Many things in life come about just by chance. So it was with Mary Principino and the Tea Time with God ladies.
Years ago, Principino -- who lives on Callawassie -- decided to explore Port Royal with a friend. While riding around town, they happened upon a tea house on 11th Street.
There, at A Lil Piece of Heaven, they received a warm Southern greeting, tea and scones and a local history lesson.
Principino is a native of Palmyra, N.Y., and moved to the Lowcountry because, like many others, she was taken with its beauty, warmth and charm. She and her husband, Nick, love the area. Their dogs also enjoy living here.
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"The beauty of the place might bring one here, but the people who share this beauty and charm cause one to stay here," Principino said.
Through the Tea Time with God ladies, who met at the tea house on Tuesday mornings, she deepened her faith with prayer, praise and song, which the women shared over tea and baked goods. When the tea house closed, the group began meeting at Love House Ministries.
Principino, an accountant, always sat near to the door on those mornings because she would have to leave early for work, but the weekly drive over was an important spiritual time for her.
Over the years, the Tea Time with God ladies learned much about Principino's family and about her memories as a child. She loved to cook with her Grandmother Mary.
"It was so much fun. It seems as if my grandmother put so much love in food preparation. They were all simple dishes," Principino said, "but no dinner was complete without them."
When Principino would ask her grandmother how much of each ingredient was in her recipes, the reply was always "a little of this, a little of that."
Principino is moving to the Upstate, and parting is such sweet sorrow. But the Tea Time with God ladies know that Principino might just surprise them at any moment with stories from her new home.
The recipes this week are ones that Principino shared with the Tea Time with God ladies.
GRANDMA'S BAKED BEANS -- "A FAMILY RECIPE"
1 pound bag Great Northern Beans
1 pound bacon
Soak beans in water minimum 4 hours or overnight. There should be enough water to allow the beans to swell. Once beans have soaked, slice 1 onion and put in bean pot.
Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to bean pot. Cook beans on medium heat, stirring occasionally so not to stick or burn, until tender. Be sure there is enough excess water to make the bean juice, but not too much so the beans are "watery." Cook time is about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Once beans are tender, remove from heat and allow them to cool until warm rather than hot. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season beans to taste with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Garnish with onion slices.
Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden on top.
POTATO CANDY ("POOR MAN'S CANDY")
small white potato
flavoring, peppermint or spearmint
walnuts or pecans to garnish
Peel and boil potato until tender. Mash and add confectioners sugar. Mix until stiff and lump free. Add in flavor of choice and food coloring. Roll into small, bite-size balls. Place on wax paper surface. Press nut for garnish on tip and flatten into small patty.
TRIPLE RASPBERRY BROWNIE
For the brownies:
1/2 cup moist prunes
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 box brownie mix
2 egg whites
1/4 cup raspberry liqueur or water
1/3 cup raspberry fruit spread or preserve
For the raspberry sauce:
2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
fresh mint sprigs
For the brownies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch by 9-inch baking pan with butter-flavored cooking spray; set aside. In blender, puree prunes and applesauce. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
Add brownie mix, egg whites and raspberry liqueur or water to blender. Blend just to combine. Mix with prunes and applesauce. Transfer batter to prepared baking pan; set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the preserves. Drizzle over brownies. Swirl with a table knife. Bake in oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and cool completely before cutting.
For the raspberry sauce:
Puree thawed raspberries, honey and liqueur in blender. Push through a fine mesh strainer; set aside.
To serve, place brownie on plate with sauce.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition.