A Nest Full of Daughters

Max Rogers, lucky man, is constantly surrounded with females. The popular ob-gyn cares for women all day, then returns home to wife Mandy and five girls, including 17-year-old triplets. Even their family pets are female. The holidays herald more of the feminine persuasion. Mandy’s mother, Tippy Hamel, is always included, and Mandy’s sister, Amy Spottswood, brings her three daughters to the festivities.

Max and his brother-in-law, George Spottswood, appreciate the challenge of living with their bevy of ladies.

“Well, ” Max says, “obviously being around so many women causes some complexities. At Easter, for example, my family is a wonderful blessing that fills my heart with joy. However, getting ready for Easter church” he adds with a laugh, “now that can be a nightmare.”

The men agree that holidays are a delightful time. “All the cousins really enjoy being around one another, ” George says. The girls fondly refer to themselves as The Hamel Cousins Club.

- Sponsors -

“All of our girls love each other, and they love celebrations, ” Mandy says. It is something they have learned by example. Mandy and Amy say their mother taught them much about entertaining and the importance of family traditions. “They strengthen family generational relationships, so it’s important to us to keep them going, ” Mandy says.

One of their most treasured Easter rituals involves dyeing “golden eggs.” It is an old-fashioned process Tippy learned from her German grandmother. She has passed the time-honored custom on to her daughters and granddaughters.

“I look forward to doing things with the girls that T (Tippy) did with us. That’s what makes it special, ” Amy says.

There are advantages to having so many women around, particularly at holiday time. Max and George are cooked for, cared for and catered to by their flock of females. Max says family gatherings also mean that he is “never at a loss for advice.” George adds, “I never dreamed I would have all daughters. Now I can’t dream of it any other way. I’m very blessed.”

Amy’s Cheese Grits

These lush cheese grits are ideal for Easter brunch or breakfast. They are best when made the day before, refrigerated, and baked in the morning.

4 cups water
1 cup quick grits
1 teaspoon salt
2 rolls processed garlic cheese
1 stick butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring
water to a boil, then stir grits and salt into the water. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and continue cooking for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
2. Melt cheese and stir into grits. Add remaining ingredients.
3. Turn into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 50 minutes. Serves
approximately 8 – 10.

Hot Curried Fruit

Hot curried fruit makes a warm, wonderful side dish for special occasions. It is always a crowd-pleaser. Mandy doubles the recipe and uses a 3-quart casserole dish. She says it freezes well before baking, if you want to make it ahead.

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 (28-ounce) can of fruit salad, drained, cherries removed
1 (15 1/4-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (16 1/2-ounce) can pitted Bing
cherries, drained
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine brown sugar, cornstarch and curry powder. Set aside.
2. Place fruit in a large bowl. Add butter to the fruit, then stir in the sugar mixture. Gently combine with a large spoon.
3. Put into a lightly greased casserole dish. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Plate while still hot. Serves 8 – 10.

The Hamel Cousins Club’s Favorite Kolachkes

All the Hamel cousins love to bake kolachkes. These tasty treats can be either sweet or savory. To make them savory, substitute seasoned meat filling or cheese for the jam or preserves, and omit the sugar in the crumb topping.

1/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 can of Pillsbury Grand’s Flaky
Layers Original biscuits
1/2 stick butter, melted
jam or preserves (not jelly)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To create crumb topping, cut the flour, sugar and 4 tablespoons butter together with a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
2. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Fully dip each biscuit in the melted butter and place on the
baking sheet. Press a circular indention in the center of each biscuit, leaving a rim around the edge.
3. Fill each biscuit hollow with jam or preserves. Sprinkle each biscuit, including the rim, with crumb topping. Bake 15 – 20 minutes. Serves 8 – 10.

Celebration Milk Punch

Milk punch is a classic eye-opener. Mandy says their family usually prepares the refreshment by the glass to suit individual tastes. Some like a little more sugar and cream, while others prefer to add ice.

1 heaping teaspoon powdered sugar
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1/2 ounce light rum
1/2 ounce half-and-half
6 ounces whole milk
freshly ground nutmeg

1. Spoon powdered sugar into desired glass. Briskly stir in brandy and rum.
2. Add half-and-half and milk; stir briskly again. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Serves 1.

Eggs To Dye For

These Easter eggs are made using onionskins. “This is what people did before there was store-bought egg dye, ” Tippy says. Every year, the girls put their church shoes outside of their rooms and wake to find eggs with their names on them tucked inside. “That’s how they know the Easter bunny has been here, ” Mandy says. The “golden eggs, ” always well-hidden, are also a treat during the egg hunt.

Grandma Gussie’s Golden Easter Eggs

yellow onionskins (about 1 plastic grocery sack full, or two bags of onions’ worth)
1 old sheet, cut into 12-by-12-inch squares (1 for each egg)
12 uncooked eggs at room temperature
string or several rubber bands
2 cups white vinegar

1. Put the onionskins in a bowl. Cut skins with scissors until they are about the size of confetti.
2. Place a nice pinch of the skins in the center of a sheet segment.
3. Wet an egg with water and roll it in the bowl of onion. Place it atop the skins that are on the sheet segment. Sprinkle another pinch of skins on top of the egg.
4. Pull up the sheet corners, tying the loose ends snugly with a rubber band or string. Repeat for each egg.
5. Place all wrapped eggs in a large stockpot. Cover with water and add vinegar. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from heat and let cool.
6. Cut rubber band and gently rinse the cut onionskins from the eggs, being
careful not to rub too hard. Let dry. Yields 1 dozen golden eggs.

Hints: Start saving onionskins around January or February. Mandy washes her sheet squares and reuses them year after year.

Sallye Irvine

Get the best of Mobile delivered to your inbox

Be the first to know about local events, home tours, restaurant reviews and more!