04-02-2014

Spelt Cornbread Muffins

When it comes to gluten free & egg yolk less baking, there are lots more failures than successes, it seems. At least in my kitchen there are! This past weekend I managed to glue the waffle maker stuck, no joke, when I tried to make yolk-less waffles!

But recently, I have had lots of luck replacing whole wheat pastry flour with a mixture of spelt & tapioca flours.

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These cornbread muffins were so delightful after numerous failures in the kitchen. They have a tender crumb, are moist, and have great corn flavor. I found the recipe in a vegan cookbook, as I’ve decided baking egg-yolk-less would be easiest if I simply followed vegan recipes. This is from Isa Does It and will be a recipe I use frequently. The only difference I made was substituting spelt & tapioca flour for the whole wheat pastry flour she calls for.

Tips & Tricks ~
I am just guessing here…but I think baking these directly in the muffin pans sans muffin liners is what creates the crust you are seeking in corn muffins. If you oil the pan well, you should have no problem in the clean-up!

Spelt Cornbread Muffins
1 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup + 2 tsp spelt flour
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 cup self rising corn meal
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 cup corn kernels (optional & if using frozen, thaw first)

Preheat the oven to 350degrees. Lightly coat a 12 cup muffin pan with canola oil or cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar, setting aside for atleast 2 minutes to curdle.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the small bowl of milk, stir in the melted coconut oil and applesauce. Make a well in the bottom of the dry ingredients. Pour liquid ingredients into the well of dry ingredients. Mix together the dry & wet ingredients just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Be careful to not overmix as this minimizes how much muffins rise.

Fill muffin pans with batter and bake in preheated oven for approximately 18 minutes. Remove from oven and insert a spoon around the edges to help muffins be easily removed.

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Enjoy! And may we all have more successes in the kitchen this week than failures!

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03-31-2014

A21 Campaign – The Campaign Against Human Trafficking

I’m not sure when my interest in it began. Or where I first heard about it.

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But my interest in the sadness of human trafficking has been lurking in the foggy corners of my consciousness for quite a while.  It’s like the dirt you sweep under the rug when your friends come to call but no matter where you hide it, the dirt remains. It seems quite easy to sweep human injustice into the recessed corners of our minds. You tell yourself…It isn’t in my backyard, it happens to a different socioeconomic class, there’s nothing I can do to stop it from happening…all heaped upon excuses to keep our guilt at bay that we are only focused on moi.

At least, this is how it is for me. But sometimes you hear one to many times about an organization that wants to garner awareness & prevent human trafficking. You find out one of their 2 US locations happens to be in your backwoods. You are invited to attend a women’s conference where guess who…the ED of the organization will be the keynote speaker…you sit in church that next Sunday and the preacher talks about human trafficking occurring in SC not just the slums of India…you come across the speakers name time after time…all random occurrences, right? But finally, you wonder if it is God who has ignited this desire in your heart?

Even though I feel like I am only one person and keep asking myself what can one person really do to help…I am reminded that…We are only individuals when we think of ourselves as one person. But when joined together in a common cause, we are no longer just one person. 

So here are some interesting facts I’ve learned…

What is human trafficking?
It is the illegal bondage of a person…slavery…and normally results in forced labor and sex trafficking.

What is the average age of a victim?
12 YEARS OLD. That is astounding, so sad, makes me want to cry. I have friends with almost teenage daughters and the thought of them falling into a predators line of sight is sickening. It makes me want to go mama bear protecting on these girls who’ve been abused, hurt, stolen. Ahhh…it makes my heart ache.

This can’t affect that many people in the world, right?
Wrong….27 million people are estimated to be in bondage right now. 27 million!

So what can you do to help?
1. Become aware that this happens in our neighborhoods & towns just as much as in 3rd world countries. In just these first 3 months of 2014, Polaris Project has already received 897 calls from SC.  It occurs everywhere…truck stops for instance. Here is an interesting article of how it goes down at truck stops.

2. Listen to your intuition. If you see something odd or something just doesn’t seem right, do something about it. Make a phone call to authorities or 1-888-373-7888 (National Human Trafficking Resource Center).

3.  Make sure the teenagers in your life know how valuable they are, how loved they are, how special they are. Often traffickers choose victims who have little self value…telling them how beautiful they are, how much they are liked…and then in turn forcing them into prostitution or labor.

4. Write an encouraging card to a survivor of trafficking. These survivors need to know that they can do it, that they can survive the horrific experiences they have gone through. This only takes a few minutes of your day but could have a huge impact on a person’s life.

 No matter what the injustice in this world is that makes you see red, never believe you can’t make a difference! 

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03-21-2014

Eat Local Month

In case you can’t tell from my web address, I’m a local loving gal! Locally grown veggies, mom & pop stores, unique one of a kind events…those are the things that make my heart go pitter patter.

So how exciting is it that here in Charleston, April is EAT LOCAL MONTH! Lowcountry Local First encourages all of us lowcountry residers to put our $ where our mouth is. If you want access to locally grown food, then get out there and support our farmers and locally owned restaurants that source ingredients locally.

The overarching goal for the month is to take the Eat Local Challenge where you shift $10/week of your food budget to the local food system. That may not seem like much but when combined together we can make a huge influence to the Charleston food scene.

So go pick your own strawberries to make jam with, buy kale at the farmer’s market and make a kale smoothie, or get your cup o’ joe from the cooler coffee shop around the corner. 

Here are all the fun events that Lowcountry Local First is putting on ~

Tuesday, April 1 ~ SHOP AT WHOLE FOODS
5% of WF sales this day will go to LLF’s Sustainable Agriculture program

Tuesday, April 8 ~ Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market kicks off
My kids are literally counting down the hours until this awesome day. Their strategic line of attack for the Farmer’s Market…King of Pops first, kettle corn second…

Saturday, April 12 ~ Downtown Farmer’s Market  kicks off
Check out the LLF tent at a “PLOW TO CHOW” special event…and in case you’re scratching your head…a plow is what breaks the ground so you can plant seeds, work the land, break your back.

Saturday, April 19 ~ Lowcountry Farm Tours
Meander along dirt roads, breathe in the fresh air, snack on just picked strawberries, chat with the guys & gals operating the plows responsible for your chow.

Sunday, April 27 ~ Chef’s Potluck
Among the beautiful oaks at Middleton Place, nosh & sip on some of the finest ingredients the lowcountry has to offer, prepared by some of the best chef’s in the area.

And if you don’t live in Charleston, here is information on how to move to the coolest foodie town ever….

Ha ha! What I meant to say was…here is information on how to find a Live Local organization in your area.

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03-18-2014

Life ~ A Fleeting Glance

Metastatic Cancer, Stage 4, Inoperable…words you pray you never hear spoken. Words that shatter your world. Words that make you ponder just how much more He, God, will allow you to suffer? Wasn’t the Thursday evening phone call 3 years ago at 5:23 pm bad enough? Shouldn’t that be the worst your family has to muddle through?

That night we lost a brother…a best friend…a son, to suicide. The grief, the despair, the depression, the helplessness….it’s intangible. But moment by moment, day by day, you pick up the pieces until time passes and as the years tick by you find that the strongholds of grief are losing their grips.

And then, you receive the phone call that your mother in law has cancer. And it doesn’t look good.

You question God, you rail against Him in anger, you seek answers… You drop to your knees and slowly the faith that has kept you afloat your whole life, reminds you…

“Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Isaiah 7:4 & 9

“… the God we serve is able to save us from it.. But even if he does not, …we will not serve your gods…(He is still good.)” Daniel 3:17

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food…
YET, (even then) I will rejoice in the Lord
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength” Habakkuk 3:17-19

All I want is order in my life and after 3 years of chaos, life was finally beginning to be somewhat normal.  So now, I feel like we are starting back all over again…on the brink of another life storm.

So what’s a girl to do? GIVE IT (my worries, my desire for control, my helplessness) TO GOD. Which is SO much easier said than done.

The book of Psalms has been a constant companion throughout my life and I’ve long believed that there is nothing wrong with asking God “WHY” and bemoaning the situation in our lives, if we first…give Him praise.

So, here’s my list of praises to HIM…

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~My MIL is staying positive & my children are able to spend quality time with her
~He has provided us with so many supportive family & friends
~No matter what happens in the weeks to come, He is a constant source of strength

And so, as we live out this storm in our lives, I am reminded of how crucial faith is to it all. Faith isn’t having all the answers, faith isn’t believing that everything will simply be all hunkey dorey…faith is having hope that there is a God, that there is a heaven, that He never leaves us, and that nothing separates us from Him.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

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03-11-2014

Sweet Italian Lasagna

I’ve wanted a great, not just decent, spaghetti sauce for ages and have finally crafted one that we love! What’s even better is that I also tried it in a lasagna and the gluten free noodles (Tinkyada) held up perfectly! I was so surprised because the few times I’ve tried rice spaghetti, they became pure mush. But these rice lasagna noodles were fantastic!

The sauce is thick, flavorful, and uses the tomatoes I canned last summer. I am always excited to use tomatoes from my own garden! If you don’t have home canned tomatoes, no worries, just use whole tomatoes with their juice.

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Tips & Tricks ~ I personally cannot stand the fatty oil that sausage produces. So using paper towels, I continually wipe away the oil in the pan as it appears. This way you aren’t cooking the sausage in the oil. For a faster cooking time, substitute the stew meat with 1lb of ground beef. You won’t have the great texture that stew meat provides but will be able to use the sauce almost immediately. Just taste after 20 minutes of simmering to see if flavors have melded enough. Also, seasoning with a tiny bit of salt & pepper a few times while simmering creates a more flavorful sauce. If you wait till the very end to add salt – you end up with a recognizable ‘salty’ taste.

Inspiration for these recipes came from Gluten Free Recipe Box

Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
1 lb sweet italian sausage
1 cup chopped sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1/2 tbsp dried tarragon
12 oz tomato paste
8 oz tomato sauce
32 oz homemade canned tomatoes or whole tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1-2 cups water
olive oil
kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

In a large dutch oven, cook ground sausage until browned. Remove sausage from pan and set aside in a separate bowl. Wipe pan down to remove excess oil and lightly brown the bite size pieces of stew meat. Once browned, remove stew meat from pan, adding to the bowl of ground sausage.

Wipe dutch oven down again, and heat two teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with a pinch or two of kosher salt. Saute onions, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for 5-7 minutes, until turning soft and just beginning to brown. Add garlic, tomato paste, and dried herbs; sauteing for an additional minute. Add meat back to dutch oven and then add all other ingredients, through the bay leaf, and add 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper. Stir well and if the sauce looks too thick, add up to 2 cups of water. 

Bring sauce to a slow simmer and cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until stew meat is tender.

Yields: ~ 8 cups sauce

Lasagna Recipe

Tips & Tricks ~ This is a great dish to have kids help with! They can grate the cheese & sprinkle it over the lasagna, pour the sauce where needed, and of course, be in charge of the lasagna noodles. And you’ll be left with 1 or 2 extra noodles…kids love to eat these!
Using fresh herbs in the ricotta is my secret ingredient for this lasagna. The herbs provide a fresh vibrant taste to the lasagna that you can’t replicate with dried herbs. I’ve also found that the less sauce you use, the better. This allows for a more firm set of the lasagna. But no fears if you use more – it might be a bit runny but still as delicious.  And any hard cheese (such as Gouda) can be exchanged for the Parmesan.

1 box of gluten free lasagna noodles (strongly recommend Tinkyada)
3 cups of spaghetti sauce
8 oz ricotta
fresh rosemary & oregano chopped (apprx 4tbsp total)
kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gouda cheese
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350degrees.

Bring large pot of water to boil, adding a tbsp of oil and a tsp of salt. Add lasagna noodles, cooking for 10 minutes and then drain.

While lasagna boils, in a small bowl stir together the ricotta with fresh herbs and a dash of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.

Using olive oil, ‘grease’ sides  and top surface area of lasagna pan.

Add a little sauce to the bottom of your baking dish. You don’t want a lot of sauce on the bottom, just a thin covering – primarily of the sauce versus the meat. Spread 1 layer of lasagna noodles and then using a spatula spoon/spread a thin layer of ricotta over the noodles. You may need to use your fingers to spread it all over. Sprinkle with mozzarella and a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan. Now add another layer of spaghetti sauce, noodles, ricotta and cheeses. Repeat layers until you have a final bit of sauce on top which you cover with the last of your mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, until cheese is nice & bubbly and browned all over.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!!

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03-03-2014

Grocery Store Gift Card Giveaway (WINNER UPDATE)

*Winner Update*

I was impressed with all the different and delish sounding ways ya’ll cook pork! I never realized how boring my pork dishes were till I started reading the entries.

The winner, chosen at random, is Lee with “I prepare pork loin in the crockpot. I combine 1 can of whole cranberry sauce, 1Tbsp. of Dijon mustard, 1/2 onion, chopped, 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar and a splash of apple cider vinegar. The cranberry compote is wonderful as a “gravy” on mashed potatoes!”

Congratulations Lee! Be on the lookout for an email from me. Thanks to the rest of you for all these wonderful recipe suggestions! I can’t wait to give them a try.

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As I mentioned the other week, I did not win the Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off but I did have lots of fun! I got to meet a lot of neat bloggers, had a great teammate, and got to experience a Top Chef type challenge.

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(my teammate Katie & I)

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(our herb crusted pork chop dish)

A new video from the event…https://vimeo.com/87511429

A fun video of Katie & I answering questions while we cooked. As you can tell, they did a great job pairing us together!  https://vimeo.com/87436536

Now to the point of this post…Food Lion was very generous in not only sponsoring the event but also providing a $100 gift card for each blogger to share with their readers!

To enter the contest, please share a comment below answering the question…what is your favorite way to cook pork? I will pick the winner next Monday morning.

Good Luck!

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02-28-2014

the 2 essential skills for preserving food

Read a few pages of any canning book or magazine and there’s a good chance you’ll be pretty afraid of giving your family botulism. While that is definitely possible, the chances of that occurring are pretty slim…if you have the following skills…

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1. Being able to follow a recipe’s direction
There is a science behind the preservation of food and canning recipes from reputable sources have been developed & formulated that follow specific rules for safety. So as long as you can follow directions, you will be able to pull this off. I promise! If you are just starting into the world of canning, I highly recommend Ball’s Blue Book. This is your staple, go to book for the mechanics behind canning. From there, the number of books and resources for canning is limitless. You just want to make sure that your recipes are from a reliable entity and align with what you’d find in a Ball Blue Book.

For example, when you have someone telling you that tomatoes don’t need to be processed (meaning no water bath, no pressure canning)…then I’d highly recommend avoiding that recipe. But if you follow the standard rules of sterilizing your jars, preparing your produce the correct way, and processing for the recommended time…then you should feel that you can do this! Which leads me to…

2. Confidence
If you didn’t grow up watching your mom & grandma ‘put-up’ then I understand how you’d be a bit worried if you can pull off preserving your own food. There are plenty of horror stories out there…even for experienced canners, things sometimes go wrong. But it’s just like riding a bike, or the train chugging up the mountain…the mantra of “I think I can, I think I can” …goes a long way. Believe in yourself & your abilities, believe in your desire to feed your family nutritious food, believe in wanting to use up the figs from your in-law’s overflowing tree, believe in wanting to save your family money… There are so many different reasons for wanting to ‘put-up’, and you just have to take the first step.

Start simple, read your recipe numerous times before you begin, and believe in yourself!

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02-26-2014

A Fresh Design & A New Business

Welcome to a whole new design for this site, a new web address (I lost ‘wordpress’ and added ‘the’), and a NEW BUSINESS!

I am thrilled with the new design and have to sing the praises of Jana from Little Web Writing Hood who was great to work with!

And for my first foray into the entrepreneurial world…I am starting a business where I teach people how to can & preserve food. I greatly enjoy the aspect of taking something that either I’ve grown or is from a local farm and getting to turn that into something that will last me for months. There is nothing like making spaghetti sauce in February with tomatoes that you canned last summer. If you’ve never tried canning before, I promise it is doable.

 

After years of fielding questions on canning, I’ve decided to offer canning parties where in the comfort of your home you & your friends get a hands on experience of ‘putting up’ food. In a festive environment you will be gaining an essential life skill and you’ll leave with at least 2 jars of canned goods.

Canning is not rocket science, but unless you’ve grown up doing it or watching your mom do it…you probably feel a bit nervous and worried about giving your family botulism! So, I’m here to unwrap the science of it. To help you feel confident that this is something you can do at home on your own. I am going to begin with offerings of “Pickles & Preserves” and “Canning Tomatoes” parties. And if there is a different produce you’d like to put-up, I can show you how do that too. Take a look at my Canning Parties page and if you have questions or would like pricing you can email me at thelocalgoodness@yahoo.com.

I’m excited!!

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02-22-2014

Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Update

This week was filled with many ups & downs but the high light was Food Lion’s Frugal Cook-Off.

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(I’m the one in glasses, Katie’s on the far left)

Imagine Top Chef where the contestants have $15 and 45 minutes to prepare a meal consisting of a protein and two sides. But….you have no idea what your meat is and the mock store is very limited. I had been a bit apprehensive about what our meat would be and we lucked up with pork chops. As you may recall, cooking pork chops is not my specialty! My teammate & I did not win…but we had such a FUN time! And I learned quite a lot.

1. I cannot imagine how many cameras, video recorders, and other equipment there must be for TV cook-offs because just for this cook-off there were SO many! I walked in and felt like I was on a TV set. Here’s a fun teaser video of us all: https://vimeo.com/87181067

2. Knowing that pork should be pulled out of the oven at 138 degrees is only helpful if you actually check the meat’s temperature. Our pork chops were an astonishing 199 degrees!!!! when I checked. Wow. And even after finding out they were that overcooked I still tried to convince my wonderful teammate Katie that we should broil them to achieve a nice crispy exterior. Thankfully, a cooking pro from the store came over and hinted that perhaps we should just plate at that point.

3. Plating your food is WAY harder when you are on a time crunch. When I plate food for blog pics, I can take all the time in the world. No one is yelling out 2 minutes 1 second remaining. And, I had no idea that you should think about how things are going to look plated when you are determining what to  buy in the mock-up store. I mean, yes…I had thought the roasted carrots on our plate would add some nice color contrast to the sauteed spinach…but, our plate wasn’t quite as exquisite as what I had pictured in the beginning.

4. 45 minutes goes by WAY faster when you are under a time limit than when you are leisurely cooking at home. And, does anyone know how to get roasted vegetables to brown if you are using a sil-pat pan?

With all that said, I had the most wonderful time and the real reason behind that was meeting this fantastic group of bloggers. It was so nice to meet people face to face and learn about blogs that I had no idea existed. And my teammate Katie from The Perks was an absolute gem. I found someone in Charleston that composts!!! And she gardens (obviously…there is probably a good chance if you compost, you probably garden as well). The video team actually thought we were friends prior to the cook-off because of how much fun we were having together. I think I could write a post simply on how much fun it was hanging out with her.

You should check her and all the other lovely ladies out at the following blogs:

·       Megan Baker – Fried Green Pickles http://friedgreenpickles.blogspot.com/
·       Brittany Greer – Counting my Cupcakes http://www.countingmycupcakes.com/
·       Lisa Caplinger – Charleston Treasures http://www.charlestontreasures.net/
·       Valerie Kirkland – LiveFit Journey http://www.livefitjourney.com/
·       Sydney Gallimore – Queen of the Food Age http://queenofthefoodage.com/
·       Katie Perkinson – The Perks http://katiesperk.blogspot.com
·       Shelby Hanchey – Recent Somethings http://recentsomethings.blogspot.com

I will be back next week with a give away, recipes, and shout-outs to Food Lion and Charleston Cooks!. This post has already gotten so long. Food Lion so generously put together the cook-off and I want to share information with you that I learned about their store. They are making great strides in improving their quality of produce and store brand groceries. I was very impressed. And Charleston Cooks! hosted the event and CLEANED UP ALL OUR DIRTY DISHES!!! We had lots.

Thanks for reading this very long post and if you have a tip for roasting veggies with a sil-pat, I’d love to know your tricks.

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02-07-2014

Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off

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UPDATE: I just found out that the cook-off is not open to the public due to space of the venue. So please just cheer me on virtually instead!

For the last month I have felt my world spinning faster than I would like and while I yearn for less matter to fill my brain, I realize that sometimes there are simply busy seasons in our lives.

Between a bathroom remodeling project that we are DIYing, launching a small business (yay! more details coming soon), and redesigning this blog (yay, again!) I feel that my somewhat orderly life is stretching me to the max. Life is a bit chaotic in its design but I try to keep things simple and focus on domestic and mom duties as my priorities. So these extra-curricular projects are throwing me for a loop.

What’s really kept me grounded though has been waking up around 5ish to have quiet time with Christ. I treasure those minutes, that hour, before my children wake. Time to have a mug of hot tea, envelope myself in scripture, and journal my prayers to Him. My time with Him renews me, encourages me, and reminds me to seek His guidance throughout the day.

So what’s a girl to do when a friend & fellow blogger sends her an email about a food cook-off? And not just any food cook-off but a FRUGAL food cook-off! She excitedly requests to be included! And then she prays about it. And then she feels bad that she didn’t seek God’s guidance first to see if she should be signing up. And then she realizes that, in all things, God can bring goodness…bring Him glory. So she tries to remind herself that God gave her passions and enthusiasms in life for a reason. It’s a really nice gift when you’re given the opportunity to do something you love…so perhaps she should just cherish this fun & exciting event!

So to the point of this post….

I am thrilled to be one of the contestants in Charleston’s Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off on 19 February. As any close friend of mine knows, I love food more than almost anything. Really. I have to work really hard on having conversations that do not revolve around food. And, I LOVE TO SAVE $. My favorite conversations sans food include me saying…”guess how much I just saved!” So this cook-off should be really neat. And challenging. And scary. I mean, do I really know how to cook good food without an arsenal of spices at the ready? What do I do if they hand me a pork tenderloin? (I don’t know that I’ve ever made a tender tenderloin…ever…not once!)

Oh, and did I mention that just by participating I will get a $100 gift certificate to share with one of you! And if I win, then the gift certificate becomes $250!

I’ll be back in touch after the event to let you know how it goes!

Jess

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