Memories, recipes bring back feel of old Beaufort

January 12, 2011 

Anyone who spends time with Millie Boyce can feel the love she has for what she does. It shows in her voice and the smile on her face.

Millie celebrates Beaufort every day. She loves to ride through the city and point out what once was and how much fun she had with friends. As the city readies to celebrate its tricentennial, Millie shares some of her memories:

"Both sides of my family go back to the late 1600s in South Carolina, but it was in the early 1900s that my mother's family, the Brants, came from Colleton County and made the Burton area their home.

"Granddaddy built their home, farmed and opened a store in downtown Beaufort. He sold fruits, vegetables and -- to my grandmother's dismay -- also sold beer from his little spot in the corner of the Saltus House on Bay Street. My favorite item sold there was boiled peanuts.

"Grandmother opened her business, Travelers Rest, also on Bay Street. It was a boarding house, and this was a time when Parris Island needed workers. Men would come to spend a week working and enjoyed a place to stay where there was a homey feeling, like a home away from home.

"My dad's family, the Ginns, came from Hampton County and made the Burton area their home. Granddaddy was the overseer for the Walker place, known then as Retreat Plantation, and now as Pinckney Retreat. He also had a store in downtown Beaufort. Granddaddy's store was on the corner of Charles and Duke streets and later the store was owned by Sam Washington.

"Since I grew up just a block from the store, I appreciated Mr. Sam having ice-cold Nehi orange and grape sodas. MoonPies were also great, so I was always ready to run to the store for any last-minute items for the household.

"The area in Burton known as Cherry Hill had a Sunday school building. Both sides of the family, the Ginns and the Brants, attended the Cherry Hill Sunday School since it was closer than the Baptist Church of Beaufort, where they were members. During a special photography session a photo was taken of both sets of my grandparents, my parents and all their siblings. It is a picture that I treasure.

"When I was in Beaufort Elementary, four girls -- Nell Harter, Charlotte Bowers, Mary Frances Brown, Betty Cooler -- and I became friends. It was as if it was yesterday and the friendship is as strong today as it was then. What a blessing to have friends to share and feel comfortable around. Sometimes we still think we are 16 and we laugh and talk as if we were."

The city of Beaufort is dear to Millie -- her memories of it being a small town, the waterfront and river, the stores and everybody knowing everybody. Like her stories, she also likes to share recipes. When doing so, she smiles and it seems as if another set of memories are beginning to unfold.

"You know, I have just shared a little about my life growing up, I need to share my adult life," she said. "Oh, well. Another time, another story."

For now, these recipes will hold us until the next one.

Shrimp Creole

2 pounds shrimp, cleaned, deveined

4 strips bacon

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (16-ounce) can stewed tomatoes

1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 large onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Tobasco sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, render strips of bacon, cut to fry. Add tomatoes and sauce. In a separate pan, heat oil and saute vegetables until slightly crisp, not overdone. Add sauteed vegetables to sauce with the rest of ingredients. Simmer on low heat for about an hour. Add shrimp and increase heat slightly for about 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

Ora Brant Ginn's Pound Cake

My mom would never bake a cake except on the incoming tide. It really does make a difference in how high the cake will rise. This cake was a favorite of my dad, Ethan Ginn.

1/2 pound butter

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

3 cups cake flour

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

1 teaspoon lemon flavoring

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter; add sugar and eggs. Slowly add flour and then the sour cream and flavorings. When well-blended, pour into lightly greased and floured tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Green and Gold Salad

2 boxes lime Jell-O

1 can crushed pineapple

1/2 package miniature marshmallows

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 cup whipped cream

Pinch of salt

Mix Jell-O according to package directions, allow to set but not get too firm. Fold in the ingredients and place in a square dish to set. Refrigerate for a least 2 hours. Serve over lettuce.

Recipes from Millie Boyce

Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. E-mail her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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