Monthly Archives: July 2016

Pan-Fried Crab Cakes

Entrees
  • Pan-Fried-Crab-Cakes1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 pinches salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon spicy mustard
  • 4 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1-2 dashes hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, pre-cooked
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Add celery, bell pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir about 7-8 minutes, until celery and bell pepper are soft and slightly caramelized. Place in a bowl and set aside. Place crabmeat in a paper towel and gently squeeze to absorb extra moisture so cakes won’t be soggy in the middle.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, egg whites, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning and hot sauce. Gently stir in the breadcrumbs, scallion, crabmeat and cooked celery and bell pepper, making sure not to break up the crab lumps too much. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Gently form into patties and place on a platter or sheet of wax paper sprinkled with breadcrumbs so they won’t stick to the surface. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Fry patties on each side for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6-8 servings.

Liquid Gold

Getaways

Liquid GoldUncork the flavor of North Georgia wine country at the award-winning Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery.

There’s gold in them thar hills. 

Gold can be found Dahlonega, and it is precious, even if not metal. Look carefully and you can see bright streaks of yellow across the sunset sky, grape clusters dripping like honey from vines, amber leaves rustling in the autumn breeze, and at Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery, shiny gold medals hanging off bottles of wine.

Lots of gold medals are there, including the one that Karl Boegner, owner and winemaker, holds most dear: “When you win ‘best in class’ for sparkling wine at the Los Angeles International,” – as he did with his Reserve Brut Rosé – “it pretty much hits the top.” Wolf Mountain also has won gold at Tasters Guild International for its Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Blanc de Blancs Brut and Plentitude blend; San Francisco Chronicle for Claret and Chanteloup blend; the American Wine Society for Claret; and the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition for the Instinct blend. Silver and bronze awards raise the winery’s overall tally of medals to well past 200. 

Varietals and Blends
Those award-winning wines come from Wolf Mountain’s 10 vineyard acres, which were planted by hand in 2000. Construction of the gravity-flow winery was completed the following year. The first 1,000 cases of wine were produced using locally grown fruit in the fall of 2001; the first harvest of estate-grown fruit came a year later. The winery officially opened to the public in the spring of 2003, and in just eight months the first vintage sold out. Though production will always remain limited, due to the hands-on method the Boegner family prefers, production has now reached 5,000 cases a year. 

Fifteen different wine varietals and blends (five sparkling, five red and five white wines) are produced from grapes that are grown on the property and sourced from two local growers. “We do blends primarily because we’re in a growing area that is more similar to Europe in that consistent weather is not easy to come by,” says Boegner of the challenges of growing grapes on the 1,800-foot elevation of the Dahlonega Plateau. Blending the juice of different grape varietals allows the winemakers (Karl and his son, Brannon) to achieve desired flavors.

Liquid GoldThe first batch of sparkling wines was released in 2008. All sparkling wines are created using the traditional methode champenoise, the “French Method” used in Champagne.

“We do things the hard way on purpose,” says Boegner. “We’re the only winery in the Southeast doing true methode champenoise.”

 Every aspect of the sparkling wine manufacturing process is done by hand, which keeps production limited to 1,000 cases a year.

“We started off as a small European-style producer,” recalls Boegner. Wolf Mountain’s philosophy of winemaking is more European than Californian, incorporating French oak aging with an emphasis on blending grape varietals to achieve more complexity.  “We only use 100 percent vinifera grapes, no hybrids and we don’t enjoy making sweet wine,” he says.

Boegner cites a focus on hospitality as key to the success of the family business – and it is a family business: Brannon serves as vineyard manager and associate winemaker, daughter Lindsey Smith is hospitality manager, son-in-law Stephen is marketing director and wife Linda oversees weddings.

“I wouldn’t have done it without the family’s support,” Boegner says, though his 45 years of hospitality experience includes stints at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Polo Fields in Cumming, The Atlanta International Wine Festival & Wine Summit competitions and The Roswell Founders Club, among others. Or, as he humbly puts it, “I went in the direction of learning more than I should.” He now puts that expertise to use “focused on making sure everybody has a wonderful experience. Our direction is to be Georgia’s premier food and wine experience.”

Liquid GoldTastings and Tours
That commitment to hospitality underscores all events, whether it’s an educational seminar or a wedding for 200 guests. “Right now we have 60 to 70 private events a year,” says Smith. “That can mean three events on a weekend” (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), since only one wedding party is scheduled each day to ensure each bride and groom feels special on the big day. What’s more, “We only do evening weddings since we’re open to the public during the day,” she says. “We feel that when someone gets married it should be a completely private event.” 

Couples that love the marriage of food and wine, have a great appreciation for a natural setting and/or want a great blend of the rustic feel of a winery but with elegant, upscale décor are most drawn to choose Wolf Mountain as their wedding venue, she says.

But you need not be getting hitched to enjoy this view of the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Just stop by the tasting room (groups of eight or more are asked to make advance reservations). For $15 per person, you can admire the view while sipping a flight of six wines – either a mix of styles or a lineup of sparkling, red or white wines as suits your personal preferences. “We put a focus on education,” says Smith. “We pay individual attention to tasters. Our wine stewards spend time with people and go through the tasting of six different wines. By the end, you’ll have a good feel for the style of wine we produce and our philosophy of winemaking.”

Getaways-Vineyards-3For guests who want an even deeper understanding, guided winemaker tours are offered at 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday for $30 per person. “The hour tour starts in the vineyard,” says Smith. “Then it’s over to processing at the crushpad and the cellar. At the end of the tour, there’s an upgraded tasting. You’ll really understand the entire process from vine to bottle and everything that goes on in between.”

Since wine is often best enjoyed with food, the Vineyard Café is on site to satisfy cravings. “We have one of the best restaurants in north Georgia,” says Boegner. Chef Darrin Stegemann’s menu serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes with Southern flair. “We’re known for gourmet pizzas, Georgia quail sliders, in-house whole-smoked salmon and the variety of specialty items featured on the Sunday brunch menu, where the theme changes each month,” says Boegner. Gourmet wine dinners, scheduled periodically, pair wine with upscale fare for four courses.

Visit, taste and enjoy. Whether you raise a glass of golden Chardonnay, sparkling wine or deep red, it will glisten in the mountain light. Cheers!

By Hope S. Philbrick

Photos courtesy of Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery

Southeastern Paralyzed Veterans of America Inc.

Community Groups in Action

VETERANS CALLING POSTWhen soldiers undergo debilitating injuries, they easily can sink into depression. However, Jennifer Windham, executive director of the Southeastern Paralyzed Veterans of America Inc., has a message for them.

“Your life didn’t end the day your injury happened,” she says. “It changed.”

She has words of wisdom for the able-bodied community as well. “Someone in a wheelchair is not be feared. They’re to be included,” says Windham.

Originally chartered in 1961, SEPVA is one of 34 chapters of the Washington, D.C.-based Paralyzed Veterans of America. The Southeastern chapter, which includes 11 hospitals and clinics and has its home office in Augusta, serves all of Georgia and South Carolina as well as parts of North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. Although it is the only veterans’ service organization chartered by Congress, it is not an agency of the federal government.

CALLING-POST-3To be a member of SEPVA, veterans must have been honorably discharged, and they must have a spinal cord injury or disease. Of the chapter’s 2,000 members, about 200 of them live in the CSRA. “Our goal is to meet with each of the veterans as they’re first coming through to let them know that we’re here,” says Windham.

Services include veterans’ benefits, wheelchair sports and recreational activities, spinal cord injury research, advocacy and legislation, fundraising, referral services, literature and moral support.

The staff consists of Windham and one part-time employee, so SEPVA relies on volunteers to meet veterans’ needs. Volunteer opportunities include assisting at special events, folding newsletters and interacting with veterans. Volunteers also serve as liaisons between veterans and hospitals.

CALLING-POST-4“We have a group of volunteer veterans that mentor others. We’re here for the veterans in wheelchairs. We’re here for caregivers. We’re here for the entire disabled community,” says Windham.

For more information about SEPVA, visit southeasternpva.org. For information about membership or volunteering opportunities, call (706) 796-6301.

Watermelon Parmesan Salad

Salads
  • Watermelon-Parmesan-Salad2 slices watermelon
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 wedge Parmesan cheese
  • Fig balsamic vinegar 

Cut watermelon slices and remove seeds. Using a vegetable peeler, make fresh Parmesan cheese curls from the cheese wedge. Place salad greens on individual plates and top with the watermelon slices and cheese curls. Drizzle with fig balsamic vinegar, to taste, and serve. Makes 2 servings. 

Stack alternating cubes of cheese and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil; season with sea salt and pepper. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with toothpicks. Makes one cube.

Lisa McCollum

P.Y.S.K.

Lisa-McCollumCommunity Events Manager for Columbia County Community & Leisure Services Division 

Length of time in position: 11 months

Family: Husband CJ; three children, Kathleen, 9; Fleming, 5; Caroline, 4 

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: My three favorite things are creating, entertaining and community service. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been involved in performance, public speaking and volunteering. God created me with a servant’s heart. I’ve always known that my calling was in the field of public relations, marketing and community service. I’ve been involved in this profession for 11 years by juggling my own marketing, advertising and event planning business; creating business and marketing plans for clients; planning and producing special events; and serving on numerous community/nonprofit boards. I didn’t think it was possible to combine all of my passions to fit into one job description. I am able to fulfill my passions by creating events that serve all citizens and nonprofit organizations in our community, and ultimately bring our community together through entertainment. Entertainment bonds people together, resulting in stronger communities while enhancing the quality of life for all.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: My heart belongs to the United Way of the CSRA and serving all of its partner agencies. The organization is known as my “nonprofit family.” I’ve served as their spokeswoman, volunteer, loaned professional and board member for many years, and I was honored to be asked to be a part of this year’s Columbia County employee campaign team. I also support the University Health Care Foundation board and Young Philanthropist and Community board, Augusta University’s Alumni Association, Historic Augusta, Augusta Children’s Chorale and the Artists’ Guild of Columbia County. I also host and produce Trinity Hospital’s Pink Promise fashion shows benefiting its breast health center, and I love directing and serving as emcee for several leadership and scholarship pageants. 

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: Being a fulltime mother and a fulltime employee. Life demands so much – individually as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and employee – and collectively managing them all requires a strong support structure. I alone am not responsible for overcoming this obstacle. All the credit goes to my parents, in-laws, family and friends for helping care for my children. I tend to go “all in” in everything I do, and without their constant support and care for my children, it wouldn’t be possible.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Starting my own public relations, marketing and advertising firm, and utilizing all of the knowledge I gained through that to see the business relationships that I made along the way come full circle in my current position. I learn and produce by doing. I’ve always operated on the concept that if there is a bigger, better way to do things, find it and do it. I’m so proud to be a part of a strong county government that shares the same value in growth, expansion and cultivating a culture of pride in the members of the community and their employees. I’m privileged to work with an incredible team each and every day and thankful for leaders that support and encourage our efforts.

Favorite Way to Spend a Saturday: Getting up early before my little ones are awake, enjoying a cup of coffee and getting lost in the latest issue of Southern Lady magazine.

Favorite TV Show: My personal favorite is “America’s Civil War.” But at this stage in my life, if the television is on and I’m watching, it’s more than likely on the Disney Channel, Sprout or Nick Jr. Then my favorite is “Good Luck Charlie” on the Disney Channel. 

Favorite Movie: Mary Poppins

Favorite Sports Team: University of Georgia Bulldogs

Favorite Comfort Food: Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses

Favorite App: Definitely The Weather Channel – the outdoor events planner’s best friend!

Last Book Read: It wasn’t a full book, but my treasured daily devotional book is Jesus Calling by Sara Young. Each and every morning, I spend at least 20 minutes of personal devotion time with this book and my prayer journal. I can’t start my day without it.

Dream Vacation: A Disney cruise with my entire family. I was 29 the very first time I ever went to Disney World, and I witnessed why it is the most magical place in the world. Everything is bright, full of energy and happy – you can’t help but let go and enjoy. With our family’s love of the beach and open seas, I would like for all of us to be together and enjoy the trip as a thank you for all they do for me. 

Something That Has Changed My Life: Undergoing back surgery and recovery. At the time I was running my business and had a 6-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old. It was also two weeks before Christmas. Physical pain has never stopped me before but this time, I couldn’t do anything but stop, be still and know that God was calling me to a deeper faith and trust in Him for His strength. It was through this very difficult and painful process that I gained so much. I was forced to let go and let God show me how “He alone can turn all things into good for those who love Him…” (Romans 8:28) 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: You have 30 seconds to make a first impression. Always look your best, do your best, be your best. You never know whose life you may touch along the way.  

Favorite Hobbies: Interior decorating, gardening, painting, playing golf, traveling and visiting historical sites and museums

Secret Aspiration: To manage the community events department of Columbia County and raise the bar to expand our reach on the different types of events we bring to our venues. I want to continue to cultivate the relationships of our business partners and development authority to market our county nationwide. 

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: “Dancing with the Stars,” especially The Shag showcase!

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: People would be surprised to know that I am a Civil War history guru. I love to watch documentaries and biographies as well as research battles fought and the generals that led them. Since I was a child, I have been visiting battlefields and museums and still do every chance I get. 

What person do you think we should know? If you’d like to suggest someone we should meet, email editor@columbiacountymag.com and tell us why.