November 16, 2010

Southern & Sophisticated Sides!

The Maine House remembers....Allison's Wells...from 1955 until 1963, I accompanied my parents on several occasions to Way, Mississippi. We visited and dined at this infamous restaurant and met other Mississippi families for weekend get away's. My mother, Miss Helen, was once voted Cook of the Month in Jackson which included her Allison's Wells Squash recipe. Here is a small history of Allison's Wells....and the recipe from this historic restaurant!

The Mississippi Art Colony was born in 1948, at historic Allison's Wells in Way, Mississippi. It was Spring. Mrs. D. C. (Leith) Latimer was strolling the grounds with Hosford and John Fontaine, owners of the resort, and Karl and Mildred Wolfe, well-known artists. Leith Latimer exclaimed "Wouldn't this be a grand place for an art colony!" All five agreed with enthusiasm, and the project was off and running.

Allison's Wells was indeed a "grand place" for an art colony. A pavilion for painting was available, of course. There was the hotel for housing, with a fine dining room serving delicious food. There was a fish pond, a swimming pool, and horses for riding.

A year after the Allison's Art Colony came into existence, the group arranged to offer scholarships. Four were open to students at MSCW, Millsaps, Mississippi Southern, and the University of Mississippi. These were for weekends, and covered instruction. The fifth, also giving board and instruction for a weekend, was awarded to a high school student.

Suddenly everything changed! On January 15, 1963, a fire swept through the hotel at Allison's Wells, and destroyed the old resort. Mrs. Fontaine lost not only the hotel, but all its vauable contents. Fine antiques were gone. Paintings were lost, both the hotel's collection and prize-winners from past workshops.

Southern Plantation Squash
6 medium Sized Yellow Crookneck Squash
1 (10 ounce) package frozen Chopped Spinach
1 (3 ounce) package of Cream Cheese
1 egg, well beaten
2 T.melted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 t. sugar
1/3 t. seasoned salt
1/4 t. onion salt
1 cup crushed buttery crackers (Ritz recommended)
4 sliced cooked and crumbled bacon

Wash squash thoroughly.  Place whole squash in saucepan, cover with salted and  boil 8- 10 minutes. Squash should be tender, but firm. Drain and cool slightly.Trim stems on each end. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, be careful to leave squash shells firm. Drain and mash the pulp.
Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain well and add to squash mixture. Add cream cheese, mixing until blended. Stir in next 6 ingredients and spoon into squash shells. Sprinkle squash with cracker crumbs, paprika and bacon. Place on greased baking sheet, cover with foil lightly and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. If you wish to prepare ahead of time, cover and chill the prepared squash shells.  When ready to bake, sprinkle with crumbs, paprika and bacon, then recover with the foil and bake at 325 degrees for 3 0 minutes.

Estelle's Dressed-Up Sweet Potato Souffle in Orange Cups
8 medium sweet potatoes
1 stick butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 beaten eggs
1 cup half and half
1/4 t. Allspice
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup good sherry
8 Fresh Naval Oranges

Bake potatoes at 350 degrees for one hour, until soft. While your potatoes are baking, cut 4 large naval oranges in half and scoop out the pulp. Peel the cooled potatoes and mash well. While still warm. add all ingredients mixing well. Place sweet potato mixture in orange cups and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until browned. Sprinkle pecans on top, if you desire and top with shaved orange rind for a festive look!

"Forever on Thanksgiving Day
The heart will find the pathway home."
~Wilbur D. Nesbit


  1. Have just run across information on how great the cooking was at Allison's Wells. Do you have access to any more of their recipes or memories of the cooking there? Joyce Freeland jfreeland@watervalley.net

    1. Hi Joyce! Allison's Wells was extremely popular many years ago in Jackson. The only recipe they shared was the squash! This restaurant was destroyed by fire years ago, when I was still rather young. It is certainly one of my treasured recipes. Thank you for visiting Estelle's!


I so love receiving your thoughts and comments. I also hope you found something that made you smile.