Monthly Archives: May 2022

Recipes for Success


Three local food producers – including the grand prize winner – got a taste of victory at this year’s Hart Dairy Grand PrizeFlavor of Georgia contest.

The local area earned considerable bragging rights at this year’s Flavor of Georgia, an annual food product contest for established or market-ready foods and beverages made in the state.

Hart Dairy in Waynesboro won the dairy products category with its chocolate whole milk – and the overall grand prize – in its first year as a contest participant.

“We’re proud to be the only national brand to sell milk that comes from cows that are pasture-raised and grass-fed 365 days a year – and it all starts right here in Georgia,” says Mandy Schulz, marketing manager. “We wanted to compete and meet other companies that are also thriving.”

Another Waynesboro agribusiness, Byne Blueberry Farms, collaborated with Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge to take first place in the beverages category with their blueberry cider. The blueberry farm became the first six-time winner in contest history this year.

“I like the competition because you’re up against the best marketers in the state. These are the most progressive, competitive people in Georgia,” says Dick Byne, owner of the blueberry farm. “Every time I go, I learn something. It makes you a better business person.”

In addition, Cassava Breads, based in Evans, was a finalist in the snack foods category for its garlic and herb cheese bread.

“It’s a great contest. It puts a spotlight on Georgia brands, value-added producers and entrepreneurs,” says Chef and CEO Solomon Cohen. “It helps put us on the map. It helps bring exposure to our brand.”

During the first round of judging, 32 finalists were chosen from 148 entries in 11 categories, and the Flavor of Georgia finals were held in Athens in April.

Hart DairyNatural Choice
For Hart Dairy, entering the farm’s chocolate whole milk in the contest was a natural choice.

“It’s delicious. People rave about it,” Schulz says. “Also, we want to bring awareness to doing dairy the right way. We know – because it’s how we operate – that farming can be done responsibly by treating animals humanely, providing highly nutritious food, and working with the earth – not against it.”

She says Hart Dairy, founded in 2017 by Tim Connell and Richard Watson, is the only national brand to sell milk from cows that are pasture-raised and grass-fed 365 days a year.

“Our cows are never confined. They’re always outside grazing on fresh grass,” Schulz says. “We’re the first grass-fed pasteurized dairy cow milk sold in America that’s certified humane.”

The dairy calls the milk a great post-workout drink, due to its protein and carbohydrate content, as well as a drink that the entire family can enjoy.

Byne Blueberry FarmsWinning Combination
According to Byne, who also teaches marketing at Augusta Tech in Grovetown, 92% of the public likes fresh blueberries. However, he says, “I started going after the 8% that doesn’t like fresh blueberries and put them in another form.”

Byne Blueberry Farms, the oldest organic blueberry farm in the Southeast, and Mercier Orchards, a fourth generation family-owned apple orchard founded in 1943, started collaborating on the cider in 2012. Development of the product really started to gel in August 2020.

“It’s the first time two farms in Georgia have come together to make a product,” says Byne, who started the blueberry farm in 1980. “Apples and blueberries are super fruits, and I don’t know if anybody has ever put two super fruits together. There are a lot of health benefits to it.”

Byne has entered Flavor of Georgia eight times, and in past years, the farm also has won in the barbecue sauces, beverages, condiments and salsas, confections and snack foods categories.

“I’ve always wanted to be creative and continue to come up with new ideas,” says Byne. “You have to come up with something that people will like and keep buying. You can have a great product, but you haven’t done anything if it’s not in a vehicle that’s marketable.”

Cassava BreadsRoot of the Matter
Cassava Breads was another first-time Flavor of Georgia entrant. For the initial round of judging, Cohen submitted all four of his cheese breads – classic, garlic and herb, sweet potato herb and chili lime – and the judges selected the garlic and herb to advance to the finals.

“We made a lot of connections with UGA food scientists,” Cohen says. “It was a great opportunity for exposure.”

The entrepreneur named his company, which he founded in 2017, after cassava, a mineral-rich, ancient root that is a centuries-old sustainable food source. Calling the root the ideal foundation for his artisanal breads, Cohen says the naturally gluten-free, grain-free and vegan cassava flour naturally highlights the flavors of the breads.

He imports cassava starch flour from the Minas region of Brazil and hand-selects aged cheeses to complement his artisan recipes.

“We cater to people that love bread and cheese and to people with dietary criteria for food products,” Cohen says.

Cassava BreadsPrized Products
To evaluate the entries, the Flavor of Georgia judges considered technical aspects of the products such as flavor, texture and ingredient profile. The judges also take into account consumer appeal including packaging, innovation and how well the product represents the state.

Each entry is featured in the Flavor of Georgia print and digital product directory, which is seen by leading food industry buyers. Finalists are granted the right to use the Flavor of Georgia logo on their label and promotional materials, a one-year membership in Georgia Grown and the opportunity to present their product to a panel of food industry experts.

As the grand prize winner, Hart Dairy also was awarded exhibit space at the Georgia Food Industry Association Annual Convention and three consultation sessions from the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center.

Since the beginning of Flavor of Georgia in 2007, more than 1,600 products have been entered in the contest.

Flying High


Photos courtesy of Lamar Garrard

Lots of local talent helped the 1962 Georgia Southern Eagles soar to the NAIA baseball title.

John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. Marilyn Monroe sang a breathy rendition of “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Spider-Man first appeared in a comic book, and the Cuban Missile Crisis led to fears of a full-scale nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

These events were on the world stage in 1962, but the baseball team at Georgia Southern College (now Georgia Southern University) in Statesboro, Georgia was making its own dramatic headlines as well. Overcoming adversity to post a 13 – 7 regular season record, the Eagles advanced to the regional National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics district finals and ultimately claimed a national title 60 years ago this month.

Driven to Excel
The roster featured a number of players from Columbia and Richmond counties including Harlem High School graduates Pierce Blanchard and E.G. Meybohm. The Academy of Richmond County also was represented by Tommy Howland, Charles Tarpley, Buzzy McMillan, Bill Griffin, Miller Finley and Larry Crouch.

When Blanchard, Meybohm or Crouch was pitching, six players in the starting lineup were from the Augusta area.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the team’s national championship, but with many underclassmen on the roster, there were few expectations for the Eagles to excel. However, the players’ determination and resolve, coupled with their talent, paved the road to Georgia Southern’s first sports national championship. In fact, it is reported by some to be the first national championship by any college team in the state.

“We had a team that believed in teamwork, no super-stars, a lot of camaraderie, and we played hard with a great desire to win,” says Meybohm.

At one point, however, the Eagles’ post-season hopes appeared to be grounded before they ever took flight. In mid-May, after finishing a two-game road trip at Florida State University, the team bus was in a serious collision with a tractor trailer just outside of Tallahassee. Several team members were badly hurt, and a few required hospitalization.

Coach J.I. Clements called a team meeting to find out if his players wished to continue with the season after so many of their teammates had been injured. The team vote was a resounding “yes,” which was the beginning of turning a mishap into a major success.

Playoff Time
Hosting the NAIA District 7 Tournament, the Eagles lost their first game to Pfeiffer College of North Carolina. Having to win three games in one day seemed an impossibility. The boys from the “Boro,” as the town was known, started in the early morning and finished at dusk in a stadium with no lights.

GSC defeated Carson Newman in the first game and went on to topple Pfeiffer in the next two games to capture the District 7 title. Winning three games and playing 27 innings of baseball in one day was a major stepping stone for this championship-bound team.

Advancing to the NAIA National Championship playoffs in St. Joseph, Missouri, June 5 – 9, GSC handily defeated Minot State, 9 – 3, when Blanchard took the mound and allowed only three hits. David Bell was the winning pitcher in Game 2 as the Eagles handed Winona a 1 – 0 loss. Game 3 saw Meybohm hurl a six-hitter while besting Portland State, 5 – 2.

Allowing just five hits, Blanchard picked up his second tourney win in Game 4 when Georgia Southern beat Portland State again in a 2 – 0 victory that earned the Eagles the championship.

When their bus returned to the Georgia Southern campus, the players were greeted by a large contingent of well-wishers including students, faculty and community.

“Playing on this team was a true life lesson in what can be accomplished through hard work and teamwork,” Blanchard says.

By Lamar Garrard

Shifting Gears

In The Home

While most people live at the lake to play with their water toys, this Appling resident wanted a place for his cars.

When Thomas Koch started building his Appling lake house 2 1/2 years ago, it wasn’t the water that reeled him in to this little corner of paradise. Instead, the self-described “car guy” was lured by the 11 acres of wooded land that would give him plenty of space to fulfill the one requirement he had in a home.

“I wanted a garage with a house attached to it,” he says. “My whole life I told people I wanted a garage with a house attached to it.”

After all, he needed someplace to park his favorite toys – his German automobiles. The mechanical engineer, a first-generation American who has dual United States and German citizenship, says the desire to be able to collect cars drove him to succeed in life.

German Roots
The contemporary house, where Thomas lives with his fiancée, Shannon Albert, is filled with traditional furnishings, and his veneration for his German roots is evident throughout the home as well.

That appreciation starts on the living room wall by the front door, where a pair of praying hands is mounted on a piece of walnut.

“This is something you’ll find in a lot of German homes. It means ‘go in peace,’” says Thomas. “Walnut and oak are common in Germany.”

The living room features a two-story vaulted ceiling with an industrial fan and a two-sided shiplap gas fireplace, which is shared with the dining area. The mantels of all of the fireplaces in the house, as well as the stairs on the floating staircase, are made of reclaimed hickory wood from Tennessee.

A painting of Lafayette Square in Savannah hangs above the mantel. “I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it,” says Shannon. “We knew that would be the piece to go there.”

Beer steins, rum pots and pewter shot glasses from Germany fill the shelves of a cherrywood bookcase in the living room, and a walking stick, which has metal emblems from German beer fests nailed into it, hangs from the top of the bookcase.

The “car guy” and his fiancée are also cat people, and a wood carved cat, which is signed by the artist, lounges atop the bookcase. Shannon says the wood cat reminds them of their cat, Diesel, who died last year at age 12.

“He always laid on the arm of a chair the way that cat is laying,” she says.

Some of their favorite artwork in the house are the intricate needlepoint pictures stitched by Thomas’ grandmother, Leiselotte Eichen. A framed needlepoint picture of Mona Lisa hangs by the front door, and four needlepoints in gold frames are staggered on the wall along the staircase.

“It took a big space for the pictures,” says Thomas. “This is a way for my grandmother to be immortalized. She lived in Germany, so I didn’t see her often. But she was fun.”

On the back of each of her works, his grandmother wrote the start and finish dates of the projects, along with the number of stitches in each one.

A German cuckoo clock hangs on another wall, and beneath the floating staircase with tempered glass on the sides, a Victrola, made by Victor Talking Machine Co., is tucked in a corner. “My mom gave that to my dad for his 32nd birthday,” says Thomas.

Words to Live By
In the dining area, more pewter beer steins and shot glasses from Germany sit atop the fireplace mantel.

The dining table and chairs are made of black walnut, and the overhead light fixture features black shades with gold interiors.

In another nod to Thomas’ heritage, a picture made of crushed glass features a saying written in German:

“When you believe, you have love; when you have love, you have joy; when you have joy, you have faith; when you have faith, you have God; when you have God, you need not.”

In the adjoining kitchen, three pendant lights are suspended above the peninsula. The kitchen also features a cooktop in the island, a divided farmhouse sink, lots of drawers with rubbed bronze hardware, leathered granite countertops, subway tile in an offset pattern on the walls and a walk-in pantry.

A trio of open reclaimed hickory wood shelves are held in place on the wall by rubbed bronze brackets. The shelves hold kitchen items such as a colander, a scale and a coffee grinder from Germany.

“As a kid, I used to grind coffee every morning for my mother with that grinder,” Thomas says.

A hand-carved wooden monk, called “The Blessing of the Harvest,” stands on the top shelf where another wood cat rests at his feet. A pair of cast iron black cats, perched on the countertop, are peering out the window.

Wood cutting boards add to the kitchen décor, and a butcher knife that a U.S. Marine gave to Thomas’ uncle, who was a butcher in Germany, lies across one of the cutting boards.

A walnut bowl, which says “give us this day our daily bread” in German, hangs on the wall by the back door.

Using black walnut wood, a friend crafted the wine flight in the kitchen as well as a whiskey flight in the TV room upstairs.

Industrial Feel
Black walnut furniture and accessories accent the master bedroom as well. For instance, the bedside tables are made of black walnut, and a full-length mirror, leaning against a wall, has a walnut frame.

The master bedroom also includes two tear-drop shaped, seeded glass pendant lights that hang from the ceiling by the bed, an industrial ceiling fan and a fireplace.

On one end of the hickory wood mantel, a container holding Diesel’s ashes is nestled in the arms of a jointed stuffed Teddy bear, which was made in Germany by Steiff. Diesel liked to lie down by the bear, and his favorite toy, a stuffed, much-loved tick – yes, a tick – is placed by the bear as well.

Diesel came into Thomas’ life in 2008 when he was depressed because of injuries that resulted from a serious motorcycle accident. Several months into his recovery, he found the one-day-old kitten, abandoned by his mother, in the yard of his Martinez home.

Thomas bottle-fed the newborn kitten, and the two became inseparable. “He rode everywhere with me,” he says.

Doors in the bedroom open to a balcony outside, where Thomas and Shannon, who met in an Evans High School accounting class in the 1980s and reconnected 10 years ago, can watch deer by day and stargaze at night.

With its floor-to-ceiling charcoal-shaded Italian tile, the adjoining master bath matches the evening sky. However, large windows bring light into the space, which also includes quartz countertops, two vessel sinks, a walk-in shower, a soaking tub and a chandelier.

Upstairs, the ample windows in the TV room offer a view of the neighborhood pond across the street and the pastures for 18 Black Angus cows that six of the neighbors own together.

“We get a lot of light up here,” Thomas says.

The fireplace from the first floor extends up to the TV room, and exposed duct work runs across the ceiling.

“I wanted something that would give the room a modern, industrial feel,” says Thomas. “That was the whole key for the house.”

Furnishings include a sectional couch and a walnut gathering table. Two pedal cars are parked in two corners of the room.

Thomas’ favorite cars, however, reside in the garage. His collection includes an Audi R8 and a dark gray 2022 BMW M5 CS, which he waited a year to get.

“Each dealer gets one allocation. That one’s mine,” Thomas says.

He got his first cool car, a 1992 Mustang LX, at age 21, and he remembers it well. “It was emerald green with five-spoke, silver wheels,” he says.

Thomas and Shannon got track training at the BMW training center in Greenville, South Carolina, and his first BMW was a Z3 convertible. “All I buy now are motor sport cars,” he says.

His favorite car, however, is his 2019 Porsche 911 GT 3 RS.

“That’s my dream car,” says Thomas. “It’s the best German car built.”

The “car guy” who lives at the lake doesn’t have a total aversion water, though, and future plans for the house include building a pool. In the meantime, though, he’s perfectly happy hanging out with his cars in the garage.

By Betsy Gilliland

Low & Slow Pulled Pork

  • 4-pound bone-in pork butt (Boston butt)
  • Dry Rub:
  • 1/2 cup smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili pepper (chipotle)
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard

Combine rub ingredients; set aside. Rinse pork and pat dry with paper towels. Set on baking sheet and sprinkle all over with rub. Using hands, massage rub into meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4-8 hours or overnight (overnight is best). Remove from fridge and let sit (still wrapped) at room temperature for 1 hour.

To Grill:
Heat all grill burners on high for 10 minutes. Turn off all burners except far left. Reduce far left burner to low (to maintain 275 degrees). Remove plastic wrap and place pork on far right side of grill, fat cap up. Close grill and maintain 275 degrees about 8-10 hours or until internal temperature of pork reaches 200 degrees. Remove and place in pan. Cover with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes. Shred with forks and serve with sauce. Makes 12 servings.

To Bake:
Place oven rack in lower half of oven so pork will be in the middle of oven. Set oven to 250 degrees (no need to preheat). Place a cooking rack in a large-rimmed pan lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place meat on rack fat cap up and cook about 8-9 hours or until internal temp is 200 degrees. Remove and place in pan. Cover with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes. Shred with forks and serve with sauce. Makes 12 servings.

Makes 8-12 servings.