Hi blog readers! We’ve had a hectic few weeks here at Unicoi Preserves Spread Headquarters. Let me get you up to speed!
Back at the beginning of June, we attended the Macon Georgia Grown Farmers Showcase. It was the first time we had been to an event that far south. We got to visit with a lot of the Georgia Grown companies that we’ve gotten to know since the Flavor of Georgia competition and meet a lot of nice people.
As the day grew to a close at the Farmers Market, our smokin’ hot friend Abby J of Abby J’s Blackhawk Salsa, came by with a case of Lane Southern Orchard Ruby Prince peaches and suggested I go buy some as well. Clark tried to say we didn’t have room in the car because he knew how many peaches he’d have to help peel and process but I went ahead and got them anyway. I just couldn’t leave peach country without them, they were fragrant, delicious and perfect for jam.
Unicoi Preserves’ founding principals are based on our belief of supporting local – farmers and business, and cooking and eating foods that are in season. As we worked together through that half bushel of peaches, we cooked multiple batches of jam and tweaked our recipe to dial in the ingredients that would allow those sweet Georgia peaches be the number one ingredient, not sugar.
We were able to stay in line with that goal and are proud to introduce Salted Caramel Peach Spread. Weighing in at a mere 20 calories a tablespoon, we are a low sugar product with no artificial ingredients — sweet Georgia peaches lead our ingredients, not sugar. The FDA regulates the name of our products based on the sugar level, so we cannot call it Jam on the label, but you can, I won’t tell!
Clark and I had the honor and privilege of being the first overnight guests at the new tree house located at ZipNTime in Helen, Georgia. Camping is one thing, but staying in a treehouse, its even better and is the perfect way to rough it.
Terrapin Recreation Ale for Clark, Habersham Winery Signet for me
There’s a campfire ring by the cabin, so Clark staged our fire, we ate dinner and decided to go exploring on the dirt roads and trails that are throughout the property. There’s a beautiful little creek just steps down from the cabin and the mountain laurel and honeysuckle were blooming beautifully.
There is no electricity in the treehouse but there are beds. Wonderful, squishy, memory foam beds. They suggested we bring sleeping bags, but I went full on Martha Stewart and brought pillows,
If you haven’t been up to ZipNTime lately, you may not know about all the enhancements they are working to make your stay so much more fun.
Would you like to stay in the treehouse? They are running a contest until June 8th on Facebook and Instagram. Go on and enter, follow the directions and use #znttreehouse.
I can’t wait to hear about your adventure!
Afterwards, we headed outside to get geared up with harnesses and safety equipment.
It’s quite lovely, I must say! Look for a blog post about our stay in the treehouse soon.
As we prepared to zip, I thought, don’t live in fear, go for it! Taking the step off the platform was not easy and as I was zooming through the sky to the next platform, there might have been some screaming heard throughout the Sautee Valley.
Mountain laurel are in full bloom, the ferns have come in thickly and the trees have shed their winter drab brown clothes for fresh, lush green ones.
WineFest coincided with the Kentucky Derby this year
It was really like Habersham Winery threw a party for us, with great live music from Tim P. White, awesome food from Mully’s Nacoochee Grill, 19 local wineries and a fun photo booth from Fancy Doodle. We had lots of friends stop by throughout the day, including Sarah who jumped in and helped us fix samples (Yay! Sarah) We were set up in the tank room and were in good company back there with Angie Tillman of Phickle’s Pickles fame, Christina from VIP Southern Tours as well as Southern Distinctions magazine. Pappy was set up out back smoking chicken and fish on his grilling planks and even glazed some with our award winning Georgia Apple Cider Pepper Spread.
Beautiful people and new fans of Apple Cider Pepper Spread
Saturday’s weather forecast was for sunshine and no rain, the perfect spring day in the mountains and we knew we were going to be busy. We actually shopped for sample supplies and started our prep work early in the week so we’d be organized for the day. Friday Clark packed the car while I readied sample supplies and took care of last minute details like signage (a big shout out to Betsy!) Amazingly, we were done in time to make the kick off of First Friday in Sautee at Sheilah’s Village Market.
Sheilah and Steve have worked hard turning this monthly event into something that benefits the community. Every month, they, along with their employees and volunteers from the Smithgall Humane Society are at First Friday with food, music and beverages under the shade trees in their park. We saw people there over the course of the night that we’d lost touch with over the winter months and were able to catch up with everyone.
At the end of the night, Clark and I sat out under the stars and bright moon talking to friends who wanted to know how we wound up moving to Sautee from south Georgia. We have a diverse group of friends but our common thread, outside the love of great wine and food, seems to be the peace and tranquility of the Sautee Valley and our mountains, along with the sense of the community that makes you feel a part of it, regardless of where you were born. There are some places that may make you feel unwelcome if you weren’t born and raised there, but Sautee isn’t one of them. “We weren’t born in Sautee but we got here as fast as we could!” Thanks Debbie & Donna!
We’ve learned a lot over the past year and each day in the jelly business brings a new adventure and realization about who we are personally, as a company, how we fit into our local community, economy and the food community. What will the next year bring?
I don’t know but I’m ready.
Need a fast and tasty dessert that also happens to be gluten-free?
My friend Donna is not only a great cook, she’s also the one who keeps my hair fabulous. I was in today to get my hair spiffed up and she told me she had made a delicious dessert.
Flourless chocolate cake made more yummy with the addition of Unicoi Preserves. After she took it out of the oven and let it cool a few minutes, she poked holes in it and spread it with our Georgia Vineyard Spread. We both decided that we need to try it using Georgia Vineyard Fire. Spicy chocolate? Yes, please!
Here’s a recipe from Epicurious that sounds very similar to what Donna made.
- 4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper. Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.
- Poke holes in cake and spread with Unicoi Preserves Georgia Vineyard Spread. The warm cake will pull all the yummy moisture into the cake.
Dust cake with additional cocoa powder or powdered sugar and serve
Unicoi Preserves has really been hopping here lately and my blogging has taken a bit of a backseat. I apologize and promise to try and do better this spring. I owe you a blog post about the Flavor of Georgia competition and Ag Awareness Day in downtown Atlanta that we participated in back in March and will get that post up soon.
Photo by Buford Highway Farmers Market
As a result of that competition, we were invited to participate in the Flavor of Georgia Showcase at Buford Highway Farmers Market in Doraville, Georgia. The event took place this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday inside the market, which was a true blessing given the rainy spring season we’re experiencing.
My sister Betsy introduced me to BHFM many years ago and we both love to shop there, Betsy having the home town advantage since she’s local to the area. But any time I go down to visit her, I always bring a cooler so we can shop there together. With this history, it was especially exciting for me to be there in the store representing our brand, doing product demo and meeting the diverse shoppers that come in.
We were set up under the tasting tent in the produce section with finalists and winners from the Flavor of Georgia contest. So many different nationalities of people shop in the market, but what I have found, a smile is a smile regardless of what language you speak. Connecting with people isn’t hard when you speak with food. The people working in the market have to be some of the nicest folks we’ve met as well.
tent in the produce section with finalists and winners from the Flavor of Georgia contest. So many different nationalities of people shop in the market, but what I have found, a smile is a smile regardless of what language you speak. Connecting with people isn’t hard when you speak with food. The people working in the market have to be some of the nicest folks we’ve met as well.
Clark is ready to share food with the happy shoppers
If you haven’t been to BHFM lately, you owe it to yourself to go and see what’s different from the last time you were there. The market is always evolving. Some of my favorites, besides the produce and seafood, are the expanded specialty cheese area, the European bakery area, and of course, The Flavor of Georgia area.
Atlanta and Buford Highway Farmers Market thank you for the warm reception! We appreciate you supporting our Georgia Grown, family owned business and look forward to doing product demo there again soon.
One of my all time favorite candies is M&M’s. When Clark and I got married some 19 years ago this June, we used pastel colored Peanut M&M’s in little tulle packages tied with ribbon as wedding favors. Clark’s young cousins thought they were great to throw at us when we ran from the church to our awaiting get away car but hopefully our other guests ate them.
Now, you’re wondering by now, I’m sure, what the heck does this have to do with Unicoi Preserves?
M&M/Mars is a huge company, with a lot of people working all facets of the company, to include product research, consumer testing, marketing. Basically, the polar opposite of Unicoi Preserves.
Do you recall, back in the 90’s, Plain M&M’s became Milk Chocolate M&M’s? How much consumer research did it take for that to happen? Why did the change come about? Were people just not buying Plain M&M’s? Milk Chocolate was exciting, Plain was boring?
We debuted Unicoi Preserves in May 2014 at Habersham Winery’s WineFest with two products, Georgia Apple Cider Pepper Spread, which became a 2015 Flavor of Georgia Finalist. Our other product, Georgia Chambourcin Spread, highlights one of our favorite wine grape varietials that are grown here in White county. We think its a great way to showcase our Unicoi Wine Trail by making products from local ingredients like Chambourcin grape juice.
However, doing product demo and talking to people, we have found
people have a hard time saying Chambourcin and understanding what it is.
So with that being said, may I introduce to you, Georgia Vineyard Spread.
Elvis presents, Georgia Vineyard Spread! Georgia Chambourcin by another name, still as sweet!
Its the same Georgia Chambourcin Spread that you know and love, simply renamed. We are not pulling Georgia Chambourcin Spread and sending it to Big Lots, so there will be a transition period and you will see both labels on the market for a short time.
Excuse me while I gush….
Our Georgia Apple Cider Pepper Spread is a Finalist in the Flavor of Georgia contest!
We will be going to “The City”, aka Atlanta, on March 9th to present our product to a panel of judges for tasting and evaluation.
Then, on Tuesday, March 10th as part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s Ag Awareness Day, we’ll be set up doing product demo to the public from 10 am til noon at the Georgia Freight Depot. This is a great opportunity for us and we would love if you would come out Tuesday and see us and the other great Georgia food products that are in the contest.
Winners will be announced on the afternoon of March 10th, so stay tuned. We are so flattered to be in the finals and really appreciate all your support, encouragement, kind words, recipe ideas and parting with your hard-earned money to buy our low sugar, locally sourced, all natural spreads. We couldn’t have done it without you!
This blog post is long past due. Its not about Unicoi Preserves or a recipe, but a blog post about our family. We’re two people and we share our home with some retired racing greyhounds. That number of greyhounds went from three to two on December 19th.
Night time playtime with the trio
We lost our Bonnie after a 5 day stay in the veterinary teaching hospital at University of Georgia. It was unexpected and the little things that we were attributing to her aging wound up to be cancer.
A perfect day
Bonnie loved being outside in the green grass and snuggling
Bonnie was with us for over 10 years and she was the dog most likely to be stolen. Everyone who ever met her fell in love with her gentle nature. She was funny, and she demanded attention in a very quiet manner. If you were sitting by her and stopped petting her, she’d reach out her front paw, hit you with it, chattering and looking intently at you to will you to continue to pet her.
I don’t like Halloween. Leave me alone for a minute with this fluffy thing.
Greyhounds are notorious for being snackers, but Bonnie was particular. She wouldn’t eat a crust off the piece of bread, you could forget giving her something like a piece of apple or a pretzel. Meat, now that was another story. When Clark grilled some meat, she immediately appeared. Roasting chicken or making chicken broth, she was there. Pizza night, oh yes, but not the crust, how about the cheesy part. Vanilla ice cream, yes. Ritz cracker, no.
She was the last dog that we had from our life in south Georgia, so it is very bittersweet that we let her go on the anniversary of our move to Sautee. Outliving Joe and Chloe and accepting Colbie and Fox into her pack, and Betsy’s Hannah as well, she was an even tempered and tolerant greyhound. She was not an alpha dog by any means, but after her passing, Colbie and Fox both did some rallying to see who was in charge, so we steered them to the thinking that the humans are in charge. That is only partially true, some days we do better then others!
Bonnie enjoyed good health her whole life, except for the last week of her life. Not many people can say that they lived their entire life that healthfully. Now that some time has passed, I can say that without as much water leaking from my eyes.
Bonnie and Chloe. Together again. Photo by Cindy Frezon Photography
Run free, sweet Bonnie. You were loved and you are missed. We will never forget you.
Elvis would have turned 80 this past week so I created a sandwich in his honor using our Georgia Apple Cider Pepper Spread.
Unicoi Preserves Apple Cider Pepper Spread
Pre-heat your pan (this is my favorite for such cookery) on medium and assemble your sandwich.
Not reinventing the wheel here, you know how to make a sandwich after all! Here’s how you make The Spicy Elvis.
Spread peanut butter on one side of the bread, top peanut butter with sliced banana.
On the other slice of bread, spread the Apple Cider Pepper Spread.
Put the two pieces of bread together and generously spread softened butter on the top side.
Put the sandwich, butter side down, in your pre-heated pan.
After you put the sandwich in the pan, butter the top piece of bread.
I kept the heat medium-low when I griddled it and recommend you do the same.
Nobody wants to eat a hunk-a-hunk-a burned up sandwich.
Burned sandwiches made Elvis sad.
Keep an eye on it and flip your Elvis when it when its toasty. When both sides are golden brown and toasty, take it out of the pan, cut in half diagonally and serve with potato chips.
This sandwich could be further Elvis-ized by adding some crispy slices of bacon to it. I was crunched for time when I made this sandwich but think the addition of bacon would make The King happy.
Thank ya. Thank ya very much!