Bloomsbury Inn

1707 Lyttleton Street, Camden, South Carolina 29020
Innkeeper(s): Bruce and Katherine Brown

Our 4th Jam-Off, 11 September 2016 4 Aug 2016, 2:26 pm

The fourth Bloomsbury Jam-Off  is Sunday, 11 September 2016!  Yes, Jam-Off (amateur jam-off).  A panel of jam-loving judges will be selecting the top three entries in the entire universe.  Well, the top three of those j-petitors(contestants) who make a submission to be judged.  The top three entries will be awarded a Jam-Off Certificate and Prize.

Be sure to follow the rules for the Jam-Off:

* All submissions must reach Bloomsbury not later than 2 September 2016:    Bloomsbury Inn, 1707 Lyttleton Street, Camden SC 29020

* Each submission must be made in a pint jar or smaller, home canned (NO commercially produced items please)

* Unfortunately we cannot accept refrigerator jams

* Acceptable submissions include jam, jelly, preserves, fruit sauces and fruit spreads

* Each submission must be accompanied by a card containing:

    J-petitors Name, Address, Telephone Number and Email Address (email addresses will not be shared/sold)

           Title of Submission

          Category of Submission (jam, jelly, preserve, sauce, spread)

         Recipe (this recipe will be shared upon request…so please do not send Auntie Margaret’s Secret Recipe)

* Be sure to tell your friends they should also make a submission (ok — they don’t have to be friends)

* Everyone who submits a jam for competition is invited to the Jam-off event on 11 September

Homemade jams are on the breakfast table every time breakfast is served at Bloomsbury Inn in Camden, South Carolina.  Peach Margarita with hot biscuits from Grandmother Sally Rose’s iron skillet…Strawberry Fig with chocolate croissants…Pineapple Spice with hot crescents…

Inn guests are always asking for recipes, regional secrets and tips.  In fact, many want to learn how to can jam and jellies.  So, in 2013 the competition was opened for j-petitors to submit their best jar of jam and recipe to compete in the first Jam-Off.  Today, you can submit yours.

So, j-petitors start canning now and be sure to have your j-tastic submission in by 2 September 2016.

Farm to Table jams

Buttered Nut Creme Cheesecake 24 Jul 2016, 10:22 am

Buttered Nut Crème Cheesecake is from an ancient Roman recipe.  Yes, Greece was most likely the introducer of cheesecake – but, this Roman one is a keeper.

CRUST:

1 & ¼  cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, cold and cut into small parts

 

NUTS:

2 cups dry roasted mixed nuts (pecans can be substituted)

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons sugar

¼  teaspoon salt

 

FILLING:

2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temp

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup heavy cream

 

Preheat the oven to 350.

Crust:  Mix the flour, sugar and salt.  Incorporate the butter until the mixture is a smooth crumbly texture.  You can use the fancy pastry blender or as I do, use your hand.  It will hold together when pressed.  Press the crust mix into the bottom of and up the sides of a 9-in tart pan or cheesecake pan.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until crust is lightly browned.  Cool completely.

Nuts:  Place the 2 butter in a large skillet and begin to melt.  Add the nuts, salt and the sugar.   Cook over medium heat…watch very carefully.  Stir until the nuts are toasted (6-8 minutes).  Don’t burn the butter.  Spread out on parchment paper to cool.  Set aside ½ cup to edge the cake.

Filling:  Using an electric mixer, beat the room temperature cream cheese.    Blend in the white sugar.  Blend in the brown sugar.  Blend until smooth.  Allow to rest while you whip the cream.  In a cold bowl, using cold mixer blades, whip the cream until peaks form.  Make sure the cream cheese mix is smooth and fold in 1/3 of the whip cream.  When well mixed, gently fold in the remaining whip cream.  Stir in nuts.  Spread the filling in the cooled crust.  Gently sprinkle extra nuts around the outer edge.  Chill for at least 8 hours before serving…can be made in advance. 

Summer Garden 24 May 2016, 7:15 am

Growing up, my Mother had an old-fashioned Hydrangea planted under my bedroom window!    I loved that plant.  Plus, living in the South (at that time with no air conditioning), a slight evening breeze would fill my room with the gentle smell of that Hydrangea.   As I sit here…I can smell that gentle breeze.

From the gardens of Bloomsbury

Now living in South Carolina, I have one garden dedicated to Hydrangeas.  They love shade/partial sun and plenty of water.  Since last October, we have had rain and rain.  As a result, the Hydrangea garden is just beautiful this year.

The idea soil is consistently moist, well-drained, humus rich soil.  Plus, we use a fair amount of mulch to keep the roots cool and to retain moisture.  Since this garden space is large, very little pruning is required with old-fashioned hydrangeas.  Old-fashioned hydrangeas set their flowers on previous year’s growth, or what is referred to as old wood.   If you feel that you must prune, do so in early spring.  Be sure you just tidy up the plant by removing any dead stems and old flowers.  If you love to cut, go to a different plant.  Deep cutting will almost always result in zero blooms for up to a year.

We us a very slow release fertilizer twice during the summer, usually in June and August.  And, my go to secret weapon:   milorganite.   We have local deer…yes, right here inside the city limits of Camden.  Milorganite fertilizer will keep them out of the garden area.  The other great thing, you can not burn your plants with it.

Today, Hydrangeas abound in many colors and styles,  we mix and match all through our garden for a beautiful flow of colors and designs.  Still, still I treasure the old-fashioned varieties for their colorful, long lasting flowers.  The below picture was made in 2010…we’ve come a very long way since then.

The Perfect Bloomsbury Omelet 29 Apr 2016, 8:54 am

Lots of chefs believe that they make a perfect omelet.  They will boost of their special pan or only using gas heat or farm fresh eggs.  Well, I learned the perfect omelet method from a friend of mine who owns Common Earth Farms in Bedford NH.  When she first shared this method…I thought “right Gail”.  Then I tried it:

2 extra large eggs per omelet, room temperature

2 TBS heavy cream, actually I use Half and Half

Cheese(s)

Meat(s)

Vegetable(s)

Spices(s)/Herb(s)

Salt/Pepper

1 sandwich size baggie, use a good brand

1 large pot of boiling water

Mix your eggs and cream until well blended.  Pour this mix into the baggie.  Add your favorite cheese – 2 TBS or so.  If you like meat, add 1 heaping TBS.  Season as you desire.  Roll, press all the air from the baggie and seal it firmly.  Now mix/shake up all your ingredients.  Place the baggie directly into boiling water for 13-15 minutes.  You will cook a perfect omelet.  Yes, more than one baggie can be in the large pot of water, but do not overcrowd as the baggies will want to stick together.

Suggested combinations:

  • Cooked bacon, spinach, onion, Swiss cheese.

  • Cooked ham, asparagus, gruyere cheese, fresh herbs.

  • Salted/well-drained tomatoes, multi-cheese blend, onion, fresh herbs.

  • Cooked sausage, parmesan cheese, celery and garlic.

  • Cooked turkey, eggplant, blue cheese.

  • Hashbrowns cooked with bacon, bell pepper and onion, feta.

  • Blend of grilled garden vegetables and herbs, tofu.

You can use this recipe for any of your favorite omelet recipes.  It will be perfectly cooked with no “brown” spots!  Enjoy your Bloomsbury Omelet!

Our Town Video 29 Feb 2016, 1:12 pm

(video/mp4; 94.18 MB)

Town or City 17 Feb 2016, 1:35 pm

February 2016

When seeking the magic of Camden, South Carolina, it matters not if Camden is a town or a city.  But, you will be interested in the answer after you have visited this perfect little place.

Speaking of visiting, pack a bag as you cannot possibly enjoy all that Camden offers in just a day trip (you really need 3+ days):

  1. You will definitely want to arrive early! A quick stop at the Kershaw County Chamber  of Commerce will arm you with additional information about visiting Camden.  Plus, the Chamber is located in the historic Robert Mills Courthouse (yes, the one and same, designer of the Washington Monument and many other historic building in South Carolina).  
  2. Before you get too ensconced in the museums, attractions and shopping, enjoy a self-guided driving tour of the historic district of Camden. The wide streets will allow you to meander by 40+ antebellum homes, as your read about each.
  3. While you are in this area, you will want to take a stop at Victoria Susan’s Wearable Art on Dicey Ford Road. That’s right – wearable art!
  4. Have you worked up an appetite, but you don’t want to ruin your dinner plans? Candy’s at the Granary, aka  Carolina Café as the locals call it, offers a great selection of salads, soups, and sandwiches.  Skip the coffee service because…
  5. Books on Broad, a privately owned, hometown bookstore, has an amazing array of reads and a gourmet coffee bar.
  6. Off to the Camden Archives and Museum. Not gun guru, the Ross Beard Gun Collection is a must see.  From 14th century weapons to one of Dillinger’s sub-machine guns, from genealogy research to Boykin Spaniels, you will enjoy this visit.
  7. Are you ready for check-in? The award-winning Bloomsbury Inn awaits you.  When you are all settled, take a stroll around the grounds and down to the Rectory Square where you will see the gazebo water.  Be sure to be back for the 5:30 pm Bloomsbury Social. Great food and drink with an opportunity to tell everyone about your day. At 6:30 pm you may want to take a carriage ride with Camden Carriage. Camden Carriage provides a 45 minute tour of our historic district which explores the city history and a few ghost stories.
  8. Seeking the most fun dinner in town, be sure Bloomsbury booked you a reservation at Salud Mexican Kitchen. No, you cannot order anything by the number and noting comes with gobs of beans and rice.  You will enjoy authentic, fresh, made-from-scratch Mexican food.  Oh yes, there are over 200 tequilas on the bar.  Oh yes, all the margaritas are made from scratch with fresh squeezed juices.  Not in the mood for the best Mexican cuisine east of the Mississippi, fine dining awaits you at the Boykin Millpond Steakhouse.
  9. When you return to Bloomsbury, you might like to sit in one of the big white rockers to enjoy the beautiful evening before you retire. You definitely want to get a great night of sleep as tomorrow is full – beginning with breakfast in the Chesnut Dining Room. Depending on the day, you may enjoy biscuits right out of Grandmother’s iron skillet, hot apple soup and Bloomsbury Benedict. 
  10. Your next trip might be the National Steeplechase Museum. You will see a short video on the history of the Springdale Race Track, and then have the opportunity to view the displays of jockey colors and trophy silver. In the mood for more horse-adventures, stop by the Tack Room. It is the largest on the east coast, with over 30,000 square feet of items that even those who are not “horse people” will find interesting: saddles, furniture, clothing, boots, house wares, and unique gifts.
  11. Trust me, since your breakfast will carry you well into the afternoon, head to the Revolutionary War Park. Here you will learn about the town/city participation in the Revolutionary War. While in this area, a drive through Quaker Cemetery is recommended.
  12. Next you will want to start touring antiques shops: Camden Antique Market, The Menagerie, Ellie’s Attic, The Habitat Store and the Heritage Antique Mall. This is a partial list; during your stop at the Chamber of Commerce, you will receive the antique guide/map or Bloomsbury always has them.

OH MY…you missed:
…the local parks

…a movie at The Little Theatre

…the Broom Store

…lazy swings in the Bloomsbury hammock

…Camden Military Academy

…Pearl Fryer’s Topiary and the Cotton Museum in nearby Bishopville

…visiting a local church

…a performance at the local Fine Arts Center

…Buckley School of Public Speaking

…a leisurely drive through horse country

…bird watching

…touring Carolina Motorsports Parkway just 17 miles north of Camden

…and, so much more!

Town or city?  In the United States, an incorporated city is a legally defined government entity, with powers delegated by the state and county, and created and approved by the voters of the city. You will love visiting the city of Camden, South Carolina.

February 2016, May LeBruin, Independent Writers Inc.

 

Helping a Little Friend with “Snack Day” 6 Feb 2016, 12:44 pm

Last Spring, one of my little friends invited me to participate in his school “snack day”.  We decided to have Dolphin Bowls with a Dolphin Story Time.  We prepared them at Bloomsbury Inn.  Remember to ask the teachers if there are any student allergies so you can prepare accordingly.

Supplies: 

Disposable blue soup bowls, disposable dolphin tablecloth and a black felt tip marker

Bananas

Green seedless  grapes

Red seedless grapes

Box of goldfish crackers

Set out the desired number of bowls.   Cut 1/3 off the bottom of each banana (save for another dessert).  Split the stem end of the banana to form a mouth to hold the goldfish.  Insert the goldfish into the slit. Dot eyes on the banana.  Place the banana, flat cut surface to bottom of soup bowl.  Fill around the banana with green and red seedless grapes to form the water in the bowl.  Add a few more goldfish to the water.  Repeat until you have produced the required number of Dolphin Cups.  Note:  add appropriately colored jelly beans to the water if desired.  And, stickers on the soup bowls are a nice add.

Write a short children’s story about Dolphins…informative, simple, fun…to be read while the students enjoy their snacks.  Or, checkout a book at the local library to share with the students.

You will be the hit of the “snack day”.  Perfect for kindergarten through second grade classrooms.

PS…take a container of “wet wipes” for easy desk and hand cleanup at the end of “snack day”.

Bloomsbury Biscuits 19 Dec 2015, 8:00 am

We are often times complimented on our biscuits.  They are just Southern biscuits cooked in my Grandmother’s iron skillet.  Maybe it is all the years of love (or the real butter) that makes them so soft and fluffy.   I tell everyone that I use the Pillsbury Southern Biscuit recipe.

  •  2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cubed (real butter)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, (more or less if needed)

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Cut butter into mixture until it begins to look like cornmeal or Grandmother’s pearls.

Make a well with flour mixture and slowly add milk into the middle. Very gently mix the dough with your fingers and add milk when necessary.  Gently pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface to desired thickness.  Cut with small biscuit cutter.  Well, of course, I use Grandmother Sallie Rose’s biscuit cutter.

Generously butter the bottom and sides of  the iron skillet (you guessed it – Grandmother’s skillet) and place biscuits in pan. Bake at 350 degrees until fluffy and golden brown.

For some reason, everyone thinks there are secrets, so I have made up some:

Secret – Preheat the oven .

Secret –  Use very cold ingredients…I am so hot natured that my kitchen is always cold.  If yours is not…chill you ingredients in the freezer before you begin.

Secret –  Use very cold butter in the biscuits. It can be lard like Grandmother used, but I like butter.  If using butter, cut the cold butter into small cubes. Cut butter into the flour mix using two knives or a pastry cutter until crumbly.

Secret –  Use buttermilk if you like.  A table spoon of white vinegar or lemon juice will make real milk into buttermilk.  But, of course, you knew that because Grandmother told you.

Secret – Cold dough. Remember, a successful fluffy and light biscuit comes from keeping the dough cold and not handling it too much. The heat from your hands will melt the butter, so you must work fast, but with a very gentle hand and soft touch because you do not want the dough to get warm (translate: get touch)!

Secret – Folding. There is no “kneading” of biscuit dough.  If you think it needs it, you can fold the dough a couple of times as you pat it out.

Secret –  No twisting! Dip you biscuit cutter in flour.  Use a cutter about 2 to 3 inches in size.  So just press down and lift up – no twisting!! If you love flat biscuits…twist away as it will bind the edge of the biscuit and keep it for rising very well.

Secret – Butter the iron skillet a little more than you think it should be…bottom and sides.  Place the biscuits in the skillet…the biscuits love each other and they want to touch.

Secret – It takes practice to make good biscuits…Grandmother Sallie Rose said, “Practice every other morning and soon you will have it right.”

Holiday Bug Bites 1 Dec 2015, 6:04 am

It is that time of year, the decorations are going up…you are feeling festive…you want to share a special time with friends.  Well, here is a great idea to consider:  A Champagne and Cookie Reception.  Not a cookie exchange, but a true Holiday Reception.

Select your date and design a pretty, seasonal invitation such as this one for Bloomsbury:

 

Design an interesting guest list, include a varied mix of individuals.  If at all possible, include someone new or several new guests for everyone to meet.  Be sure to post your invitations early to ensure all of the guests have time to plan…someone may need a babysitter or to re-arrange another appointment or to secure transportation.

The menu is so easy.  You will need a Champagne Bar — all the latest rage and several dozen cookies.  Of course, you will also want to serve a non-alcoholic punch.  But, back to the Champagne Bar:

A good quality champagne (it does not need to be expensive unless you so desire)

A bottle of Cassis

A bottle of Cointreau

Fresh mint, rosemary, and lemongrass springs (your favorite herbs)

Mini peppermints

Mini marshmallows

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries (your favorite berries)

and festive champagne glasses.  I love to use a wide variety of glasses…yes crystal or real glass.  Arrange your Champagne Bar in a location that will encourage the guests to help themselves and encourage them to try different additives.  You will need to have 1/2 to 1/3 bottle of Champagne on hand, and very well chilled, for each guest attending.

 The next task is to design a festive cookie table.  This table can host your non-alcoholic punch and your array of homemade cookies.  At this time of year, everyone loves to enjoy the favorite cookies of others.  t is wise to plan three to four cookies per guest.  You can introduce as many types of cookies as you desire, but six or more types is fun.  Use one of grandmother’s old recipes, select one from Southern Living magazine or from the latest Tea Time.  If you plan to use just serving trays and napkins (vs plates), it is smart to avoid bars and extremely crumbly treats.

Use a simple non-alcoholic punch:  mix 1/2 white grape juice and 1/2 ginger ale together, fill your punch bowl with crushed ice, add the punch mix and serve well chilled.  You can use punch cups or champagne glasses for this punch.

There are a couple of ways to collect memories of your event.  One is to ask a friend to take a few, unintrusive photographs and the other is to use your guest book to register your guests.

We hope that you enjoy a very festive and wonderful Holiday Season filled with much love and peace!

Designing Your Entry (the magic of the entry is you) 29 Oct 2015, 9:12 am

The magic begins before you ever open the front door, but today we are focusing on what awaits one just inside the door.  The perfect entryway is the window to your home or your business or your life.  As a re result, this first impression should reflect you.

The entry or entry hall may be one of the smaller rooms but it is one of the most important.  Or, it may be a large, grand statement.   It is the first impression you make…it is the first room that is seen…it sets the stage for initial opinions.  It is also a very functional space.  So it should be very welcoming.  It might be soft and gentle; it might be contemporary and engaging; or, it might be wild!

Regardless of style, there are several basic ideas to consider:

  1. Color is the first impression.  Select carefully a color palette that well-represents you and that transitions well into all rooms that open off the entryway.  Determine your core colors upon which you will base the entire space.  It might be one color for a monochromatic approach or three colors that enhance your final delivery.

It is time to think walls, flooring, ceiling.

2.  The flooring of the entryway should be selected to withstand the expected traffic, ranging from wood to tile to cork to carpet.   Once the primary flooring choice is made, don’t forget to strategically place the entry rug.  This first rug has a solid purpose:  collect everything crossing the threshold that should immediately stop upon entry.   Additional rugs are for décor.

 3.  The lighting should be designed in layers. First, good lighting for secure entering is necessary.  This might be a simple overhead light or a grand chandelier – it must flood the space with light when necessary.  To easily adjust the “feel” of this overarching lighting, a rheostat works wonders.  To further adjust the feel, space permitting, it is nice to have either wall sconces or table lamps as the second layer of light for the entry.

 4.  Introduce furniture based upon available floor space. Remember, this is the entry…leave room to entry.  It is nice to have a space to sit to tie a shoe or remove a muddy boot:

 A flat surface beside a table lamp is also enjoyed by those who enter with something in their hands.    Depending how formal the entry, a guest book or a business card dish might be present.

5.  Corralling shoes, warps, mittens, etc. can be challenging. Some entries have the perfect closet, while others have none.  If there is no closet, consider hooks or pegs or be prepared to place these items into another room.  But, above all, the entry is not the space for clutter.   If you intend to leave your keys upon entry, you need a hook or a small dish specifically for the keys.Call it old fashioned, but an umbrella stand can certainly save your flooring from water drips and damage.

 6.  A critical item that is often over looked is the mirror. A quick glance upon entering or just before departing is always appreciated. 

7.  If the space is large enough to host a table, a settee, books, plants, etc., by all means enjoy the additional decorating challenge. If the entry hosts a set of stairs, never – absolutely never, store/place anything on the stairs!

 The entry creates the first impression and is also the last impression.  Make the entry functional, as well as inviting. And, make sure it is not a “catch all” space.