Top 10 Must-Have Georgia Cookbooks

Looking for Georgia cookbooks for the food lovers on your holiday gift list? Then look no further! These 10 delicious and truly Southern cookbooks written by Georgia chefs make the perfect gifts for the novices, home cooks and foodies in your life.

Cookbooks by Joe Randall, Krista Reese and Hugh Acheson

Cookbooks by Joe Randall, Krista Reese and Hugh Acheson

A Taste of Heritage: The New African American Cuisine by Joe Randall. Chef Joe Randall and Toni Tipton-Martin showcase the rich heritage of African-American cooking in this authentic collection of 300 recipes. Experience catfish stew with cornmeal dumplings, Southern fried quail, or crepes with country fried apples. Geared to the home cook, the recipes are enhanced by menus complete with wine selections.

Atlanta Kitchens: Recipes from Atlanta’s Best Restaurants by Krista Reese. Atlanta chefs have everything to offer, including peaches, peanuts, fried chicken, and Coca-Cola. This must-have cookbook features recipes from 56 of the best restaurants, including Watershed, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Babette’s Cafe, Horseradish Grill and Cakes & Ale.

The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits by Hugh Acheson. Beautifully written, this book brings fresh produce to the center of your plate. Hugh demystifies or reintroduces 50 ingredients — from kohlrabi to carrots, beets to Brussels sprouts. It’s what both your doctor and your grocery bill have been telling you to do, and Hugh gives us the knowledge to wrap ourselves around produce in new ways.

Cookbooks by Virginia Willis, Nathalie Dupree and Kevin Gillespie

Cookbooks by Virginia Willis, Nathalie Dupree and Kevin Gillespie

Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome by Virginia Willis. All the Southern classics are covered — from a comforting Southern-style shepherd’s pie with grits to melting broccoli mac and cheese to old-fashioned buttermilk pie. Each dish is packed with real Southern flavor, but made with healthier, more wholesome ingredients and techniques.

Mastering The Art of Southern Vegetables by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. Organized alphabetically by vegetable, each section begins with instructions on how to prepare and cook the vegetable, and is followed by new and classic recipes. Also included are a selection of vinaigrettes and sauces, plus a roasting chart.

Pure Pork Awesomeness: Totally Cookable Recipes from Around the World by Kevin Gillespie. On Bravo TV’s season six of “Top Chef,” Kevin Gillespie became known for his love of pork. This book celebrates pork’s delicious versatility with more than 100 easy-to-follow recipes. Dig into everything from bacon popcorn and Bourbon Street pork chops to Korean barbecued pork bulgogi and banoffee trifle with candied bacon.

Cookbooks by Janice Shay, Anne Stiles Quatrano and Sonya Jones

Cookbooks by Janice Shay, Anne Stiles Quatrano and Sonya Jones

Savannah Classic Desserts by Janice Shay. This recipe collection is coupled with a history lesson on the most popular restaurants and cafes in Savannah. Chapters are divided into cakes and tortes; cobblers, pies, and tarts; custards, puddings, and sauces; ice creams and sorbets; cheesecakes; and candies and cookies. Each inclusion was specifically chosen to offer a taste of the Savannah lifestyle.

Summerland by Anne Stiles Quatrano. Quatrano pulls together more than 100 of her best recipes and entertaining ideas. Peppered throughout are stories of lessons she’s learned at Summerland — the north Georgia farm that’s been in her family for five generations and that supplies much of the produce for her restaurants today.

Sweet Auburn Desserts: Atlanta’s “Little Bakery That Could” by Sonya Jones. This beautifully illustrated cookbook depicts the fresh-baked desserts and delicious breads that have brought the bakery national recognition. From classic recipes to innovative creations, baking secrets fill the pages of this mouth-watering collection.

Cookbook by Jennifer Hill Booker

Cookbook by Jennifer Hill Booker

Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent by Jennifer Hill Booker. Written for both the novice and the experienced cook, this book offers my perspective on contemporary Southern food. The 135 recipes — from buttermilk biscuits to Winter Pumpkin Soup — use French techniques to elevate familiar flavors and are the culmination of summers and holidays spent on my family’s farm.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer, and tune in to Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen Sunday, Dec. 20, to see Jennifer battle her way through sabotages on Get Rich or Die Frying!

The Most Unspoiled Beaches on the Georgia Coast

Stafford Beach on Cumberland Island

Stafford Beach on Cumberland Island

Travelers weary of overdeveloped beaches will find the perfect remedy on Georgia’s Atlantic coast. Whether your destination is one of Georgia’s famous Golden Isles, a windswept national seashore or the diverse experience that is Tybee Island, there’s a place where the shore is calm and uncrowded. Come along as we discover the charms of Georgia’s quiet beaches.

Cumberland Island National Seashore

The most southern of Georgia’s barrier islands, Cumberland Island is a wonderful place to discover our country’s eastern shore as the early inhabitants knew it. Accessible only by a twice-daily ferry from St. Marys, Georgia, Cumberland Island National Seashore’s unspoiled beaches are known for excellent shell collecting, as well as wild horses, manatees, dolphins and nesting sea turtles. You’ll also want to spend time hiking the trails through the forests, marshes and historic ruins that make this quietly beautiful place so attractive to nature lovers.

biking on Little St. Simons Island

Photo courtesy the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island

Little St. Simons Island

Does being one of less than three dozen people on a private island appeal to your need for solitude? Little St. Simons Island, another barrier island just off Georgia’s coast, is a privately owned sanctuary with seven miles of undeveloped beach. An ecological gem, this island also offers unspoiled maritime forests and marshland easily accessible to its vintage vacation cottages. River and surf fishing, kayaking, nature hikes through the forests and, of course, swimming and shelling at the beach are favorite activities for visitors to Little St. Simons Island.

Tip: Consider sharing the island’s unmarred beauty with your extended family for the ultimate in private family reunions at the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island.

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island. Photo by John Bilous.

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

Just north of Cumberland Island and directly across St. Simons Sound from St. Simons Lighthouse, the lonely spot known as Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island will give you a whole new perspective on beach vistas. The erosion of the island’s northern point has resulted in dozens of downed trees left to bleach and dry along the sand. It’s a stunning sight and a favorite of photographers. Enjoy the whole Jekyll Island experience by visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and touring the historic district, where fabulous island “cottages” were once part of the Jekyll Island Club, a private retreat for the wealthy.

Tip: Bring the kids along to Driftwood Beach and allow them to experience the power of nature on a constantly changing landscape.

Tybee Island Lighthouse

Tybee Island Lighthouse. Photo by Darryl Brooks.

Mid Beach, Tybee Island

The most northern of Georgia’s barrier islands, Tybee Island is the quintessential Georgia coastal vacation experience. With its legendary fort, lighthouse, beach resorts and almost endless outdoor recreation, this island is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. Amid all that island activity, however, it’s still possible to enjoy uncrowded beach time, thanks to family-friendly Mid Beach. Walk the wide stretch of shoreline in search of shells and sharks’ teeth, and keep an eye out for dolphins in the waves.

Tip: Bring the shovels and buckets, as the sand here is perfect for castle building!

The unblemished beauty of these four beaches will make you wonder why you ever settled for the crowds. Make your way to Georgia’s Atlantic Coast for a taste of wide open, come-and-explore beaches at their best.

laing-webJoe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. He has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years, and greatly enjoys the outdoors. Joe has been camping across the United States, exploring its vast countryside, and finding the best travel deals along the way.

3 Must-Try Atlanta Food Tours

Walking food tours are the perfect opportunity to see downtown Atlanta and intown neighborhoods and learn about the city’s history ALL while eating your way through some of the best restaurants the city has to offer!

Paschal's famous fried chicken

Taste Paschal’s famous fried chicken on the Downtown Southern Food Walk.

Atlanta Food Walks: The Downtown Southern Food Walk

This 3.5-hour long food walk features 15 delicious tastings of soul food, barbecue, Lowcountry cuisine, Creole-style candies, and Southern specialties from seven food stops in Atlanta’s historic downtown neighborhoods. Along the way, hear stories and and gain insights into the civil rights movement, Atlanta yesterday and today, and the city’s current food culture. The tour runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $65 for adults. Book early because this tour fills up fast!

An amazing burger is one of the highlights of Peachtree Food Tours

An amazing burger is one of the highlights of Peachtree Food Tours.

Peachtree Food Tours: Tastes of Peachtree Street

Taste your way through Atlanta’s famous and most recognized street: Peachtree Street! All tours are led by a guide known for a vast knowledge Atlanta’s history and the locations of some of its most delicious restaurants, bars and food stands. There is even a history lesson about bourbon included with this tour. Join the nighttime food tours in December for a great way to enjoy all of the beautiful Christmas lights along Peachtree Street. This is a 4+hour walking tour. Tickets are $100 with a variety of days and tour times available.

Tour Atlanta's Inman Park restaurants with Food Tours Atlanta

Tour Atlanta’s Inman Park restaurants with Food Tours Atlanta. Photo by Betsy McPherson Photography.

Food Tours Atlanta: Inman Park Food Tour

This walking tour is all about the Inman Park neighborhood, its flavors and colorful history. Inman Park can brag about being listed as one of Bon Appetit’s top 50 dining destinations, and being home to Krog Street Market and the Atlanta Beltline. The tour is guided by an Inman Park resident who knows the history, architecture, street art and culture of the neighborhood. It’s an easy 2.5-mile walk with five food tastings and plenty of time to sit along the way. Tickets are $65, and the tours take place Thursday through Sunday.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

Favorite Holiday Traditions of Local Georgians

Every community has its own unique traditions, especially during the holiday season. As a traveler, I like to find the activities and events that even the people that live in the community look forward to seeing. Here are a few tried and true community traditions in Georgia that attract locals as well as visitors.

Thomasville residents dressed up for Victorian Christmas

The Victorian Christmas Festival will be held in Thomasville Dec. 10-11, 2015

Victorian Christmas Festival, Thomasville: On Dec. 10 and 11, Thomasville, Georgia, is transformed into a turn-of-the-century downtown. Enjoy carriage rides with jingle bells, costumed carolers who encourage singing along, and roasting marshmallows or chestnuts over an open fire. There is musical entertainment, shopping, and a live nativity, too.

Become a Sugar Plum Fairy, Lookout Mountain: Children can become part of Inara The Ice Queen’s court by purchasing a princess dress or fairy wings. Afterward, stroll through the kingdom, which includes the nightly Enchanted Garden of Lights from 6 – 9 p.m. Lights are a big part of many holiday celebrations throughout Georgia. Here is a list of 14 places to see holiday lights near Atlanta.

Ride the Pink Pig, Atlanta: My favorite traditions are the ones unique to a particular community. I’d venture to guess there is no other place in the world where you can ride a pink pig through a storybook. This Atlanta tradition started at the Rich’s department store in downtown and continues at the Macy’s at Lenox Square Mall. When you go, tell Priscilla I said “Hi.”

Hills & Dales Estate decorated for the holidays

See Hills & Dales Estate decorated for the holidays Dec. 5-26, 2015.

Build Gingerbread Houses, LaGrange: The Callaway family celebrated many a Christmas at the Hills & Dales Estate in LaGrange. Now the family home is open to the public, and locals are creating their own traditions. In addition to tours through the mansion, on Dec. 19, bring the kids for a Children’s Christmas Celebration, including decorating gingerbread houses.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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Top 5 Holiday Activities in Georgia’s Lake Country

christmas photos - elves

Georgia’s Lake Country is wrapped with traditional and delightful holiday events. From concerts and caroling to ice skating and Santa sightings, Greensboro, Madison, Eatonton and Milledgeville have you covered this holiday season.

1.) Sing Christmas carols, or….
Let others sing them! On December 2, the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center will host the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for a holiday concert.

Then on December 4, Georgia College’s Music Department presents a Holiday Concert at Russell Auditorium in #Milledgeville.

Ritz-Carlton Ice Skating

Go ice skating at the Ritz-Carlton in Greensboro Nov. 25, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016.

2.) Go ice skating — the perfect way to get holiday spirit!
The Ritz-Carlton in #Greensboro will host its annual outdoor ice skating rink at the Pavilion. The rink opens November 25 and lasts until January 3. All the fun is topped off with hot cocoa! It’s an event that’s a blast for the whole family!

Madison Holiday Tour of Homes

Tour historic homes dressed up for the holidays in Madison Dec. 3-5, 3015.

3.) Take a tour of historic homes and sites.
December 3-5, step into #Madison’s Town & Country Holiday Tour of Homes. This event is one that you do not want to miss.

The Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville will be open November 21-25 and then December 1-23. The mansion will be transformed into a winter wonderland!

Stepback, Georgia, in #Eatonton is a recreation of a 1900s community. Join the Pierce family on December 12 to “step back” into how Christmas was celebrated over 100 years ago!

Santa and Mrs. Claus in Milledgeville's Christmas Parade

See Milledgeville’s Christmas Parade Dec. 5, 2015

4.) Of course, See Santa!
Milledgeville welcomes #Santa with a parade down Main Street. This year’s parade is on December 5, and the theme is Sounds of the Season. Enjoy bands, festive floats and Santa!

On December 13, Crooked Pines Farm is bringing back “Santa & Sweets.” This event will wow your kids! Children will decorate cookies and have a one-on-one with Santa himself! Parents will receive a thumb drive with all of the photos of your children.

5.) Shop til you drop!
Eatonton hosts Christmas in the Briar Patch on December 5 from 3-6 p.m. Arts and crafts vendors will line the courthouse lawn. This is the perfect place to get your holiday shopping done! Stick around for “Light up the Night Christmas Parade” starting at 6 p.m. where Eatonton will welcome Santa to the square for free pictures with Santa!

For more information on these events, contact Maddie Atkinson with Georgia’s Lake Country.

Maddie AtkinsonMaddie Atkinson is a 2014 graduate from Georgia College in Milledgeville. After falling in love with Middle Georgia, Maddie decided to find a job there. After landing the tourism, marketing & special events position with the Eatonton-Putnam Chamber of Commerce, she began working actively on Georgia’s Lake Country marketing committee. She has since bought a house in Lake Country with her husband and two children.