Gifts

Local Cooking With Recipes From Holly Herrick

Photographer: Rick McKee Publisher: Gibbs Smith, June 2009

When I began my quest to eat locally, I discovered that the most difficult part was knowing what to eat and when to eat it.  I wanted to eat in season but I was stumped by my lack of knowledge regarding local growing seasons.  Browsing the shelves of Fiction Addiction for a book that would help me out of my dilemma, I picked up the Southern Farmers Market Cookbook by Holly Herrick and discovered the perfect book for me.

What make this book a fantastic choice for newbie locavores is the way Holly opens up the world of seasonal eating and farmers markets.  She acts as a guide, explaining the importance and benefits of eating local food, giving you tips on what to bring/what not to bring to a farmers market, and providing suggestions on how to stock a pantry that is ready for seasonal cooking.  Recipes for each course are grouped by season for ease and clarity.  Beautiful photographs by Rick Mckee show the tantalizing beauty of dishes made from fresh, local food.

Holly focuses on the Southeastern region of the US: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  For those, like me, who have no idea what is in season when, the included state-by-state charts of seasonal produce are indispensable.  State-by-state listings of farmers markets and listings of online resources to locate farmers markets really take away any excuse for not exploring the world of farmers markets and local food.

Whether you are a seasoned locavore or just beginning to enjoy the world of wholesome, fresh, local food, I highly recommend this excellent book.  Want a free copy of it?  Holly has given me a signed copy to give to one lucky reader.  Check out the Leah Loves Local Facebook page for details.  For more information on Holly Herrick or any of her cookbooks, please visit her website.

To give you a taste of what is in store for you in Southern Farmers Market Cookbook, here is one of my favorite recipes (reprinted with permission):

Strawberry Mint Clafoutis

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs (preferably local)

1 cup whole cream

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 quart whole strawberries, green tops removed and rinsed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar.  Form a well in the center and add the eggs, cream, salt, vanilla, and mint.  Gradually incorporate into a smooth batter, whisking well.  Generously butter a 9-inch pie pane.  Line the bottom with whole strawberries, top-down.  NOTE: Use enough to entirely fill the bottom – the quantity will depend on the size of the berries.  Pour the batter over the top.  Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned and the center is set.

If desired, brush the top of the warm – to room-temperature clafoutis down with a thin layer of warmed strawberry jelly for added sheen.  Serve warm with a generous dollop of whipped cream, a fresh strawberry, and mint leaf for garnish.

Serves 6-8

Categories: Food & Beverage, Gifts, Leah's Favorites, People, Products | Leave a comment

Acme General Store

201 Trade Street in Greer

Yesterday afternoon was a beautiful day to wander through downtown Greer on my way to Acme General Store.  Owned by Chris and Denise VandenBerghe, Acme General Store opened in May 2011 and has been a Greer gem ever since.  Shara Fordyce welcomes each customer with a friendly greeting and the willingness to share her knowledge about any item in the store.  In keeping with the long history of general stores,  Acme General Store seems to have a little bit of everything along with a warm atmosphere and skilled staff.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Acme General Store carries everything you need to make your trip into the great outdoors an enjoyable experience.  From clothes and shoes to backpacks, sleeping bags and tents, Acme General Store has something you can use.  They carry a wide range of survival food, hiking equipment, and items for campsite cooking.  Acme General Store is the place to shop if you enjoy disc golf since they have a vast inventory of supplies and are proud sponsors of Greer Disc Golf.

Cigar, wine, and craft beer lovers will be pleased to find that Acme General Store stocks the products you love and, if you’re a foodie, there are many items that will tempt you including homemade fudge.  If you’re looking for a gift, select something from their unique jewelry case which includes locally made jewelry.  Need a greeting or birthday card, wrapping paper, or batteries?  Acme General Store carries those, too.

With multiple old-fashioned style barrels filled with candy and a toy section stocked with Lego products, puzzles, cars, board games, and many other toys, children and the young-at-heart will find something to love at Acme General Store.  If you’re in a nostalgic mood, you can pick up a set of jacks, a Slinky, or one of my favorites from childhood, a Wooly Willy.  Take your child upstairs and catch their excitement when they see the climbing and activity wall and the Nerf gun arena where they can load air cannons with balls and shoot them across the room.

To get your morning started or refuel during lunch, try The Lunchbox located in Acme General Store.  Offering Leopard Forest Coffee and a selection of bagels, sandwiches, homemade ice cream (from Greenwood Ice Cream in Atlanta)and a kid’s menu, The Lunchbox is another great feature of this fantastic store.

The next time you’re in downtown Greer, stop in at Acme General Store.  You’ll be glad you did.

Acme General Store is located at 201 Trade Street in Greer.

Visit the website or Facebook page for hours and more information. 

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Local Love for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day can be a stressful holiday.  There’s the societal pressure to be romantic, the wondering what gifts to give, and the hassle of reservations on the night when it seems like everyone is trying to wine and dine their significant other.  But this Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be stressful for you.  Why?  Because I’m going to do my best to help you find the perfect gift for your sweetie.

Do you love a person who appreciates the gift of adventures and experiences?  Today’s gift ideas are for you.

Do you love a lover of theatre?  Present your one-and-only with tickets to one of the productions at The Warehouse Theatre, Centre Stage, Café And Then Some, or Greenville Little Theatre.

Do you love a lover of sports?  Your honey might like a night of hockey courtesy of the Greenville Road Warriors.  If baseball is more in line with what your lover likes, you can purchase full or half season tickets to the  Greenville Drive games.

Do you love a lover of new experiences?  Many of the local shops offer classes to help your sweetie learn something new.  For jewelry lovers, Liz Daly Designs offers a variety of classes to help creativity flow into artistic pieces.  Culinary enthusiasts will enjoy the classes and events at The Cook’s Station.  If your special someone enjoys craft beers The Community Tap offers weekly tastings to expand the palate and enhance understanding of all things craft beer.  Is your honey funny?  Sign them up for classes with Alchemy Improv Comedy.

Do you love a lover of music?  Bring your darling to one of the performances at The Handlebar or Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe.  For jazz lovers, a night of music at The Brown Street Club is a perfect gift.  Pick up a record or CD at Horizon Records and treat your sweetie to a romantic night in filled with fantastic new music.

The Upstate area offers many opportunities to give incredible experiences to the one you love.  If you need more ideas, ask me on Facebook or Twitter and I will do my best to find something that will suit your sweetheart.  Here’s to a happy, stress-free Valentine’s Day!

Categories: Entertainment, Experiences, Gifts | 2 Comments

Red Clay Soap

Red Clay Soap = Best. Soap. Ever.

I never thought I would be the type of person to get excited about soap.  It’s a product most of us buy without a second thought despite the fact that our skin is the largest organ of the body and deserves to be treated with care.  Then I met Stephen Palacino at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery Holiday Flea in December, bought my first bar of Red Clay Soap, and found a soap worth raving about.

Curing the soap.

Red Clay Soap is made by John and Rachel Palacino, the owners of Double Blessing Farm outside of Travelers Rest.  What makes Red Clay Soap different from all the other soaps out there on the market?  The Palacino’s make Red Clay Soap with goat milk from their own goats, vegetable oils instead of lard, essential oils, and a whole lot of passion and skill.  What you won’t find in their soap are harsh, unpronounceable chemicals, preservatives, and dyes.  The Palacino’s are committed to creating an excellent, wholesome product resulting in satisfied customers with healthy skin.

The Double Blessing in the name of the Palacino farm refers to the fact that, unknown to them, their first goat was pregnant, resulting in two goats for the price of one.  However, those words could also be appropriately applied to Rachel and John themselves.  They are delightful individuals with a passion for people (and goats!).  Whether helping others achieve their dream of homestead farming, combating the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of goats and goat products, or making superior soap, the Palacino’s are committed to making the Upstate a healthier, happier place to live.

I'm also a big fan of the goats!

I am a huge fan of the Palacino family and Red Clay Soap and I definitely not the only one.  John and Rachel receive testimonials from customers, near and far, detailing all the ways Red Clay Soap has improved the condition of their skin.  With a wide range of soaps including Rosemary Mint (my current favorite), Oatmeal Honey, Gardeners Blend, Herbal Wild, Spiced Coffee Cake, Orange Vanilla, and Patchouli Honey to name a few, there is something to please everyone.  In Red Clay Soap, John and Rachel have created more than just a soap company.  They have created a way to help people feel more comfortable in their own skin.

You can find Red Clay Soap in places throughout the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina including: Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery, Nyla Beans, Skin Sophisticates – in Dallas Skye, Apple Tree Home & Garden, The Country Peddler, Olde Faithful’s Antique Mall, and The Wild Radish.  The Palacino’s also sell Red Clay Soap at farmers markets, craft fairs, festivals, and on their website.

Visit the Red Clay Soap website or Facebook page to find out more and connect with the Palacino family.

Categories: Gifts, Leah's Favorites, Products | 2 Comments

Night Owl Chocolate

For years I’ve felt comfortable calling myself a chocolate lover.  Then I met Makesha Duncan, a woman whose affinity for chocolate is so far beyond my own that I can now only comfortably call myself a chocolate liker.  Throughout culinary school and her jobs in various pastry kitchens, Makesha maintained a passion for creating decadent chocolate treats.  Eventually her passion for chocolate moved beyond creating with chocolate to creating chocolate itself and Night Owl Chocolate was born.

Chocolate in the melanger.

Night Owl Chocolate is the only bean-to-bar chocolate company in the Upstate. Makesha and her husband, Dave, begin each batch of chocolate with single-origin, fair-trade, organic cocoa beans.  After the beans have been hand-sorted to ensure that bad beans do not get into a batch of chocolate, the beans are roasted and crushed.  The crushed beans are winnowed to separate the shells and then the cocoa nibs are juiced to create the chocolate liquor.  The chocolate liquor is ground together with sugar and vanilla beans in a melanger for 30-40 hours straight.  That’s right.  30-40 hours.  The chocolate is then aged, tempered, molded, and packaged.

 Simply typing the words to describe the process of chocolate-making cannot convey the skill and patience required to make an excellent batch of chocolate.  Makesha and Dave spend hours upon hours in their chocolate kitchen, crafting high-quality chocolate.  For them, Night Owl Chocolate is a labor of love resulting in excellent locally made, organic chocolate that delights the taste buds.  When I took my first bite of the 70% Dark Chocolate bar made from Madagascar beans, I knew that Night Owl Chocolate is meant to be savored, not merely eaten.

Delicious.

There are many reasons one might purchase Night Owl Chocolate.  Fine chocolate makes a welcome gift and can be the perfect way to end (or begin) a day.  For me, though, purchasing Night Owl Chocolate means I can enjoy chocolate that has been made in a responsible and ethical manner by passionate and talented people who live in my community.  Indulging my sweet side while supporting my community sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Like Night Owl Chocolate on Facebook to stay up to date on offerings and discover more about chocolate. 

Night Owl Chocolate is currently sold at Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery and The Wild Radish Health Store.  For information about ordering directly from Night Owl Chocolate, email Makesha Duncan: 

makeshaduncan@yahoo.com

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Loving Local

The 3/50 Project

Since beginning this website, I have had many opportunities to converse with others about the importance of supporting one’s local community.  People are quick to ask me how I make an income with this site and most are surprised when I tell them that I do not get any income at from it.  One man even asked me why I put in all the time and effort each week if there is not a paycheck at the end of a post.  I told him the truth.  I simply love my local community.

To me, each local shop or restaurant is a physical manifestation of the dreams and determination inside my neighbors.  The charitable organizations in the community are made up of people trying to impart strength, resources, and knowledge to others and doing their best to build a strong, vital, and healthy community.  Local events are ways for people to truly connect with each other and make offline friends.  Attending a performance at a local theatre or listening to a band play at a local venue is more than just entertainment to me.  It is a way for me to support and encourage the dreams and hard work of my fellow community members.

Loving local is more than just a catchphrase to me.  It is a lifestyle based on the idea the best way to occupy Wall Street is to buy from the stores on Main Street.  The best way to build community is to engage in the community.  The best way to grow is to have strong roots.  This week I encourage you to check out the 3/50 Project and show your love to a few of the many fantastic local offerings in the Upstate.

Categories: Entertainment, Experiences, Family Fun, Food & Beverage, Gifts, Leah's Favorites, Philanthropy, Products | Leave a comment

The Recycled Reader

Books, books, and more books.

My sister taught me how to read when I was about four years old and I was hooked.  I adore books.  I also adore buying books at bargain prices.  That is one reason why The Recycled Reader is my favorite place for books in the Upstate.  I can easily purchase seven books in one trip and keep the total price under $10.  While the promise of inexpensive books drew me to The Recycled Reader for the first time, it is Jill and Anne that keep me coming back.

Jill and Anne are charming bibliophiles who simply want to share their love of literature with others.  With thousands of books filling the shelves and no computer system to track them all, you might think that they could not possibly know which books they do or do not have at any given time.  You would be wrong.  They will eagerly help you find the exact book you are looking for or provide recommendations if you are not sure what to read next. If they do not have a book you want in stock, they will happily take your name and number and then hunt for it at book sales for you.  Browsing through shelf upon shelf in search of a book on your own is made simpler by the time and attention Jill and Anne spend to ensure that each book is properly placed according to genre and author.

Lucy and her baby.

In addition to the astonishing array of inexpensive reading material at The Recycled Reader, one can enjoy the animal life on the property.  Lucy and Radar, the two resident adult llamas, are the proud parents of a three-week old llama.  Jill and Anne love to show the llamas and goats to anyone who is interested in seeing them.  With the goats, llamas, cats, dogs, and the Happy Cow cows relaxing in the pasture across the road, The Recycled Reader is a place children love to visit.

 With books ranging from South Carolina history to baking, classics to popular fiction, and children’s books to adult nonfiction, The Recycled Reader truly has something for every reader.  This local bookshop is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys books, bargains, or friendly conversation with truly delightful people.

The Recycled Reader is located at 321 McKelvey Road, Pelzer, SC just down the road from Happy Cow Creamery.

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

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