ANSON MILLS’ TRUE GRIT RECIPE

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SAVORING THE SOUTHERN STAPLE

BY DEENA C. BOUKNIGHT

Non-Southerners may not understand the culinary obsession with grits. But for the true Southerner, grits are a staple – thanks, originally, to Native Americans. According to Culture Trip, the dish “was introduced to European explorers in 1584. During surveillance of the new lands in North Carolina, Sir Walter Raleigh and his men dined with the local Natives. One of the men, Arthur Barlowe, wrote about the ‘very white, faire, and well tasted’ boiled corn served by their hosts.”

Stone-ground corn, or hominy, is boiled and mixed with salt, butter, a little cream, and cheese, if desired, for savory palette partakers. Omit the cheese and salt and add a little sugar to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Anson Mills, established in Columbia to maintain true traditional grains, has its own recipe: Simple Buttered Antebellum Coarse Grits. The recipe is described on the Anson Mills website as “Big Daddy grits with big flavor and a mouth feel that really grabs your attention.” Read more about Anson Mills and their heirloom seed revival in the current Jan/Feb issue of CMM!

Coarse grits are different than the 5-minute variety available at most grocers. They take time to cook, at least an hour, but are home cooks and chefs’ choice when it comes to serving grits alone or as an accompaniment with shrimp, greens, eggs, and other dishes. Coarse grits also make the best grit cakes, maintains Anson Mills.

Culinary-minded Southerners will enjoy cooking up a pot of warm, steamy grits that taste like home.

Simple Buttered Antebellum Coarse Grits

6 ounces (1 cup) Anson Mills Antebellum Coarse White Grits or Antebellum Coarse Yellow Grits

Spring or filtered water

Fine sea salt

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the grits in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably a Windsor saucepan) and cover them with 2 1/2 cups water. Stir once. Allow the grits to settle a full minute, tilt the pan, and skim off and discard the chaff and hulls with a fine tea strainer. Cover and let the grits soak overnight at room temperature. If you are not soaking the grits, proceed directly to the next step.

Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the first starch takes hold, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pan. Meanwhile, heat 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and keep hot. Every 10 minutes or so, uncover the grits and stir them; each time you find them thick enough to hold the spoon upright, stir in a small amount of the hot water, adding about 1 1/2 cups water or more in four or five additions. Cook until the grits are creamy and tender throughout, but not mushy, and hold their shape on a spoon, about 50 minutes if the grits were soaked or about 90 minutes if they were not. Add 1 teaspoon of salt halfway through the cooking time. To finish, stir in the butter with vigorous strokes. Add more salt, if desired, and the pepper.

 

 

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

_D5A7718.jpgTHERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

BY MARGARET CLAY

The start of the New Year provides a wonderful time for “out with the old, and in with the new.” We at CMM are excited to launch our new website after many months of planning, designing, and programming with the amazing team at Columbia’s own Mad Monkey. I can’t wait for you to see it! Visit ColumbiaMetro.com and enjoy all content from the past decade at no charge for a limited time.

Similarly, the New Year offers a moment of reflection on where we have been and where we are going. In Columbia, we should certainly be proud of our many inspiring individuals as well as impressive businesses. Renowned photographer Constantine Manos is one Columbia treasure featured this month. After growing up in Columbia and studying photography at USC, “Costa” went on to capture many images that are now in museums around the globe as well as to cover historic events, such as Martin Luther King’s funeral and President Richard Nixon’s inauguration. You will enjoy learning more of his story and perusing  a select gallery of his work on page 100.

For this issue, publisher Henry Clay sat down with USC President Harris Pastides for a discussion about his time as a Gamecock and where he sees the university heading in the future. Read this Q&A on page 134. President Pastides has been such an incredible asset to our city over the past 10 years in leading USC to new heights, including achieving and maintaining the Honors College’s No. 1 ranking in the country. He will be greatly missed after his retirement in June.

Incorporating more dark, leafy greens is an excellent way to meet the frequent January goal of a healthier diet. If Jim Kibler’s recipe for Hoppin’ John from our December issue whetted your appetite for greens over New Year’s, we have much more in store for you! Read Helen Dennis’ article on page 126 for fresh recipes on collards, radish greens, and especially kale, which is packed with antioxidants, calcium, vitamin K, fiber, and folate.

Nothing pairs better with greens than a tasty grain, like Carolina Gold Rice. Anson Mills, probably Columbia’s best kept secret, is reviving Southern heirloom seeds. Its artisanal grains include corn, rice, wheat, and rye, just to name a few. Milled locally, the grains are then shipped to top chefs around the world. Read about Glen Roberts’ vision that has come to such successful fruition on page 108.

For the past 28 years, we have been celebrating the finest in our great city through the Best of Columbia contest. The Midlands is lucky to have so many inspiring local enterprises offering the ultimate in business to consumers in our area. We are proud to announce the much-anticipated list of this year’s winners on page 34.

Happy New Year to all who are fortunate enough to live in our fabulous community!

DRIVING TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

traffic-2906245_960_720.jpgSTAY SAFE!

With the holidays and winter months just around the corner, many families will be packing up their little ones along with bundles of food and presents for journeys to visit relatives.

Don McRae, a former law enforcement officer and owner of a local driver education school, 911 Driving School, provided these tips for Columbia residents to keep in mind for winter:

  • Check your tire pressure: When the weather changes, causing dips in the temperature or unexpected snow, so does the pressure in your car’s tires. This can create potentially hazardous driving conditions when the roads already may be icy or slick. Keep a portable tire pressure gauge in your car and check your tires before every winter drive.
  • Pack a winter survival car kit: You never know when bad weather can hit and leave you stranded in your car. Some common items to keep in your car include non-perishable food items, kitty litter or sand for traction when stuck, emergency blankets, first-aid kits, flashlights, water bottles, phone chargers, and snow shovels.
  • Keep the gas tank half-full: Make sure that your gas tank is at least half-full at all times during the winter season. In the event your car gets stuck or stranded, keeping your gas tank as far from empty as possible will ensure you have a source of heat in emergency situations.
  • Tell someone your driving plans: In the event you have to venture out during a storm or hazardous driving conditions, be sure to let a relative, friend, or coworker know your destination and your expected arrival time.

TAKE A GLOBAL NATIVITY TOUR

Beaufort worth the trip to view “A Nativity Celebration”

By Deena C. Bouknight/Photography by Sissy Perryman

unnamed (4)For the last eight years, First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort – a two-hour drive from Columbia – has hosted A Nativity Celebration, featuring 100-plus unique and artistic natvity scenes hand-made in various spots around the world. Perusing the creches during the three-day event, from December 7-9, is like taking a visual global tour. Each is distinct and many convey aspects of a country’s culture.

The nativities are shared by local residents and church members as well as provided on loan from others outside the community. Each stands alone as an aesthetic vignette narrative of the birth of Christ. Styles range from whimiscal snow globes to eleborate porcelain sets. Some natvities make repeat appearances each year, while others are new. Some are so small they fit in a matchbox, while others sprawl across an entire table. Most are traditional table displays; a few hang.

They might be constructed of bent nails, recycled metals, or even local oyster shells.

There are German Hummel figurines as well as sets from Vietnam, Phillipines, Cameroon, and many other countries.

“It is amazing to see how the Christmas story is depicted by artists from all over the world,” says Donna Sheetz, FPC’s volunteer nativity coordinator. “Whether they are made from banana leaves or oyster shells, wood or fine porcelain – each nativity tells a story unique to the artist’s culture.”

Nativity photos by Sissy Perryman-Beaufort

The three-day event draws school children, assisted living and nursing home residents, tourists, locals, and more.

The goal, explains Donna, is to show the true meaning of Christmas through the eyes of the world. A Nativity Celebration is located in First Presbyterian Church of Beautfort, 1201 North Street, and is a “gift” to the public – free of charge.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

BY MARGARET CLAY

None of us are born wanting to share. Allowing a sibling to play with a favorite toy for a few minutes can be a bitter test for even the sweetest child. And a generous spirit doesn’t always come easily as adults either, especially when considering treasures like time, resources, or special holiday traditions that are limited and valuable. On the flip side, when children are exposed to people lacking basic needs, these young hearts often exhibit a tenderness that can grow numb with age and the practicality that dominates everyday adult life. Yet, families who model community-minded, selfless giving can set the clock for a child to exhibit a philanthropic lifestyle for decades.

In our home growing up, we were exposed to sacrificial giving as a way of life primarily through riding around with John Fling in his iconic blue pickup truck. My mother wanted us to see what a true heart for caring for the community looked like, and so she arranged for my sister, Mary, and me to ride around with him on his rounds of giving to the poor, to go to his dinners for the blind, and to help with his big Kmart annual Christmas shopping spree. Mary and I were astounded to see how much want for basic necessities existed in our own city, and even more so by going to the Flings’ home and realizing that he was hardly better off than those to whom he gave everything. Mr. Fling also taught me the joy and fun of outreach.

Another person who modeled thoughtful giving during my youth was a boy named Zach. My then 11-year-old sister, Helen, was in the hospital fighting stage 4 cancer when she received a shoebox full of age and gender appropriate treats from Zach. A letter explained that he had once been sick in the hospital but now was healthy again and living a normal life. This simple gift encouraged Helen in her fight to live, and once she too was healthy again, she decided to pay it forward and started a charity called “Helen’s Hugs” through the Central Carolina Community Foundation to take teddy bears to children in the hospital. This domino effect of charity shows the exponential ways that a gift can grow. Zach’s one shoebox more than 12 years ago has multiplied into thousands of Build-A-Bears received by other sick children.

So many approaches, basic and creative, encourage giving and a spirit of community in young children, and to say that the stories shared in From Here to Philanthropy on page 36 are inspiring is an understatement. From forgoing birthday gifts in order to raise money for families in need, to spending Christmas morning giving to the homeless in Finlay Park before opening presents at home, these families are doing their part to cultivate a spirit of philanthropy in the next generation.

Merry Christmas!

ART IN OLYMPIA

5uFY5ztg.jpegOLD RAILROAD TRESTLE PAINTING GETS A SPRUCE UP

By Deena C. Bouknight

Egyptian art in Columbia? Those who have lived or worked in the Mill District of Columbia, where cotton mills Olympia, Whaley, and Granby once thrived, are familiar with the large depiction of Ra, the Egyptian sun god, painted on the remains of an old railroad trestle. While some park-goers may have – at first glance – wondered how an Egyptian artifact found a home in Columbia, closer inspection revealed the fading remains of a 20th century painting.Sp9M6C2Q Until recently.

After construction workers demolished an old railroad trestle in the Olympia neighborhood in 1989, a large portion refused to crumble. South Carolina artist and muralist, Richard Lane, decided the weathered sandstone pillar appeared ancient, so he envisioned and then painted an Egyptian scene complete with various symbols and hieroglyphs in 1993. The piece became known locally as the Ra Obelisk.

In 2004, the structure actually became the centerpiece of what is considered a “pocket park” at 904 Heyward Street; benches were added as well as a sidewalk leading to the painting.

In late October, two artists – Jeff Donovan and Georgia Lake – matched colors and repainted the mural, strivingqgLJ-Uq8.jpeg to maintain the original work by Richard Lane. One Columbia Executive Director Lee Snelgrove believes the spruced up painting, which will be a key location on the forthcoming Mill District public art trail (developed by the 701 Center for Contemporary Art), revitalizes the area’s energy. “The Mill District has a history as a place for workers and artists,” she says, “and it continues to be a community of passionate people. Public art physically demonstrates a place of pride, and One Columbia is privileged to be a part of preserving the unique creative spirit of the Mill District.”

 

 

FROM THE EDITOR

Margaret Clay for From the Editor

PUT ANOTHER LOG ON THE FIRE

BY MARGARET CLAY

Camaraderie by a fire provides such simple yet profound contentment. Whether you are roasting hot dogs and s’mores around a campfire, chatting with friends around the backyard fire pit (also known as a cave man’s TV), or enjoying an indoor fire lit for a party, fires evoke a certain soothing ambiance in any scenario. They offer a primal pleasure from their warmth, the dancing flames, and the dazzling, ever-changing patterns in the glowing embers.

That is, unless Mother Nature objects.

Once at a seated dinner party, as we lit the first fire of the season, an angry family of indignant wasps came hurtling out of the chimney to wage a fierce battle against their inconsiderate assailants. This, in turn, caused a hurtling back of chairs as we all dove under the table, all decorum cast asunder. Thankfully, the stinger-laden insects proved to be sufficiently stunned from the smoke and settled on the tops of the windows, allowing everyone a peaceful continuance of the evening, albeit with an occasional glance up.

Many families enjoy the tradition of teaching children how to make s’mores, and ours was no exception. However, we did have an added complication in that as toddlers, my sisters and I did not initially like marshmallows. Rather than simply moving on to the chocolate, I made myself consume the hot, gooey mouthful and then reach to roast another so I too could “enjoy” this favorite pastime around the fire. I then had the pleasure of witnessing my sisters go through the same familial initiation as 3-year-olds of forcing themselves to eat marshmallow after marshmallow with contorted grimaces until acquiring the taste. Now, as a roasted marshmallow devotee, I must concur with the religious detail described by Jimbo Haynes in “The Birds, the Bees, and Chimney Disease” on page 82 on the proper due process for crafting a true s’more.

For more sophisticated repast in anticipation of Thanksgiving, glean ideas for entertaining with freshly harvested wild game from local experts in “Wild about Game” on page 54. Tired of your usual venison or dove recipes? Try Michael Boozer’s reverse seared venison loin or Ben Myers’ bacon-wrapped dove poppers. Then, for dessert, read Susan Slack’s article on page 42 for creative twists on fall-flavored baking. I heartily recommend her five-spice carrot cake and cranberry plum streusel bars! And for tips on crafting the perfect centerpiece for this incredible meal, look no further than Melissa Andrews’ article on page 66 with step-by-step instructions from Cricket Newman and Sarah Swinson Shell on creating a stunning autumnal focal point for your table.

From your s’mores gathering around the fire to a seated dinner around an elegant white linen tablecloth, we extend you all our best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH FOUNDATION AWARDS $90,000 TO LOCAL CHARITIES

CHILD WELFARE AND YOUTH ARTS PROGRAMS BENEFIT

BY DEENA C. BOUKNIGHT

Darius Rucker, Jim Sonefeld, Dean Felber, and Mark Bryan have not forgotten about the community that embraced their careers when they formed Hootie & the Blowfish in 1986 in Columbia. The four met as freshmen at the University of South Carolina and became one of the most popular American rock bands in the 1990s, experiencing platinum albums and a Grammy Award win.

Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation logoThe band members created an endowment that ensures the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation will last into perpetuity by providing financial support to charitable initiatives throughout South Carolina and beyond. In October, Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation awarded $90,000 to three South Carolina non-profits benefitting child welfare and youth arts programs. They are:

  • Epworth Children’s Home’s Epworth’s Family Care Center, which is a program allowing mothers and their children to stay together while receiving treatment as a whole family.
  • Abbeville County School District’s Putting Students First, One Beat at a Time, which is a program to assist the district’s schools with purchasing musical instruments for students who have an interest in band.
  • Dillon School District Four’s Stayin’ the Chorus, which is a program to send choral students to regional performances and competitions and help with the purchase of a music classroom mat.

The Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation has awarded more than $2.9 million in grants since its creation in 2000. Hootie & the Blowfish established their donor-advised fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, to strengthen the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation’s philanthropic efforts.  The Community Foundation acts as a centralized point of contact for all grant requests and manages its grant administration, evaluation, outreach, and distribution.

FROM THE EDITOR

Margaret Clay for From the Editor

Heritage and History

BY Margaret Clay

On rainy days as a child, I would sometimes amuse myself by looking through the old family books in my parents’ library in search of the earliest copyright date in the house. The patinaed, worn leather of 19th century spines filled with delicate, foxed pages acted like a time machine on my senses and whirled me back through the ages as I wondered whose fingers had graced these same pages for the first time. Old books still hold for me a kind of magic, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about them and their proper care from experts like David Hodges featured in Aïda Rogers’ article on page 46.

Like most children, I also grew up with a fascination for ghost stories, though I was limited in my permitted exposure to them (my mother was too smart to risk her sleep to my inevitable nightmares). The tradition of ghost stories crosses all cultures, and South Carolinians show no exception in exhibiting humanity’s intrinsic delight in the macabre. For an entertaining sampling of our local and statewide spectral legends to stimulate your Halloween spirit, read Janet Scouten’s article on page 42.

Another article in this issue highlighting history and traditions is Deena Bouknight’s story about the St. Paul Campground tent revival that has been taking place every October since 1880, timed for a celebration of the harvest. This week of fellowship and worship was established by Little Salem A.M.E. Church, and fifth generation descendants still carry on their forefathers’ practice of song, prayer, laughter, and good food to this day. Read more about their inspiring heritage on page 64.

Lastly, Susan Slack shares the exotic traditions of fermenting food from all around the world, hearkening back to as early as the Stone Age. While the Korean dish of kimchi is perhaps what first comes to mind (and indeed, she has provided a fantastic recipe!), most people unwittingly consume fermented food every day, from sourdough bread to yogurt, olives, or even hot sauce. Learn how to harness safely the hitherto unwanted kitchen guests of mold, bacteria, and fungus for a surprisingly appetizing and healthy cuisine from across the globe on page 98.

Whatever your family history and heritage, we wish you a very festive (and traditional!) October.