Friday, September 20, 2013

Old Mill of Guilford

 The Historic Old Mill of Guilford

I had the recent pleasure of trying some wonderful products from a North Carolina based company. To call them a company does not seem to really describe what they are , I think Artisans would be a more fitting word. The Old Mill of Guilford was founded in 1767 and still today stone grinds their grains.  Over the years the mill has expanded their product line but still puts the care and love into their products that is expected from a local mill. 

In addition to stone ground grits they produce several mixes that include: pancakes, muffins, scones, cookies and gingerbread. They also have a southern staple: hushpuppy mix and several different flours. You can not go wrong with any of their natural products.

                 I tried four of their most popular products. 
             Unbleached White Grits, Sweet Potato Muffin Mix,    Buttermilk Whole Wheat Pancake Mix and Gingerbread Mix.

                                        First up is their unbleached white grits:

I Added 2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup cream to a heavy dutch oven, over medium high heat and brought it to a boil. Once at a boil I  added 1 cup grits and stirred  together and brought the mixture back to a boil. As soon as it is at a boil reduce heat to simmer, covered and cooked for 20-25 minutes until tender. I whisked in cheese & black pepper and plated. I did not add salt because the cheese and chicken broth gives enough salt for my taste but you can add salt at this point if needed. There are many add ins that go great with these grits:(jalapenos, bacon, ham, butter , really anything that you like) but these grits are wonderful on their own also.

                               Sweet Potato Muffin Mix

This mix reminds me of fall. The fragrance and flavor of the sweet potatoes comes through without being overly sweet. 

This mix makes fool proof pancakes that are light and fluffy. ( my daughter made these pancakes and they turned out great)

When I opened the shipping box the fragrance of  the gingerbread filled the room, This mix smells like the holidays and was amazing. Within an hour of getting this mix a batch of gingerbread was in the oven. I left it to cool and came back to find that it had been eaten and only a small piece and crumbs were left before I could take a picture. This Gingerbread mix is a must for Thanksgiving and Christmas baking.

The Old Mill of Guilford recently had their grits featured as the secret ingredient in the Fire In the City competition.               

You can check out the battle at competition dining website. There are some amazing photos of unique uses of the Mill's Grits from the official competition site.

                                        Battle Old Mill of Guilford Stone Ground Grits
                                                David Bettendorf, River's Edge, Charlotte
                                                  Brian Mottola, Emeril's Eatery, Charlotte              

I missed the battle by one night , I was at battle Battle Goat Lady Dairy “Julian” Aged Gouda the night after. 

Competition Dining Series

To order these products and read more about the Mill please visit their website at :


1340 NC Hwy 68 North
Oak Ridge, NC 27310
Open daily 9am to 5pm

Friday, August 30, 2013

FPP post1 April Foodie Penpals Reveal Day

It is Reveal Day for August's FPP Program !!!
Key points of the program:
-On the 5th of the month, you  receive your penpal pairing via email. You contact  your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You  have to mail your box of goodies by the 15th of the month. On the last day of the month, you post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are  filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers.
- Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents. 

Esther Price
This month my foodie pen-pal was Jessica , who lives in Ohio. Jessica put a lot of thought into my goodie box. She sent me items that are Ohio legends. Jessica does not have a blog.

First up was Ester Price chocolates , they did not last long enough to be included in the picture. The chocolates were handmade and had a smooth finish. You can order these amazing chocolates online.

One of the most intriguing items in my goodie box was skyline chili. I love a good chili. This chili is very different than any chili I have had before. It is a meat based sauce that is thinner than a southern or Texas style chili. The sauce had a sweet and savory flavor, you could pick up on hints of cinnamon. I researched the restaurant that is the namesake for this chili. The restaurant has it's origins from Greek food. They serve it over spaghetti noodles and top it with tons of cheddar cheese. On their website they offered serving suggestions in addition to the traditional over spaghetti. I copied one of their recipes and posted it below. I will be ordering this chili for delivery. Thank you Jessica for getting me hooked on this product.

Our Famous Skyline Chili Dip

Skyline Chili DipOne 12 oz. package softened cream cheese
One 13 oz. frozen Skyline Chili thawed OR one 15 oz. can of Skyline Chili
¼ cup diced onions (optional)
12 oz. Skyline shredded mild cheddar cheese

Spread softened cream cheese evenly on bottom of 9 x 13 microwaveable casserole dish. Heat chili according to package directions. Pour heated Skyline Chili over cream cheese. Sprinkle diced onions (optional) on top of chili. Cover with Skyline shredded mild cheddar cheese.

Conventional oven: heat at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

Microwave oven: heat on high for 2 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with nacho or corn chips

Olde Cape Cod Oyster Crackers: These were the surprise of the box. I thought oh crackers I like crackers and I have had oyster crackers before, but none likes these. Jessica recommended eating these with some of the Frank's Red Hot sauce drizzled on them. These crackers had so much flavor, but were lite and crisp. The Frank's pushed the flavor over the top. This is another product that I am going to have to order online no other oyster cracker stands up to these. 

Montgomery INN BBQ sauce- This sauce was thick and tangy, it had the taste of a long cooked BBQ sauce  that simmered for days , with ripe tomatoes, garlic , onion  and spices. This sauce is great on chicken.  This sauce is the offspring of another Ohio Restaurant The Montgomery INN , they have an online serves that you can order sauce and ribs for deliver across the country

Frank's Red Hot Sauce is sold here in NC but I had never tried it before, being a Texas Pete girl ( Texas Pete is made here in NC). Frank's had a great flavor , a good vinegar undertone. Though Frank will never replace Pete in my heart , there is room for Frank's on my pantry shelf.

Ok, so for the Bacon salt, this was a great treat. The flavor is not over powering and can be used on many things such as garlic toast, popcorn and grilled chicken.

I had a great time with this goodie box and learned a lot about famous foods in Ohio , thank you Jessica for this amazing box.  I loved that Jessica sent a lovely hand written note with notes on how she uses these products and the history of the products.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I recently had the pleasure of trying some amazing teas from the  Charleston Tea Plantation. Their teas are grown just outside of Charleston SC on Wadmalaw Island. In 1963 tea plants, ( camellia sinensis ) ,  that had been propagated to produce American grown tea in Summerville SC back in 1888 to 1915 were relocated to Wadmalaw Island.  In 1987, 24 years after the tea plants were transplanted to their current home, commercial production of American Classic Tea began under the direction of William Barclay Hall. 

Camellia sinensis plant,  the flower and seeds 

The Charleston Tea Plantation is a green company that helps maintain the beautiful island of Wadmalaw as close to it's natural state as possible. They do not use any pesticides(herbicides, fungicides or insecticides) in their fields. Their irrigation system uses rain water and pond water for their plants. The remains from the tea plants once the tea is produced is used as a natural mulch which supports healthy soil. 

The  plantation is open to the public for tours 7 days a week except on holidays , you can  tour the factory, tea fields and the store. 

Now for the teas.

 The first tea I tried was the Classic Black tea. I followed the directions for cold-brewed tea. I added two tea bags to cold water and let it sit over night. The next day I had some of the best Iced Tea. There was no biter taste that you sometimes find with black teas and no "tea dust" in the container. Charleston teas are really teas leaves not the tea dust that you find in competitors tea bags. The "pyramid" tea bags are high quality not bleached paper.

The Charleston Breakfast Tea was a great addition to our Sunday Brunch. We drank this tea hot with a little sugar and cream. 

The Governor Gray , was great served warm and had a nice lite citrus undertone. 

Now for one of the stars of the show , the Plantation Peach. This tea smells heavenly and has a fresh , sweet peach taste. There is no weird artificial flavor like you find in some fruit flavored teas. It is great served Iced or hot and does not need any add sweetener. This tea is a great addition to dessert as well as summer meals from the grill.

The Raspberry tea is great hot or cold and goes well with dessert or in place of dessert. It has a great raspberry flavor  and is naturally sweet.

I loved this tea served hot with a dash of sugar in the raw. It is great in the morning to wake you up or at the end of the day. Natural mint flavor does not have that strange medicinal flavor that some mint teas have.This tea cane also be served iced and used as a mixer in a mint julep 

Charleston Teas are sold loose in tins or in individually wrapped "pyramid" tea bags. Their teas are amazing and a great go to gift as well as an everyday product.

In addition to teas the plantation store sells body products that are made with tea from the plantation.

Friday, August 2, 2013

In January I began a food blog to share my passion for cooking and food. I love to cook and have always liked to use fresh ingredients and whole foods instead of instant products. As I got more into posting blogs and really looking at the food I cooked with I realized not all foods are created equal. Many times we think we are providing  healthy meals to our families and loved ones by cooking at home, but many products don't have the nutritional value we think they do. Over the last seven months I have really started looking at the products I use,  researching how things are made and where they come from. I have started making changes in the way I cook and products I use, to move to a cleaner, healthier lifestyle and when possible supporting local artisans (I know that word is usually used for things produced by artists but to me food is art and creation). 

Sometimes we don't have to time to cook or just want a quick snack , there are billions of snack foods available in the market place and in the past  I have grabbed snacks that have no redeeming qualities but since starting my food research I have found snacks that are really about the quality of the food. ( Disclaimer : I am sure once in awhile I will eat a snack that is not "real food"in the future, I never said I was a saint, I am just trying to be a more concise consumer)

I contacted Stacey at LARABAR about their different product lines they offer and received a sample of some of their most popular bars. Over  a course of four weeks I have tasted each of the bars that I received and have provided my thoughts on taste , along with information from the company about ingredients and what each product  line is all  about. 

.LÄRABAR® is really about healthy eating without sacrificing taste. As a foodie we don't always "eat to live" , we eat to enjoy, socialize and discover, to us the eating is the living. 
The LARABAR product line is made up of no more than nine ingredients all of which you can pronounce and identify without a chemistry degree. They use unsweetened fruits (what nature provides) , nuts and spices. All of their products are made with whole foods, not genetically modified "foods" produced in a lab. 

The first bar I tried was the Apple Pie, this bar is made of : real apples, dates, walnuts, almonds, raisins and cinnamon. The bar was chewy not overly sweet and tasted like a warm apple pie. The cinnamon provided the warmth. This bar was a good snack in the evening.  The LARABAR website states this bar has a half a cup of fruit and 5 grams of fiber.

The cashew cookie bar is made of only two ingredients , dates and cashews. It was a amazing that a bar with only two ingredients packed so much flavor.  The bar was soft and had a nice nutty taste. This was an after dinner treat.

LÄRABAR über® was the second product line I tried. This line is made up of bars that cover your sweet and salty cravings. Like the regular LARABAR they are made of whole fruits and nuts.

The Roasted nut bar was a great snack to have while watching movies, it provided the right mixture of salty and sweet with the crunch that we all crave from time to time. This bar was very filing and keep me satisfied. It is made of: almonds, cashews, peanuts , pecans , macadamia nuts, brown rice syrup, dates, honey and sea salt.

This bar was a real treat , it had that good chewiness that you want from a macaroon with all the rich coconut flavor. This bar is made of: almonds, dates, brown rice syrup, toasted coconut, macadamia nuts, cashews honey, pecans and sea salt.

 The ALT®, the Alternative Protein Bar™, is one of the newer lines. This bar has added protein. The protein in these bars do not come form soy or whey but from peas.

This is a hearty snack bar, that has a zing of lemon , with a nice nutty flavor. I had this bar for breakfast and was satisfied until a late lunch. It has 10 grams of protein, that keeps you full. The bar is made of : dates, almonds, pea protein, brown rice syrup,brown rice flour, sunflower oil, lemon juice and  vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Cookie  contains 10 grams of protein  and is rich in peanut butter flavor. This bar was great for lunch on the go. This bar is made from :dates, peanuts, pea protein, brown rice syrup, brown rice flour and sunflower oil.

 There is another line called Jŏcalat®  which is an organic chocolate snack bar. It is made from fruits, nuts and Fair Trade chocolate.  I have not tried this product line but it is on my shopping list.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

FPP post1 April Foodie Penpals Reveal Day

It is Reveal Day for July's FPP Program !!!
Key points of the program:
-On the 5th of the month, you  receive your penpal pairing via email. You contact  your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You  have to mail your box of goodies by the 15th of the month. On the last day of the month, you post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are  filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers.
- Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents. 

My Foodie Pen Pal for July  was Melissa whose blog can be found at  :

 This Month I received a wonderful Greaves Raspberry Jam, Lemon Poppy Seed Scone mix , loose leaf tea and a mildly spicy seasoning mix.

The Jam was thick , rich and not overly sweet it was everything you want from a Raspberry jam.

I have not brewed the loose tea yet, since this variety is better served hot and July's temperatures have not provide a day for hot tea yet.

The Seasoning mix was really good on chicken breast cooked on the grill.

The lemon Scones where baked and served with the Jam , they  had a nice mild lemon taste and the jam added an extra punch.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Amazing Products Amazing Company:

100% Natural, Vegan, and Gluten/Sugar/Caffeine-free/Kosher
3 mints = 1 Cup of Green Tea 

I had previously post about Sencha Naturals and their DragonFruit Green Tea Mints. I set a Goal of trying the full product line and contacted the company about where to locate other flavors not available in my area. 
Michelle (Sales&Community Enlightenment) from  Sencha Naturals was kind enough to send me samples of all their current flavors.

The mints are available in 100% Biodegrade Tubes with a really cool twist bottom that opens the top to dispense the mints or in 100% Recyclable Canisters.

I love the Tubes they are convenient to carry, colorful and fun to twist and open. The canisters would be a nice treat to place in a guest room or welcome basket.

Tip N' Try Teapot with Original  Mints The Mints also can be stored, displayed and dispensed from an adorable glass tea pot , available on the Sencha Naturals website. (Hint anyone wanting to get me a gift , I want one , two or a dozen of these tea pots, how cute would this be at a tea party, luncheon , bridal shower, holiday buffet really anywhere!!!!!) 

The Flavors:
Original :The mint that started it all, SEN CHA Original was the world's first Green Tea Mint. Our proprietary blend of premium green tea provides antioxidant benefits, a touch of mint adds a light tingle, but the real star of this show is the lush flavor of award-winning estate tea. A Shangri-La for green tea lovers.

I loved this mint after a meal or for a quick refresh 

Tropical Mango:An ancient symbol of perfection and spiritual abundance, the sweet & juicy mango is esteemed by rajahs, gurus, and yogis alike. And with SEN CHA mango mints, there’s no need to travel to the East Indies for your own taste of this golden treat. Take a deep breath, chant a mango mantra, and enjoy a touch of paradise found.

This Mint was great in the afternoon when you are craving a little sweet treat without any of the guilt of snacking , they taste great and smell amazing


DragonFruit : It doesn’t get more exotic than a hot-pink fruit, or more legendary than one named after dragons. We start with this lightly sweet, sub-tropical cactus fruit, add a dash of natural ginger to spice things up, and end up with a uniquely delicious mint that is truly the stuff of legend.

This is the Mint that got me hooked, and everyone I have shared it with. It is a little sweet but has a little spice under tone


Bombay Chai : Why wait in line at a crowded cafe when you’ve already got the perfect chai right in your pocket? Our warm spice blend includes natural cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and just a hint of vanilla, making for an indulgently creamy, aromatic medley. We know you’re tempted; chai them out yourself.

This mint starts off with the taste of Chai spices and finishes with a rich creamy flavor , great for when you are craving a Tea or Chai drink


Moroccan Mint: This is what our SEN CHA team reaches for first thing in the morning. The fresh-cut flavor of crisp peppermint wakes up our taste buds, natural green tea extract boosts our brain power, and invigorating spearmint freshens our breath before company meetings. These exhilarating mints keep our SEN CHA world spinning, one tingle at a time.

This Mint provides a nice fresh Minty flavor without that weird artificial flavor that so many lesser mints provide


Fuji Apple: As the saying goes, “A Fuji Apple mint a day keeps the dragon breath away.” Okay, so we may have put a SEN CHA-spin on it, but the saying still rings true! Combine the sweet, tart taste of aromatic apple with the natural anti-bacterial properties of green tea and you’ve got the tastiest solution to slay the fiercest of dragon breath. Have you had your Fuji Apple today?

This is a seasonal flavor and will not be around much longer (still listed on Website on day of this post so run over and order a dozen tubes or so) This Mint has a fresh crisp flavor of apples and was a true delight.


Island Guava Mints: Ripe for summer, our newest artisan blend is lightly sweet and refreshingly cool. This tropical blend is the perfect oasis to refresh your palate and enliven the senses.

This Mint came out after I got my sample box so I have not tried it yet but will be ordering some later today , can't wait to try it .

The below information is copied from the company website : 

Green Tea Benefits
Practicing What We Preach    We think green tea is pretty cool (and hot!), and here at our Sencha Naturals headquarters we actually have a huge collection of green tea in every imaginable form and flavor. Our CEO David kindly steeps a pot for us every morning and treats us to fun green tea concoctions before company meetings. Sencha helps us focus and mellows us out, and sharing a warm teapot has a unique way of bringing us together unlike any coffee ever could. 
What in the EGCG are you talking about?   Most people know green tea is synonymous with ‘antioxidants’— beneficial molecules found in certain foods that can promote health by preventing cell damage. EGCG is a specific antioxidant found only in green tea.

Just 3 SEN CHA Green Tea Mints contain the antioxidant equivalent of about one cup of green tea, with low caffeine. The research community has shown that green tea and EGCG benefits your body inside and out:
  • Protects against heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol1, reducing high blood pressure2, and reducing the incidence of atherosclerosis3.
  • Promotes weight loss by stimulating your body’s metabolism4 without raising your heart rate like coffee or other caffeinated sources.5
  • Builds a strong immune system through antioxidant vitamins C and E.6
  • Improves mental focus, attention, and cognitive ability7 giving new meaning to “green fuel.”
  • Prevents physical and mental fatigue8 and age-related memory loss.9
  • Preserves skin by minimizing wrinkles10, skin discolorations11, and age spots.12 Also reduces acne13, eczema14, and other major skin conditions15.
  • Enhances oral health by helping to prevent the bacteria that causes bad breath16, tooth decay17, dental plaque18, and gum disease19.