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 Comments Add yours

  1. siggiofmaine says:

    These look good…and easy enough maybe even I could make them…thank you …
    I love reading recipes for other to make☺.
    ☮ ♥ Siggi in Downeast Maine, USA

    1. theonlycin says:

      I never think to post recipes, Siggi, and am always surprised and delighted when people ask for them 🙂

  2. deepercolors says:

    That would be a lot of cheese. :-]

  3. dearrosie says:

    Washington D.C. is awfully hot and humid in the summer. I wonder how the cook would’ve kept the ball of cheese from melting.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Perhaps they had a fondue party and invited the whole city?

  4. libraryscene says:

    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!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I imagine you’d be able to tweak the recipe with the right products? Sleep tight.

  5. Imagine getting such a huge lump of cheese!!! Actually, it quite appeals to me! I need therapy …..

    1. theonlycin says:

      I have two words for you, Jan … POLLO LOCO! 😉

  6. dinahmow says:

    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.)

    1. theonlycin says:

      You’re welcome, thanks for the visit 🙂

  7. Cindy, they look delicious – I love cheese muffins! In fact, the only thing better than this would be an apricot in Damascus… 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      Bwahahaha, indeed Celia 😉

  8. SidevieW says:

    i bought rather large pieces of cheese recently and when i got home i was horrorfied at how much freezer space was taken by it all

    1. theonlycin says:

      Does it freeze well?

  9. leigh says:

    Marge Simpson, heheheh!

  10. Tandy says:

    I could do with some of these for breakfast (too much wine before supper) 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hehe, I have a tasting to go to tonight, considering an afternoon nap later …

  11. Yvette says:

    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

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hi Yvette, that is cayenne pepper on mine 🙂

  12. Tilly Bud says:

    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’).

    1. theonlycin says:

      Well, there you have it, seems the Americans like giving cheese away!

  13. 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!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Quentin Crisp never called anybody by their first name, sometimes taking it to extremes viz Mister Christ and – when Trudie Stuyler bought the original manuscript of his book as a gift for her husband – “I do hope Mister Sting enjoys the gift.”

      1. my son’s name is Quentin 🙂

      2. theonlycin says:

        Great name 🙂

  14. MissChris says:

    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!

    1. theonlycin says:

      1964 is the year of the first publication. And the year I was born 🙂

  15. granny1947 says:

    I was tempted,very briefly, to go home and try these….then I remembered…I pass the bakery every evening!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Tut tut! Granny, you can bake!

    1. theonlycin says:

      And taste that way too 🙂

  16. Nice versatile recipe – margarine is gagga poefie.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. theonlycin says:

      LOL, you must enjoy being able to speak Afrikaans again!

      1. Actually spoke quite a bit of it on the island too – mostly for “code” between Pete and I and then with some ex-pat mates.

      2. theonlycin says:

        Yes, I did that when I was overseas too 😉

  17. Tes says:

    This may sound cheesy…but I think I’m in love with you 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Laughing my head off, Tes 🙂

  18. spicegirlfla says:

    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!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I believe that there are no hard and fast rules in cooking. Thanks for the visit 🙂

  19. nrhatch says:

    As Homer Simpson would say . . . “Mmm . . . muffins.” 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’d give the man a beer 😉

  20. SuziCate says:

    Mmmm…thanks for sharing the recipe!

    1. theonlycin says:

      You are welcome, SuziCate 🙂

  21. Tammy says:

    love the look of these cheese muffins!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thought you would, Tammy 🙂

  22. slpmartin says:

    Shall give these a try. 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Let me know how they turn out, Charlie 🙂

  23. Kathy Larson says:

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

    1. theonlycin says:

      Aw Kathy, there will be other mornings … 🙂

  24. Pseu says:

    Muffin like ’em!

    Yum yum!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Your boys will too, Pseu 🙂

  25. Steffi says:

    They looks yummy and I would try it!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Enjoy having your girls home, Steffi 🙂

  26. Sparky says:

    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

    1. theonlycin says:

      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

  27. I don’t know who Mrs De Villiers is, but this recipe sounds divine!! Thanks for passing it along to us, Cin 🙂 Have to agree: that is a LOT of cheese!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Mrs de Villiers wrote the cookbook that is considered the finest ever by a South African writer.

  28. bluebee says:

    What a planet of cheese! I wonder how EBJ got it to the White House…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Must have had a very big wagon and more than one horse?

  29. Yum! Brings back fond memories of my Mom’s cheese muffins; recipe passed down from my Gran 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Aren’t they the best, Naomi?

  30. This a great recipe, I like basic recipes where you can throw in different things and get a completely different result each time. Thanks!

    1. theonlycin says:

      You’re welcome, Fired Up 🙂

  31. Jamie Dedes says:

    Sounds good. I can only dream! 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m sure you can do a take on it?

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