Mowing and Thinking

100_5186Our front yard is skinny, long, and flat. It’s mostly without impediments, so mowing with a walk-behind gives me the impression I am getting lots of exercise without wearing myself to a frazzle.

I didn’t realize until I’d gone a dozen laps or so that my mind had been a jumble of thoughts. Pushing the mower, watching the yard shape up, I could concentrate on one thought, examine it from a few angles, then decide what to do with it… kick it to the curb, incorporate it into my life, save any decision for later… And I still had something to show for my time.

Mowing is like that. I got visible results every step. I started with a disorganized mixture of grass and weed; and ended up with a neat, even swath of yard. And I had some time to think one thought at a time.

It wasn’t as fine as eating ice cream, but it was a pretty good way to pass an hour or two on a beautiful spring day in Georgia USA.

The Memorial Service

fire stationOur friend, Bruce Preston Farris, died earlier in May. This past Saturday, we walked over to the Sugar Creek Fire Department Station 11 to his memorial service. It was standing room only.

Bruce Farris served in the Korean War. After he & the family moved to Georgia, he became a VP at the Roswell Bank. Retirement and another move in the early ’90’s brought him to the country where he served as the President of the local Fire Association. He was a reliable friend to many of us.

Bruce was a solid citizen – dependable, a man of his word, someone you could trust. If he said it, it was so.

During the service, attendees stood to tell stories about him. One indicated Bruce may have pinched a penny or two; another told about a brush fire Bruce accidentally started. And the brother-in-law said that all three of the Farris siblings were stubborn. Stubborn. STUBBORN. But everyone agreed he was an excellent friend to have.

The brother-in-law said it best.”He was always there… Always there. I wish he were here now.”

RIP Bruce Preston Farris, February 15, 1929 – March 4, 2013.

Sage is Back in Our Gastronomy

I have my own stash of sage from last March when I sampled some of Barbara Napier‘s whipped cream biscuits and sage gravy at a cooking demo at the Arts Council’s Kentucky Crafted: The Market, but what with life and a hard 2012, I didn’t do much with it. I made one or two pans of the sublime vegetarian sage gravy, but mostly had too much cluttering up my memory to incorporate it – or anything new – into my menus.

Sage Ice Cream on Butternut Squash Cobbler

Sage Ice Cream on Butternut Squash Cobbler

Sunday night, in Avondale at the 100 Mile Dinner, however, sage came up again in Layne Lee‘s Butternut Squash Cobbler with Sage Ice Cream. I’d been really curious since reading the menu about how sage ice cream would taste. One word – OMG! It was creamy and mild, a perfect accompaniment to the Butternut Squash Cobbler. Layne Lee’s Sweet N Sinful Bakery staff outdid themselves. FIve Stars.

Monday on the way home from Avondale – we spend the night because each course of the  100 Mile Dinners is paired with spirits – we stopped in at the DeKalb Farmers Market. Bill Ronay found some Derby Sage cheese. Sampling it at supper, I vowed to pay more attention to sage. Awesome herb. Glad it is back in my life!

We are Thankful for Revolution Doughnuts

908 W College Ave, Decatur GA

“We are starting a doughnut revolution in the south – returning to a time when doughnuts were simple and tasty – made from scratch with real food ingredients…”

Ever since I saw Revolution Doughnuts in Decatur raising funds at Kickstarter.com, I knew I had to see what Maria Moore Riggs and her team were up to.

Maria sold doughnuts and other pastries at farmers markets, but yearned to have a storefront, and to open a brick & mortar shop. Early this year, she & her family took that huge leap of faith and rented retail space.

In no time, her savings was invested in the build-out. They were so close they could taste the doughnuts coming out of the kitchen. So she came up with a plan to raise money on Kickstarter.com, and attracted 333 backers for a total of $12,271!

Revolution Doughnuts officially opened its doors on National Doughnut Day, June 1, 2012. My tongue hung out farther and farther as I read reviews. But I seemed to be in Decatur only on Mondays. And, bless their hearts because I KNOW they need some time to rest, these folks are closed on Mondays.

Yesterday was the day. We tooled up & down College Avenue, so desperate we even asked the Grouchy Lady (my phone’s GPS guru), finally pulling into a parking spot in front of nirvana at 908 W College Ave.

We waited patiently in a line nearly out the door (3pm on Saturday), trying to decide between the bacon caramel, the peppermint white chocolate, the toasted almond, the gingerbread… we saw stars twinkling from their lush toppings we were so happy to be there

100_5996Sharing an egg nog latte, we inhaled our doughnuts – orange pistachio for the gentleman, shredded coconut for me. His was yeast; mine was cake. Absolute gooey, round perfection!

There is no wrong choice here. If you are in or near Avondale Estates or Decatur and have not been to Revolution Doughnuts, you haven’t got an excuse. People come from North Georgia and Middle Georgia just to see if the place lives up to the hype. Walk or ride your bicycle to the shop immediately. It’s everything you’ve heard and more!

They call the group of stores next to the Thankful Baptist Church the Homer Simpson Plaza because they sell pizza, beer and doughnuts. And you can get your hair done, too.

Revolution Doughnuts

908 W. College Ave

Decatur Georgia 30030

678/927-9920

http://www.RevolutionDoughnuts.com

Obsessed

Beach at Little St. Simon's IslandOne of the angels that popped into my 2012 was Victor, an older neighbor of my mother’s. Victor has a San Francisco Giants tattoo on the calf of each leg.

He rescued me during the playoffs. I should have known better than to visit his partner during one of the games. But I didn’t. Victor was patient during the first 15 or 20 minutes we were talking, but he just couldn’t stand not having her with him as he watched the game. It took two or three “Come on over here, THE GAME STARTED!” to register.

This morning, on the radio, General Steve Jones, a regular Friday caller, told the show host that he’d received a limited edition Chipper Jones bat for Christmas. This precious 70+ year old caller sounded as excited today as he must have been when he opened the present.

Steve’s bat is #176 out of 5000. When his sons ordered theirs, they got #998 and #999. He went on to say he was going to make a presentation case so that he can hang his prized possession on his back porch. He offered to bring the bat out to a remote the station is doing tomorrow so that everyone can see it.

The point? Victor and Steve are obsessed – consumed, captivated, engrossed, immersed in – with something they love. What are you obsessed with? What would you tattoo on your calf or drive miles to show off to your friends and total strangers?

If you aren’t obsessed, find something that stirs your soul so much you can hardly contain yourself.

Ice Cream, Anyone?

For anyone who loves ice cream samples and tours, High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet any Saturday from 10am to 4pm is a treat! The Atlanta-based company produces artisan ice creams, gelato, and sorbets, collaborating with sustainable, responsible partners from chefs at 115 area restaurants to Jittery Joe’s, the Athens-based coffee micro-roasters.

High Road hit the market at full trot and has been running ever since. Their recipes are often developed as pairings to chef’s recipes, or as a “I-wonder-what”  wild combination of flavors one of them dreams up. The pace is brutal. 60 hour weeks are not uncommon. But, it IS ice cream! And who could complain making ICE CREAM????

The High Road is Hard to FindThe grouchy lady (my phone’s Navigation voice) will get you to the set of buildings, but High Road is on the row behind the buildings at the road. It’s fairly easy to find once you know that.

Jennifer greeted us as we walked in last Saturday. Lorenz was finishing up a tour, so I tasted some Amaretto Cherry Chocolate Chunk while we waited. Bill Ronay hadn’t tasted the Brown Butter Praline Ice Cream that won the 2012 Flavor of Georgia Food Products Contest, so he had a taste of the varietal of that they were offering.

A group walked in about two minutes before Lorenz came in, so Jennifer hit the freezer for more flavors. Limoncello Sorbet was tart and sweet, a lot like the Limoncello I’ve been making at home with a King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort recipe.

We all hairnetted-up and stepped back into the production area. There are a lot of rules a food producer must follow. Age-ing tanks and vat pasteurizers have to be separate from the other machines & processes.

High Road makes all its caramels, roasts all its nuts, hand squeezes all its lemons & limes, and grinds all its peanut butter. All of the add-ins are carefully created.

They produce product by the pint, by the gelato pan, and in three gallon buckets for their stores and clients. And, since it is illegal to sell hand-packed pints commercially, they have a packing line that pours 10 pints per minute.

All the ice cream, sorbet and gelato – when it is packaged – goes into a freezer that cools it harder than a rock (-30 degrees) in 30 minutes to an hour. As Lorenz says, “We make ice cream, not soup!”

The final step in the process is delivery. Decked out in a top hat and cool clothes, the delivery man makes a hit with hotel chefs and grocery store inventory personnel.

The people who work at High Road Craft Ice Cream and Sorbet are passionate about what they do and love telling their story.

You can buy pints after the tour at the packing house, online, and at high-end retailers and restaurants throughout the Southeast and Southwest.

Tour any Saturday between 10am & 4pm!

High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet

2241 Perimeter Park Dr, Suite 7

Atlanta Georgia 30341

678.701.ROAD

http://www.HighRoadCraft.com

sales@HighRoadCraft.com

Rhinehart’s is Beyond Casual

Two Rhinehart’s Oyster Bars are in Augusta, but whichever one is closest is the best choice. One is in Evans, and one is close to downtown. Both serve fresh, well-prepared seafood, pub food, and sandwiches.

Nobody would wonder if they were owned by the same people. They  look like beach restaurants attacked by graffiti artists. “People won’t get nervous if your restaurant looks like a broken down beach shack” is one of their sayings. Nope, we couldn’t find any!

“Beyond Casual” is their theme. Great food is what you get!

This isn’t exactly what I had, but spicy shrimp like the ones in this picture were a part of our $21.21 Friday Date Night Special. For that price, we got two meals. Mine was spicy boiled shrimp and Bill Ronay’s was medium chicken wings. Paired with awesome french fries, home baked bread, chunky cole slaw, and washed down with Yuenglings, our meals couldn’t have been better on any beach, anywhere.

The Yuenglings were part of the $2.10 Friday beer special. Coors Light is the other choice. They have specials every day. And if you are a Facebook friend who gets their emails, there are a host of extremely well priced late evening specials.

I have no clue where they source their shrimp, but they are big, juicy, flavorful and THE BEST I’ve had in I can’t remember when. I saw a bunch of fried shrimp meals around me. So if peel and eat doesn’t suit you, the fried shrimp is probably a good alternative. Or oysters… raw or fried.

“Ice cold beer make the world a friendlier place” is some more of their homegrown wisdom. Sure enough, you’ll find yourself in conversation with folks over at the next picnic table. People come from all over to chow down at Rhinehart’s.

Catfish, crab legs, fish sandwiches, and an array of beef choices are all good.

Anytime you are hungry in Augusta Georgia, fill up at Rhinehart’s. You’ll be plotting a return trip. Guaranteed.

Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar

3051 Washington Rd

706/860-2337

Augusta Georgia

303 N Belair Rd

706/868-6850

Evans Georgia

Flavor of Georgia 2012 Winners Announced Today

One of my favorite events of the year, the Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest, just concluded at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta. UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development and the Department of Food Science and Technology sponsor the two day event.

115 individuals and companies across the state submitted products ranging from Georgia Peach Chevre to a Hot ‘Lanta Peach Piesicle to a Rum Cake “Musketball”. I don’t know how the sponsors did it, but 26 finalists were chosen to offer samples to the judges Monday afternoon, then to legislators and support teams from the Capitol during a reception Monday evening.

Picking the winners really was a tough job. Every product was a true Georgia treat. If you make it a point to Buy Georgia Made and Serve Georgia Grown, you must seek out these makers’ creations. Your family, friends and guests will be clamoring for more! Guaranteed.

2012 CONTEST WINNERS:

Nicki scoops Brown Butter Praline Ice Cream

Overall: Brown Butter Praline Ice Cream, Nicki Schroeder, High Road Craft Ice Cream, Atlanta

BBQ & Hot Sauces: Sweet Georgia Soul Signature BBQ Sauce, Griffin Bufkin, Southern Soul BBQ (a MUST VISIT eatery), St. Simon’s Island

Confections: Byne Blueberries Dark Chocolate, Richard Byne, Byne Blueberry Farms, Waynesboro

Dairy: Brown Butter Praline Ice Cream, Nicky Schroeder, High Road Craft Ice Cream, Atlanta

Jams, Jellies & Sauces: Lauri Jo’s Muscadine Pepper Jelly, Lauri Jo Bennett, Lauri Jo’s Southern Style Canning, LLC, Norman Park

Meat Products: GeeChee Girl Foods Seafood Gumbo, Debra McFadden-Bryant, The JelSa Group Inc, Albany

Other Products: Mercier Orchards Apple Cider, Rob Kaser, Mercier Orchards, Blue Ridge

Snack Foods: Grits Bits Vidalia Onion Baked Cheese Snacks, Diane Pfeifer, Grits Bits, Atlanta.

Peoples Choice: Three Generations of Chicken Log, Cindy Fulghum, Three Generations of Georgia, Dewy Rose

“The Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest highlights new and innovative Georgia food products and businesses using Georgia agricultural commodities,” Dr. Kent Wolfe, director of the UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development says. “It is our desire that the contest helps entrepreneurs in seeking to enter the food processing industry or expand their current business, to receive publicity, and get exposure for their products. We want the interaction between food processors, brokers, retailers and others involved in the food marketing distribution channels in Georgia to see the great products these businesses and individuals have to offer.”

Jeffersonville’s Own Miss Amanda

Miss Amanda on her way Home

Miss Amanda, Jeffersonville’s Hospitality Ambassador, deserves a Shout OUT from Georgia Made Georgia Grown! This precious lady walks from her home to the elementary school, to the Senior Center, and around downtown every day, checking on the children, the older folks, and the merchants.

Glowing from within, Miss Amanda welcomes the children to school every morning, dispensing her love and concern. When they are safely in their classrooms, she visits the Senior Center and makes sure everyone is comfortable and happy.

Then, she checks in at every business downtown. If someone needs flyers passed around, she passes flyers around. Whenever she can help, she helps.She is at every event in town.

Miss Amanda, Be Blessed! You deserve rich rewards!

Lovin’ those Georgia Made Exhibitors at the ATL Gift Show

Excitement and pride for strong product lines ran through most of the Atlanta Gift Show temporary exhibitors’ sections. Lauri Jo’s Southern Style Canning had a slide show showing the swiftly-outgrown facility and the beautiful new one. Diane Pfeifer was celebrating her 25th year showing at the Atlanta Gift Show. Her Grits Bits are always a big hit and a perfect Georgia welcome gift. Prissy’s of Vidalia “A Taste of Southern Gourmet” had moved over to a side row of booths and wrote orders. And Sartoria Monica, from right up the street in Madison, showed a couture line of shawls, scarves and garments.

My show faves included brand new exhibitors, brilliant young women, and new ways to use traditional products that are sure to be hits.

"Tea" and Jam Sample Station

BEST SAMPLE:  One Screw Loose – Kathy Senft, Jelly Queen, and her sons – are you reading this, Elizabeth Warnock from 13th Colony? –  mixed a big helping of lemonade with Vodka in a lovely glass container. In individual sample cups, they dolloped a spoonful of their Sweet Tea Raspberry Jelly, then poured the lemonade/Vodka over it. The booth had buyers begging for more!

Monterey Square

These are the ones for me!

BEST SALES PERSON: Savannah Shoe Co. – Katie Johnson. Who doesn’t like a pair of shoes that take you from “Cobblestones to Cocktails”? These colorful, comfortable shoes are stylish, sturdy and wildly appealing. Next time you’re in Savannah, go to 226 W Broughton St and try some on. You’ll be hooked, too. Great, great line!

Katie sat me down and showed me boots and sandals to my heart’s content. She offered to take my order & send them to me. She offered to show me around the Broughton St. shop. Her demeanor was that until I was happy with my new shoes, she wouldn’t be happy. Love, love, loved her style!

BEST NEW EXHIBITOR: Beautiful Briny Sea Salt. Suzi Sheffield, a restauranteur fresh from Columbia SC, and Kat Knetver and one other employee are working like people possessed to get this business running at full speed. For the past two years, they’ve exhibited at festivals and farmers markets in Georgia and South Carolina.

Truffle Salt on Roasted Asparagus

They’ve just opened their warehouse/kitchen five minutes from downtown, and exhibited in the Atlanta Gift Show for their first wholesale experience. Seven salts, including the best seller Truffle Salt, are available in this line. Lavender, Magic Unicorn, Santa Salt and Rosemary turn the ordinary into artisan creations. The booth was a French garden; the salts, remarkable.

honey hot picklesBEST NEW TASTE TWIST:  Jamaican Hots – Hollie Green. “Da Pickles Be Jammin!” The display was small. The product line was front and center. And the owner & originator herself, Hollie Green, offered samples of the “gate to heaven”, “gate to hell” and the “gate to Purgatory”. Those honey hot pickles were stellar! The ad isn’t misleading… it really is “like having a party in your mouth”.

eyedoll chatterBEST CONCEIVED PRODUCT LINE: Eye Doll Chatter – Kali Sharp, one of the sisters who originated this “Shimmer * Share” Tween Scented Makeup Kits line, blew me away with the sisters’ business strategy. The product line is very high fashion – shimmery & scented eyeshadow and lip glosses in a range of colors – that are combined by the young end buyer as she chooses her personal preferences. THEN, the Tween, on her EyeDoll Chatter iPhone App, shares those choices with her friends via Facebook, Twitter, and text!

Kali’s mainstream job was writing apps. So she was able to stretch the fun of choosing, buying, and wearing into high tech. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!