Scratch Baking & Blueberry Picking in The Peach State

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Bundles of ripened blueberries gleam in the sunshine on a farm in Baxley, Georgia.

I had lunch with a good friend the other day, and toward the end of our meal together, she asked, “What are you doing Sunday afternoon?” When I replied with “Not too much, what’s going on?” She said, “Would you like to come pick blueberries with me?” To anyone else, this may have seemed an arduous way to spend the Sabbath, but the wheels in my brain immediately started turning. Would you believe the only way I’ve ever purchased or eaten a blueberry has been from the pint-sized packages sold in the produce section of the grocery store? Pick blueberries, I thought? That sounds like a blast! Continue reading “Scratch Baking & Blueberry Picking in The Peach State”

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Easter Entertaining: Recipes and Recollections

The Lingenfelsers hosted a traditional Easter Sunday dinner for family in Claxton, Georgia.
After church, a traditional Easter Sunday dinner is served at the Lingenfelser home in Claxton, Georgia.

 

Few things bring me greater joy than entertaining family and friends around my kitchen table. Easter Sunday was such an occasion. I hosted dinner for my parents and sweet in-laws, plus my husband’s beloved Aunt Polly. From Ina Garten’s Coconut Cake to deviled eggs and brown sugar-mustard glazed ham, our celebratory feast was Some Kinda Good, and as Southern and traditional as it gets. Continue reading “Easter Entertaining: Recipes and Recollections”

South Georgia Steakhouse Offers River Views, Large Portions and Wild Game

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Benton Lee’s Steakhouse reopened its doors to the public in November 2007, after a grease fire burned the restaurant to the ground one year earlier.

Benton Lee’s Steakhouse
Uvalda, Georgia

There are steakhouses, and then there’s Benton Lee’s. I have discovered the place to eat meat in South Georgia, y’all. If you’re looking for a good steak, stop your search right now and hop in your car for a drive through the country. Known for it’s large portions and family-centered atmosphere, the restaurant, with its wide front porch and back deck, overlooks the Altamaha River. For many reading this though, it won’t be a surprise. The locals of this community have enjoyed Benton Lee’s Steakhouse for 48 years.

My good lookin’ husband, Kurt, and I drove over to the restaurant from Claxton, Georgia on a Friday night, just in time to catch the sunset.

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The child’s portion of Gator Nuggets is $11.

We ordered gator nuggets to start, because that’s what you do when you live in The Fruitcake Capital of the World and no restaurant within a 30-mile radius has it on the menu. Much to my dismay, the gator served at Benton Lee’s is not wrestled and caught from the muddy waters of the Altamaha (ha!), but sourced from a gator farm in Odom, Georgia about 300 miles away. Gator has a tough and chewy consistency, but everyone should try it once. Our server said he liked it better than chicken, but I’ll stick with poultry (spoken like a true resident of Evans County).

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My husband and I ordered the Sirloin for two (individually cooked) for $33. This is ONE portion.

The straightforward menu features steaks of all cuts and sizes, plus seafood–shrimp, oysters and catfish–chicken tenders and wild game like quail, gator and frog legs. Staples including hamburger steak, pork chops and chef salad also are available. We ordered the Sirloin for Two: each serving is individually cooked and is at least 12 ounces. In the causal atmosphere, tea and water are self-serve.

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The beef served at Benton Lee’s is flown in from Utah.

The hand-cut fries are perfectly salted and crunchy. My steak was cooked to a medium temperature, juicy and just right. Tender and warm from the grill, the steak melts in your mouth. Beautiful grill marks make an appetizing presentation, and a standard salad and roll round out the meal. I am told that once upon a time Benton Lee’s Steakhouse hosted a competition where if you ate six pounds worth of beef, you would get it for free. I don’t understand why anyone would want to do this.

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Eating at Benton Lee’s Steakhouse is like visiting your mama and ’em.

The patrons at Benton Lee’s Steakhouse are the same folks you see on the church pew Sunday morning, the moms of the elementary school drop-off line and dads of the community ball field. They’re Southern folks that do life together, that appreciate a good slab of beef when they see it. This is not an audience concerned about locally sourced ingredients, a five star plate presentation, house-made sauces or compound butters. They’re not seeking white tablecloths or organic produce, just a place they can go with the family in tow for a hearty meal and a break from cooking themselves. Down home, friendly and no nonsense. My kind of place!

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Framed photos of celebrity visitors greet guests in the restaurant’s entryway.

Celebrity guests have included country music sensation Travis Tritt, the late actress Donna Douglas (a.k.a Ellie May Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies TV Show), Troy and Jacob Landry from the History Channel’s Swamp People and Duck Dynasty’s Si Robertson. It doesn’t get more country than that, folks!

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The walls contain an eclectic mix of taxidermy and farm equipment familiar to the South Georgia region. An antique hand mixer and some old Coca-Cola bottles decorated the shelf above our table. Every booth and table in the restaurant houses everything you need – paper towels, salt & pepper, ketchup, steak sauces and hot sauce. A well-lit jukebox stands near the doorway. Attentive servers wear bright pink t-shirts displaying the “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden Flag.

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A sign posted on the front porch of the property sums up the philosophy of Benton Lee’s well. Come hungry and come as you are.


New to Some Kinda Good?

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Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” she is the former Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the television program “Statesboro Cooks.” From 2012 – ’14, she appeared regularly as Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers’ Market and wrote as a guest blogger for Visit Savannah and The Local Palate. In addition, her work is published in Moments magazine and Connect Statesboro. Her culinary accomplishments are recognized in two publications: She is a featured alumna in Georgia Southern Magazine (Spring ’14) and the “Go Girl!” in Moments magazine (March 2104), a tabloid for moms and modern women. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk.

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Best of Charleston: Top Eight Most Memorable Plates

In a culinary destination like Charleston, South Carolina, finding a place to eat can be really overwhelming. With so many popular, highly acclaimed places to choose from and a lot of healthy competition, I can understand why I am often asked for restaurant recommendations. While it would take a lot more time than my year in Charleston to explore all the city has to offer, I did discover some pretty delectable dishes during my time there. These unforgettable appetizers and entrees from my culinary explorations are both classic and out-of-the-box, but they all possess one common denominator: Fresh food made with quality, local ingredients, presented in style.  Continue reading “Best of Charleston: Top Eight Most Memorable Plates”

I posted this tweet expressing my excitement last year on moving day bound for the Lowcountry.

I posted this tweet expressing my excitement last year on moving day bound for the Lowcountry.

Life is full of curveballs. One year ago on this very week, I was packing my bags for Charleston, so excited to begin my new job in a brand new city. I wrote to update you on my whereabouts; you may remember the post “All Things New in 2015; Some Kinda Good Greets the Lowcountry.” Today, I find myself packing yet again, this time for a city not-so-brand-new, and with feelings more somber than excited.  Continue reading “When My Job Quit Me”

Cookbooks, a Cutting Board & Coffee Mug, Oh My!

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Inspiration from some of my very favorite cooks!

Before we get too far from Christmas, I wanted to share a few things with y’all that Santa Claus brought me to enjoy during this new year! My cookbook collection is growing – To add to my treasures, I received autographed copies of “The Pat Conroy Cookbook – Recipes of My Life” & “Paula Deen Cuts the Fat,” along with a little gift I picked up for myself at the Bass Pro Shop: “Back Home with The Neelys, Comfort Food from Our Southern Kitchen to Yours.” Each of these books hold great inspiration and I just love spending time flipping through their pages. I’ve already made Paula’s Pumpkin Scones for breakfast this week. With buttermilk and pecans, they were Some Kinda Good, too! A few years back, I checked out at the library “The Pat Conroy Cookbook.” As a result, The Best Crab Cakes in the World found their way to the blog. To this day, it was one of  the hardest books I’ve ever had to return! Thanks to my thoughtful and good lookin’ husband, Kurt, I now have a copy of my own.

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I’m a Georgia Peach through and through. No denying that!

I absolutely ADORE my Georgia-shaped cutting board. Georgia is always on my mind. No matter where life takes me, there’s no place like home. As the late, great Ray Charles sang about, “Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through. Just an old sweet song, keeps Georgia on my mind.”

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A stylish sentiment.

Finally, for those days when life gets me down, a simple reminder. The coffee mug reads, “Darling, you are fabulous.” It makes me smile every time I pick it up.

Under the tree or in your stocking, did you get any cooking or kitchen-related gifts?

Hearty Hamburger Soup for the Soul

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Have you ever been in a ground beef rut? I found myself there recently when the ultimate question came up: What’s for dinner? In my mind, I thought through all my usual go-to recipes to possibly make my 1-pound package of ground beef shine – Penne casserole, spaghetti, stir-fry, hamburgers. None of those whet my whistle. I wanted something more. So, I took stock of my kitchen. Beef broth, check. Onion, garlic, check. Carrots, check. I knew where this was going. The true kicker? I had an unfinished can of tomato paste on the top shelf of my ‘fridge. Suddenly it was clear – Hamburger Soup!

All over the Southeast this winter, it’s been unusually warm. Soup made perfect sense on the first January day temperatures reached the 30’s. With a nice chill in the air, I set about chopping vegetables. I’ll be the first to tell you, I live to use my food processor – I do love a shortcut! But, there are times when nothing can replace the relaxing notion of knife-to-cutting-board. Exhibit A.

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Exhibit A: Diced tri-color bell peppers and carrots wait patiently for their moment in the sun.

As easy as it is, this recipe requires a good deal of chopping. With red potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, celery, onions and garlic, it’s hearty and satisfying.

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Step 1.

Brown the ground beef with celery, garlic and onion. I used lean ground beef, so there was very little fat to drain. If you’re using a ground chuck with more fat, such as 80/20, it’s very important to drain the meat before moving on. The very act of using a wooden spoon and a big stock pot together gets me excited.

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Step 2.

Look how colorful and pretty this soup becomes! Toss in all your remaining chopped vegetables – the bell pepper and carrots, then add a can of whole tomatoes including the juice. Use the wooden spoon to crush everything up.

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Step 3.

Next up: Herbs and seasonings! Fresh parsley and thyme add a fragrant and bright note. I also threw in some dried oregano and a few bay leaves. Season with sea salt, black pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper for extra kick! The house really begins to smell scrumptious at this point.

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Step 4.

Add in the potatoes ( I almost forgot them!), then cover everything with beef stock. You’ll need about three cups to start, and more if you like it real soupy. You can also use water if you don’t have enough beef stock to go around. I used 2 cups beef stock and 1 cup of water. Add in the tomato paste to help the soup thicken up.


This is the moment I felt like Remy from my favorite Disney movie, Ratatouille. A little of this, a little of that…give it a good stir!

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Step 5: Serve and EAT!

Bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let the soup simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the flavors have married. The warm beef stock coupled with the soft vegetables and flavorful ground beef are the ultimate comfort.

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Hearty Hamburger Soup for the Soul

Garnish with parsley and a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread, or in my case, leftover Red Lobster biscuits. Dig in!

Recipe Recap
I took a page out of The Pioneer Woman’s book for this recipe! I used mostly fresh herbs and less ground beef, because it’s what I had on hand. Thanks, Ree!

Hamburger Soup

  • 1 pound Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can (14.5 Ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
  • 3 cups Beef Stock, Plus More As Needed
  • 1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Orange Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 2 whole Carrots, Peeled And Sliced On The Diagonal
  • 5 whole Red Potatoes, Cut Into Chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat with the onion, celery, and garlic. Remove the pot from the heat and drain off as much fat as you can. (Discard the fat once it cools.)

Return the pot to the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then cover the pot and simmer the soup for 20-30 more minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed. Enjoy!

On the Menu: Luck, Prosperity & A Little Hoppin’ John

Pork chops, jalapeno corn bread, collard greens and hoppin' John make a fine meal to kick off the New Year.
Feelin’ lucky? Pork chops, jalapeno corn bread, collard greens and Hoppin’ John make one fine meal to kick off the New Year.

New Year’s Day is here, and every good Southerner knows what that means: It’s time to cook up a hearty meal that echoes the good vibes a brand new year can bring: luck, prosperity and cash flow.

Continue reading “On the Menu: Luck, Prosperity & A Little Hoppin’ John”

Three Thanksgiving Side Dishes For Your Family Table

With the biggest food holiday of the year just days away, I’ve got three side dishes to enliven your family feast. Each recipe offers something unique: 1) a family tradition, 2) a restaurant-inspired side dish and 3) an original. From sweet to savory, I’ve got you covered! Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving at home or traveling, cook up one of these Southern sides, and you’ll have everyone chowing down with gratitude. Continue reading “Three Thanksgiving Side Dishes For Your Family Table”

“Nacho” Ordinary Appetizer

Tater Tot Nachos Inspired by St. James Gate Irish Pub
Tater Tot Nachos Inspired by St. James Gate Irish Pub

Leave it to an Irish Pub to re-purpose a potato dish. A recent visit to St. James Gate Irish Pub on Folly Beach introduced us to Tater Tot “Nachos.”  What a concept! Who wouldn’t love crispy potatoes topped with good ol’ cheddar cheese, chili and jalapenos? Easy enough to recreate at home, the appetizer left us completely satisfied and reminiscing about our middle school days (Read: carrying our lunch trays through the cafeteria on tater tot day negotiating trades).

Move over tortilla chip, there’s a new nacho vehicle in town!

Paired with a couple good cocktails–a hearty Guinness for my man, and a local ginger bourbon + honey basil libation for me –the nightcap was a surprisingly better alternative to our initial desire for dessert. The waiter had us at “Our special tonight is Tater Tot Nachos…”

Get the recipe for my Beer Can Chili right here on the blog!
Get the recipe for my Beer Can Chili right here on the blog!

Just a few days after our visit, I came across a half bag of frozen tater tots in the freezer at home, just begging to be cooked. As fate would have it, I had some of my leftover Beer Can Chili in the fridge too, as is accustom this time of year. In no time at all, I was serving up “nacho” ordinary appetizer. HA!

Next time you have friends over, or if you’re just in the mood for a good snack, break out this recipe. With little effort and a Some Kinda Good return on your investment, you’ve got nothing to lose!

For a rustic approach, I served them fresh from the oven on the baking sheet in which they were cooked.
For a rustic approach, I served them fresh from the oven on the baking sheet in which they were cooked.

Tater Tot Nachos

  • 1/2 Bag of Frozen Tater Tots
  • 1 cup or more to taste of Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Pepper jack is great too! Combine them for fun!)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • Pickled or fresh Jalapenos to taste
  • Leftover Chili
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Salt
  • Other desired nacho toppings

Bake tater tots according to package directions (I like mine extra crispy for the perfect crunch). Add about a teaspoon of salt (or more to taste) as soon as the tater tots come out of the oven. Top evenly with diced onion, leftover chili and cheese, then pop the tater tots back in the oven until cheese is hot and bubbly (about 5 minutes). Once cheese is melted, take them out of the oven and add desired toppings. I like sour cream, a sprinkle of fresh parsley to liven things up and a few jarred jalapenos to keep things spicy. Enjoy!