Bugg family celebrates Christmas with recipes from heirloom cookbook

Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, the family of Caroline Bugg and the late Robert Bugg meets to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together, with members bringing favorite dishes, many passed down for generations and included in the family cookbook, ”Eats, Treats & More.”

A few years ago the Buggs’ oldest daughter, Sally Bugg Ezzell, gathered her great-grandmothers’, grandmothers’ and mother’s recipes along with other family members and friends in a family heirloom cookbook, including family stories.

For this year’s celebration, the family met at the home of Leanne and Ben Bugg.  A retired Opelika policeman, Ben owns and operates Point Private Investigations and is the only one of the children who still lives in Opelika. Leanne, who teaches at Jeter School, and Ben have four children, Kyle, Kalee. Kent and Mary Caroline.

Caroline’s other children are Sally and husband Dale Ezell, who live in Abbeville and have two children, Carley and Scott. Susan Bugg Neuhoff and husband Lorenz have two children, Caroline and Lydia, and live in Pelham, while Robert III and his wife Deitra live in Helena and have four sons, Robert, Drew, Blake and Brock.

Ben smoked a turkey, and Dale grilled ribs for the dinner. Other dishes included plenty of vegetable casseroles, turnips, fried cornbread and assorted desserts.

An only child, Caroline grew up in Hogansville, Ga. where her parents owned Brock’s Grocery Store. During spring breaks, she would visit her aunt in Cordova, AL where she met Bob, whose father was a Methodist minister at the church her aunt attended.

After high school, Bob attended API, now Auburn University, and Caroline went to Huntington and then transferred to Auburn. Caroline and Bob were married in their junior year.

They lived on a tight budget, and Caroline remembers they would visit one set of parents on weekends for good food since everyone in both families was an excellent cook.

While her mother was one of those good cooks, Caroline didn’t know how to cook much when they were first married. She admits she only knew how to fry shrimp and make brownies.

After Bob graduated from Auburn, they moved to New Holland, Ga., where Bob was in the training program at the Dere and Milligan plant. They lived in Gainesville, Ga., for ten years.

Then they moved to Lavoria, Ga., for Bob to oversee the construction of a weaving plant. From there, they moved to Abbeville.

When they lived in Abbeville, Caroline frequently baked a Scotch Chocolate Cake for fundraisers for the majorettes and cheerleaders. While living there, she learned how to can and freeze vegetables.

The Buggs moved to Opelika with all four children when Bob went to work at West Point Pepperell.

When Bob became general manager, they lived in the large white house across from the village, which had been Charlie’s Harris’s house next to the mill’s guesthouse. While working for Pepperell, Bob developed the wrinkle free cotton sheets and was written up in a trade magazine. He retired in 1996.

When Mr. Farley purchased the mill, Caroline and Bob did not know if they would be able to remain in that house. They purchased a house on Flintwood Lane in the Bent Creek neighborhood in Opelika.

The mill house they had lived in was purchased by a Cola-Cola executive in Atlanta and moved to Loachapoka. The mill owners burned the guesthouse next door, which was upsetting to some in Opelika.

Caroline was involved in the Pepperell Garden Club and active at First United Methodist Church. Cooking was always her hobby. Years ago I wrote about Caroline who was making a variety of homemade breads at the time for her family.

In the Bent Creek neighborhood, Caroline is much loved as an encourager and inspiration with her notes. Caroline started a neighborhood coffee years ago, and when she walked, she would say a prayer for those in each house she passed.

Caroline still enjoys cooking for her family. Next to her family’s cookbook, her favorite cookbook is a worn copy of “Cotton Country” from the early 1970s by the Junior League of Decatur, where she found the recipes for Toasted Pecans and First Place Chicken Casserole.

With the cookbook falling apart, Bob would tell her she needed a new one. He would certainly be proud of the family cookbook that took his daughter Sally five years to assemble.

Bob passed away a few years ago, and Caroline finds the holidays not quite the same without him. “We all miss him,” she says. “It makes Christmas sad to a degree, but life is good with faith and trust in God.

“Life is memories,” adds Caroline, “and we want to make happy memories with children and grandchildren. These times together are happy memories.”

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.


Toasted Pecans
Caroline has served these at parties and get-togethers over the years.
1 cup butter
1 quart pecans
In a heavy skillet melt butter. Add pecans and cook until warm and well coated with butter. Then spread out on large baking sheet and toast 10 to 15 minutes in a 300 or 350 oven. Place on paper towels with newspaper underneath. While hot, salt pecans; turn and salt again.

Susan’s Cranberry Delite With a Bite!
Serve with crackers over cream cheese as an appetizer or as a condiment with turkey and other meats. Put in small jars to give as gifts during the holidays.
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 small jar prepared horseradish (1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp.)
3 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. coarse ground pepper
1/2 cup sugar
2 cans whole cranberry sauce
1 can jellied cranberry sauce
Blend all ingredients in food processor. Pour in an airtight container. Makes a lot and lasts a long time.

Sally’s Giblet Gravy
Serve with giblets and boiled eggs poured over dressing and turkey.
Cook giblets and neck (from inside turkey) with one celery stalk for 1 1/2 – 2 hours in 4 cups water. Reserve stock. Cut up giblets.
For each cup of gravy use:
2 Tbsp. pan drippings (from cooked turkey)
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup giblet stock
Chopped giblets
Chopped boiled egg
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine drippings and flour and stir until smooth. Gradually add giblet stock while cooking over medium-low heat. Cook until desired thickness. Stir in giblets and chopped boiled egg. Salt and pepper to taste.

First Place Chicken Casserole
Caroline has served this casserole at many luncheons over the years.
2-3 cups cooked chicken, diced
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 cups cooked rice *
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
Small onion, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
3 oz. pkg. slivered almonds
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. margarine
*Cook rice in the chicken broth for a better flavor!
Mix all ingredients except breadcrumbs and margarine. Place mixture in buttered 9 x 12 casserole. Brown breadcrumbs lightly in margarine; sprinkle over casserole. Refrigerate overnight.  Remove from refrigerator one hour before cooking. Bake 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 8.

Caroline’s Green Beans
6 cans whole Delmonte Blue Lake Beans
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 – 1 cup brown sugar
4 slices bacon
Drain beans and put in large casserole dish. Sprinkle brown sugar and garlic on top of beans. Top with bacon slices. Do not cover. Bake on 350 degrees until beans look shriveled (45 minutes to an hour). Remove bacon and stir.
*This is also good prepared without sugar and adding onions and mushrooms.

Scotch Chocolate Cake
Caroline made this cake for weekly bake sales for cheerleaders when Sally was attending Abbeville High School. This became one of “Miss” Emily’s standard recipes for every covered dish dinner, funeral meal or circle meeting.
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup margarine
1 cup water
3 Tbsp. cocoa
3 eggs
1 tsp. soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup margarine
3 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
1 box confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup pecans
1 tsp. vanilla
Sift flour, measure, and resift with sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a saucepan, bring margarine, water and cocoa to a boil. Pour over flour and sugar mixture.
Mix eggs, soda, buttermilk and vanilla together. Add to above mixture. Bake in a greased and floured 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch pan for 20 minute or a 9 x 13 inch pan for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Start cooking icing the last five minutes cake is baking. Mix margarine cocoa and milk in saucepan over low heat. Remove and add sugar, nuts and vanilla. Frost cake while hot.

Grandma Bert’s Peanut Butter Fudge
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 small jar peanut butter
2 small jars marshmallow cream
Cook sugar and milk until a soft ball will form when dropped in water. Beat in peanut butter and marshmallow cream. Pour in a butter-greased 9×9-inch pan.

Caroline’s Red Velvet Cake
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa
2 eggs
5/8 (3 3/4 tsp.) bottle of red food coloring
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole buttermilk
1 tsp. soda
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream together shortening, sugar, cocoa, eggs one at a time and food coloring. Add alternately flour and buttermilk. Sprinkle soda on batter. Fold in vinegar and vanilla. Pour batter in two cake layer pans and bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Red Velvet Icing
Caroline doubles this icing recipe for easier spreading.
2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream together butter and sugar. Set aside.
Cook water and cornstarch together until thick. Cool, then combine sugar/butter mixture with cornstarch mixture. Add the vanilla. Beat until like whipped cream. Spread on cooled cake.

Mama Nell’s Chocolate Pound Cake
2 sticks butter at room temperature
1/2 cup Crisco at room temperature
3 cups sugar
5 eggs at room temperature
Cream butter and Crisco; add sugar 1 cup at a time; and cream well. Add eggs one at a time.
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa
Add vanilla to milk; set aside. Measure and sift dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
Bake in a greased and floured tube pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool.
1 stick butter, softened
1 box confectioner’s sugar (sifted)
4 Tbsp. cocoa
3 Tbsp. hot coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
Blend butter, sugar and cocoa; add coffee and vanilla.
Spread on cooled cake!

Grandma Bert’s Devil’s Food Cake
Bert made this cake at every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner until she passed away in 1996.
1/3 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. soda (dissolved in buttermilk)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup hot water
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg is added. Sift cocoa with flour and add to mixture. When half flour has been added add buttermilk and soda. Add remainder of flour, vanilla and last – add hot water. Bake about 30 minutes in a greased and floured cake pan at 350 degrees. This will make two 9” layers. Frost with Fudge Icing.
Fudge Icing
This is what’s so good about the Devil’s Food Cake!
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter
Combine sugar, cocoa, milk, water and salt in saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until a soft ball is formed when dropped in water. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Do not begin beating until icing is cold. Then beat until smooth.

Peanut Clusters
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup peanuts, coarsely ground in food processor
Combine peanut butter and chocolate chips in top of double boiler and place over hot (not boiling) water until chocolate melts. Stir until blended. Add peanuts and sugar. Stir well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper lined baking sheet. Chill until set.

Leanne’s Olive Dip
Serve with a hearty cracker like Wheat Thins or Triscuits.
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can sliced black olives (drained)
1 can green olives (sliced and drained)
3 or 4 green onions (or to taste)
Dash of hot sauce
Mayonnaise to moisten (1/2 cup to 1 cup)
Make sure cheese is at room temperature for easy mixing!
Combine all. Mix well Chill until ready to serve.

Sausage Biscuit Treats
A Bugg vacation “Beach Breakfast!”
2 cans refrigerator butter tasting biscuits (jumbo)
1 lb. sausage
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with Pam. Line each tin with 1/2 of a biscuit.
Brown sausage and drain. Stir sausage, cheese and eggs together. Spoon into biscuits and cook until golden brown. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Village Tavern Sweet Corn Grits
Easy to double for a crowd.
2 oz. olive oil
2 cups instant grits
3 cups water
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 Tbsp. green onions
2 cans kernel corn
Preheat pot with oil; then add grits and mix well to coat w/oil. Stir for 5 minutes to begin the cooking process. Dot not let grits get any color. Add water and stir constantly until all water is absorbed, then add milk and cream. Continue to stir until almost all liquid is gone. Grits should be increased in volume and slightly tender (about 15 minutes). Add salt and pepper, onions and corn. Mix thoroughly to incorporate all ingredients.


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