Hollinger House is a happy place. Six generations of the family have spent the vacation season here since the classic old Bay house was built back in the 1940s. “I have never missed a summer, ” says Mildred “Millie” Cowan Hollinger, the current matriarch of the clan, and I’ve loved raising my children here.”
Millie’s two daughters, Louise Hollinger Smith and Anne Hollinger Frost, are the present owners of the house, built by their grandparents. The sisters, and their spouses, purchased the homestead about a dozen years ago and refurbished it, but tried to leave as much unchanged as possible. “We didn’t want it to look different, but it did need air-conditioning, ” Louise says. She recounts with a laugh the now-renowned family story of one midsummer’s eve when the weather was so unbearably hot that her husband, Rutherford, slept on a raft in the water with his toe tied to the wharf so he wouldn’t float away.
“We really wanted it to remain a place where you can kick your shoes off and track sand in, ” Anne says. Louise agrees, “Where the children can run through wet and yelling. Where there is noise, where there is fun.”
Louise is now a grandmother of three, soon to be four, and Anne is anticipating the arrival of her first grandchild in October. So, the children keep coming, as do a bevy of cousins and other relatives. Each year, extended family arrives from such far-flung locations as Delaware, Massachusetts and Illinois to spend time with their Alabama kin.
“It’s always been a family house, ” Louise says. “That there’s a central place where the whole crew can meet is what makes us all so close.” Anne adds, “I cannot imagine not being here every summer. I would have a hole in my heart if I wasn’t here.”
The Frosts and the Smiths still spend all summer together and other beloved relatives come and go, including their brother Randy and his wife, Gail, who live in Baldwin County, and their mother Millie, who resides in Mobile most of the year. “That’s what over-the-Bay used to be, ” Millie says. “Grandparents, parents, grandchildren — everybody all together.” Often, that’s what it still is at Hollinger House, and that’s what makes it extra special.
Cousin Kate’s Chickpea Salsa
This fresh, nutritious salsa recipe comes from Kate Cowan McCormick. Kate and her husband, Dan, live in Epswich, Mass. The McCormicks try to return to Hollinger House each year with their three young children.
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1 roasted red pepper, chopped or 1/2 cup jarred red roasted red pepper, drained and chopped
1 cup chopped arugula
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with pita chips. Serves 6 – 8.
Bacon and Egg Salad Sandwiches
Finger sandwiches are always a perfect pick up food for summer picnics and parties. These were served at a recent Hollinger / Cowan reunion.
12 eggs, hardboiled and peeled
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
32 slices bacon, cooked and finely crumbled
24 slices of bread (may use 12 wheat and 12 white)
1. In a medium sized bowl, chop eggs into approximately 1/4-inch dice, and gently stir in the mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Stir in about half of the crumbled bacon; reserve the rest.
3. For each sandwich, spread egg salad on bread and top with another slice.
4. Then using a sharp, serrated knife, trim off the bread crust, then cut diagonally across the sandwich, then cut diagonally again, to form
5. Spread one side of each sandwich with a small amount of additional mayonnaise then dip the side into the remaining crumbled bacon. Repeat until all of the ingredients are used. Makes 48 sandwiches.
Cousin Chris and Elle’s Summer Rolls
Chris Cowan, owner of the late, great eatery, the Battles Wharf Bistro, shares his sensational summer rolls.
8 – 10 ounces rice noodles (may substitute bean sprouts)
3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 – 4 medium size carrots, shredded
24 round rice wrappers
1 cup fresh whole mint leaves
1. Boil half a gallon of water in a large pot. Add rice noodles, 2 tablespoons sesame oil and a pinch of salt. Swish the noodles with a spoon for 1 minute. Drain in a colander. Refresh under cold water. Drain again. Set aside.
2. Heat a large pan over high heat; add 1 tablespoon of vegetable and sesame oils. Stir in the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. Add the remaining vegetable oil and sauté the shredded carrots for at least 2 minutes. Set aside.
4. Fill a big bowl with hot water. Then spread a clean cotton dish towel out on the work surface. Dip a wrapper in the water for about 3 seconds and spread it out diagonally on the towel.
5. Place 2 to 3 mint leaves on the lower third of the wrapper. Top with 2 tablespoons of the rice noodles; add a spoon of shredded carrots then 2 shrimp halves.
6. Fold over the bottom of the wrapper and then roll once to form a cylinder, folding in the 2 sides to make a neat package.
7. Place the roll on a platter and cover with a clean damp dishtowel. Repeat with remaining wrappers. Serve with Summer Roll Dipping Sauce, see right. Makes 2 dozen.
Summer Roll Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 2 lemons
1 lemon zest
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
dash of Thai chili paste, hot sauce or crushed red pepper, optional
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Whisk together all ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Serve at room temperature, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro.
Louise and Anne’s Festive Wraps
Sisters Louise Smith and Anne Frost work together to whip up these wraps — fabulous for family gatherings. Simply tailor the amount of ingredients to your tastes and the size of your crowd. It is also fun to put out all the ingredients and let everyone make their own wrap to suit their fancy.
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced to about 1/4-inch thickness (long, thin, eggplant preferable)
1/2 cup Italian dressing
2 – 3 cups hummus
8 – 10 (8 – 10-inch) tortillas
1 – 1/2 cups pecan pieces, toasted
1 – 2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1/2 – 3/4 cup diced black olives
1/2 – 3/4 cup purple onion, chopped
1 – 2 (10-ounce) bags angel hair cabbage
1 large head romaine lettuce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with Italian dressing and bake for about 20 min. Brown slices for a few minutes under broiler.
3. Spread hummus generously on each tortilla, then layer with all other ingredients including 1 romaine lettuce leaf.
4. Fold the sides of the tortilla in slightly and roll. Secure with a toothpick or 2. Serves 8 to 10, more if cut in half.
Gail’s Carmel-Nut Chocolate Chip Bars
Gail Hollinger’s petite treats are the perfect combination of nutty and sweet.
1 (16-ounce) package of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped honey-roasted peanuts or cashews
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1 cup flaked coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease the foil; set aside.
3. In a large sealable plastic bag combine cookie dough, oats and 1/2 cup of the nuts; seal the bag.
4. Using your hands, squeeze and knead dough mixture together in the bag until well combined.
5. Remove the dough from bag and pat dough evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together condensed milk and caramel topping. Drizzle mixture over partially cooked bars.
7. Sprinkle evenly with remaining nuts and coconut.
8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until the top is golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Use the foil to lift the bars from the pan. Cut into squares. Makes 36 bars.
text and styling by Sallye Irvine