We have had lots of questions asked of us since we started this new journey – “Why?, I thought you had a job already?, What made you do this?” are a few of the ones that come up regularly. Honest questions, that sometimes we even ask ourselves. I had a bit of time to sit and reflect yesterday evening as I was waiting on the coals to get ready on our trusty Weber Kettle grill. What was for dinner? I’ll get to that in a bit. It was a beautiful Spring eve here in the North Georgia mountains, and I had just finished cutting the grass, so I grabbed a beer and lit the grill and decided I would just sit and stay a while outside.
We had the good fortune to relocate here to our little slice of heaven 5 1/2 years ago. We got a chance to do what many adults don’t get to do. We packed up and moved to the mountains, bringing our jobs with us and pretty much starting over. We left our great network of family and friends behind in South Georgia and decided to start anew. It was a daunting but exciting proposition. We would get to choose who and what we wanted to be associated with and how we wanted to devote our time to things that interested us. Not many people get the chance to start fresh, but we decided it was worth a shot.
We found many new friends here that opened up their hearts and homes and made us feel welcome. We discovered new places to call ours, and along the way, we developed a deep sense of belonging and community. We discovered a way of life most have forgotten. Connecting with local growers and providers, getting to know the hands that provide the food we eat, and the wine that we drink. The more we discovered, the more we felt connected to our little community. Out of this connection and desire to eat and drink as locally as we could, we started canning and preserving some of our favorite seasonal treats so that we could enjoy them all year, not just when in season. As we did this more and more often, we decided we wanted to share with others what our community had shared with us. So, we started Unicoi Preserves to share our passion with others.
Because it takes a lot of experimentation to dial in a final recipe that we want to produce for others to enjoy, that means we have LOTS of test batches to figure out what to do with. You can only give so many jars to people before they start to eye you suspiciously when you approach them with a little brown bag of jars. So, back to last night’s dinner. Our trusty Weber Kettle grill is special. It was a pre-wedding present given to us 18 years ago at our couple’s wedding shower. I don’t use it often, but every time I do, it brings back fond memories. Last night, I grilled bone in pork chops that I brined and then smoked with apple wood. I brushed the pork chops with our Georgia Apple Cider Pepper Spread during the last few minutes of cooking over direct heat to form a glaze.
Suzy made slaw, and dinner was done. I told you we have to get creative to use up all the excess fruits of our labor! After all, this venture grew out of our love of local food and wine, and heck, everyone has to eat!