Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thanksgiving Blessings

Southern Hospitality

With Thanksgiving on the calendar this month, I’m devoting my column to naming some of the things I’m grateful for.

In the past, I’ve read posts on Facebook where people listed something they were thankful for each day during November. Some of it was pure fluff, like “I am thankful for green grass.”

Others were quite moving, like “I am thankful for my paycheck (even if my wife does spend most of it on new shoes for herself.)” OK. That last one was from Russell, but I was able to delete it before it was posted.

For starters, I’m grateful for 10 continuous and fabulous years of writing this column for Columbia County Magazine. Woo-hoo! Who would’ve ever thought on that fateful day when Kristy Johnson and I were chatting that she would offer me this fabulous gig! To Kristy and everyone at the magazine, I say thank you.

I’m extremely thankful for you readers, too, who let me share my stories and who attend my book signings and speaking engagements. For me, it pays off in more ways than one — new friends, new readers and new adventures.

I’m grateful for two beautiful daughters who give Russell and I so much love, joy and happiness. And two precious granddaughters who do the same.

I’m so appreciative that both of my parents are still living. At age 86, they are relatively healthy, all things considered. We’re fortunate to live only an hour away from them, so that means lots of visits.

Though I’m grateful that our daughter, Katie, has a job she adores in the nursing field and a husband she is madly in love with, I am sad that they moved to Charlotte for their medical careers. On the plus side, we’ll get to visit often, which is always fun.

I am thankful for the many friends that Russell and I have made through our church, our neighborhood and our jobs. And I’m very grateful that both we have reconnected with old friends.

Through Facebook, I found my BFF from high school, Carol, and we are now neighbors living a half-mile apart. We don’t see each other every day, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed. Russell has reconnected through Google with old college roommates from the mid-70s, and we’ve attended ballgames and dinner together.

Now while Thanksgiving is the time to share food and fun with family and friends, some of our Thanksgiving pasts — meals, that is — have not turned out so well. After having poor, inedible turkeys due to things like me catching the oven on fire or undercooking the meat, we have what our family now calls the Thanksgiving Hex. Even when we desperately secured a restaurant to cook our turkey one year, it was botched because they accidentally left the giblets in paper inside the cavity. Good thing we also cooked a ham.

Then there was the year we got food poisoning when we decided to eat Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant at the beach. And the year we roasted a turkey over hickory chips only to be left with a dried up, pitiful-looking pile of what I can only describe as sawdust.

So this Thanksgiving, let me tell you that I am especially grateful for Katie’s in-laws, Doreen and Nick, who will be cooking the holiday meal for everyone at their beautiful home.

I’ll be bringing a few of my favorite dishes, but thankfully — for everyone involved — turkey is not one of them.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee


Pumpkin Spice Coffee

  • 8 cups fresh, hot coffee
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • Whipped cream
  • Caramel sauce
  • Cinnamon sticks

While coffee is brewing, place remaining ingredients except whipped cream, caramel sauce and cinnamon sticks in a blender and puree until smooth (about 30-45 seconds). Warm pumpkin mixture and fill mugs approximately 1/4 full with it. (You can adjust the pumpkin amount to taste.) Stir in hot coffee and garnish with whipped cream, caramel sauce and cinnamon sticks. Makes 8 servings.

Asparagus with Spicy Cream Sauce

Side Dishes
  • Asparagus with Spicy Cream Sauce2 pounds fresh asparagus spears
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or dash more) cayenne pepper

Cook asparagus until crisp-tender and keep warm. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Gradually stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in chicken broth and half-and-half and cook until thickened and bubbly (about 1 minute). Whisk in honey, mustard, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Top asparagus with sauce and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

See You at the Fair


Columbia County Merchants Association FairThe smell of funnel cakes in the air can only mean one thing: the 49th annual Columbia County Fair is here.

Open for thrill seekers October 30 through November 8, this year’s lineup includes new attractions such as the Zoovogel (Sky Rider) and Wildlife Wendy and her Tropical Birds Show, along with returning favorites like demolition derbies, a master chainsaw carving artist, a petting zoo, Sea Lion Splash and Oscar the Robot.

The Merchants Association of Columbia County, a non-profit organization of business volunteers, presents the fair each year at their fairgrounds on Columbia Road across from Patriots Park. Free conveniences include parking with security, golf cart shuttles, nightly entertainment and admission for kids 3 and under.

Proceeds from the fair benefit more than a dozen CSRA charities and provide scholarships to seniors from each Columbia County public high school. For more information, visit

Thursday, October 30
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: Get one free admission with five non-perishable items per person to be donated to Columbia County Cares; $7 admission without donation.
Senior Night: Free admission for adults 55 and older
FFA Judging: 6 p.m.
Entertainment: Sandy B and the Allstars

Friday, October 31
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $5
Entertainment: Out of the Cellar band

Saturday, November 1
Hours: Noon – midnight
Admission: $7
Kids’ Day: Kids ride free noon-1 p.m.
Entertainment: Brandon Bower Band

Sunday, November 2
Hours: 1 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7; $1 off with church bulletin; $1 off for all students
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Monday, November 3
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Military Appreciation Night: $4 admission with military ID
Entertainment: John Kolbeck Trio (at the Demolition Derby)
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Tuesday, November 4
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Apollo Talent Night: Kids ages 1-12 with DJ Tony Howard
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Wednesday, November 5
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Entertainment: Electric Voodoo & the UGA Georgettes Dance Team (7 p.m.)
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Thursday, November 6
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Apollo Talent Night: Adults (ages 13+) with DJ Tony Howard
Unlimited Ride Special: $20

Friday, November 7
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Entertainment: The Remedy (at the Demolition Derby)
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 8
Hours: Noon – midnight
Admission: $7
Kids’ Day: Kids ride free noon-1 p.m.
Entertainment: Tanner Duckworth; 2nd Chance Rising
Chainsaw Carving Auction: 9 p.m.

Season’s Eatings

Chef Jeff Italian Thanksgiving Garlic Clove Marshall Resort Columbia County Evans Georgia

Garlic Clove chef Jeff Freehof and his staff will prepare “A Taste of Italy” for the 13th annual Italian Thanksgiving Feast. This year the fundraiser, which helps feed the hungry in the area, will be held at Marshall Square Resort Lifestyle Community.

Baked ziti with meat sauce, chicken parmigiana and pasta Alfredo for Thanksgiving? Sure. Why not?

This “Taste of Italy” trio once again will be on the menu for the 13th annual Italian Thanksgiving Feast, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Friday, November 21. Garlic Clove will prepare the food as it has in the past. This year, however, the fundraiser will be held at Marshall Square Resort Lifestyle Community.

Local celebrities will serve diners, who can make a donation for their meals to support Golden Harvest Food Bank, Third Saturday and Good Neighbor Ministries. Last year the event raised $5,400.

“We want to give back. It’s our responsibility and obligation to make sure others are taken care of, and that’s exactly what these three organizations do. They take care of everybody in the community,” says Garlic Clove chef Jeff Freehof.

Art Appreciation


Art After Dark Columbia County Artists GuildGood things happen when the sun goes down on November 22. During Art After Dark, the signature event for the Artists’ Guild of Columbia County, artwork from more than 20 local artists will be on display and for sale at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

“People don’t have to go to Atlanta to buy art,” says Jane Waldrop, guild president. “We have so many wonderful artists in the area.”

Artwork will include watercolors, oils, acrylics, photography, pottery, fiber arts, jewelry, mixed media and Zentangle, abstract drawings that are created by using repetitive patterns.

The annual fundraiser will benefit the guild’s scholarship and building funds. Each year the guild offers a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior that plans to study art in college. Proceeds from a silent auction, which will include artwork and other items, and a 50/50 raffle will support the funds.

The event also will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres and entertainment that includes interpretive dancer Jordan Hughes, jazz musician Bill Karp and Harmony River Chorus.

“All of our entertainers are volunteering their services,” says Waldrop. “They are local people that are sharing their talents.”

If You Go:
What: Art After Dark
When: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, November 22
Where: Savannah Rapids Pavilion Loblolly Pine Room
How Much: Free
More Info: