Red clay, magnolia trees and the path less taken on the way to Georgia

features@islandpacket.comNovember 20, 2013 

  • Makes: 4 servings

    8 ounces dry rigatoni or other pasta, cooked and drained
    12 ounces hot Italian sausage removed from casing if necessary, crumble and cook in 2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1 cup chicken broth
    1 package shredded or chopped kale
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

    Add garlic to the cooked sausage, red pepper and half the broth stir well. Add kale, stir well, and cook until it wilts. Add rest of broth, stir, cover and cook for 5 or 6 minutes until kale is tender. Mix everything and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

My sister Catherine and I recently took a trip to our hometown of Athens, Ga. The trip takes four hours or so, depending on which way one goes. I usually make three treks a year because it is in the same area as Atlanta where the Merchandise Mart is.

On this trip up we took Interstate 16, possibly the most boring road I can think of (sorry, Justine Gillis). After traveling 100 miles on our adventure we abandoned our route. The highway we took was one that goes through Sparta, Ga., past the beautiful early 18th century house that former Blufftonians Barbara and John Sturgis purchased after the sale of the Fripp House they owned here. After having several owners since, the Fripp House is now the home of Kim and Allen Ward and has been lovingly restored by the adorable couple.

The next town we happened upon was Greensboro, Ga., which has a great collection of wonderful old homes and my favorite magnolia trees. Then we wound our way uphill and through many small hamlets. We rode past many newly mowed fields, farmers baling hay and lots of happy cows -- we saw some goat farms too.

I always forget how red our Georgia clay is and how much I love it. It's so red, sort of like a rare steak with a smidge of an orange tint.

Our mission on this trip was to order pottery from Rebecca Woods. Her pottery is beautiful, very organic and in lovely colors. After our visit to the pottery studio, the sun was slowly sinking in the West so we headed to Fresh Market for a supper of cheese, fruit and wine to take home.

We got up early the next morning to visit our old haunts. Then it was off to a cute little restaurant called "The Grit" for delicious coffee, freshly baked whole wheat biscuits and organic scrambled eggs. This was a vegan spot, so there was no bacon or sausage of the real kind. My policy is, fake no take. We hopped back in the car and made several more twirls around town and then took off on a totally different route home.

We drove down to Washington, Ga., which is another charming town loaded with more beautiful houses, some dating from the 18th century, and lots of those gorgeous magnolia trees. This road took us toward Augusta, Ga., home of the Masters Golf Tournament, which we went around. Our final leg of the trip took us through the old "bomb plant" -- another story there -- to Route 3. Route 3 meanders through lots of timbered land and very few interesting landmarks until it nears Estill, S.C.

Estill is the home of my daughter-in-law, Dorothy, so it holds a spot dear to my heart. There are also some beautiful cotton fields that we "pinched" some stalks from to decorate the house for Thanksgiving.

  • Speaking of cotton, there is an exhibit of really wonderful paintings at the Society of Bluffton Artists at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets. "From Cotton to Cows" by Spring Island artist Kimberly Bisger will hang through Nov. 30. I really think this collection of beautifully done works would be a great addition to anyone's wall. For more information call SoBA's office at 843-757-6586.

  • Joy McCabe has been coming to my store for years. Joy and her family live in Knoxville, Tenn., but have a villa on Hilton Head Island and a family home in McRae, Ga. Since 2006 Joy has had a cooking program on television station WBIR in Knoxville. She gives all sorts of wise tips on preparing food and giving parties. She is of Greek ancestry, which I am sure accounts for some of her joy for life. Her mother really could not have given her a better name. Never have I met anyone so full of joy. She is truly one of the most joyful people I have ever had the pleasure to know.

  • Beaufort County Clemson University Extension Service is now accepting applications for the 2014 Master Gardeners Class. Cost for the 14-week program is $300 and includes all necessary materials. There are a very limited number of scholarships available. Classes will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays beginning March 5 on Hilton Head Island. For information, email Laura Lee Rose at

  • Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street.


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