Spotlight on Georgia’s Craft Peanut Butter Company

By Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Photo courtesy of Georgia Grinders

Photo courtesy of Georgia Grinders

Georgia may be the peanut capital of the world, but shockingly, there are very few Georgia-based craft peanut butters. Atlanta resident, Jaime Foster, is changing that with her new hand-crafted, small batch peanut butter, Georgia Grinders, launching this month. Here she shares her story with us:

Q: What inspired you to start making your own nut butters? 

A: Our family has a passion for high quality, healthy foods. And as a mother of two young children, I was always looking for delicious, yet nutritious snacks and meals to appease picky eaters. “[I often turned to] my grandfather’s homemade almond butter—it doesn’t compare to what is commercially available. So, I decided to take a leap of faith and leave the corporate world to launch a small food business in January 2012.

Q: So that’s when Georgia Grinders was born?

A: That’s when we launched NaturAlmond, an all-natural almond butter. But as the cost of almonds hit a historical high, it was imperative that we diversify. The first and most obvious choice was our official state nut, the peanut. Then Georgia Grinders, which encompasses all of our future premium nut butters (cashew, pecan and sunflower seeds are next) and NaturAlmond, was born.

Q: It’s amazing there wasn’t another local peanut butter producer already. Why do you think that is?

A: The majority of our state’s peanuts are purchased by established brands, mass-produced and then distributed internationally at a low cost to the consumer. Often times these products contain hydrogenated oils, unnecessary sugars and preservatives. But we make a premium, handcrafted peanut butter that contains just two ingredients: non-GMO peanuts from South Georgia and sea salt. That’s it!

Q: I can taste the difference! What’s your secret?

A: We produce in small batches, only when orders come in, to provide the consumer with [fresh peanut butter] with a one-year shelf life.  We have perfected the ideal roasting time of premium nuts and have a proprietary grinding process that results in our signature [crunchy] texture (it also comes in creamy). It tastes like freshly roasted peanuts, not masked by the addition of sugars or oils, and it’s easy to stir and spread.

Q: What’s the future for GA-based peanut butters?

A: The health benefits associated with nuts and seeds—they’re high quality protein, fiber and fats—peanuts are the perfect, locally sourced solution. Plus, nut butters are extremely versatile—use them in sauces, baked goods, added to smoothies or eaten by the spoonfuls to satisfy hunger and sustain energy.

Find Georgia Grinders peanut butter at Whole Foods, Atlanta farmer’s markets and boutique shops like Oli+Ve, Savi, Totally Running, and Star Provisions. Or order online at www.georgiagrinders.com

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

Glamping at Fort Yargo State Park

By Candy Cook

Photo Credit: geocaching.com

Photo Credit: geocaching.com

We’ll be camping every month in 2015. We’ll explore each season at park campgrounds and back country campsites only accessible by hiking or paddling. Camping once a month will help us discover Georgia and connect with nature as a family.

Is it cheating that our January campout is in a yurt? I don’t care. It’s cozy, and the luxuries of glamping make our stay more comfortable than crawling into a tent after our muddy winter hike. Greeted by a couple of dreary days, lower lake levels and no mountain bikes on wet trails, I’m happy to settle into a camp with heat, electricity, and big rustic furniture designed for cuddles.

The cold drizzle won’t stop us from venturing out to make some compelling discoveries about Fort Yargo. We start with a portion of the Lake Loop, a relatively easy trail serving both hikers and beginner mountain bikers. Meandering through the trees and near the shoreline, this trail presents an intriguing landscape as it connects us to fishing areas, picnic shelters and a disc golf course. The boys wander around Old Fort Yargo, examining a building that dates back to 1793, before we head back to the yurt. The hike has me eager to tackle features of the longer Mountain Bike Loop.

My favorite discovery at Fort Yargo has more to do with accessing nature than nature itself. The Bird Berry Trail is paved for a half-mile loop offering visitors with wheelchairs or strollers a place to enjoy nature. The trail is marked by interpretive signs describing the environment in text and braille. A bird-watching platform overlooks the lake, and a gazebo is surrounded by a garden. It reminded me of the important role that nature plays in our lives and inspired my boys to think about ways to make it more accessible for everyone.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Iconic Southern Dishes with a Twist

By Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Credit - JCT Kitchen

Photo courtesy of JCT Kitchen

When most people think of Southern food, drool-worthy visuals of fried chicken, cornbread, biscuits and pecan pie likely come to mind. Trust me when I say there’s certainly no shortage of these historically delicious eats in Atlanta. But in today’s New South, innovative chefs are putting their own stamp on these tried-and-true favorites, revamping classics into mouthwatering stories all their own. Take a look:

  • Grits at Miller Union: Farm-to-table is more than just a buzzword at this vegetable-heavy hotspot run by James Beard-nominated chef Steven Satterfield, who draws on Southern traditions to create one-of-a-kind dishes, like his renowned grits fritter (a fried ball of the Southern staple brimming with country ham and cheese).
  • Okra at Chai Pani: No Southern table is complete without a big bowl of okra—even ethnic restaurants here recognize Southerners’ unwavering passion for the antioxidant-packed pods. Just look at Decatur’s bustling Chai Pani, an Indian street food restaurant, where diners swap starchy potatoes for okra “fries.” Here, okra gets the flash-fried treatment before being doused with lime juice and salt, resulting in a crunchy, addictive snack you can actually feel good about eating.
  • Pea Gratin at Empire State South: Traditional Southern meals often include field peas, often shelled at their peak in the summer and frozen to beef up hearty winter dishes. Always one to blend his European cookery with quintessential Southern ingredients, chef Hugh Acheson created a creamy, French-style gratin chock-full of decidedly Georgian components, like field peas, onion and bacon.
  • Nashville Hot Chicken at Holeman and Finch: Though the city may not be in Georgia, Nashville’s signature dish of hot chicken (fried chicken smothered in spicy cayenne pepper) has made its way to many tables in the Big Peach. One of our favorite renditions is at Holeman and Finch, where chef-owner Linton Hopkins serves his tear-inducing hot chicken sandwiched on a housemade roll with kohlrabi and pickled green tomatoes. Don’t forget the tissues!
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at JCT Kitchen: Coat anything in cornmeal and fry it and the result is sure to be delicious, but unripe green tomatoes are particularly extraordinary. At Ford Fry’s beloved JCT Kitchen, you can find these gems topped with pimiento cheese, pickles and a sherry honey gastrique, an unquestionably Southern dish with a twist.

10 Amazing Pictures of Last Night’s Georgia Sunset

On the evening of January 7, 2015, skies over Georgia lit up dazzlingly in pink and orange. Our social media channels were flooded with stunning sunset imagery – like these! Share your Georgia photos by using the #ExploreGeorgia hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or by joining the Explore Georgia Flickr group.

Tonight's sunset from the #Kroger parking lot #visitsavannah #exploregeorgia #views #vsco #vscocam #sunlight #sunset #clouds #SavannahNights #savannahphotographer" - @adrianairis via Instagram

Tonight’s sunset from the #Kroger parking lot #visitsavannah #exploregeorgia #views #vsco #vscocam #sunlight #sunset #clouds #SavannahNights #savannahphotographer” – @adrianairis via Instagram

1

11

12

"#sunset #cumberlandisland #exploregeorgia #southend #lovelife #gratitude" - @cumberlandislandemily via Instagram

“#sunset #cumberlandisland #exploregeorgia #southend #lovelife #gratitude” – @emilycumberlandisland via Instagram

"That's one amazing Georgia sunset. #exploregeorgia @exploregeorgia" via @brandyangelphotography via Instagram

“That’s one amazing Georgia sunset. #exploregeorgia @exploregeorgia” via @brandyangelphotography via Instagram

"Gorgeous sunset tonight #georgia #exploregeorgia" - @jenilyn001 via Instagram

“Gorgeous sunset tonight #georgia #exploregeorgia” – @jenilyn001 via Instagram

"Sunset over Savannah's skyline. #visitsavannah #sunset #igers #savannah #exploregeorgia" - @jimodonnell via Instagram

“Sunset over Savannah’s skyline. #visitsavannah #sunset #igers #savannah #exploregeorgia” – @jimodonnell via Instagram

"#nofilter #sunset" via @salowi

“#Gordonia Altamaha State Park nofilter #sunset” via @salowi

13

7 Unique New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Georgia

These New Year’s Eve celebrations put the Times Square Ball Drop to shame.

Photo Credit: Savannah Riverfront

Photo Credit: Savannah Riverfront

Up the Cup in Savannah: Countdown the final seconds of 2014 as Savannah raises a six foot to-go cup to the New Year. The “Up the Cup” countdown will start right before midnight followed by a firework display to officially ring in 2015. Admission is FREE and all ages are welcome.

Photo Credit: Perry Buzzard Drop

Photo Credit: Perry Buzzard Drop

Buzzard Drop in Perry: Enjoy live music from two bands, a Buzzard Boogie dance contest with a $100 cash prize and the 2nd Annual Perry Buzzard Drop! The buzzard will drop at midnight and will be followed by the release of balloons and confetti. Food and spirits vendors will be on site.  Admission is FREE and all ages are welcome.

Photo Credit: The Possum Drop

Photo Credit: The Possum Drop

Possum Drop in Tallapoosa: The residents of Tallapoosa, formerly know as “Possum Snout”, ring in each New Year by lowering a stuffed possum named “Spencer” from atop one of the city’s oldest buildings. The famous Possum Drop celebration begins in the afternoon with live music, the crowning of the Possum King & Queen and more. Admission is FREE and all ages are welcome.

Photo Credit: McDonough Tours via Flickr

Photo Credit: McDonough Tours via Flickr

Geranium Drop in McDonough: Dance the year away on the McDonough Square as the Geranium Drops! McDonough’s Mayor, Billy Copeland, will kick off the 4th Annual Geranium Drop at 8pm on New Year’ Eve. Admission is FREE and all ages are welcome.

Photo Credit: The Macon Cherry Blossom Festival

Photo Credit: The Macon Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Drop in Macon: The Cherry Blossom ball is made of recycled metal cherry blossoms decked out in pink lights, and its drop serves as the start of the official countdown to the Cherry Blossom Festival, March 19th – April 4th, 2015. Admission is FREE. There will also be family-friendly events from 7 P.M.-9 P.M. for those with young children, including a mini fireworks finale at 9 P.M.

Helen

Dropping of the Edelweiss in Helen:  Ring in 2015 with live music, food, dancing and the 2nd Annual Dropping of the Edelweiss at the Helen Festhalle! Admissions is $15 per person & $25 per couple. Children under 6 will receive free admission and children ages 6-12 will receive half price admission.

shamrockShamrock Drop in Dublin: Be awed as a brilliantly lit shamrock descends from atop the historic Fred Roberts Building in downtown Dublin, Georgia. Admission is FREE and children are welcome until 9 P.M. After 9 P.M., Jackson Street will host a 21+ street party featuring dancing, live music, vendors, food and beverage delights!

1470250_10201404779337586_897188189_nLauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!