Chickpea and Roasted Pepper Salad

By: Brady Evans

Why aren’t there ever any meals like this on restaurant menus (around here)? Salads, if they exist on the menus, are so lame and boring. NEWSFLASH: The Asian Chicken Salad is so very Y2K and Applebee’s-esque. If a menu would feature a salad with some interest, some flare from a caper or smattering of parsley, I might actually order it instead of the Reuben sandwich.

Not that I ever regret the Reuben.


My husband and I really enjoyed this salad for quite a couple of days.  Mixing up the topping and then just chopping a head of romaine when it was time to eat made it a super easy yet satisfying meal.  The last day I even ended up heating up the chickpea pepper salad and serving it over brown rice – delicious, too!

Chickpea and Roasted Pepper Salad (adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)


  • 2 large red peppers, roasted and skinned
  • 3 cups of cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned (about 2 15-ounce cans)
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


  1. Dice or slice the peppers into strips and put them in a large bowl together with the chickpeas, herbs and the capers.
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine together the lemon juice, salt, garlic and oil.
  3. Pour over the chickpea mixture and stir.

Get Down to the Business of Sustainability

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

When it comes to implementing sustainable solutions for the workplace, it can be a jungle out there. But it doesn’t have to be if you let the 2013 Green is Good for Business Conference be your guide. This year’s conference is designed to cut the clutter and get you down to the business of going green.


Two Columbia-based speakers with national acclaim will keynote this year’s SC Green is Good for Business Conference on September 10 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

Dr. Andrew Spicer, associate professor of international business in the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, will open the morning with Sustainability Strategies from Wal-Mart. In 2005 Wal-Mart made history when then-CEO Lee Scott announced a bold sustainability strategy that would impact every aspect of its business. Along the way, business researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of Arkansas were given unprecedented access to study the process. Spicer will share his case study of the retailer and offer insights on going green in business.

WLTX-TV Chief Meteorologist Jim Gandy will conclude the morning’s keynote with The Business of Climate Change. Gandy, a professional meteorologist with 37 years of experience, continues to study weather and is interested in climate change which he has studied since 2005. Looking for better ways to communicate climate change, he is working with the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University and with Climate Central.

The seventh annual Green is Good for Business conference will show how workplaces of all sizes – from a large corporation to a home-based business – can become more sustainable and likely even save or make money at the same time. Business and sustainability leaders will conduct a wide range of sessions including:

  • Greening the Fleet
  • Eco-preneurship: Making Money and Making a Difference
  • Recycling: Good for the Environment, Great for the Economy
  • How Ozone Could Choke Business Growth
  • Updates from SC Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Thinking Outside of the Bin: Recycling Non-Traditional Materials

The conference also will provide an up-close and personal look at the latest sustainability products, services and technologies at the Green Expo, featuring more than 40 vendors. New to this year’s conference is the Propane Road Show, sponsored by Palmetto State Clean Fuels Coalition, where you’ll see up close and personal alternative fuel vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

Conference registration is $50 per person with a $10 per person “Green Team” discount for organizations sending three or more people. Every Woman blog readers can get an extra $10 off by entering using the promotion code LMCEW. Additional details and registration information are available at

The City of Columbia coordinates the SC Green is Good for Business Conference with a host of partners, including Lexington County, Richland County, the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, DHEC’s Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling, and the SC Department of Commerce. This year’s sponsors include Pratt Industries, Sonoco Recycling, and Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, PA.


Oh, High School Reunions…

By: Shannon Shull

Ok, so most folks hear the words “high school reunion” and cringe. Especially when you graduated from high school TWENTY years ago like I did. It is incredibly hard to admit the Shannon's High School Senior Pix-1number of years it has been since I graduated from high school. I mean, I’m still young daggomit!! I still think of my Mom as being in her 30’s for crying out loud. I certainly cannot be in my late 30’s. It’s just not possible. Most people would avoid their high school reunions like the plague, but l’il ole outgoing Shannon here just couldn’t say no when I was asked to be on the planning committee for my 20th high school reunion.

At times I thought… am I really doing this? Don’t I want my old classmates to wonder and still think of me in my high school adolescence? Well sure, but the truth is, I stayed friends with too many of them for there to be any real chance at that. Thanks to Facebook and small communities, word gets out – how many kids you have, whether you gained weight or not, what you’re up to. But I have to say, there is an Shannon today, 20 years after high schooladvantage to good ole Facebook. I know that everyone on our high school reunion planning committee would agree that without Facebook, we would’ve never reached as many of our classmates as we did! At our five-year reunion, for which I also sat on the planning committee, we had to get addresses from the school and mail out formal invitations the old fashioned way. Heck, email wasn’t even around yet in the early 90s, was it? In today’s day and age, no paper or stamps is needed, we reached the majority of our classmates via technology.

Anyway, back to the point – the awkwardness of a high school reunion after twenty whole years of college and living in the real world. I can’t help but think of the Duck Dynasty episode in which that handsome bearded Jase Robertson states, “If I haven’t contacted you in the last twenty years, there’s probably a reason.” Good point for sure. BUT….I have Jase Robertson on High School Reunions-1to admit, that’s not necessarily the right attitude to have.

At my own reunion, although my face wanted to reminisce about adolescence and decided to break out just in time for the reunion, I still had a wonderful time! And it was mostly with those unexpected friends from high school that I haven’t seen or talked to since my senior year. That reunion brought together all sorts of folks who, had it not been for the reunion, probably never would have gotten the opportunity to see one another and connect. Needless to say, we reminisced and danced the night away. The planning committee was extremely pleased to have produced a very successful reunion. A lot of my classmates had such fun that the week following the reunion we were already getting requests to come up with an excuse to get together again sooner rather than waiting another five or ten years!

So if you ever catch yourself thinking or saying the following statements concerning high school reunions…

“Odds are, if I want you in my life, you’re already there.”


“Even if I did like you, it’s not enough to be with those I don’t.”


“A high school reunion? Yea, um I’m not dancing/listening to late 80s/early 90s music.”


… tell yourself to GET OVER IT! Give it a chance, you may just make a new friend out of that nerd, prep, jock or punk classmate from the old high school days! Not to mention you may be pleasantly surprised and have the time of your life. 😉

The Notebook

 By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I have been collecting and saving recipes since the 4th grade. Yep, you heard me. I remember it vividly. It was free-reading period and I was in the back corner of the classroom where our teacher had various books and magazines. I began flipping through a magazine and came across a photo of the most beautiful cake I’d ever seen. It was a 4-layer chocolate mocha cake decorated with almonds that had one half of them dipped in chocolate. It was magnificent and I had to have it. The teacher let me tear out that page and guess what? I still have it. That makes this magazine page 36 years old. It shows its age, of course. Years of being folded, unfolded, smoothed out, wrinkled. But, it’s still intact.

I held onto this recipe for years before I actually made it. I was in high school and had started baking cakes (from mixes). I felt pretty good about my efforts because, even to this day, my mom says baking round cakes is difficult and she never had good luck with them. Well, this was quite an ego booster since all of my round cakes have always come out of the pan without sticking, tearing or warping. So, as my mom’s birthday approached, I decided it was time to try the chocolate mocha cake.  It was a challenge, as it involved making the cake totally from scratch and had lots of steps: making ganache, dipping almonds in chocolate, fancy frosting. But, I didn’t back down, I persevered and it was the most beautiful cake I’d ever seen. I think I knocked my mom’s socks off too!

As years passed, my chocolate mocha recipe got company. I scribbled down recipes from friends, printed emails and recipes I’d found online, copied old recipe cards from people like my next door neighbor’s mom, my husband’s grandmother, friends of mom’s who had given a copy of one of theirs to her. The problem was that they began accumulating on top of my microwave, completely unorganized and going unnoticed. (I wrote about it here.)  So Microwaveas I stared at this jumbled stack of randomly sized papers, it dawned on me. Duh! It was time for the notebook. Of course!  How could this not have occurred to me sooner? You see, way back in the day, my mom had the same issue.  Tons of recipes she’d collected over the years stuck willy-nilly into cookbooks, becoming dog-eared and ragged. My sister and I decided to take charge and we organized all those handed-down recipes into a big notebook. We even made a table of contents. My mom still has the notebook and occasionally I flip through it when I am at her house. So, quite honestly, it’s a bit embarrassing that I let all of these little babies stack up on that microwave!

I’ve since made myself my own notebook and it’s been awesome! I’ve come across recipes that I haven’t made or even thought of in ages. Last night, I pulled it out and made a recipe for Pasta with Vodka Sauce. Awesome recipe. Now, I’ve conjured up all kinds of ideas to use some of these old favorites (my mom’s beer rolls, sauerbraten, my dad’s kiwi shrimp) as well as some of the recipes that I saved but still have yet to make.

ElizabethIf you’re a recipe saver, like me and Mom, get a notebook so those dishes don’t become forgotten. You’ll probably find the handwriting of a friend or relative, notes you made to improve or change a recipe, memories of grandma’s caramel cake or some old 70’s gem that’s due for a revival.

Elizabeth writes about food, cooking, and other culinary adventures at Gastronomy (by a Wanna-Be Chef).  You can also “like” her page on Facebook.


Grape Stomp

By: Katie Austin

As the summer winds down and the kids get ready to go back to school, are you looking for something to do with the family that is fun, outdoors and easy on the budget? What about grape stomping? Ok, you are probably thinking that I have lost my mind or meant to type something else…LOL. Actually, that’s not a typo! I learned of a wonderful event taking place this month and wanted to pass along the information to you.

Earlier this summer, we went on an adventure with our closest friends to Charleston, SC where we stumbled across a hidden treasure, Irvin House Vineyards. I had never been to a vineyard before and was eager to see one in person (as well as sample some of their wines – yum!) Our visit exceeded expectations. Not only was the vineyard beautiful, as you can see in the picture below, but the place had a family feel. There were wine & Firefly Vodka tastings, a food vendor, live music and just an all-around great atmosphere. This is where we learned of their annual festival.

Grape Stomp

Grab your best Lucy costume and get ready to stomp some grapes for Irvin House Vineyards’ Annual Grape Stomping Festival scheduled for Saturday, August 24, 2013 from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is only $10.00 per car!! Plan to join in the yearly harvest and stomping of the grapes at Charleston’s only winery located at 6775 Bears Bluff Road on Wadmalaw Island. Bring your own lawn chairs or a blanket to picnic on their lawn and make a day of it!

The highlight of the Grape Stomping Festival is the Lucy Look-A-Like Contest, where “I Love Lucy” Fans will get their chance to don their best Lucy costume and reenact the Fun dayfamous 1956 episode of “I Love Lucy” when Lucy takes a job in a vineyard and stomps grapes. Along with the Lucy Look-A-Like Contest, a new contest has been added to bring out competitors who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty. The contest will consist of teams of two who will compete in a grape stomping contest to see who can produce the most juice from 20 lbs. of grapes in three minutes.

Here are a few things you can expect to see:

  • Lucy Look-Alike Contest
  • Grape Stomping and Wine Tasting
  •  Local Craft Vendors
  • Jump Castle, Face Painting, and Hula Hoops for the Little Stompers
  • Famous Frozen Wine-a-Ritas

If you are interested in attending, be sure to visit their website:

KatieHave you attended the Grape Stomp? If yes, let me know what you liked best. I’d love to hear from you! If you attend this month, remember to come back and share your experience.

Wishing everyone a wonderful day and happy grape stomping! 🙂

~Katie Austin

The Privilege of PACE…

By: Shannon Shull

I have discovered that our great state of South Carolina has really done something right with an amazing program called the Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE). The program has been bringing incredible educators into the public school system since 1984, and is open to professionals who have graduated from college, worked within Teacher Quotethe workforce and have a passion for teaching. But it is NO easy task to get accepted into this prestigious program. Applicants have to meet very high standards and pass certification tests. Once an applicant has met all the requirements and been accepted into the program, an applicant can be hired by any public school in South Carolina. When hired by a school, the applicant signs a three year contract, continuing to train and work toward gaining their teacher certification while teaching in the classroom. It is an incredibly intense program – a program in which I can vouch for because I have the honor of being a part of it!

There are so many of us passionate educators out there in every field you could imagine, who all share a love for teaching but never received a degree in education. So this program is a fabulous way for highly qualified people to get paid to teach as they are getting their teacher certification.

I am incredibly honored to be a PACE teacher. When I attended Winthrop University, I started out as a theatre education major, but the performance major was more attractive to the_influence_of_a_good_teacher_me at the time. In terms of scheduling, I could not fit in the theatre and dance departments with the performance that I so desired AND all the education major requirements. So, at the time, I chose the theatre and dance performance focus. After working in the entertainment business in Los Angeles for ten years, teaching privately and doing arts integration in the public schools here in South Carolina, my passion for teaching led me to the PACE program.

I recently survived the first INTENSE pre-certification training at the end of July. Two full weeks – ten days, 8am to 5pm, every day full of priceless education training. We were taught everything an incredible, willing teacher needs to know in order to be the best teacher they can be. The training was so intense, it literally felt like a college education degree crammed into two weeks. Daily assessments, assignments and lesson plans kept many of us up into the wee hours of the night. One night I was up until 2am working and then back up at 5am to get back at the work before heading to the training. The program is very strict  – and rightly so, because it will certainly weed out anyone not suited for or willing to be the best teacher they can be. Participants were scored on all assessments and assignments. I was determined to do my absolute best and am very proud to say that I achieved an almost perfect score.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” — Albert Einstein

Teacher QuotesI take the role of teacher very seriously and consider it a great privilege to be in this amazing position to inspire and educate our young people. This year will mark my first full time teaching gig at a public school – I am honored to say that I am teaching drama at Chapin Middle School this year. I could not be more thrilled! And I have the SC PACE Program to thank.

For more information about PACE, check out their website:

Though the program is demanding and intense, South Carolina is doing its young students a great service by giving professionals with a passion for teaching the opportunity to educate within our public schools.

“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats

Teachers are true gems of society and bare a great responsibility. As I begin my journey into the world of teaching in the public schools, my respect for this priceless profession is boundless!

15 Signs You’re a Health Junkie (And Your Friends Aren’t)

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Recently, I came across 15 Signs You’re a Health Junkie (And Your Friends Aren’t), and I literally laughed out loud. Since adopting a new, healthier lifestyle nearly three years ago, I often feel like the “odd woman out.”

Health Junkie

Of the 15 signs, I can relate to many, including:

  1. Have Blender, Will Travel: Especially when I was first trying to add more vegetables to my diet, I did indeed travel with a blender during business trips. Ask my friend Keith about the time I nearly lost a finger in a Magic Bullet incident in Kansas City. He was staying across the hall and came to my rescue.
  2. Workout Shoes Over Heels: Not only when traveling, I have more running and training shoes than heels these days. And there’s nothing I love more than new workout shoes!
  3. Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia: I buy chia seeds every week for my wonderful overnight oats recipe! They’re also great in Greek yogurt.
  4. Rise and Shine: I’m not a runner, but I give up many a social engagement to turn in early for my 4:14 a.m. gym alarm. For me, there’s nothing better than an early morning workout and nothing worse than having to get it in after work.
  5. I DO say “No, seriously, it tastes better than it looks”: I say this most often at work and I say it about many things, especially my green smoothies, anything with tofu and soy milk.
  6. Map It Out: When traveling, I find the nearest Whole Foods or similar healthy grocer. Not only that, I also seek out healthy grocers who deliver, and often have fruits, veggies and soy milk delivered to the hotel upon my arrival.
  7. You Ordered What?: This actually happened at a staff meeting this week when I walked in with a Diet Coke.
  8. Swap This: If you knew what was in some of those restaurant foods, you’d custom order, too. For instance, did you know that the “egg white” featured in many fast food sandwiches can contain up to 15 ingredients? YUCK!
  9. Weirdo: Most of my friends and co-workers think the food I eat is weird, especially green smoothies and anything with tofu. And especially at work, they don’t hesitate to tell me.

If this were my list, I’d add at least two more:

Need Food, Will Travel: You go to at least three grocery stores a week to get your favorite healthy foods and ingredients. (Tips: Neither Trader Joe’s, nor Fresh Market carry light vanilla soy milk. Kroger has the very best frozen blueberries, and unlike Publix, their frozen cherries never have pits. Publix, though, is the only one who carries my favorite frozen corn, a delightful yellow and white corn mix.)

Go Real or Go Home: I recently had a baking emergency and needed a quick shot of vanilla extract. I almost fainted when my mother brought over her bottle of imitation vanilla extract. I used it in a pinch, but the next day I purchased two bottles of pure vanilla extract; one for me and one for Mom.

What are the sure signs that YOU’RE a health junkie?

My Dog Flo

By: Brady Evans

Her name is Flo. Not Florence. Sometimes we do call her Florence of Arabia or Florence Nightingale, though.


Don’t look at her too long. She closes her eyes. Eye contact is a threat. She doesn’t want a fight.

Eyes closed

She’s around 10. She could be 12. I don’t know. She won’t tell me. We’ve had her for over 8 years, though.

Flo is my first dog, and she has spoiled me. She naturally heels, naturally asks permission before doing anything, naturally has manners. She can go off leash anywhere. She will always listen.

Flo Party

I remember the day we got Flo. The Omnivore and I were headed out of town, his SUV packed to the roof with lingering boxes that were deemed too unimportant to make it into the U-haul the week before {those boxes likely remain packed in the attic to this day}, and we stopped by the animal shelter just to look. The Omnivore brought to our relationship a gem of a dog, Blue, and she was not with us at the time of Flo’s adoption. Our adoption was not how it is supposed to go: we didn’t have our resident dog with us to match compatibility; we didn’t really discuss the 2nd dog prior to when we skidded into the ASPCA parking lot. We just sort of jumped in. We didn’t know what we were looking for in a dog.  We didn’t know if we were looking for a puppy or an adult, a big or a small, a male or a female. Did I need an active dog? A lazy dog?


Looking back, Flo was one of those dogs that didn’t show well in the shelter.  She was full grown and black. The commotion of the shelter didn’t suit her well. You see, Flo doesn’t love other dogs.  It isn’t that she’s aggressive or mean about it, they just stress her. In the shelter, she spent her days pancaked flat to the cement floor, probably trying to tune out the other dogs’ barking. She recoiled into her own mind. She was depressed. Dogs do get depressed, you know.

When I happened upon her cell, every part of her body was touching the cement floor.  Her paws were sticking out under the chain link gate.  I remember those paws the most.  The hair growing through her paw pads was inches long – she was never walked to wear it off. Flo lifted her eyebrows when I spoke to her. That’s all she could muster. She had no zest. I called the Omnivore over, telling him I thought she was paralyzed (ridiculous, I know).

So we looped one of those those little nylon non-leashes around her neck and led her to the play yard they had out behind the shelter. And Flo was like, “game on!” She must have been through this before and failed. That family must have left, seeing she had no personality and would never be a good fit for their family. Not a good dog for the kids, they surely said, she has no energy.

My husband and I sat 15 feet apart from each other on the itchy green grass that February (13th) morning. This threw Flo for a loop. Which person, she panicked, should she sit next to? Her solution? Flo spent the next 10 minutes darting full steam between my lap and my husband’s, so fast that her little back legs are scooted under her body and she appeared like those lizards that walk on water. And we died with laughter. We decided that yes, this would be our dog – my first dog. We took her out to the lobby, paid $60, and headed to the car.

Lap dog

Remember what I said about our car?  How it was full?  And now we’ve added a full grown labrador-something to the trip?  Well, she had to sit on my lap for the 2.5 hr drive.  There was no way around it.  So I put this strange dog that I knew nothing about in my lap and shortly we realized that this dog was made for people’s laps.

And then my husband smiled and looked at our nameless dog and said, “Well, she really goes with the flow.”  And she was named.

Late Summer Harvest? Please?

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I am the last person you’ll ever hear complain about rain. Here in the South, we almost always need it. Most of the time, we need it desperately. I love a good, booming thunderstorm with plenty of lightning. I love a good steady rain to sleep by. And, I really love how green everything looks after a good rain. Pretty much every July we are treated to late afternoon storms that are fantastically spectacular! The sky turns purple, then dark purple, maybe even black. The thunder begins to rumble in the distance and gets louder and more frequent as it approaches. Then, the clouds open up and we’re treated to an awesome light show. BUT…I realize that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Like this July…too much of a good thing.

The crazy amount of rain we’ve had has pretty much killed our usually beautiful, vibrant red, juicy bounty of tomatoes. This time of year, we should be seeing fresh tomatoes on our plates any day of the week. But, sadly, we aren’t.

TomatoToo much rain results in falling blossoms and tomatoes with those horrible, painful looking cracks in them. Early on I thought my basil had committed suicide, but I realize now it was accidental drowning. I had an adorable baby poblano on my plant that was just the size of a penny, when a soggy stem gave way and we discovered the poor little guy lying on his side on the patio with nowhere to go. And then there was the disastrous cantaloupe that I received that looked, smelled and felt good but had absolutely no flavor at all. Just full of rain.

But August approaches and our temps are still in the 90’s, so there is hope that late summer may offer some drier weather and let our plants play catch up. After all, we have been known to pick tomatoes on Thanksgiving Day around here! So don’t give up. There is still hope that we can enjoy some of those quintessentially Southern BLT’s and tomato sandwiches. Or perhaps a tasty cantaloupe for breakfast or wrapped with a paper-thin slice of salty prosciutto. Think good thoughts and next time it rains, remember all the years that we’ve cried over our crops shriveling and dying on the vine. I guess I’m trying to say that we have to be thankful for all that we have and accept that some days, some weeks, some years are better than others. But it sure would be nice to have a big ol’ ripe tomato right about now, huh?

Elizabeth Akre writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).

Summer Soup

By: Katie Austin

You are probably thinking, “Did I read that correctly? Soup during the hottest time of the year?”  Yes you did!  I have found that one of the benefits of having soup during the summer is that you get a meal that’s light on both your stomach and budget. My husband, Mike, and I have enjoyed eating soup with a side salad or just on its own.  Best yet, you can find many recipes that are quick to put together and taste even better the next day when taken to work for lunch 🙂

Here is a recipe that we received from a co-worker, which has quickly become one of our favorites:

Potato, Cheddar, Bacon Soup


  • Soup6 strips of thick cut bacon
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I just use about a heaping tsp of the stuff from a jar)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 large russet potatoes cut into cubes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh chives (if you’ve got ’em)


  1. Fry bacon in a 6-quart pot until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve.
  2. Pour off all but about 1 Tbsp. of drippings. Add butter to pan and cook and stir until melted.
  3. Add onion and carrots and cook until tender about 5 minutes or so.
  4. Add flour and cook and stir for a couple of minutes to make a roux.  Gradually stir in broth.
  5. Add potatoes and heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and mixture is thickened.
  6. Stir in cheese and cream and cook until cheese is melted.
  7. Season with black pepper and salt to your liking.  Crumble bacon and garnish soup with bacon and chives.

KatieWhat is your favorite soup? Do you have a souplicious recipe that you would like to share? Post it here and let’s grow our list!!

Wishing everyone a wonderful day and remember – live each day to the fullest!

Katie Austin