Lake Oconee Living - Winter 2022

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12 Days of Giving

Share in the spirit of Christmas by supporting some of the many local charities and non-profits that work tirelessly in the Lake Oconee community year-round.

“Showcase” of Success

A look back at how a home tour has helped Greene County Habitat for Humanity build a community over the past five years.

On Holiday

37 52 65

Chef Deborah Johnson takes readers on a culinary tour through the Southern Hemisphere to get you through the dreary winter months and have you dreaming of summer to come.

| features |
Photography by Jarrod Brock
Recipes by Chef Deborah Johnson

At the Table

Sugar and Spice

This gingerbread pound cake with eggnog glaze makes everything nice for holidays.

In the Spirit

A Christmas Classic

Warm up with a hearty cup of mulled wine, a signature drink for the season.

By Design All Set

From formal to festive, the right table setting can set the tone for any holiday gathering.

By the Book Odd Inclinations

Chip Bell shares unusual facts about famous Georgia authors that flavor the works we love.

Backyard Traveler

The Greatest Gift Seeing Southern takes readers on an escape from the holiday hustle and bustle with a trip to the Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

Delene Watts, manager of BB&G in Madison, created an elegant yet festive place setting using Ashbourne by Royal Crown Derby.

8 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 | departments | 17 21
Photographed by Andrea Gable
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The most wonderful time

The older I get, the more toler ant I am of “All I Want For Christ mas is You” being piped into the shopping centers the day after Halloween, the Santa figurines crowding out the witches on store shelves, and icicle lights blinking on at dusk on 70-degree days.

I’d always adhered to my own “No-holiday-music-stations-un til-Christmas-Eve” rule until my children came along and spoiled it with their precious renditions of “Run, Run, Rudolph.” I still stick to the “No-tree-until-after-Thanks giving” rule, but I’ve loosened up about pulling down the snow men and fiber op tic trees from the attic as soon as the faux graveyard and skeletons are packed away.

Thus, ever so slowly, Christ mas crept up on me, and it’s been surprisingly wel comed earlier and earlier.

The holiday sea son, for me, has broadened to include more than just a few days around Christmas. At the first possible signs of crisp autumn weather, I begin antici pating the annual family get-to gethers that Thanksgiving will bring. The warm reconnection to loved ones continues long after the wrapping paper sits shredded on the floor, a sign of happiness that giving to others brings into our home.

This “spirit of giving” lingers long enough to inform your thoughts on what you hope for in the New Year and adds per spective to what you already have before you. Thus, the holiday sea

son is greater than the sum of its parts. When you stop breaking it down into calendar days, it be comes an effortless progression, and you can see why so many con sider it to be the most wonderful time of the year.

It begins with thankfulness and gratitude, and is followed by giv ing and graciousness. This is what carries you into the New Year and influences your hopes and goals.

In compiling this Holiday Is sue of Lake Oconee Living, we sought out the spirit of giving and found it around every corner. It was impossible to narrow down all the philanthrop ic work going on in Greene, Put nam and Morgan Counties for the “12 Days of Giv ing” featured on page 37, but we wanted to give readers at least a dozen reasons to support our com munity this holi day season.

A standout among these organizations is the Greene County Habitat for Hu manity. Five years ago, a relent less committee of volunteers put together the first of its success ful “Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes.” Since then, the event has raised enough money to build ten homes for families in need. On page 52, we look back over those five years to see how this home tour has helped build a commu nity.

We hope this issue fills you with the spirit of giving this hol iday season.


| from the editor |
of the year

Handmade macarons from the holiday collection of Chef

Johnson who takes us “On Holiday” for a culinary tour through the islands on page 65.

the greatest hunger of
Christmas fulfills “The spirit of
EAT at the table: Gingerbread Spice p13 DRINK in the spirit: Mulled Wine p21 BE MERRYfeatured: 12 Days of Giving p37

Sugar and Spice

This gingerbread pound cake with eggnog glaze makes everything nice for holiday gatherings.

Looking for a showstopper cake

for the holiday dessert table?

This bundt cake is fluffy and full of season al spices. In the realm of holiday flavors, gingerbread reigns supreme around the

world. This sweet sensation is topped with a silky smooth eggnog glaze and is sure to be a holiday favorite for your guests and family.

14 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 | at the table |

Gingerbread Pound Cake

• 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

• 1/2 tsp baking soda

• 1/2 tsp baking powder

• 1/2 tsp salt

• 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

• 1/2 tsp allspice

• 2 tsp cinnamon

• 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Eggnog Glaze

• 1/2 tsp ground cloves

• 4 eggs whisked, room temp

• 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

• 1 cup unsalted butter, melted

• 1 cup buttermilk

• 1/2 cup molasses

• 1 cup powdered sugar

• 3 tablespoons eggnog

• Pinch of nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan. Set aside.*

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the brown sugar and melted butter together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, buttermilk, and molasses.** Using the paddle attachment, mix on low until the wet ingredients are incorporated. Add the dry ingredients into the wet

ingredients. Mix on low until combined.

4. Pour the batter into your prepared bundt pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs on it. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Invert cake onto cake stand. Allow to cool before topping with the glaze.

5. To create the glaze, whisk the whisk the powdered sugar, eggnog and nutmeg in a small bowl until incorporated. Pour over the cake. @ameliasapparel (706) 342-2986 172 South Main St., Madison (706) 850-6373 1738 S. Lumpkin St., Athens

Soup for the Soul

This traditional recipe puts the “easy” in Big Easy-style gumbo.

This southern stew brings people together at the dinner table and is perfect for any holiday gathering. Gumbo has a mixture of French and West African heritage and is typically served over rice with a rich roux (a mixture of butter and flour) and the cajun “holy trinity” of onions, bell peppers and celery. The choice of chicken or seafood

Gis up to you.

Every Cajun family has their own beloved family gumbo recipe which can lead to debates as heated as the spicy stew. And nearly every Louisiana church cookbook is mostly comprised of these gumbo recipes.

I have refined my recipe over the years by reading through my late grand-

mother’s cookbooks and handwritten notes scrolled in the pages of her recipe book. It’s a recipe that has gained approval from Cajuns and Southern foodies alike.

This dish is for the soul and will make you feel like you are dining in the Big Easy any time of year.

16 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 | at the table |
Gumbo is a labor of love.


• 2 pounds shrimp, tails removed

• 1 pound crawfish tails

• ½ cup butter, divided

• 64 oz. chicken stock

• 1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced

• ½ cup vegetable oil

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 2 cups finely chopped yellow onion

• 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

• 1 cup finely chopped celery

• 2 TBS minced garlic

• 12 oz. amber beer

• 1 TBS blackening seasoning

• 2 tsp worcestershire

• 1 tsp dried thyme

• 2 bay leaves

• Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt ¼ cup butter and brown the Andouille sausage. Remove the sausage from the pan. Then add oil and remaining butter to pan over medium heat until butter melts. Add flour and stir until smooth. Reduce heat to low, stirring frequently until roux is a dark caramel color. This takes about 35 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.

Add onions, cook for 5 mins, stirring often. Add celery and bell pepper, cook for 5 mins. Add garlic, cook for one minute. Add beer, stir well. Add stock. Add blackening seasoning, worcestershire, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 ½ hours. Hit it with 3 dashes of tabasco. Add shrimp, parsley, green onions, and crawfish tails. Serve with rice.



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aChristmas Classic

Make any holiday get-together complete with a warm cup of mulled wine, a signature drink for the season.

FForget the eggnog.

Mulled wine, or spiced wine has been a holiday favorite dating back to medieval times.

Stemming from predominantly German roots as Gluhwein (or “Glow wine”), every country seems to have their own version of warm wine for winter months that has become a seasonal tradition over the centuries.

Some may add a splash of citrus, cardamom pods, or dried fruit, but

the essential ingredients are the same: a mixture of spices – cinnamon, cloves, star anise – heated with a full-bodied red wine, and a shot of hard liquor for good measure.

Simmer those together and you not only get a flavorful cocktail, but a fragrant home as well, making it the perfect drink to serve at a holiday get-together. You can prepare it in advance and dole it out generously or

let it shine as a self-serve cocktail. The best part is you can keep things quick and easy by tossing everything in a Crock-Pot and getting back to the party.

This basic mulled wine recipe can be prepared on the stove or in a slow cooker and modified to fit personal tastes. Add or substitute different spices or garnishes to create your own tradition for holiday entertaining.

| in the spirit |
| in the spirit |

Mulled Wine

Serves 10-12

• 2 bottles red wine (750mL)

• ½ cup Brandy

• 3 Cinnamon sticks

• 4 Cloves

• 2 Star anise

• 1 cup sugar (or ¼ cup maple syrup)

• 1 orange, sliced (optional)

• 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice or apple cider (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan or stock pot and bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat.

Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and wine is heated through. Serve immediately.

Or, if using a slow cooker, combine all ingredients

Recipe Notes

and heat on low for one to two hours, or until sugar is dissolved and wine is heated through. Reduce heat to warm while serving.

Ladle into mugs, leaving behind any spices. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, orange peel or slice, or cranberries.

Start with a medium-to full-bodied red wine with fruity notes. It doesn’t have to be fancy, as delicate flavor profiles will be overpowered, it just has to play well with the mulling spices. Don’t go overboard with the spices. If three cloves are good, it doesn’t mean ten would be better. Use whole spices, not ground spices. You don’t want any grit in the wine as you ladle around the spices.

Use sweet substitutes instead of sugar. Maple syrup or honey dissolves more easily than granulated sugar. Try brown sugar or even orange marmalade for different flavors.

Popular liquors to add in are brandy, rum, or cognac. Don’t boil it. Heat your mixture enough to infuse the spices and fruit with the wine, but not enough to evaporate the alcohol. Add orange juice or apple cider to balance dry wines or strong spices. Start with one cup at a time, to taste.

Play around with flavors. While cinnamon, star anise, and cloves are a good mulling base, feel free to add vanilla seeds, fennel, nutmeg, or ginger. Fresh fruit like orange slices and apples adda sweet finish, or toss in a few cranberries or blackberries.

Serve in mugs, heat resistant glass, or pretty tea cups.

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All Set

As we prepare to gather with family

and friends for the holiday season, much thought is being given to designing tablescapes to create just the right atmosphere, whether it be festive fun or sophisticated elegance. Choosing the right place setting is the first step.

“There are very few hard guidelines now,” says Theresa Bishop, owner of BB&G in downtown Madison. “Unlike in the past, so many things are acceptable now when it comes to table settings.”

Store manager Delene Watts says

Ashe has found that people are much more flexible with the way they choose to appoint their dining rooms – bringing in bold accents to add personality, mixing textures to create interest, and essentially using their dining table as an extension of their home’s decor.

But the most important thing she has noticed in recent years is that people are coming back to the table in general.

“With everything we’ve been through over the past two years, peo-

ple are recognizing the importance of family time,” says Watts. “We’re seeing that people are coming back around to sitting down and having dinner together.”

This, she says, is what is driving customers to create welcoming spaces at the table. “They’re setting their tables and keeping them set because they’re loving the way it looks and the way it feels in their home.”

With a few simple tips, Watts says anyone can find the perfect way to “set the tone” for any gathering.

| by design |
From festive to formal, a proper place setting can set the tone for any holiday gathering.

Start simple

Begin with a minimal palette, then use accent plates to bring in color and personality.

“Simple patterns make it easy to dress it up or dress it down for any occasion,” says Watts. This is the same advice she shares with indecisive brides who are trying to pick china for their registry.

“I encourage them to stick with a traditional white with a solid band of platinum or gold, because you can change that up easily with salad plates or accent plates,” she says. “It can go from extremely formal with the addition of a matching gold band or you can put a Christmas china on top of it for a festive look. It just makes things easy.”

Add accents

Using accent plates is the most simple thing you can do to change up your place settings. “So many of your accent plates now have strong, bold colors or more abstract patterns,” says Watts. “These work great in allowing you to pull your personality into the design.” A gold leopard print on glass or splash paint pattern give distinct character to traditional settings.

“Look at the simplicity of your dinner plate and see what you can do with that,” says Watts. “For a Christmas setting, you can start with a solid red plate with white trim – there’s nothing that makes that particular plate spectacular – but when you put a white plate with a red bird nestled in a Christmas tree on top of it, it makes the whole setting pop.”

Mix it up

Watts suggests mixing shades of colors and textures to add interest to your table setting.

“Mixing different metals is the best way to add shine,” says Watts. “Use clear glass and gold accents to pick up and highlight the gold band of a plate. Switch up textures in your napkin

ABOVE: ‘Lastra Christmas Tree’ by Vietri is the perfect accent for solid red Chroma dinner plates and fingertip bowl.

RIGHT: The 24k gold splash paint pattern that is baked into Annie Glass gives distinct character to a traditional setting and is set off by the white Pampa Bay serving dishes with gold trim.

26 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 | by design |

rings, placemats or chargers. Tie linens with raffia or bring in greenery.”

All of this, she says, adds depth to otherwise monochromatic settings.


“Your place settings are going to be flat, so look for things to add depth and dimension to make it pop off of a plain white tablecloth,” says Watts.

Elevate the eye using tiered trays or pedestal platters. Pull things you love from unusual places and incorporate them into the table setting.

“This is where you can pick up on the way people decorate and extend that look to your table,” says Watts.

Add festive candles of varying heights, or use natural, organic elements to polish off your overall tablescape.


“You can show so much of your personality in how you dress a table, either for fun and festive or for very formal,” says Watts. Setting a table isn’t what most people typically think of when it comes to using china anymore – prim and proper, every fork in its place, everything matching.

It’s fun, she explains.

“You want your place settings to be fun, not too formal,” says Watts. “It’s all about personality and letting that show through while making it fun for everyone that’s gathered around the table.”

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Odd Inclinations

Unusual facts about famous Georgia authors that flavor the works we love.

What does it take to be a great author?

Turns out, it’s perhaps more than avoiding dangling participles or overcoming writer’s block. It could take a bit of unorthodoxy, and sometimes downright weirdness. Michael Joseph defined authors as “People

Wwho are easy enough to get on with… if you are fond of children.”

Ernest Hemingway stole the urinal from Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West and took it home, thinking he’d given them so much money he had a right

to it. Agatha Christie ate apples in the bath for creative inspiration. Poet Maya Angelou was San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor, Stephen King was a high school janitor, and George Elliott was a woman.

| by the book |

If we examined the lives of famous Georgia authors for that odd inclination to venture off the beaten path, what facts might we learn? Here are a few unique stories from Georgia Writers Hall of Fame authors who lived in Georgia’s Lake Country.

Joel Chandler Harris

When Joel Chandler Harris worked at The Countryman newspaper, owner Joseph Turner allowed young Harris to write “puffs”—short paragraphs that could fill available space between newspaper columns once the newspaper was laid out. One puff was a story Harris completely made up about a half-man, half-ape discovered in Australia by a group of explorers. The puff was picked up by other newspapers and reported for years as a fact.

Flannery O’Connor

At five years old (about 1930), Flannery

O’Connor taught a chicken to walk backward. Pathe Films that produced newsreel films for theatres, heard about her feat, came to her home, filmed it, and showed the footage in theatres around the world. For years, O’Connor introduced herself as “the girl who teaches chickens to walk backward.” In grade school, O’Connor chewed snuff, gave her teachers tomatoes (instead of apples), and shot rubber bands from her braces when teachers weren’t watching.

Alice Walker

At eight years old, Alice Walker was accidently shot in the eye with a BB gun by her brother. At 14 she went to a hospital in Boston where Dr. Morriss Henry removed the unsightly cataract, leaving her eye still blind but looking normal. At discharge, Alice asked the doctor his name. “Around here,” he told her, “they call me Mo Henry.” Alice cheerfully replied, “I can remember

that. I have read many of O’Henry’s stories.” He later would say, “I just didn’t have the heart to tell this bright, happy girl she misheard my name.”

Sidney Lanier

During the Civil War, poet Sidney Lanier served as a Confederate Army lookout on board an English blockade runner off the coast of Wilmington, N.C. On one occasion, Lanier’s ship was boarded by Union soldiers. The British officers strongly encouraged Lanier to wear one of their uniforms. Lanier refused. He was captured and imprisoned for four months in Maryland where he contracted tuberculosis that later cost him his life at 39 years old.

Jean Toomer

Jean Toomer had a steamy affair with renowned artist Georgia O’Keefe. In fact, they spent many days together in her stu-

32 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 | by the book |
Alice Walker as a high schooler in Eatonton. A young Joel Chandler Harris. Flannery O’Connor at age 5. LEFT: Philip Lee Williams in 1974. RIGHT: John T. Edge as a boy growing up in Clinton.

dio at her New Mexico ranch— she painted, he wrote—all while O’Keefe’s husband, painter Alfred Stieglitz, remained in the main house. O’Keefe would later serve as a witness at Toomer’s marriage in Taos to his second wife, Marjorie Content.

Augustus B. Longstreet

Longstreet was a lawyer, state legislator, circuit judge, and minister who lived in the 1820s in his wife’s home in Greensboro. Author of “Georgia Scenes,he served as president of Emory, University of South Carolina, Centenary College, and Old Miss. His son-in-law, Lucius Lamar from Putnam County, served as both a Georgia state congressman and later a Mississippi U.S. congressman, U.S. secretary of Interior, and finally a U.S. supreme court judge.

Philip Lee Williams

In the early 1980s, Williams achieved one of his life-long ambitions—to appear with the Metropolitan Opera Cmpany. Williams, a classically trained musician and composer, played a torchbearer in the march scene of Verdi’s opera “Aida.” Fast forward 10 years, he worked with country music leg-

end Bill Anderson to develop a TV series around the Nash ville music scene. Though the series never launched, the two became great friends and Williams often hung out with country music singers.

John T. Edge

When Edge was a boy in the 1970s, his father walked him to a downtown Macon pool hall for weekday chilidogs, served from a walkup window. On weekends, Edge rode his bike from their family home in Clinton to Old Clinton Bar-B-Q for pork sandwiches drenched in vinegar sauce and Brunswick stew crumbled with saltines. Out of those childhood meals came Edge’s fascination with food culture and with the power and peril of public dining in the South.

When people are fans of a particular author, they commonly use the “L” word to characterize their affection. Perhaps a part of that loyalty includes their embrace of some peculiarities. Dr. Seuss reminded us “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

– Chip Bell is an award-winning, best-selling author and serves on the board of Georgia Writers Museum.

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12 Days of Giving

Looking for a way to share in the spirit of Christmas? Consider supporting some of the many local charities and non-profits that work tirelessly in the Lake Oconee community year-round. A gift to any of these worthy organizations will help neighbors in need and bolster worthwhile services in the community this holiday season and beyond.

Tons of Tails a’ wagging

There is no shortage of furry friends who need assistance with medical care, shelter, and finding forever homes. The Lake Oconee Area features top-notch facilities to care for hundreds of dogs and cats in need.

Oconee Regional Humane Society

ORHS is dedicated to bringing people and adoptable animals together for lifelong relationships through rescue and adoption.  The non-profit organization is committed to reducing animal overpopulation in the community through public outreach and low/ no cost spay/neuter programs. The adoption center is a no-kill facility where all incoming animals accepted are evaluated, medically treated and rehabilitated when needed. Donate online at: donate.html

Circle of Friends Animal SocietyThe Circle of Friends Animals Society has served the Greene and Putnam County communities for 15 years, rescuing more than 9,000 animals since 2007. The organization was founded with a special purpose to help animals most at risk. Circle of Friends Animal Society was launched by a group of eight experienced rescuers – hence the eight hearts in its logo. The program started with a very small budget and is staffed solely by volunteers. There is no shelter building and the group does not receive funding from any government or national humane society or animal welfare organizations. They are financed entirely by local supporters and 100 percent of all monies received goes toward helping ani-

mals. Donate online at:  Humane Society of Morgan CountyFounded in 1994, the Humane Society began as a group of dedicated individuals committed to saving animal lives in Morgan County. Moving into an adoption center in Madison back in 2014 has allowed the HSMC to save even more lives. The HSMC adopts more than 400 dogs and cats into loving homes every year. With a dedicated staff, caring volunteers, and the support of donors, the staff works to continue improving the lives of animals. The Humane Society relies solely on the support of the community through private donations and grants.

Donate online at: donate.

The Greene County Humane Society

The Greene County Humane Society not only finds forever homes for rescued animals but works to ensure the pets in their facility have the best quality of life possible while staying in the shelter. The GCHS has introduced a half-mile wooded trail that allows workers to exercise adoptable animals, let the animals have a personal experience with potential adopters, and for the public to enjoy with their animals. Every donation goes into the non-profit’s general fund to provide medical care for animals, maintain the shelter and expand the walking trail, as well as to compensate the dedicated staff caring for the animals on site. Donate online at: donation.

Photographer Courtney Bryson holds ‘Holiday Hounds’ photo sessions each year, taking special joy in capturing the personalities of the many dogs and cats available for adoption at the Humane Society of Morgan County.

45,000 Kids a’ reading 500 Stockings stuffing

Greene County’s Christmas Stocking Fund serves local families by giving out toys to children and food and other supplies to seniors in need. Each year, the program serves about 300 children and 200 senior citizens. The non-profit is funded solely through private donations, typically raising between $25,000 to $30,0000 annually to provide for children 13-years-old or younger and seniors 62 and older. To donate to the Greene County Christmas Stocking Fund send a check to: 6350 Lake Oconee Parkway, Suite 110-63, Greens boro, Georgia 30642.

Ferst Readers was founded by local Madisonian Robin Ferst who was inspired in 1999 to start a non-profit dedicated to fostering literacy and creativity in pre-kindergarten children. The program has grown to serve eight states and more than 100 counties, mailing 45,000 books and parent newsletters each month. Ferst Readers’ mission is “strengthening communities by providing quality books and literacy resources for children and their families to use at home during the earliest stages of development.”  The key is having books

11in the home and being read to - right from birth. Ferst Readers’ vision is “to create better learners, brighter futures, and stronger communities by giving every child under five access to quality books in their homes.” Their recipe for encouraging early literacy development is even simpler – ensure children have developmentally appropriate books in their home and provide parents with resources that support them in their role as their child’s first teacher.Donate online at:

Morgan County’s annual Empty Stocking Fund, orchestrated by the undercover elves at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, gives out free Christmas presents to local children, from birth to 12-years-old. The Yuletide program is funded solely through community donations every year for about 250 local children. Gifts include brand-new bicycles and large Santa-like sacks thoughtfully assembled for each child in the program.  To donate to the MCSO’s Empty Stocking Fund contact the sheriff’s office, located at 1380 Monticello Road in Madison, at (706) 342-1507.


150 Pantries filling

Madison Morgan Community Food Pantry

The Madison Morgan Community Food Pantry began a weekly grocery giveaway during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Since then, the community organization has become a full-fledged food bank to provide essential sustenance to families in need throughout Morgan County. Every Saturday, volunteers distribute about 150 boxes full of groceries, hygiene items, and even pet food thanks to the pantry’s partnership with the Humane Society of Morgan County. The food pantry is funded through community donations and operates out of the former Morgan County Middle School in Madison. To find out more information on how to donate, call (706) 707-8900 or email: You can also visit the group’s Facebook Page:

The Madison-Morgan Caring Place

For a quarter of a century, the Madison-Morgan Caring Place has been serving families in need with food, household items, and other essentials.

The Caring Place opened in March 1997, on Good Friday, making every Friday since a “Good Friday” for struggling families in Morgan County.

The Caring Place has blossomed into a vital food bank that local families rely on to help keep food on the table and cabinets stocked during difficult times.

The Caring Place distributes more than 100 hefty boxes of food and other supplies each and every week, gathering Friday mornings to assemble boxes as families arrive for pickup.To find out how to donate or volunteer, call: (706) 342-9861Greene County Food PantryThe Greene County Food Pantry’s mission is to assist those in the community by providing a nutritionally sound assortment of canned goods, box dinners, rice, beans, pasta, cereal, fruit, meat, bread, etc in quan-

tities large enough to provide for a few meals every month. In previous years, The Greene County Food Pantry has served over 5,500 families — nearly 15,000 individuals — with each family receiving more than 30 pounds of food per month. To find out how to donate, visit: www.greenecountyfoodpantry. org/about.html.

Second Harvest

Second Harvest is a signature project of the Rotary Club of Greene and Putnam Counties. The mission of the program is to eliminate hunger in these counties.  The program started in late 2008 by identifying places to “rescue” excess food. Over the years, the program has expanded to include monthly food distributions and the School Backpack Program. To donate to Second Harvest, Email Reid Conklin at or Dave Davidson at

Volunteers with the Madison Morgan Community Food Pantry distribute food each Saturday at the former Morgan County Middle School.

Victory Train a’ chugging

The Victory Train of Greene County is speeding down a pathway to graduation. This early childhood education program is designed to empower parents with skills and resources to provide essential learning experiences for the children from birth to kindergarten. On the Victory Train, parents receive age-appropriate educational packets delivered to their home every week. The goal is to help

guide parents in preparing their children for success by the time they enter school and put them on the pathway to graduation. The program partners with local service organizations, businesses, schools, churches and governmental entities to work together in addressing the needs of children and parents in Greene County.For information on how to support the Victory Train, visit


200 Wines a tasting

The Lake Oconee Food and Wine Festival is a weekend full of great food, libations,and fun held at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Lake Oconee every March. The three-day event  features more than 200 wines from vintners across the globe as well as the region’s most creative chefs and culinary talent.Most importantly, however, is the contribution this popular event makes in ourcommunity.   The mission of the Lake Oconee Food and Wine Festival is tosponsor and support educational and community programs for youth in

the lakearea. Since 2008, the festival has contributed more than $1.2 million dollars tolocal youth programs. Last year’s beneficiaries included the Boy Scouts of Greene County,Boy Scouts of Putnam County, Ferst Readers, Gatewood School, OPAS, Pete Nance Boys and Girls Club, Spencer Bradley Foundation, The Plaza Arts Center, Victory Train and Young Life. So mark your calendars for March 17-19 and get ready to give back, relax, and unwind.


Dozens Doctors helping

Lake Country Medical Aid for Ukraine

Dr. Nicolas Chronos of Lake Country Medical Group is spearheading local efforts to raise money in order to supply desperately needed medical supplies into the war zone of Ukraine. In addition, the monies raised will assist the evacuation of medically fragile children to the United States and the European Union. Lake Country Medical Group is partnering with Dr. Mark Poznansky of Harvard Medical and Massachusetts General Hospital who has direct connections to doctors and regional hospitals in the Ukraine.Since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, Lake Country Medical Group has been involved in numerous meetings and webinars with doctors in Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, and Donbas Region of Ukraine to better understand the medical needs.This summer, Lake Country Medical Aid for Ukraine raised more than $125,000 during a benefit concert at the Oconee Brewing Co. in Greensboro. To find out how you can help, visit www.


5100 Women Who Care

100+ Women Who Care Lake Country is a group of local women who are interested in supporting our communities by contributing to Lake Country charities together as a group to increase the impact. The group awards about $10,000 to a different local charity four times a year. Each Member commits to donating $100 per meeting on a quarterly basis to the selected charity. The charity is nominated by members and voted on to become the quarterly recipient of the pooled funds. To find out how to get involved, visit:


Shelter of the Year

4Circle of Love is an emergency safe shelter and resource center for domestic violence victims and their children.

Circle of Love serves Greene, Morgan, Putnam, Baldwin, and Hancock counties. As part of the national crisis hotline for domestic violence, Circle of Love also shelters women and children who are fleeing abusive homes around the country.

Circle of Love was recently named “Shelter of the Year” and received an official Purple Ribbon Award medallion trophy and a certificate stating, “This award is

presented only to the best of the best who are making a substantial positive impact on the lives of domestic violence victims and survivors.”“Receiving a big award like this validates the exceptional work and dedication our team puts in on a daily basis,” says Kimberly Bennett, Executive Director of Circle of Love Center. Circle of Love’s mission is to protect, serve, and empower victims of domestic violence. For more information about Circle of Love and what you can do to help facilitate these goals, visit www.

Team members at Circle of Love Center in Greensboro were recognized for their work with victims of domestic violence with a national Purple Ribbon Award.

3Senior shoeboxes

2 Boys & Girls Clubs

The MadisonMorgan County Boys & Girls Club

Each Christmas, members of the Reynolds Ladies Club pack all the holiday cheer they can muster into beautifully wrapped shoeboxes that are presented as gifts to local senior citizens in the community. For many of the seniors, this shoebox may be the only gift they receive at Christmas. The shoeboxes are filled with both fun and practical items like toiletries, puzzle books, scarves, hats and gloves, canned foods, nail polish and clippers, perfume or cologne, and Christmas ornaments to brighten their spirits. To find out more, contact Martha Franks at (706) 453-6459 or Lee Croxton at (404) 849-5857.

The Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club has been a cornerstone of the community since opening its doors in 2008. The Club serves as a positive place for boys, girls, and teens in Morgan County and gives youth the opportunity to receive academic help, learn life skills, and socialize in a safe and uplifting environment.  The Boys & Girls Club

2of Madison-Morgan has a staff and board of dedicated individuals that have committed themselves to making the Club a safe place to learn and grow during non-school hours. Members are provided with life-enhancing programs and character development experiences that assist in their ability to grow and develop into productive, responsible and caring adults.To donate to the Madison-Morgan Boys & Girls Club visit: www.bgcncg. com/mmc.


The Pete Nance Boys and Girls Club

The Pete Nance Boys and Girls Club in Greensboro invests in the lives of young people to secure brighter futures for them as adults. The club works with youth to promote educational resources, soft-skills, and positive social experiences in a safe environment. In 2021, the Club celebrated the opening of its new facility on M.L.King Jr. Dr. in Greensboro.

To find out how to get involved, or to donate to the club, visit:

And an Angel in a Love Light Tree

Each year, the Morgan Medical Center honors loved ones by placing their names on ornaments that fill the Love Light Tree in the lobby of the hospital throughout the month of December. Additional festive trees sponsored by local businesses and organizations also line the front of the hospital throughout the month to add to the holiday spirit. Individuals can purchase lights in honor or memory of loved ones for $25, $50 and $100. Donors as well as their honorees are invited to the Love Light Celebration on Dec. 12 at 5:30 p.m. Funds raised go to support current needs of the hospital.  Auxiliary members have raised more than $800,000 for the hospital through Festival of Friends and Love Light celebrations. For more information or to purchase a light, contact Megan Morris at 706-752-2237 or meganm@

115 S. Main Street, Madison, GA 706.342.3311 | The Holidays Begin at

‘Showcase’ of Success A

Leading up to the inaugural “Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes” five years ago, Greene County Habitat for Humanity board chair, Jan Broughton, said she hoped the event would raise enough money to build a home for a deserving family.

That following summer, Kandice Nesbitt and her daughter, Za’Niyah, and son, Zavious, moved into their new home on Union Station Road, a home built with funds raised during the home tour.

Over the subsequent years, the Showcase of Homes has grown almost exponentially, with last year’s tour garnering enough to build four new Habitat homes.

“It has just exceeded all expectations,” says Broughton.

Each fall, the home tour features the exquisite architecture, interior design, and landscaping of five to seven private residences at Reynolds Lake Oconee, the presenting partner of the event. To make it work, Greene County Habitat relies on the graciousness of the homeowners willing to open their doors to hundreds of tour-goers, the overwhelming generosity of sponsors, and the tenacity and hard work of the Showcase committee, a small group of volunteers tasked with overseeing all facets of the event from beginning to end.

“Our volunteer committee is just incredible,” says committee chair Shauna Winters. “What’s great about our committee is that we come from such varying backgrounds

How a home tour has helped build a community

and everybody brings fresh perspectives on how to execute a successful event.”

In 2020, on the heels of two successful tours and rocketing toward a third, the committee ran up against the worldwide pandemic. In the face of a shutdown, the committee decided to forge ahead and adapt the in-person tours into virtual tours.

“We call that our ‘pivot’ year,” says Winters. “We brought in Jarrod Brock to produce quality video tours of each home with commentary from the homeowners, builders, and designers. Even our auction moved online. We originally had auction items set up in the garages of showcase homes, but we couldn’t do that in 2020. We went with the online auction and what a success that was. We will never go back to garages.”

The committee found a way to make it work.

That year, in the midst of a nationwide shutdown, the virtual Showcase tour raised even more money than the first two tours combined.

The following year, the Showcase transitioned back to in-person tours while still offering a virtual option in 2021. Proceeds from that year’s tour nearly doubled once again.

More than 90 percent of the monies raised during the Show case goes directly to supporting Habitat for Humanity’s mission of providing new homeowners an opportunity for success.

“Shauna has done an excellent job of keeping expenses to a minimum,” says Broughton. “Operating at less than 10 per-

ABOVE: The jaw-dropping design of this home was a highlight of the 2021 Showcase of Homes. Called ‘The Arc House’ because of its asymmetrical roof details, DreamBuilt incorporated fresh architectural style in every corner of the house. Black Sheep Interiors brought in bold designs that reflected the personalities of the homeowners.

FAR LEFT: Long-time sponsor Artisan Built debuted this home on the inaugural Showcase of Homes in 2018.

LEFT: In 2019, the Grays shared their favorite gathering spot – their colorful kitchen designed by Black Sheep Interiors – with hundreds of tour-goers.

cent to run an event like this is almost unheard of.”

“We’re very cognizant of our expenses,” says Winters, “and we are able to keep them low because of the generosity of the homeowners, the volunteers, the community, and sponsors, many of whom have been with us since the very beginning.”

The Showcase has truly become a partnership with Reynolds Lake Oconee and the Lake Oconee community. Some of the tour’s original top sponsors include DreamBuilt, Black Sheep Interiors, Artisan Built, Crowe Marine, BankSouth, and many more within the building and design industry, alongside individual donors. A total of 160 sponsors supported the 2021 Showcase.

The committee is spending this year celebrating its sponsors and successes and making plans for the upcoming tour in October 2023.

But the building never stops. Funds from the 2021 Showcase has helped Greene County Habitat put shovels in the ground to begin construction on its two newest homes, located in Union Point on 20 acres of land provided by the Chester family.

The tract of land will one day hold 18 Habitat homes, complete with a central park – a true community for new homeowners.

“It will be a neighborhood with greenspace and a place for people to gather,” says Broughton. “It’s not just a bunch of homes, it’s a community where people can support one another.”

Broughton says there are cur-

rently 12 families who have already qualified for the Greene County Habitat homeownership program and 43 others on the waiting list to apply. The need is great, but so too are the dedicated volunteers working to make the 2023 Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes the

ABOVE: Rich woods and natural tones are signature details of custom homes by Artisan Built.

LEFT: There’s not a bad view of Lake Oconee from any room in the custombuilt home of Steve and Cindy Jones that was featured in the 2020 Showcase of Homes. Modern industrial design elements punctuate the home’s bright, airy living spaces in perfect contrast.

best one yet. For information on how to support the Showcase of Homes, visit To find out how to volunteer on a construction site, visit or call (706) 453-1718.


look back a 2018

Lead sponsors of the inaugural tour in 2018, Shane Meder of Black Sheep Interiors and Paige Ruhl of DreamBuilt, set the tone for the success of the Showcase by hosting a VIP event for sponsors and volunteers to kick off the weekend’s tour. Professional golfer Stewart Cink and his wife, Lisa, above, were honored guests at the special event.


LEFT: Greene County Habitat board chair Jan Broughton recognizes co-chairs Stephanie Giorgis and Shauna Winters, along with the volunteer committee, top left, during a VIP event to kick off the 2019 Showcase, below.

The Lake Oconee Showcase of Home committee celebrated its most successful tour to date in 2021, garnering enough funds to build four new homes for families in need. The committee has grown from a small group of volunteers in 2018 (far left) to a dedicated force that’s 22 members strong (left).

A global pandemic couldn’t deter the 2020 Showcase, which shifted from in-person tours to virtual tours, with episodes produced by Jarrod Brock and shared throughout the world. With the addition of an online auction, the 2020 raised more funds than the previous tours combined.

Photo by Heidi Kalpak, The Pink Peach
Photos Contributed photo

look forward a

Get a glimpse of one of the homes to be featured in the 2023 Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes, coming this October.

The spacious estate of Fred and Melissa Boehler is nestled among an enclave of larger homesites that make up The Homesteads at Reynolds Lake Oconee.

With more than nine acres overlooking Lake Oconee, the Boehlers were able to find the perfect mix of secluded living that’s just a short boat ride away from the things they love. Custom built by DreamBuilt and designed by Cindy Lynn Dunaway Interiors, this expansive home – complete with its own greenhouse and separate pool house – is a must-see in 2023.

Built by DreamBuilt and designed by Cindy Lynn Dunaway Interiors, the bright, open spaces of the Boehlers’ estate home in The Homesteads at Reynolds Lake Oconee will be a show-stopper in the upcoming Showcase of Home in October 2023.

Presenting Partner Benefiting Greene County Habitat for Humanity visit for details will be BACK in 2023! The Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes returns in the fall of 2023 with in-person tours of some of Reynolds Lake Oconee’s most stunning private residences. Mark your calendars now for OCTOBER 2023!
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Let’s journey to a remote, Frenchowned island in the Indian Ocean, approximately 460 miles east of the island of Madagascar. The Reunion Island is of volcanic origin, home to Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It has been active several times since 1925, and most recently during my month-long stay in October. I went to visit my oldest son, my daughter, and her husband, who all live on the Island due to work transfers from Paris. The Reunion Island has a healthy and diverse population of nearly 900,000 and growing. Rich in microclimates and exotic fruits and vegetables, it made for a

fascinating culinary visit. The type of cuisine on the Reunion is considered Creole – a mix of African, Indian, Chinese, Malagasy, and French cuisine – largely due to the diverse population who came to settle on this island from other continents.

Most of the dishes are centered around what could be found on the island, naturally, making for exotic culinary creations that can transport the palate to tropical bliss.

During the dreary winter months in the Lake Country, let yourself escape to the island and enjoy some of these tropical recipes and cocktails while dreaming of the summer months to come.

While traveling the island, I learned all about vanilla beans – how they are cultivated, pollinated, harvested, cured, and marketed – giving me a finer appreciation for the bean and its price. The Reunion Island, due to its mild climate, is the perfect environment for the vanilla plant, Vanilla planifolia orchid.

Bourbon vanilla only grows in Madagascar and Reunion and is the best vanilla in the world. Top chefs choose Bourbon vanilla to flavor their pastry creams and custards in Paris and France. Named “Bourbon” after the place it is grown, Reunion was originally called Bourbon Island after the reigning dynasty when it was ruled by France.

Fun fact for foodies: “frosted” Bourbon vanilla or vanille givrée, is the tastiest type of vanilla because it is flecked with small white crystals with a high vanillin content. This molecule is what gives the pod its unique flavor. I was fortunate enough to return to Lake Oconee with several vials of Frosted Vanilla beans and can’t wait to use it in my culinary creations.


French meringue method

• 130 grams Confectioners’ Sugar

• 130 grams Almond Flour

• 100 grams egg whites, room temperature

• ¼ tsp Cream of tartar

• 90 grams granulated sugar

• Bourbon Vanilla Bean*

Sift almond flour and confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and mix well with a whisk to combine.

With a fork, mix granulated sugar with the seeds scraped from the Bourbon Vanilla Bean**.

In a clean bowl, whisk room temp egg whites and cream of tartar with a hand mixer/stand mixer on low speed until foamy (speed 2/3 on KitchenAid)

Add sugar/dried egg white mixture into the egg whites in two additions. Add first addition then wait about 15 seconds and add second addition. Continue to mix on low speed to allow sugar to dissolve fully (about 2 minutes on speed 3/4 on KitchenAid)

Once sugar has dissolved, turn up mixer to medium speed (6 on KitchenAid) until you form stiff peaks (about 6-10 more minutes). Stiff peaks are achieved and meringue starts to clump around the whisk (about 3-5 more minutes depending on equipment)

Fold your almond flour/confectioners’ sugar mixture into the meringue in two additions, being careful not to deflate the meringue too much at this point. Add each addition of dries into the meringue after the previous addition has been 70% incorporated. Once all of the dries are incorporated and there are no visible dries left in the bowl, deflate the batter carefully to desired consistency.

This deflating is called macaronaging. Macaronage is the act of folding the batter and scraping the batter against the sides of the bowl to release air from the meringue. Final batter should be shiny, somewhat loose, and at a ribbon stage. You should still have to squeeze the batter out of the piping bag, do not over mix and make the batter too runny. Some compare the batter to molten lava.

Pipe 1 ¾” circles onto chosen baking surface while holding the piping bag at a 90 degree angle. The best way to pipe is to keep the pastry tip

in one place while applying even pressure with your dominate hand from the top of the piping bag until you reach the desired size, then stop pressure and quickly move your wrist counterclockwise to cut the batter off and bring the tip upright so no batter flows out accidentally. You can make or print templates to place under the parchement. I prefer to use silicone mats with preprinted templates.

Tap tray against table (or hand) two or three times to release air bubbles. Let rest for 10-40 minutes or until a skin has formed on the outside. Bake 285-300F for 18-20 minutes, rotating sheet pan halfway through baking time. (Temperature and time are dependent on your oven)

Let shells cool completely before handling. Peel macaron shells off your baking surface and match two same sized shells together. Add a dollop of filling onto the bottom of one shell and top with the second macaron shell in a twisting motion to spread filling evenly to the edge of the macaron shell. Macarons can be filled with anything, but a Bourbon Vanilla Bean Buttercream is best!

Macarons freeze very well. Always freeze product in high quality airtight container. You can freeze as shells or as filled and paired macarons. Macarons taste best 24-72 hours after filling and maturing in the refrigerator.

* Bourbon Vanilla has nothing to do with the bourbon one drinks. It is named for the quality and variety of Vanilla Orchid grown on the Reunion Island (formerly named Ile de La Bourbon after the French Bourbon Family dynasty)

** To remove the seeds from the vanilla bean, lay the bean flat on a cutting board and cut the bean in half lengthwise. With small paring knife, scrape the seeds out of the pod. Reserve the pod to flavor sugar or salt!


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Chayote, or more common ly known as Chouchou in France (locally known as Mirliton, or Vegetable Pear) is a heritage culture on the Reunion Island and has been cultivated for decades. Its fleshy fruit looks

like a big ugly pear, is eaten raw or cooked, and is rich in potassium, copper, magnesium, and vitamin C. Common recipes are Gratins and stewed like Ratatouille. I prepared one dinner for my family and served Shrimp Stuffed Chouchou

that everyone loved. I learned of this dish from my dear friend, Beth Sheridan, who is from New Orleans where Creole Cuisine is popular and Mirliton’s are often used in cooking and recipes. Chayotes can be found at your local supermarket.



The “chouchou” is a fruit of the Cucurbitaceae family, also known as “chayote.” Its fleshy fruit looks like an ugly pear and is eaten raw or cooked. Measuring between 4 and 8 inches, it is rich in potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C and is often prepared as a gratin or stuffed.

• 6 chayote squash

• 1/2 stick butter

• 2 medium onions, diced

• 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced

• 1 bunch celery, diced (about 1 cup)

• 1 lb. smoked ham, diced

• 2 lbs. peeled, uncooked shrimp, medium (cut in thirds or half, reserving 12 whole for garnish)

• 1 tsp salt

• 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

• Pinch of paprika

• ½ cup fresh, chopped parsley

• 2 TBS minced garlic

• 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, reserving ¼ cup for topping

• Grated parmesan for topping

In a large Dutch oven of salted water, boil chayote squash until tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from water; when cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise, remove the seed from each, and discard seeds.

Remove mirliton flesh by delicately scooping, leaving a ½ inch border. Chop the flesh and set aside. and turn the shells upside-down on a cooling rack to drain.

Preheat oven to 325°.

In same large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery, and cook until onion is translucent. Add ham, shrimp, salt, pepper, and garlic, and cook until shrimp are pink and firm. Remove whole shrimp for garnish

and set aside. Add reserved mirliton flesh and cook 5 minutes. Gently fold in breadcrumbs. (Because mirlitons are watery, you may need more breadcrumbs to reach the desired consistency.) Add paprika, parsley, and additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Cook 5 minutes more.

Place chayote shells in a large baking dish, and gently stuff with shrimp mixture. Top with additional breadcrumbs, sprinkle of grated parmesan, and the reserved whole shrimp, lightly cover with foil to avoid browning, and bake 20 minutes.

Place one or two Stuffed Chayotes on a plate and serve. Garnish with additional parsley, parmesan and cracked pepper if desired.


Coconuts, oh so many coconuts!

Several coconut trees grow on my son’s property, and he never ran out of coconut water, fresh coconut meat that we grated for curries, cakes, desserts, or punches, and peeled or sliced thin to make coconut chips to eat as an aperitif. I was in heaven!

The two most popular cocktails or apéro drinks on the island are Planter’s Punch and Punch Coco. I tested, nearly every day, the Punch Coco and perfected my own recipe for it. There’s nothing like feeling that you are escaping to a tropical island when drinking this punch.

• 2 cups of white rum, preferably island rum

• 1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk

• 2 cans of coconut milk (not coconut cream)

• 2/3 cup of sugar syrup (Bring to a boil 2/3 cups water and 1/3 cup sugar)

• 1 tsp vanilla extract, vanilla paste, or powdered vanilla

• 1 tsp powdered cinnamon

• 1 pinch of nutmeg

• 1 tsp almond extract

• Zest of 1 lime

• 2 empty glass bottles (quart size)


In a saucepan over medium heat, add the coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk and heat to almost boiling, stirring with wooden spoon or whisk.

Once the milk mixture is homogenous, add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, and lime zest. Remove from the heat and let cool, stirring to ensure the mixture stays smooth and creamy.

Once the mixture has cooled, add

the rum and simple sugar syrup, and strain into bottles.

Place the bottles of coconut punch in the fridge and let mature for 2 days. Shake well before serving. Your punch will keep a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Garnish punch glasses with a rim of finely shredded coconut, prepare pineapple wedges and a flower (if possible) for the rim garnish. Add a couple of ice cubes, shake bottles of punch, pour into glasses, and serve!

One of island’s most common dishes is called a Cari (a curry or a stew) of poultry, pork, lamb, and sometime fish. Native spices are always used in this type of stew such

as curcuma, tamarind, kaffir limes, curry blends, and garam masala.

This Cari is always served with rice, beans and a Rougail, or condiment, made with green mangoes.


Chicken Curry with lime and coconut

• 4 tsp vegetable oil

• 1 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces

• 1 onion, cut into thin quarters

• 1 red bell pepper, cut julienne

• ½ lb. haricots verts, trimmed and cut into halves*

• 2-3 Garlic cloves, finely minced

• 1 TBS fresh ginger, grated**

• 2 tsp curry powder

• 1 tsp curcuma (turmeric)

• 1 can coconut milk

• 2 TBS fresh lime juice

• ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

• Lime zest

• Chicken broth***

In a large Dutch Oven or deep sauté pan, heat 3 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in pan for 4-5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and reserve on a plate for later.

In the same pan, heat the rest of the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and the haricots verts, cooking for 5 minutes until onion is soft. Add garlic, ginger, curry, and turmeric and cook while scraping the bottom of the pan.

Place the reserved chicken back in the pan with the vegetables. Add the coconut milk and lime juice. Bring just to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 more minutes until the vegetables and chicken are cooked through. Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and fresh lime zest.

Serve with Basmati rice.

*Haricots Verts are thin, French Green Beans

**Keep fresh ginger in the freezer, it will be easier to grate.

*** Use chicken broth to thin out the curry if it is too thick.


Pineapples were abundant and very inexpensive, anywhere from 1 euro apiece to 2.50 euros. Bushels of pineapples can be bought along the side of the road for 10 euros, a real bargain!

Grown on the island year-round, pineapples are a staple of island cuisine. I learned how to trim and carve pineapples in a decorative fashion and, determined to perfect that skill, I spent a morning carving a dozen of these little gems. After that, I tested several Pineapple Coconut Cakes and am pleased to share my recipes for that here.


• 4 eggs

• 1 cup unsalted butter (226g) room temperature

• 1 cup sugar (200g)

• 1½ cup all-purpose flour (180g)

• ¼ cup finely grated coconut

• 1 small pot coconut yogurt (about ½ cup)

• 1 tsp salt

• 2 TBS vanilla

• ½ tsp baking powder

For the Caramel:

• ½ cup sugar

• 2 TBS butter

• 3-5 thin slices of pineapple

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt the sugar and butter in the bottom of an 8” round cake pan. Continue cooking until caramelized. Add a splash of rum if desired and lay the pineapples in a decorative pattern on top of caramel.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut, salt, and baking powder, then set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar in and mix until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down and beat a few more seconds. Add the eggs in one at a time while mixing at medium speed. Scrape the bowl down and beat until fully incorporated.

Add the coconut yogurt, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated. Scrape the bowl.

Add the flour mixture in and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl down, thoroughly mixing in any traces of flour or butter that remain.

Transfer batter into the cake pan and smooth the batter out a bit. Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes or until the center is set and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before flipping upside down onto a serving plate.


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All that glitters is the Fireworks Chandelier in the grand entrance.

| backyard traveler |


The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World®



IIf the past few years have taught the world anything,

it is that moments matter more than things.

As the world closed, people struggled to make sense of their new existence when the denial of common experiences shook them to the core. In hindsight and with words that are almost too formida ble to articulate, the pandemic put life in perspective, teaching that people, moments, and experiences are our greatest gifts.

With the world returning to a life that feels familiar, travel is the

WINTER 2022 | LAKE OCONEE LIVING 79 | backyard traveler |

greatest comeback story and society’s grandest healing power. Taking flight or hitting the road satisfies a deferred longing for experiences of rejuvenation and exploration, and there’s no destination quite like Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World®, Four Seasons Resort Orlando welcomes guests for a notable experience

without even leaving the resort; there’s something for everyone and every age. It continues the fairytale atmosphere that Walt Disney World® is known for, providing the ultimate in luxurious rooms, impeccable customer service, and delectable dining options.

Although part of the family of resorts at Walt Disney World®, this world-class resort is secluded in a residential setting on 26-acres

80 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 | backyard traveler |
Dine on the rooftop at Capa. Located on the 17th floor, Capa’s view is equally as delicious as the Spanishinfluenced cuisine. Known for its impeccable steaks, Capa was awarded the Michelin Star in June 2022.

with gardens, pools and towering palms and cypress. The exclusive Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando drives golfers to this exclusive Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole Tranquilo Golf Course and accommodates all skill levels. This picturesque course is a Certified Audubon Sanctuary with abundant wildlife and protected wetlands.

Play continues at the five-acre water park, Explorer Island, complete with interactive fountains, water slides, Splash Zone, Lazy River, and a family pool for the young and youngat-heart. Be ready for the water cannons that randomly burst as you drift down the winding river. The outdoor park also includes a climbing wall, activities like beach volleyball, plus Disney® movies on the Starstruck screen poolside.

Adults can’t help but make their way to the adventure park eventually, but when it’s time for me-time and cocktails, the Oasis Adult-Only Pool beckons. This infinity-edged pool is surrounded by white cabanas to extinguish the world; yet, poolside servers check in regularly to cater to every need. It’s the only adult-only pool in Walt Disney World.

To add to the relaxation quest, book a session—or more—at the spa. Services include facials and massages, as well as IV vitamin therapies, make-up, hair and nail care. The Healing Honey Treatment is ideal for two, providing wellness benefits and the healing powers of local honey from The Winter Garden Honey Co. The Ayurvedic Healing, one of the

ABOVE: Punctuate the day with Disney Park Fireworks. From your guest room or from Capa’s terrace, your day will have the perfect end.

RIGHT: Feel regal walking the Royal Palm Pathway.

| backyard traveler |
Photo by Len Garrison

signature services, is inspired by ancient traditions, focusing on the calming and soothing of the nervous system. Following the service, spend time in the indoor and outdoor relaxation areas which include a spa tub, steam room and solarium. Rest assured, the body, as well as the mind, is refreshed upon departure.

And if an afternoon in your room suits your fancy or the rain comes rolling in, enjoy room service with afternoon tea, scones, and finger sandwiches. Use the Four Seasons App or in-room iPad to place an order at any time.

When it’s time to visit the Magic Kingdom, Four Seasons Resort Orlando does its part with concierge services at the Disney Planning Center in the lobby; all you have to do is show up. Plus, with complimentary transportation to the park and an on-site twice weekly character breakfasts, the magic is never far away. Guests also enjoy 30-minute early theme park entry daily which comes in handy for all the Luke Skywalkers of the world where every second at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is consequential.

After a day at the park, come home to guest room or a suite and be enveloped in comfort. With light and airy touches, the rooms invite light, and the bathrooms summon a soak in the deep marble tub; the TV embedded in the bathroom’s mirror keeps you up-to-date on the daily news. The room’s on-demand wine system—com plete with emergency stop, but why?— ensures that you never have to leave the room

WINTER 2022 | LAKE OCONEE LIVING 83 | backyard traveler |
ABOVE: Take a dip in the Adult-Only-Pool (the only one at Disney World) surrounded by cabanas with attendants ready to nourish and refresh you with food from PB&G. BELOW: The Dive-In Movie at the family pool offer fun moments for the entire family. Grab a lounge chair, a side of popcorn and stretch out for the best in Disney movies.

Drift down the Lazy River through a sea of greenery and winding bends (which hide the spontaneous water cannons).

unless you desire. With the twice-daily housekeeping service—the doorbell will announce—, the covers will be turned down, and rest is promised in order to attack the park the next day. Request a room with a park view balcony for the unobstructed view of the park’s nightly fireworks. Accessibility rooms with wheelchair accessible doors and roll-in showers are also available.

Dining at Four Seasons Orlando is a conundrum of choices. The day begins with breakfast at Ravello, where each guest is greeted by name. Its contemporary wood

and orange tones create a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the buffet or order from the menu. The Brioche French Toast with limoncello whipped cream starts the day off perfectly; add bottomless mimosas for a breakfast fit for a queen. Twice each week, Ravello hosts Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy & Pals; young or old, it is sure to start your Disney adventure with a smile.

In the evening, Ravello transforms into an intimate eatery. Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi transports diners into an authentic Italian trattoria and adds his “Fabrizio twist” of Mediterra-

nean inspiration to dishes. Ravellos’s signature dish, Veal Ravioli, delights the palate with veal, ricotta and truffle essence. As amazing as the Ravioli, the Pappardelle, as well as the Risotto, promises a return visit. However, do not leave without the sweetest Italian Chocolate Cake.

In addition to Ravello, The Lobby Bar, starring The Lobby Burger—a patchwork of flavors, with whiskey caramelized onion, aged cheddar and garlic aioli—extends a casual atmosphere for an early or late evening meal. There’s also PB&G, Plancha, and Lickety-Split for other dining choices.

84 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 | backyard traveler |

As darkness falls, rise to Capa, the Michelin-starred 17th floor rooftop steakhouse, the resort’s crescendo. Chef Gabriel Massip creates Spanish-inspired cuisine including fresh seafood and amazing grilled cuts, creating the perfect pairing of flavors using the simplest of ingredients. Arrive early and proceed to Capa Bar while you wait for your reservation; the bar creates unique cocktails to rival any piece of art. The signature drink, the Capa GinTonic, accented with citrus, botanicals, and an ice sphere is as striking as it is delicious. It’s the perfect prelude to dinner, and its signature beef cut, the porterhouse from Creekstone Farms in Kansas. There’s a full restaurant menu plus an abbreviated lounge menu.

Once your taste buds have been tickled, relocate to the outdoor terrace for the show that everyone in Orlando anticipates every evening. Rising high above the tree tops, the Magic Kingdom and Epcot’s nightly fireworks extravaganza lights up the night sky; check with the staff for updates regarding cancellation if the weather is iffy. There’s no better place to watch the show than at Capa; the only exception would be the balcony of your room while in your plush bathrobe.

Since 1961, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts have continued to write and update their story with the constant underlying theme of redefined luxury and unwavering commitment to excellence. It’s never been more evident than arriving in Orlando to a staff who calls you by name, and then sinking into a bed that produces the soundest sleep in months. Or lounging by the Oasis Pool, soaking in the sun and rejecting routine stresses while sipping the mojito of which dreams are made. Or returning to The Lobby Bar for the second time because the burger was so good the first time, and being welcomed by name by Mary, the assistant manager, who shares her story of how she “fell in love” with the hospitality of Four Seasons and left Georgia for Florida. All gifts for a traveler that can’t be wrapped with a bow.

Whether spending time with family, traveling for a meeting with Mickey Mouse, or enjoying a solitary holiday, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort promises flawless service with attention to the smallest detail. Rediscover the healing gift of travel with a one-of-a-kind experience at Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

To book your journey, visit

February 14,

| 8 Days

Ecuador & The Galapagos

March 21, 2023 | 9 Days

A Culinary Journey through Tuscany May 4, 2023 | 4 Days

Kentucky Derby

July 19, 2023 | 9 Days Alpine Swiss Villages and Rails

August 18, 2023 | 7 Days Waterways & National Parks of Pacific NW

October 17, 2023 | 9 Days Athens & The Greek Islands

November 29, 2023 | 9 Days Switzerland & The Christmas Markets of the Rhine River Cruise

Various small trips will be added throughout the year!

Switzerland & Christmas Markets on the Rhine HIGHLIGHT TRIP:
Six Night Cruise Amadeus Imperial
Lucerne Walking Tour
5 Christmas Market Experiences
Strasbourg City Tour & Xmas Market
Speyer Walking Tour & Xmas Market
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Walking Tour & Xmas Market
Reichsburg Castle & Wine Tasting
Strasbourg Afternoon at Leisure
Cologne Afternoon at Leisure Contact me today! NANCY BUCHANAN 478.451.7588 Specializing In Group Travels Let’s start planning your next travel adventure! November 29, 2023 | 9 Days Single Supplement: vary per cabin • Trip Protection: $475pp • Deposit: $500pp *Balance must be paid via check prior to August 15, 2023 to receive the Early Booking Price (Discount $200/pp) CALENDAR AT A GLANCE 2022/2023 Early Booking Price* $3,795 pp double - Cat E $3,995 pp double - Cat D $4,395 pp double - Cat B $4,595 pp double - Cat A $5,195 pp double - Suite
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November 30, 2022
December 8, 2022
December 30-January 4, 2023

I am for the child who lived in motels, cars and shelters. The child who now stands in the entryway of a group foster home. Clutching a makeshift suitcase. A garbage bag filled with everything he owns. That is the child I am for. And because I am, he will be half as likely to languish in foster care, and that much more likely to find a safe, permanent home. I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.

I am you.

Lift up a child’s voice. A child’s life.™ Get involved at

86 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 Shallow Waters Made Deeper Mark Johnson | 706-255-6131 | Our goal and mission is to make your “fun place” a useful, safe place!

Winter 2022


Dec. 2

Downtown Greensboro holds its annual Lighting of the Tree event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. featuring food, fun and visits with Santa.

Dec. 2

Downtown Milledgeville holds its First Friday Tree Lighting event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dec. 2-3

Madison’s Holiday Tour of homes is presented by the Madison-Morgan Cultural

12Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a special candlelight tour on Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Dec. 2-4

The Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation presents its 28th annual juried Holiday Market, featuring creations by 100 artists, artisans and craftspeople, at its gallery in downtown Watkinsville. The market is open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 per adult for three-day access.

Dec. 3

The Plaza Arts Center in downtown Ea-

tonton presents “Christmas at the Plaza” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. featuring visits with Santa, crafts, and more.

Dec. 3

Downtown Milledgeville’s “Milly Market” is held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 127 E Hancock St.

Dec. 6

The Georgia Writers Museum in downtown Eatonton holds a “Meet the Author” event with Stacy Willingham, author of thriller novel, A Flicker in the Dark, at 7 p.m.

| happenings |

Dec. 6

The Classic Center in downtown Athens presents a concert by Black Violin at 8 p.m. as part of the Grammy-nominated group’s “Give Thanks” Tour.

Dec. 7

A free Shag Dancing Class is held at Oconee Brewing Co. in downtown Greensboro from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dec. 10

Madison’s annual Holiday Parade returns to downtown from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. followed by Caroling By Candlelight and Santa’s Tent in Town Park from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Dec. 10

The Plaza Arts Center in downtown Eatonton presents “A Bing Crosby Christmas” starring Broadway’s Jared Bradshaw and featuring the music of The Andrews Sisters.

Dec. 10

Downtown Eatonton holds its annual Christmas Parade at 1 p.m., complete with an after party from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the City Center Stage on N Jefferson Ave.

Dec. 10

The 41st annual Christmas Rush Classic is held in downtown Madison. The 5K, 8K and one-mile fun run race is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Morgan County.

Dec. 12

The Classic Center in downtown Athens presents “Million Dollar Quartet Christmas” at 7:30 p.m. This musical journey through a story of Christmas past, present and future of legends Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley is packed with classic holiday hits.

Dec. 12-16

Downtown Milledgeville offers rides on the “Milly Trolley Express.” Tickets are available in advance.

Dec. 15

“The Spirit of Christmas,” a concert presented by The Lake Country Chorus, is held at 7 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Greensboro. Tickets are $25 and are available from all Chorus members and Bank South, Lake Oconee branch.

Dec. 15

John Berry’s Christmas Tour makes a stop at the Classic Center in downtown Athens at 7 p.m.

Dec. 16

Oconee Performing Arts Society presents “Fa-La-La 2022” at 7:30 p.m. at the Plaza Arts Center in downtown Eatonton. The holiday concert will feature a variety of mu

sic and a special appearance by Broadway sensation Capathia Jenkins.

Dec. 16

Departure - The Journey Tribute Band performs at Oconee Brewing Co. in downtown Greensboro at 8 p.m.

Dec. 18

The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center in historic downtown Madison presents its annual Community Holiday Concert at 3 p.m.

Through Dec. 21

Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion in downtown Milledgeville hosts “Christmas at the Mansion” tours on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are held on the hour. Special candlelight tours are held at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Dec. 3 and Dec. 17. Admission is $10 per person.

90 LAKE OCONEE LIVING | WINTER 2022 | happenings |

LEFT: Tour Heritage Hall along with other private homes during the Holiday Tour of Homes in historic Madison. ABOVE: The halls of Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion will be decked in vintage decorations throughout the season.

Dec. 22

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performs a Holiday Concert at 8 p.m. at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center in historic downtown Madison.

Dec. 22-23

The Classic Center in downtown Athens hosts its annual performances of the holiday classic, “The Nutcracker,” with performances at 7 p.m. Dec. 22 and 2 p.m. Dec. 23.

Through Dec. 23

The 4th Annual Holiday Market at MAGallery in downtown

Madison features handmade items from local and regional artists - turned wood, felted animal sculptures, pottery and trinkets, jewelry, ornaments, and more. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Through Dec. 23

MAG Squared – Small Works Exhibition Challenge featuring MAGallery artists is on display at MAGallery in downtown Madison. No item larger than 10 x 10 in this innovative show featuring 2-D and 3-D art, paintings, pottery, jewelry, textiles and more.

WINTER 2022 | LAKE OCONEE LIVING 91 | happenings |

The Lake Country Chorus presents “The Spirit of Christmas” on Dec. 15.


Jan. 1

Hard Labor Creek State Park hosts two “First Day Hikes” at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. These Ranger-led hikes will take visitors along gentle ridges and cascading creeks for two miles throughout the park. Pre-registration is required.

Through Jan. 8

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens presents its “Winter WonderLights” from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly. This experience takes visitors on a half-mile fully accessible trail down Candy Cane Lane, past shimmering multi-colored lights and tunnels, and into a holiday market. Tickets must be purchased online.


“Georgia Mountains to the Shore” is on display at Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation’s gallery in downtown Watkinsville. The exhibition features works by six Southern textile artists who share their insights on Georgia with the viewer.

Jan. 20

An opening reception for watercolor artist Dana Wiggins Thompson is held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at MAGallery in downtown Madison. The exhibition will be on display through Feb. 19

Jan. 28

The Doo Wop Project performs

live at The Plaza Arts Center in downtown Eatonton at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $70.


Feb. 4

Oconee Performing Arts Society presents a concert by platinum-selling recording artist Michael Feinstein at 7 p.m. at the Plaza Arts Center in downtown Eatonton.

Feb. 4

The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center hosts the 8th annual “Do Tell” Storytelling Festival, featuring two performances - a family show at 10 a.m. and a storytelling performance at 7 p.m.

Feb. 6

2The Georgia Writers Museum in downtown Eatonton holds a “Meet the Author” event with Kim Conrey, author of sci-fi romance novel, Stealing Ares, at 7 p.m.

Feb. 11

Hard Labor Creek State Park holds a Valentine’s Archery Class and Campfire at 3 p.m. The family friendly event features archery lessons followed by s’mores at a campfire. Pre-registration is required. Admission is $10.

Feb. 16

Comedian Karen Mills performs at The Plaza Arts Center in downtown Eatonton at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $45.

Feb. 23

Festival Hall in downtown Greensboro presents “Cannonball Adderley, Preaching the Gospel of Jazz” as part of The Jazz Legacy Project at 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 24

An opening reception for floral abstract artist Shannon Schneider is held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at MAGallery in downtown Madison. The exhibition will be on display through March 26.

March March 2

The Plaza Arts Center in downtown Eatonton presents “One Night in Memphis- Presley, Perkins, Lewis and Cash” at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $55.

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The Madison Assisted Living The Sixty-Two TJ Bishop’s United Bank Whidby Jewelers 4 Zeb Grant Home Zen Wellness Center

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