Weekend Foodie Warriors – Take 51!
Hello hello, again, Foodie Friends 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend! For this edition of Foodie Adventures, we visited Gemilena’s for a pasta making class and took a weekend camping trip to Lake Hartwell State Park!
Gemilena’s – Pasta Making Class
Downtown Easley, SC
Jamie and I absolutely love cooking classes! So when Theresa from Gemilena’s in downtown Easley reached out to us to come to one of her homemade pasta making classes, we were super excited!
A little background on how she got her start first. Theresa’s parents were from New Jersey, and she grew up with them there until the late 70’s, when they all moved to the Upstate, SC area to open an Italian restaurant. The restaurant is no longer in operation, but cooking is still her passion!
She named her cooking studio after her three granddaughters, taking a piece of each of their names to form “Gemilena”.
She told us a story about how she found her current space when we visited last Wednesday:
I had done a lot of cooking/baking on the side for years, but last August, my friend was visiting from Colorado and made it his mission to find me a new home for all my cooking endeavors. He drove around the whole Upstate all weekend, and the last place he found, right outside of downtown Easley, was for sale and the perfect size! I was over the moon excited that I was able to find a commercial kitchen, and started offering weekly meals/salads/desserts as well as catering and special orders ever since.Theresa Hurst, Owner
After introducing ourselves to the other people there for the class, our evening of fantastic Italian food and fun started with appetizers! In Italy, Theresa explained how it’s very traditional to start with a drink called a “Spritz Veneziano” or Aperol Spritz, which is an Italian wine-based cocktail, commonly served as an appetite enhancer. Our included prosecco, Aperol, orange slices, and soda water.
Next was the actual pasta making part, which I was super excited to get my hands on (no pun intended). Theresa did a great job modeling the bag of semolina flour we used for our pastas, which you can find on Amazon here (unless you have an Italian grocery store near you). First, we made a well of flour and poured water into it little by little (mine didn’t want to cooperate though and promptly flooded).
Once we rolled out the dough, we began making two types of pasta with two different sauces.
The first pasta shape, cavatelli, were small, seashell looking pastas that we curled up onto themselves, so the ridges of our nonna knives (yes, that’s exactly what the red knives are called), stayed hidden on the inside.
The second shape was a type of pasta Theresa learned to make from her trips to Italy a few year ago, from the time she spent in Tuscany. The name of this one was pici (pronounced “pee-chee”) pasta, and was shaped like a worm or a thicker spaghetti size.
Theresa was so proud of the pici pasta Jamie made, she wanted a picture to capture the moment! It’s really hard when you roll pasta out so thin to have it not break, so she gave him a big pat on the back for the first one he made.
She was so animated when teaching us how to make the broccoli pesto, suggesting different additions or ingredients to sub out for seasonality. One of her pro-tips? Add a base to your homemade tomato sauce called “Mutti Passata” (you can find it at Publix), which is created from a specific type of Italian tomato, and gives it a really unique flavor.
We paired the two pastas with a fresh mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette before our pasta course. The cavatelli pasta came next with the shrimp and broccoli pesto, and the Tuscan Pici pasta with homemade tomato sauce, black pepper, and parmesan cheese was afterwards.
And if appetizers, salads, making two pastas (and eating them) wasn’t amazing enough, do you think we’d forgotten dessert? 😋🤤
Of course not!!! Check out this amazing homemade caramel drizzled tiramisu that Theresa made. Come on now. I’m drooling again just looking at these pictures.
After all that, we also got a gift bag to take home (along with our leftovers) from our Gemilena pasta class, including recipes and pasta from the lady she went to Italy with.
Besides supporting Theresa and all the fantastic food she makes for people on her on Facebook and Instagram (which I highly recommend you follow, to stay up-to-date on the latest menus and class schedules in the future), she also runs a separate page for her specialty cake business called “Crumbs & More by Theresa” which includes pastries, NJ Crumb cakes, etc.
Along with the pasta making classes, she also holds cooking and baking classes for kids! Check out the link here to see what the kiddos made at her Halloween themed class last weekend!
She’s also available for private classes, event catering, and private dinners too!
Her motto is, “Come as a friend, leave as family!” I’m so happy that we connected and got the chance to make food with someone as special as Theresa. Can’t wait to come back to see what we make next time! 😁💜🍝
Lake Hartwell Camping Weekend
Fair Play, SC
Jamie & I spent the weekend having a much needed, relaxing, camping mini-vacation! It’s so nice to unplug and decompress without electronics, (minus my new camera of course)!
With all these pictures to sort through, it definitely takes a little longer to edit than the ones on my phone do, but the results are so so worth it! 🥰📸 Take a look at some of the pictures from our fun cooking below!
We always start the morning off with coffee. There’s nothing like wrapping your fingers around a warm mug when the Autumn weather starts to roll in and the mornings are about 40*. Absolutely love the way the steam shines off my ruby red tea kettle, and curls out the spout in that second picture.
Eggs are a camping staple for us, and what’s a good breakfast sammie without an egg? These are some of my favorite perspective shots I’ve done so far, looking past the eggs in my hand (top left picture below) and focusing on Jamie placing the biscuits in the pan.
Cast iron toasted biscuits are some of the tastiest things! Love the way the eggs are still kind of scrambled, but also runny. But those finished sandwich pictures – definitely the money shot right here!
After breakfast, we invited Jamie’s best friend to our campsite for a couple hours of board games (and lunch of course)!
I recently got a gift card and used it to buy Settlers of Catan and the Seafarers expansion pack, two things Jamie has wanted ever since his buddy brought it over for us to play a few months ago. None of us had ever played with the expansion packs though so that was new to all of us, took us about 30 minutes just to set it up!
As the afternoon sun streamed through the trees, we cooked roasted garlic chicken sausages for lunch over the campfire. We continued to play board games until it got dark, and Jamie and I started prepping for dinner.
Since using the EveryPlate boxes, we recently got a recipe for sweet potato and pepper quesadillas, and loved them to pieces! We thought it would be awesome to replicate those for dinner on Saturday night, while adding mushrooms, onions, garlic, and my non-diary cheese (Violife shreds for the win).
The night would not be complete without dessert! When I was little and we used to go camping with the Girl Scouts, one of our favorite campfire creations was banana boats! Jamie had never had one before so I knew we had to try them this trip.
It’s quite simple really, all you need is a couple bananas, some tin foil, mini marshmallows and mini chocolate chips. You start by putting down a layer of tin foil and sitting the banana upright, splitting it down the middle with a knife, almost all the way through but leaving the outer layer of the banana intact (think butterflying a sausage).
You then hold open the banana and stuff the mini chocolate chips in, covering with mini marshmallows, wrapping it in tin foil so it stays upright and all the fillings don’t come out. Place them in the coals (away from the actual fire if possible), just long enough to melt the ingredients and soften the bananas (about 5-10 mins). Carefully unwrap them and eat with a spoon or fork right out of the banana skin.
The bananas should be warm and soft and the chocolate and marshmallows should be melty.
It was awesome to eat such a fun food from my childhood again, and so special I got to share it with Jamie too. 💜
So how was your weekend Foodie Friends? Have you found an amazing place for cooking classes near you? Sound out in the comments below to let us know your suggestions of what dishes to make or places we should visit next. As always, feel free to like, comment, & share 🤗