 127-acre Charleston Tea Plantation has become the standard bearer for the long and illustrious American tea story. (source: Charleston Tea Plantation)

There we found all the free iced tea you can drink and extremely pleasant and cheerful staff. They really were awesome. We purchased tickets for the trolley tour around the plantation, then some shopped and others participated in a fascinating self-guided factory tour.

After the factory tour it was off on the trolley tour where our guide, along with an audio narration from William (Bill) Barclay Hall, the owner, presented the history and tidbits of information all along the ride. It was fascinating!

William (Bill) Barclay Hall examining the tea plants
Did you know? All the trolley cars came from Kentucky and are named after famous race horses from the Kentucky Derby? Our trolley was Man-O-War!

The tea plants are related to the Southern Camellia, and produce a small flower resembling popped corn when in bloom, which is typically in later October. I can only imagine how beautiful an entire field would be then!

And the plantation manages all of it's harvesting with the aid of a special piece of equipment designed exclusively for them. This equipment allows them to manage and process all the tea with just 4 people as opposed to the 500 or so required at other tea plantations in the world.

Most importantly, the Charleston Tea Plantation also has a strong environmental commitment.

One of the most important things that the Bigelow family as well as everyone at the Charleston Tea Plantation tries to do is make a difference. How do we do that? We do it in many ways, and it is the philosophy started by Ruth Campbell Bigelow and very much continued by the Bigelow family that has influenced us. Today it is ingrained in the culture of our company as articulated in the Bigelow Tea "Mission Statement". It is simple "do the right thing and good things will follow".

This pertains to all aspects of our business. It starts with growing the tea made in America. We at the Charleston Tea Plantation are serious about protecting the environment, giving back to our community and taking care of our employees and their families...for future generations.

Here are just a few of the things we do to protect our planet and to improve our community...                                     
We do NOT use any pesticides (herbicides, fungicides and insecticides)!

Thanks to our custom designed irrigation system we are able to rely solely on rain and pond water to hydrate our young tea plants.  This type of water conservation is extremely beneficial to the future of our planet.

Waste (stems and fibers) from made tea is used as mulch in the tea fields.  This mulch not only helps the soil to retain water, it also inhibits weed growth, keeps the soil temperatures from becoming too hot or too cold and even protects sloping ground from soil erosion.  This type of organic mulch breaks down overtime, providing an environment that encourages the growth of earthworms and other beneficial insects.

You can learn more about the Charleston Tea Plantation and their commitment to "do things right" here by watching this short video.

After the trolley tour, we finished up our shopping and headed out to enjoy lunch at the Angel Oak Restaurant. Their menu is sourced completely from local farms and markets, everything is cooked fresh daily and have no microwaves or freezers. It was an amazing meal enjoyed sitting around the table laughing and talking about our adventure, and to me, there's nothing better than good food and good friends!

Once again, it never ceases to amaze me just how great South Carolina local farms, markets and "farm to table" restaurants are, and what fabulous things they are doing for you and me every day. It was truly a great day and one I won't soon forget.

Until next time!


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Jam-Off" at the Bloomsbury Inn

Jam-Off? What exactly is a "jam off?" It's a friendly, fun j-petitor competition hosted by the Bloomsbury Inn, located in Camden, South Carolina. I entered when my friend, Robin Willoughby, who originally mentioned it to me last year, reminded me when it was coming up this year. I'm so glad I did because I won 3rd place!! I also roped a couple of my friends to enter too, and one of them won 2nd place ... and she thought she was a "jam failure" because she sometimes has problems with them setting up. Well, as you will see, she's now a "jam winner!"

Steeped in history, the construction of Bloomsbury was completed in 1849-1854 by Colonel James Chesnut, Sr and Mary Cox Chesnut. At that time, Colonel Chesnut was the third wealthiest man in South Carolina. He owned Mulberry Plantation (seven and one-half square miles in size today), Sandy Hill, Hermitage, Town Creek, Pine Tree, and Belmont. The home was built for their daughter, Sally Chesnut. Bloomsbury is named for Mary Cox Chesnut’s childhood home, Bloomsbury Court in Trenton, NJ.

In 2004 Bruce and Katherine Brown, both retired Air Force Colonels, purchased Bloomsbury and began an extensive renovation that continues today, including the ole’ kitchen house, the three-bay garage and grounds. In September of 2005, they opened Bloomsbury Inn as a bed and breakfast. The Browns have continued to update and restore Bloomsbury since opening.

Begun in 2013, and now in its fourth year, the Bloomsbury Inn Jam-Off was held Sunday, September 11, 2016. It's an amateur competition and a panel of jam-loving judges select the top three entries in the entire universe over all those entered. The top three entries are awarded a Jam-Off Certificate and Prize.

"In the beginning we had a Bloomsbury anniversary party each year. Four years ago in 2013 I had grown tired of that idea, so I came up with Jam-Off with J-petitors. Now in its 4th year, anyone from anywhere can compete and we have had entries from Washington state, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and all over South Carolina," explained Katherine Brown.

This year the event saw entries from Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, and South Carolina. There were 38 total entries featuring everything from Strawberry Jam to Carrot Cake Jam, to Champagne Jam.

The judges Margaret Lawhorn, Kirk Mays, and John Moncure scored every entry on flavor, color and texture. They do not know who entered what jar. After they finish scoring, they compare scores and notes, re-taste as necessary, and determine winners. They taste each jam on a tiny square of artisan white bread and have nothing but ice water to clear the flavor. Everyone who enters a jam, all past judges and local friends are invited. 

Each year a turkey is provided by Cooper Farms in Ohio by Cheryl Cooper, to allow all guests to taste or eat jams. The turkey is carved into small pieces and presented on a platter along with a variety of culinary delights. All the food is prepared by Katherine Brown, Bloomsbury Inn owner/host and friends Cheryl Cooper and Dody Phillips. Bruce Brown, Bloomsbury Inn owner/host, and a friend, Steve Brunson from Tennessee, handled all drinks.

And the winners were:
  • 1st place went to Joy Parrot, of Camden, SC with an old-fashioned Strawberry Jam
  • 2nd place to Claudia (Nikki) Carriere of Columbia, SC with a Cherry-Peach Jam
  • 3rd place was Mary Marshall of Wedgefield, SC and her Caramel Apple Jam 
  • Most Unique was Rachel Jellenik of Columbia, SC and Carrot Cake Jam 

This event was a fun and wonderful first-class evening for everyone who attended. The food was exquisite, and the jams ... oh my goodness, the jams! So many varieties and flavor profiles. I'm sure glad I wasn't a judge, every single one I sampled was amazing. Just take a look:

Be sure to check out my winning Caramel Apple Jam entry, the single most popular post on my website with more than 37,644 shares, and make it yourself for your family and friends. It's delish!

For more about the Bloomsbury Inn:
Visit their Website
Like them on Facebook
Check them out on Tripadvisor
See their listing on Select Registry