On this date in 1801 Elisha Brown Jr. pressed a 1235 pound cheese ball on his farm. He presented it to president Thomas Jefferson at the White House.*
I don’t know what Mister Jefferson’s wife did with the cheese. It’s very likely that there was an old ‘mammy’ in the kitchen who had to deal with it. That’s a mighty big piece of cheese, especially considering that July is high summer in America and I don’t think Mister Jefferson had a fridge or deep freeze.
If Mister Brown had given me the cheese, I’d have been quite annoyed, really. I’d very likely get cooking immediately and make lots of things I could freeze: lasagne, probably, can’t think of many other things … muffins, definitely.
Mrs Calhoun asked for my muffin recipe yesterday. I’ll gladly share it, although it’s not ‘mine’. It belongs to Mrs de Villiers, the grand doyenne of South African cooking. It is the only muffin recipe I ever use (my edition of her book dates back to 1984, it has been reprinted numerous times) and it is so versatile, you can toss almost anything into the mixture; cheese, chopped bacon or ham, fruit, currants, nuts …

500ml (2 cups) cake flour
20ml (4 teaspoons) baking powder
2.5ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
25ml (2 tablespoons) sugar
225ml (7/8 cup) milk
1 egg, well beaten
50ml (4 tablespoons) melted butter or margarine The only margarine you’ll find in my home is Homer Simpson’s wife on the TV screen, Mrs de Villiers. Shame on you!

Sift together the dry ingredients.
Combine the milk and egg.
Add this to the dry ingredients and mix quickly.
Add the melted butter and mix lightly.
At this point I add the ingredient of my choice to the mixture. I usually add 1 cup of some kind of cheese.
Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into greased muffin pan and bake in hot oven at 200C (400F) for 15 to 20 minutes.

*All history sourced from


68 thoughts on “CHEESEY PEASEY

  1. I wonder what these would look like (let alone taste like) if I made them vegan/gluten free. Now I’m hungry, but it is near witching hour, boo on you lovely photos, lol!

  2. My neighbour reckons margarine is one molecule away from plastic! I never use it.

    (By the way, thanks for voting for Milo the other day.Despite his battle scars, he was a sweetie.)

  3. These look sooo delicious, and remind me of one of my favourite recipes of three type cheese + chopped chives and a sprinkle of paprika.Is that a sprinkle of paprika on yours. A wonderful entertainer! x

  4. I don’t know what Mr Jefferson did with his cheese, but Andrew Jackson had a big block of cheese in the White House lobby and anyone who wanted to could come and take some. (Info courtesy of ‘The West Wing’).

  5. WOW! Thanks, Cin! But how come my Mother-in-love came back from the dead and spoke to you and not to me? (For YEARS after I was married, and someone called me “Mrs. Calhoun,” I would always turn around and say “Where?” I still wish she were here, and every time someone calls me Mrs. Calhoun, I smile and think of that great lady!) It’s hard for me to be addressed as anyone but “Paula.” It’s not that I don’t love bing Mrs. Calhoun, it’s just that it makes me feel like people think I’m an old lady!

    There is a young man (in his 30’s I’d say) who lives across the street from us, Ron Kitchen – a great guy, lives alone; he takes care of our animals for us when we are away for a few days. Ayway, he steadfastly REFUSES to call either Ashley or myself by our first names. I’ve told him, “Ron, if you don’t start calling us Paula and Ashley, we’re going to start calling you Mr. Kitchen.” So far, it hasn’t worked. He says that’s the way he was raised, to respect his “elders,” to which I say, “well, respect my wishes – I’m your ‘elder’ – call me Paula!” Still hasn’t worked! Wonder if my grinning has anything to do with that?

    Anyway, the recipe looks GREAT; I will try it, and I especially thank you for the translation into American measures for those of us colonists who are too ignorant (me) or lazy (still me) to do the calculations themselves!

  6. I got exhausted just reading your previous post!!
    shoo but you are a busy bee!!
    Mrs DeVilliers is one of my mainstays – I love her!
    Mine was a gift from my mom in 1984, funnily enough, but she inadvertantly wrote the date as 1964!

  7. I definitely get excited when I read that a recipe for a specific food is the “only one they will make”! That means it HAS to be very, very good and I’m looking forward to trying this out!

  8. They look terrific Cindy — makes me wish I had gotten up earlier this morning, read your post, then made warm muffins for grand daughter.

  9. Following your blog exposes me to tastes that are not popular in most black cooking, had cheese scones when I was small and it left my tongue sour 😦 I’m willing to try again.
    Suprised at margarine comment because we use it a lot, will buy butter and see where the taste takes me.
    I tried freezing cheese before because it tends to have fungus after a while and it was crumbly after defrosting, couldn’t grate it without it breaking into pieces, wonder how Tandy’s one turns out

    • Strange, Sparky, my Sotho nanny made these all the time for me while I was growing up. Try introduce your baby to butter and limit her margerine intake, it really is just melted plastic. xxx

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