King Cake Alternatives

by April on February 16, 2015

The past two years I’ve brought king cakes to my offices, which in turn made people like me more and question my heritage. While I’m always welcoming of people liking me more, I just have to put it out there that I’m not from Louisiana, nor is anyone in my family. The king cake tradition is just a fun and unusual one that I like to indulge in because so few people around here have ever had one, let alone made one. It’s even hard to find little plastic babies in the baking section of the store, hence why I’ve never actually baked one into a cake myself… which is also probably why I’m always the one bringing king cakes. The baby baked in is how the buck gets passed!

This year Mardi Gras snuck up on me and with freezing rains creeping closer to Columbia, the thought of going to the store to procure the ingredients to make a king cake is less than appealing. Plus, king cakes are large and heavy so an alternative is sounding like a way better option. So what are some twists on the king cake to keep the good times rolling and the festivity level up while the weather has us down?

King (Cup)cakes

King Arthur Flour (probably no relation to the cake) scales down the large ring shaped cake into manageable and cute cupcakes.

King Corn

Cromer’s in Columbia takes their crazy corn coloring antics to create Mardi Gras corn. (I think) You can also pick up packages of beads there to share with people… your call on how they coerce you into giving them a strand.

 King (Pan)cakes

Anyonita Nibbles flattened her Mardi Gras celebration and started early, with a colorful breakfast! Of course, pancakes are traditional to this day, so really it’s just layering traditions one on top of the other.

 King Jello Shots

Maybe leave this one out of the office, but these traditional Mardi Gras colors layered jello shots are too cute! And if you make them tonight they will be perfect for post 5 p.m. celebrations on Tuesday. These look as simple as pouring a layer, chilling, adding the second layer, chilling, and adding the third layer and chilling during the day. Oui!

We’ll see what, if anything I do food-wise to celebrate this year but I definitely have plenty of green, yellow, and purple  sanding sugar from last year’s three year expedition to find them all! Who is making an awesome dessert to usher in the Lenten season (so I can come have some of yours)?


Too Much Jelly? Break Out the Cocktail Shaker

by April on February 11, 2015

We’ve got a lot of jelly in this house. It’s not because we’re avid canners, or have generous friends who are. No, it’s because we have a pantry that’s packed and someone (not me) is a “If I can’t see it without moving anything, we ain’t got it” kind of grocery procurer. And that’s why between the pantry and the fridge, there have got to be like seven jars of jellies and jams in there. I can’t bring myself to count.

I’ve been noticing this preserved fruit collection as I’ve been diving to the recesses of our food stores to see what is even in there in the name of eating what we have and saving some money. And like we do these days, I looked to Pinterest to see how people were using jelly in recipes, but one graphic in particular caught my eye.


Well, okay cool. That sounds like a pretty good way to use up some jelly! So I got out some ingredients and starting fiddling around to see what I could come up with that was drinkable on a Saturday afternoon. Being that I am not a mixologist by any stretch, this turned out pretty tasty. Results may vary depending on ingredients used and personal taste. But take what you’ve got and see what you come up with!

Sparkling Cherry Limeade Jamtini

Makes one


  • 1 1/2 ounces cherry jam
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce cherry concentrate
  • 6 ounces club soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 ounces simple syrup
  1. Put in shaker with ice and shake until well blended.
  2. Strain into a glass.

MMMMM. Also this was a chance for me to break out my camera and a few of the funky lenses Patrick has bought me and I stopped using because the DSLR is heavier than my iPhone therefore it stopped coming on trips outside of the house with me. It’s hard to get back into using the camera and remembering preferred settings and all the little things that come as second nature with regular and sustained usage of any item.

But back to the jamtini. Even though it’s a cocktail made with jelly, for a brief slice of the afternoon, you’ll forget that you’re so intent on saving money that the thought of putting jelly in your alcohol isn’t as sad as it seems like it would be. Or if you just aren’t in the mood to drink jelly, here are some other interesting ways to use up jelly.


New in Columbia – Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom

February 1, 2015

Anyone that’s been within viewing distance of downtown Columbia has seen the familiar sight of the Adluh Flour Mill and its towering presence looming over the Vista. It’s actually one of the few buildings downtown that still operates in the true fashion of the original area, milling flour and corn. But the mill hasn’t used [...]

Read the full article →

Earth Fare Treat Trip

January 21, 2015

These sunny days in January are a treat that we forget we have nearly every year, so when they come along on a weekend or a holiday it’s even more luxurious. MLK day is the last holiday I’ll have off until July 4, so today is all about relaxing and enjoying the day. Despite a [...]

Read the full article →

Soda City Suds Week

January 19, 2015

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, five friends and myself have formed a nonprofit to support and organize a week of publicly supported drinking craft beer education and appreciation events. But in all seriousness, as I reported in the Free Times last month, craft beer is giving South Carolina a serious economic [...]

Read the full article →

#MadeWithChobani Herbed Potato Salad

January 13, 2015

Not everyone would enjoy a 10 lb bag of potatoes as a Christmas present, but I had no objections when my dad handed me a big sack of russet taters at our annual Christmas day lunch. Two weeks later and there’s nary a sign of aging on them, just a few eyes sprouting but I [...]

Read the full article →

The Year In Food

January 8, 2015

I was asked to contribute some thoughts to the past year in food as well as the future year in food for the Free Times (in Columbia, SC). While there’s quite a variety of topics in this list, a few things stood out to me: 1. Columbians LOVE local. If it’s homegrown, we support it! [...]

Read the full article →

Looking Back at 2014

January 1, 2015

I love looking back at these reflective surveys each each and seeing what I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing at the time. Some things never change, and some things do, radically. Here are ones from New Year’s Eve 2013, 2012, 2011. 1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? I went to Disney [...]

Read the full article →

Where Oh Where Did 2014 Go?

December 31, 2014

It’s been a little over three months since my last post, which is in part to the fact that this past semester has been chock full for me (yes, semester- working in education it’s just an easier way to define time). And I’ve also taken on some new projects and extra responsibilities, and truthfully a [...]

Read the full article →

I Just Tossed a Fifth of Gin, Now I’m Going to Disneyland…

September 22, 2014

…That would be the worst idea ever, actually. I did just get back from a trip to Disney World with friends and it was exactly what I needed. This year has been pretty void of vacations, minus one three-day weekend over the summer with Patrick. But this trip was five days/four nights with three of [...]

Read the full article →