Archive for January, 2012

Camellias 101

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

It isn’t just happenstance that our inn is named the Camellia Cottage Bed and Breakfast. We are the proud caretakers of over 40 mature camellia bushes in our gardens; blooming in a variety of pure pinks, reds and whites as well as various combinations of these colors. Based on the size and apparent age of many of these showy shrubs, we think that they were planted by Henry MacMillan (of Henry’s Room fame) possibly during the 1930s when he was one of the founding members of the local Camellia Society.

What do we know about these stars of our gardens from Thanksgiving all the way to Memorial Day? (from Wikipedia)

Camellias are native to eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Korea and Indonesia. The genus Camellia was named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel from Brno, who worked in the Philippines, though he never described a camellia. There are at least 100 different species.

The most famous camellia is the tea plant (C. sinensis). Among the ornamental species, the Japanese Camellia (C. japonica) (which despite its name is also found in Korea and Eastern China) and C. sasanqua are perhaps the most widely known, though most camellias grown for their flowers are cultivars or hybrids.

So, come to Wilmington to check out our camellias, take some pictures, pick a fabulous flower for your loved one or maybe even dig up a seedling to transplant to your garden.

Sunday Night, Gluten-Free Pizza

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

 Here is a simple Italian  farinata for you to whip up when your sweet tooth is exhausted and craving something crisp and savory.  It is something between a tart and a pizza crust, baked in a cast iron skillet.  It doesn’t rise, stays flat.  I like it prepared very simply.  After baking and cooling, top it with some arugula, Japanese greens, or any combo of mustard, kale, pok choy, or any green you can eat raw dressed with a nice crisp vinaigrette.  Some olives tossed on top are good, too, but don’t overwhelm the unusual pastry.  As farinata is made with chickpea flour (Tidal Creek), it is perfect for our gluten-free friends. 

Farinata

2 cups warm water

11/2 cups chickpea flour (7.5 oz.)

11/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

61/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

8 inch cast-iron skillet

Pour water into a bowl.  Slowly whisk in chickpea flour until smooth.  Let stand at room temp at least 2 hours or overnight (8 hours). 

Heat oven to 500.  Skim any foam off batter, then stir in salt and 2 tablespoons oil. 

Heat skillet in oven for 10 minutes.  Carefully add 11/2 tablespoons oil to skillet, swirling to coat.  Pour about 2/3 cup batter into skillet (batter should be less than ¼ inch thick).  Bake until farinata is crisp around the edges and lightly golden on top, 20 – 30 minutes.

Repeat with remaining oil and batter.

Slide farinata onto a board; cut into wedges.  Sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately.

Carolina Beach State Park

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

January in Wilmington, North Carolina.  The sky is clear, the sun is shining brightly, temps in the upper 60’s.  Ah yes, the dead of winter.  What to do to cure the post-holiday, mid-winter blahs?  Get out and get moving!  It doesn’t hurt here this time of year as it does where we came from!  Or maybe where you come from.

One of our favorite hikes, any time of year, is Carolina Beach State Park, located 16 miles from Camellia Cottage, just off Carolina Beach Road.  It runs along the Cape Fear River, not on the ocean at all.  There are wonderful sandy trails, shaded by tall pines.  Some of them along the river have narrow beaches at low tide.  Inside the park are several large ponds and wetlands, home to naturally growing Venus Flytraps.  Boaters can take advantage of the newly renovated marina.  Best of all, this time of the year you pretty much have the whole park to yourself.

As much as Sparky loves the beach, he loves the variety of sights and scents here even better. He particularly likes water bodies (river and ponds) without waves in them. If your four-legged friend isn’t comfortable in the ocean waves, check this place out.  Next time you’re staying with us, throw the dog and a picnic in the back seat, instead of skis and snowshoes.  Enjoy the stroll for an hour or a day and feel rejuvenated.