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November 2021





On the Beach with


a Charleston City Paper publication

Volume 2, Number 4

Nov. 10, 2021

Digs, our monthly home-focused publication, connects the people who make the Lowcountry special with content they’ve been missing. Digs gets up close and personal with stories on local personalities, home design and remodeling, plants and gardening, home repair and real estate. To learn more about advertising opportunities offered through Digs, contact our advertising team at (843) 577-5304 or send an email to: Dig it!





Andy Brack

Sam Spence

Toni Reale

Published by City Paper Publishing, LLC Members: J. Edward Bell | Andrew C. Brack

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Views expressed in Charleston City Paper cover the spectrum and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Charleston City Paper takes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts. © 2021. All content is copyrighted and the property of City Paper Publishing, LLC. Material may not be reproduced without permission. Proud member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and the South Carolina Press Association. ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: For staff email addresses, visit us online.

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Digs 11.10.2021

At H o


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! s g i D n i n e e As S “A Taste of Living in Charleston is a must-have to bring a bit of Charleston to any Kitchen...” —Nathalie Dupree “...So refreshing! Bobby shares generations of recipes and stories passed down to him, which I learned upon moving to Charleston are markers of classic Southern Cuisine.” —Brett McKee


Fast Unstuffed Turkey Serves 12-15 | From New Southern Cooking, 1986

Thanksgiving with

Nathalie Dupree From Staff Reports


ward-winning cookbook artist Nathalie Dupree says her top Thanksgiving tip is something that doesn’t directly involve cooking food: On the big day, make sure to put a cooler or big bin in an out-of-the-way place so you can store dirty pots, pans and utensils. By doing this, you’ll keep your kitchen relatively clean as guests buzz around in anticipation of the main event. Dupree, a Charleston foodie icon who moved to Raleigh earlier this year, has cookbooks filled with great recipes that will enliven any Thanksgiving meal.

“This is a desperation turkey. It’s for those times when you can’t cook ahead, when you somehow ruined your first turkey, or when you have only two hours to cook everything.” 1 turkey, 12-14 pounds ½ cup butter 1 medium onion, chopped 1 medium carrot, chopped 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, or 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary 4-6 cups of chicken or turkey stock Salt Freshly ground black pepper Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Butter a piece of aluminum foil and place in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the turkey, breast up, on the foil and rub all over with butter. Place some of the onion and some of the carrot and all of the rosemary inside the turkey. This isn’t stuffing; it’s added for flavor. (Dressing, she explains elsewhere, is baked beside a turkey and is Southern; Stuffing, baked inside the bird, is Northern.) Pour in stock to a depth of 1-2 inches up the sides of the turkey. Now turn the turkey breast side down, so the juices from the turkey and the stock will keep the breast moist. Sometimes, a turkey doesn’t want to stay put, in which case, you leave it breast side up. Roast for 1 hour. There will be a lot of steam in the oven. Carefully remove the turkey from the oven, closing the door rapidly so that very little steam is released. If the stock has boiled down to less than 1 inch, add enough to bring it up to 2 inches. Then, turn the turkey breast side up, and return it to the oven. When the oven has returned to a temperature of 500 degrees, reduce the heat to 450 degrees and roast for 1 hour more. Remove the turkey; check for doneness with a meat thermometer or by piercing to see if the juices run clear. Let sit 30 minutes before carving. (You can add remaining stock to pan juices and reduce for a rich and flavorful sauce.)

Yam Souffle

Serves 4-6 | From Nathalie Dupree’s Southern Memories, 1993 Dupree explains this is a light dish that came from one of her students. If you can’t find canned yams, you can use sweet potatoes.

TOPPING 1 cup chopped pecans ½ cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ cup all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons butter, melted ¼ cup flaked coconut Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drain the yams, reserving about 1 ½ cups liquid. In a large bowl, mash the yams with 1 cup reserved liquid, adding more if needed for a smooth consistency. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; mix well, and pour into a greased casserole dish. Rūta Smith file photo

To learn more about Dupree and her cookbooks, visit

In a small bowl, mix the pecans, sugar, vanilla, flour, butter and coconut. Crumble over the top of the casserole and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot. Note: This dish can be made in advance and frozen.

2 28-ounce cans yams 3 large eggs, lightly beaten to mix 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon salt



How a school trip changed Sean Hawkins’ life By Andy Brack

It’s fairly safe to say that most school field trips are endured by students, but generally don’t have life-changing impacts.

Enter Sean Hawkins, then a 16-year-old student near Houston. Being in Texas, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for his class to visit a slaughterhouse. “It had a tremendous impact,” recalled Hawkins almost 40 years later. Not only did he become a vegetarian (“It was an ethical decision”) but he gravitated toward a career of helping animals live better lives. Today, he’s chief development officer of the Charleston Animal Society, one of the Lowcountry’s largest and most visible charities. These days, Hawkins laughs at the memory of becoming a teenaged vegetarian in a home of meat-eaters. “As a kid, I didn’t like vegetables. All I ate was mac-and-cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For the first couple of years, I drove my parents crazy.”

Digs 11.10.2021

Volunteer to pet professional


As a student, Hawkins often volunteered at a Houston-area animal shelter. “I just enjoy dogs and cats,” Hawkins said. “Being a vegetarian, I learned to respect and love other animals as well. I think that every species we share the planet with should be able to live free from harm and suffering.” In college at the University of Houston, he was hired by author and humanitarian Cleveland Amory to establish dog and cat sterilization clinics across the nation for the Fund for Animals, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States. By the late 2000s, he was living in Los Angeles, where he developed a still-popular television show, the Hero Dog Awards, with the American Humane Association for the Hallmark Channel. It showcased eight categories of hero dogs in a 2011 media blitz that he said generated 1 billion earned media impressions, 6 million Facebook page views and 600,000 votes from people who love dogs. About the same time, he met Erik Sandoval, a television reporter and anchor today in Orlando. They later married and see each other every two weeks.

Hawkins and his dog, a goldendoodle named Oh Be Joyful, enjoy frequent outdoor activity.

Hawkins’ career continued to surge as he became head of the humane society in Santa Barbara, California, in 2017. He set up a structured fundraising program that boosted donated revenue by 150% to $1.5 million and greatly increased adoptions at the shelter.

Being a vegetarian, I learned to respect and love other animals as well. I think that every species we share the planet with should be able to live free from harm and suffering.” —Sean Hawkins

But when his contract was about to expire, he said he started passively looking for a new challenge that would be closer geographically to his husband. Then came the chance to talk with peers in Charleston. The president and CEO, Joe Elmore, is known nationally for what he’s done at the Charleston Animal Society, Hawkins explained, but he didn’t know Elmore on a personal level. But after four months of interviews, he was offered and accepted the job to be chief development officer.

Working creatively to generate success Hawkins moved to Charleston in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit. He and his dog, Oh Be Joyful, got

an apartment in Mount Pleasant and started enjoying runs and play times around the old Pitt Street Bridge and on the beach at Sullivan’s Island. Then came what might be the toughest thing for a fundraiser — the order to stay home and not interact directly with the new people he needed to meet and know to help his organization be successful. “I have spent my first 20 months in Charleston in lockdown,” Hawkins said. “I am by nature a very social person. It was really challenging to be in a new community and not be able to go out and meet people.” But long-time sheltering in place followed by a careful return to the society’s shelter in North Charleston brought a couple of benefits. First, it allowed him and his dog to explore the riches of the area’s outdoors when they just had to get out of the house. Second, it provided the impetus for the creativity to raise money to benefit animals in new ways. For example, the organization’s successful annual in-person chili cookoff went online. It also was packaged with a new rescue brew beer contest in which residents nominated a dog or cat to be the society’s spokesdog and spokescat. The event was a hit — without lots of the upfront costs and risks of a real event — raising about $66,000 in 2020. This year’s recent second contest more than doubled the amount of donations. Hawkins said he is enjoying — finally — meeting more people throughout the Charleston area. “I feel as I am just now, 21 months later, starting to benefit from the beauty and nature that Charleston has to offer,” he said. “There is very much a sense of community,” later adding, “This community is incredibly generous. “I really like it here. It’s been a challenging couple of years for fundraising, but we’ve done OK. Nobody’s done a playbook on fundraising during a pandemic!”

Photos by Andy Brack

What Hawkins has most of at home: sand, from his dog’s beach frolicking.

THE LOWDOWN ON SEAN HAWKINS Why pets are important to humans: I believe that companion animals (dogs, Birthplace: Cocoa Beach, Florida. cats, other pets) are the connector species between humans and other animals. If Education: Studied marketing and business a person can develop love and affection administration at University of Houston. for a pet animal, there is not that much Achieved Certified Animal Welfare of a greater stretch to recognize the Administrator (CAWA) credential in importance of the lives of other animals 2017 and Certified Fund Raising Executive (and the planet). Animals enrich our lives (CFRE) credential in 2021. and make us better people. Current profession: Chief Advancement Officer at Charleston Animal Society. Past professions of interest: I’ve been involved with veterinary medicine and animal welfare my whole life. Family: Married to Erik Sandoval for 10 years. Erik is a reporter/anchor for CBS/ WKMG-TV New 6 in Orlando, Florida. (We commute between Charleston and Orlando — which is better than commuting between Santa Barbara and Orlando). Pets: Oh Be Joyful, goldendoodle, 10, and Bandit, a 4-year-old beagle-spaniel mix. Favorite story about a pet: Both Oh Be (Sean’s Dog) and Bandit (Erik’s dog) were adopted as a result of their previous owners passing away and no family members available to take them.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you: After working for a nonprofit organization that I founded for 20 years in Houston (the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program), I moved to Los Angeles to run the charitable foundation for the Dog Whisperer television show. That led me to starting my own PR firm in L.A. — Unleashed Public Relations — and creating and producing a smash-hit television show — the Hero Dog Awards. Books on the bedside table: Esther the Wonder Pig (Derek Walter and Steve Jenkins), The Ten Trusts (Jane Goodall) and All In (Billie Jean King). Something that you have too much of at home: Sand (From the dog going to the beach and bringing sand home.) Favorite food: Vegan mac and cheese.

Hobbies: Bikram yoga and doing things with Oh Be. Secret vice: Addictions to Schitt’s Creek and The West Wing. Favorite musicians: Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen. Favorite dessert: Key Lime Pie (It’s hard to find vegan!). Favorite cocktail or beverage: Unsweetened iced tea. Five things you MUST always have in your refrigerator: Iced tea, Pellegrino, garlic, sriracha, jalapenos. What meal would you want served to you for your last supper: Vegan Tasting Menu at Sorghum & Salt. Describe your best day in 50 words or less: My best day would be traveling to the Caribbean (I love the traveling part) and spending the day on a white sandy beach surrounded by warm turquoise water. Preferably having a dog playing with you in the ocean. I would want to spend the night in a beautiful home or small boutique hotel right on the ocean.

Charitable causes: Three organizations that I currently support: Charleston Animal Society, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Lewa Conservancy. Childhood hero: Jane Goodall. Your hero now: Michelle Obama. Three people (alive or dead) you’d like to dine with: Jane Goodall, Ann Richards, Dame Daphne Sheldrick. Pet peeve: Dogs riding in the back of pick-up trucks and people riding in carriages pulled by horses. Favorite quote: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” —Anne Frank Philosophy: “No one gets it right every time. But it is in the trying, the learning of lessons, the exchange of kindness, and the celebrating of successes together that the world is made better.” Your advice for someone new to Charleston: Get outside! Your advice for better living: Quit eating animals.

Age: 54.



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Poinsettias are plants, not holiday trash By Toni Reale, special to Digs In the next few weeks, garden centers and grocery stores will be filled with America’s favorite holiday plant, the poinsettia. Its timely crimson leaves are a hallmark of the season and embellish everything from clothing to U.S. Postal Service stamps. These plants are thoughtfully gifted to friends and loved ones around the holidays but often Reale treated as disposable, like most seasonal decor. However, with a little care, these plants can easily and successfully be enjoyed all year round.

Digs 11.10.2021

Charleston roots


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In the late 1820s, a Charleston native and U.S. ambassador, Joel Roberts Poinsett, traveled to Mexico on a diplomatic mission. Legend is that Poinsett came across the (now-called) poinsettia plant, likely in winter at a local market. Fascinated with horticulture, Poinsett sent clippings, seeds, and roots back to his greenhouses in Poinsett South Carolina and to a well-known botanist friend in Philadelphia who was successful at cultivating the plant. In 1829, this exotic plant made its debut at the first public show of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The plant’s popularity skyrocketed. It now is the most sold potted plant in the U.S. and Canada. In

2019, sales of poinsettias contributed over $170 million to the U.S. economy. It’s a huge economic driver for the six-week period leading up to Christmas.

Care for the long-run

The poinsettia, euphorbia pulcherrima, is native to tropical dry forests from Mexico to Guatemala. These forests are warm yearround and endure long spells without rain. Knowing a plant’s native environment is important to caring for it at home because it is up to plant parents to replicate natural conditions as much as possible for the health and longevity of the plant. LIGHT AND TEMPERATURE: Poinsettias will thrive in your home with roughly six hours of medium-bright indirect light. Don’t put them in a window where light intensity is high because the leaves can get burned and the soil dries out too quickly. Avoid drafty areas and vents as this plant prefers temperatures ranging between 55 and 70 degrees. WATERING: Stick your finger into the soil of your poinsettia. If the soil is dry up to your first knuckle, it’s time to water your plant. Bottom watering is the best way to hydrate the soil of these (and most) plants. Simply take the plant in it’s nursery pot or a pot that has a drainage hole and put it in a tray (or sink) with an inch or so of water. Let the plant’s roots soak up what it needs. You’ll know that the plant has been fully hydrated when the top of the soil is wet. Avoid overwatering by using the finger trick described above. FERTILIZING: Poinsettias can benefit from a little water-soluble fertilizer at every watering during the holiday season. This care regime can keep the crimson leaves of this plant vibrant and healthy until about March.

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Leaving poinsettias in the window is fine, so long as it’s not too cold or sunny.

After the leaves fall

When the leaves begin to fall, cut back on watering and fertilizing. It is at this time that the plant is going into dormancy. Trim back the plant a bit, leaving about half of the buds. Your plant will go through a period of resembling sticks, but do not throw it out. This is part of its cycle. Water and fertilize when the soil is dry and come May you’ll start to see new growth. When the plant has many of its leaves (they’ll be green at this time) back, repot the plant in a well-drained pot that is one size up from its current size. This will encourage growth. Anytime that night temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees, you can place your plant in a shady spot in the yard

and enjoy it throughout the summer. To get the poinsettia to turn that crimson red again in time for the holidays, it will need a minimum of 14 hours of darkness each day. Place a bag over the plant at sunset and take it off the next day (14 hours later) or take it in and out the closet. By mid-November, the leaves will start turning red and you can start the care cycle over again and enjoy it for many seasons to come Toni Reale is the owner of Roadside Blooms, a flower and plant shop in Park Circle in North Charleston. It specializes in weddings, events and everyday deliveries using nearly 100 percent American- and locally grown blooms. Online at 4610 Spruill Ave., Suite 102, North Charleston.

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