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Unicoi Preserves turned one year old at Habersham Winery at WineFest this past Saturday. What a fitting place for us to celebrate our first birthday since it’s where we debuted our products last May.
The Pot Stirrer and the Spread Specialist
Phickle Chickle Angie, Spread Specialist Suzy, GM of Habersham Winery, Emily &  her fun sister Sandi
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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

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

Early in the day
Clark’s mom told him to shave

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.

Elvis presents, Georgia Vineyard Spread! Georgia Chambourcin by another name, still as sweet!

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.

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.

Ingredients:
Unicoi Preserves Apple Cider Pepper Spread
Bread
Peanut Butter
Banana
Softened Butter

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!

Santa and Mrs. Claus paid a visit to the Nacoochee Village on December 13th and we were fortunate enough to be at Habersham Winery when they showed up for Happy Hour.

Chambourcin wine was poured for the adults and delicious S’mores from Hansel and Gretel Candy were enjoyed by the kids and adults alike.

I always try to stay on Santa’s good side, and I know that he likes Unicoi Preserves a lot, so in addition to our usual product samples, we were also able to offer him some Santa Bellies and Georgia Vineyard Snowballs.

With a smile and a nod, Santa and Mrs. Claus wished us a Merry Christmas and were gone.

We hope that you and your family enjoyed a wonderful holiday season.

Elsie gives Georgia Vineyard Snowballs the Thumbs Up!

I just love Christmas time and boozy rum balls. They’re tasty, fast, easy, no bake and popular at holiday get-togethers.

If you have little ones who would like to have an equally tasty treat, here’s a delicious, family-friendly recipe using our Georgia Chambourcin spread to create something similar to rum balls that the whole family can enjoy — no ID required! You can even get the kids to help you roll them.

A food processor makes fast work of breaking down the nuts and the vanilla wafers.
No food processor? No worries! You can buy finely ground almonds.
To make vanilla wafer crumbs, put your wafers in a plastic zip bag and repeatedly whack them with a rolling pin or cast iron skillet until they are crushed finely.

Don’t like or have almonds? Try pecans, walnuts or pistachios.

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, roasted and ground finely
1 1/4 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (I prefer Murray brand)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Unicoi Preserves Chambourcin spread
Cocoa powder for dusting

Procedure

To roast nuts, spread them on a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
Don’t walk away, set your timer and keep an eye on them — burned nuts are sad nuts. Cool slightly, then pour the nuts into your food processor bowl and pulse them until they are finely ground. Don’t over do it or they will turn into almond butter, which is tasty, but not what you want for this recipe.

In a mixing bowl, mix the ground almonds, vanilla wafer crumbs and 1/2 cup powered sugar until evenly incorporated.

Measure your Chambourcin spread into a glass custard cup and microwave for approx. 30 seconds, watching it the entire time. What you are doing is turning the spread into liquid. Give it a stir, then mix it into the almond-wafer mixture until its incorporated. It will be sticky so refrigerate it for about an hour, then pull it back out to form your Vineyard Snowballs.

Looks like meatloaf but its not!

To Form Balls

I use a small cookie scoop to measure out similar size balls but if you don’t have on, just use a teaspoon to measure it out and roll it into balls. After you get the dough rolled into balls, roll them in powdered sugar.

Variety –Dirty Vineyard Snowballs
Mix unsweetened cocoa powder with powdered sugar — I did a one to one ratio powdered sugar to cocoa. Roll the formed Georgia Vineyard Balls in the cocoa mixture

Yield  36 snowballs, depending on how big you make them

Friday, we had a busy day with product demo at The Lavender Cottage and Garden but we were looking forward to Serenity Cellars Friday Night Wine Down. I wanted to take an appetizer featuring our jelly that would pair well with wine but didn’t have a lot of time to spend making something. Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Wrapped Brie to the rescue!

Here’s what you need:

1/2 pack of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
1 8 oz. Brie cheese round
1 egg whisked with 1 T. water
1/2 cup Unicoi Preserves Georgia Chambourcin Spread
1/4 c. roasted slivered almonds

I followed this recipe Puff Pastry Wrapped Brie on the Pepperidge Farm website but to make it my own, here’s what I did.

I split the wheel of brie in half horizontally, spread Unicoi Preserves Georgia Chambourcin in between the layers of brie, then sprinkled with the almonds. Then I put the other half of brie on top and spooned the rest of the jelly on top of it, folded the layers of puff pastry to make a cute little package, trimming off some strips with a sharp knife to make the decorations on top. Brushed with the egg wash. Baked at 400 degrees 25 minutes (bake until golden)

It was delicious served with ginger snaps.

Lots of variations for this basic recipe for sure. With this being the start of the holiday season,  I foresee wrapping another wheel of brie with puff pastry and using our Georgia Vineyard Fire and salted pistachios.

Please let me know if you make it and if you adapt it at all.
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