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Moonshine Jelly — The Breakfast of Champions!

11 Feb

Yes, folks — there really is such a thing. And, for this, we owe a hearty thanks to the people at Southern Cider Company of Oxford, FL. Now this Oxford is not home to any institutions of higher learning, yet they surely could teach you a thing or two about crafting fine ciders and jellies.

I first spotted this product at a roadside tourist trap in Florida and it immediately struck me as a novelty gift item. But how good could it be? And how much moonshine do they really incorporate? Yup, I had my doubts about this product and chose not to purchase any that day. Days and weeks passed and the concept somehow lingered on my mind. OK, I admit it — I’m a bit of an odd bird. Stuff like this keeps me awake at night. I eventually broke down and sent an email to Southern Cider’s Jan Montanaro expressing my curiousity. She didn’t seem the least bit surprised and was very gracious in offering to send us a sample 18 oz. jar via US Mail. The package arrived at our Alabama home just a few days later.

Upon further inspection of the product’s ingredients, we were pleased to see that this is pretty much an all-natural jelly. Sugar, white wine, water, pectin, lemon juice and moonshine (corn whiskey). I popped a piece of wheat bread in the toaster, cracked open the jelly jar, and gave it a shot. And you know what? I liked it. It is very good. And you can really taste the moonshine. The good stuff too — no funky aftertaste. Jan, I am extremely impressed!

Sure, this product is obviously a conversation starter. But that doesn’t mean it can’t taste good. We enjoyed it and think you will too. So if you’re bored with your usual grape or strawberry jam, let Southern Cider Company’s Moonshine Jelly give your breakfast a kick in the pants. And as the old hillbilly song goes, “Them that refuse it will be few.”

www.southernciderco.com

Continuing a Family Tradition at King’s Barbecue of Petersburg, Virginia

1 Nov

King’s Bar B Q #2 in Petersburg, VA has long been a family favorite. I first ate here decades ago with my Grandparents, Philip & Annie Mae Justice. Philip was a native North Carolinian. Annie Mae hailed from Appomattox, Virginia – site of the Civil War surrender. Both were raised on authentic Southern BBQ. In short, they knew a thing or two about good, downhome Dixie grub.

King’s exterior is classic 1950’s BBQ joint architecture. Giant pine trees loom large in the background. Hasn’t changed a bit since our first visits back in the 1970s. Has something of a colonial look — especially the maroon-painted faux front door. You see everything from shiny Mercedes to banged-up El Caminos in the parking lot. Everyone, rich or poor, knows that this is the place to score some tasty smoked pig. Nearby Ely’s BBQ once challenged the throne of King’s, but we learned on this trip that they had closed their doors for good. Oh well, never got to sample & compare. Survival of the fittest, I reckon.   

King’s Famous Bar B Q — “Even Our Sign is Cool”

Yes, there once was a King’s Number 1, but Number 2 outlasted it.

This retro placemat logo appeared on the original King’s menu

These vinyl menu covers have seen a lot of duty thru the years

Tiny buttered biscuits & iced sweet tea – a good start to our feast

Confederate Heroes looked down on us as we dined at King’s

Ah yes, King’s famous chopped pork shoulder. Some of the best you will find anywhere. Lean, just the right amount of smoke, lovingly chopped by hand. Whack, whack, whack. That’s the soundtrack at King’s. And it is pure music to my ears. Brother Mark and I each ordered the large pork plate. Comes with a mountain of pigmeat and two sides.

I ordered collards and a potato pancake. The collards were just OK … nothing more. Likely out of a can. Sure looked & tasted like it. And the potato pancake was bland and, to be honest, a tad dry. But who really cares? We didn’t come here for sides. We came here to chow down on some world class smoked pork. That did not disappoint. Never does. Been here countless times and it’s always consistently excellent. As is the house BBQ sauce. Tastes a lot like Sauer’s BBQ Sauce (a popular Richmond-based brand) — could be for all I know. I just know it’s vinegar and spice embrace are an ideal match for King’s chopped pork.

We were in the Richmond/Petersburg area to celebrate Granny Justice’s 100th birthday. Our visit to King’s could have only been made better if Granny had been seated alongside. Just like the good old days. Her smile and infectious laugh making the dining room a better place. We (Mark and I) wouldn’t be here without her. Wouldn’t be eating at King’s. Wouldn’t be on this Earth, for that matter. So thanks and thanks again, Granny. You’re the greatest and we’re blessed to have you in our lives. Here’s to another 100 years — and another visit to King’s. The sooner, the better.  

King’s Barbecue – 2910 S. Crater Rd., Petersburg, Virginia

(804) 732-0975; www.kingsfamousbarbecue.com

***Closed on Mondays & Tuesday***

Gulf Coast Foodways Organziation is Officially Unveiled

24 Mar

 

Gulf Coast Foodways is a new community of foodies on a mission to preserve and promote the rich culinary culture along the US Gulf Coast through education, events, documentaries, seminars and more. Gulf Coast Foodways will be a member driven organization and we’re currently looking for charter members and sponsors.

How exactly are we going to do all of this, you ask?  Through the development of thematic maps and tours, we can drive food tourism to our region. Through video documentation, we can capture and show off the unique culinary culture of our coast.  Cookbooks and published compilations of local food writings and treasured family recipes will draw attention to the traditional foodways of our area. 

We plan to hold periodic meetings for members to make connections and network. These events will include guest speakers on local topics and you can always count on a good meal or two along the way. Our annual symposium weekend is now in the initial planning stage.  Hotel and restaurant industry members will always benefit from the trails, meetings, and symposiums.

We’d like for you to play a key role in the creation of this tasty “gumbo.” 

 Your annual membership or sponsorship will:

 *Help finance research projects

*Promote food-related businesses along the Gulf Coast

*Document local traditions & businesses preserving them

*Promote and grow food tourism along the Gulf Coast

*Underwrite any necessary administrative costs

 In return, your benefits will include:

 *Bi-annual e-newsletter

*Profile feature on the Gulf Coast Foodways blog: www.gulfcoastfoodways.wordpress.com 

*10% off all Gulf Coast Foodways event registration

*Priority registration for events

*Discounts at participating restaurants/shops

 We urge you to join this worthy cause today.

Contact Eileen or Gary Saunders at gulfcoastfoodways@yahoo.com.

***Pass this note along to your friends and LIKE us on FACEBOOK.

Jammin’ with Sallie’s Greatest Hits

3 Dec

Sallie’s Greatest Jams are really good — and really unique. I mean, how often have you tried flavor combinations such as Peach Mint, Blueberry Lime, Peach Pepper Ginger, Blueberry Lavender, and Strawberry Basil? Here’s the back story on founder Sallie Dent Porth (“Canner in Chief”) and her fabulous small batch creations …

After more than twenty years of living the corporate life on planes, trains and automobiles, including an escape from NYC on 9/11/01, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back home living the good life in Calhoun County in rural South Carolina. In 2004, I returned to my roots and found myself living in the middle of a huge field with a garden-loving husband in my hometown of Cameron, SC, where farming is a mainstay. One perk of my time in corporate America was an expense account which afforded me the opportunity to experience fine dining across the country, cultivating my knowledge of unique food and flavor combinations. This interest in flavor pairings combined with my creative nature and life in the field led to the creation of Sallie’s Greatest.

Thanks to my partnership with local farmer Monty Rast of Longview Acres, my specialty line of herbal fruit jams is made with the freshest produce possible – straight from the field to the jar! In addition to our line of jarred projects, we’re also developing a cookbook, Party in a Jar, giving cooks on all levels the tools needed to turn an everyday meal into an extraordinary dining experience with the simple twist of a lid. For years, my friends and family have raved over my creations. I feel that it’s just plain selfish to keep this secret in my inner circle…and being selfish isn’t being Southern!

“Love Thy Farmer”

Order yours today at www.salliesgreatest.com or call (803) 823 – 9075

Email Sallie at salliesgreatest@gmail.com — tell her Dixie Dining sent ya!

Granny Hester’s Alabama Sweet Potato Biscuits are made with L-O-V-E

27 Oct

These babies are simply amazing — chunks of real sweet potatoes in every bite. Try them with butter and some Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup for a real treat! We were thrilled to find these at our local farmers market and urge all of you to seek them out. It’s a true taste of days gone by.

Granny Hester’s Homemade Sweet Potato Biscuits have been a Southern original since 1943. Always a family and friend favorite, Granny handed down her biscuit recipe to her granddaughter, Tracy Johnson. Tracy began filling orders for friends in 2005, and as the biscuits became more and more popular, Tracy used a friend’s coffee shop to bake and sell them. Tracy and a partner opened Granny Hester’s Fine Foods, LLC in 2008, on Gault Avenue in Fort Payne, Alabama—the exact location her grandparents owned and  operated the Fort Payne Bakery until 1971.

At one time they were only available around her dinner table in Alabama; now, Granny Hester’s biscuits bring southern hospitality to mealtime all over America. After being passed down from generation to generation, the recipe remains the same and folks all over still crave Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuits.

You can find these delicious homemade biscuits at several farm markets in the great state of Alabama — or order some straight from Granny’s kitchen in Ft. Payne, Alabama!

www.grannyhesters.com

————————————

Apple Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuit Crust 

1 can apple pie filling

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon sugar

6 Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuits    

Mix pie filling, cinnamon, and brown sugar and put them into a 9-inch pan. 

Thaw frozen biscuits until they can be split open.  

Place biscuits on top of apples and top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until done.

UGA Press publishes “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook”

5 Oct

The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge
Foreword by Alton Brown

“Local recipes from the worldly South”

“Each page herein delivers a strong sense of community; the contributions are from real people with real names; the collection is democratic, but with nary a sign of culinary chaos; and the food is just plain good. And here’s the best part, as far as I’m concerned: Regardless of whether it looks back into the past or ahead into the future, this book looks ever Southward.”
—Alton Brown, from the foreword

Everybody has one in their collection. You know—one of those old, spiral- or plastic-tooth-bound cookbooks sold to support a high school marching band, a church, or the local chapter of the Junior League. These recipe collections reflect, with unimpeachable authenticity, the dishes that define communities: chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, chess pie. When the Southern Foodways Alliance began curating a cookbook, it was to these spiral-bound, sauce-splattered pages that they turned for their model.

Including more than 170 tested recipes, this cookbook is a true reflection of southern foodways and the people, regardless of residence or birthplace, who claim this food as their own. Traditional and adapted, fancy and unapologetically plain, these recipes are powerful expressions of collective identity. There is something from—and something for—everyone. The recipes and the stories that accompany them came from academics, writers, catfish farmers, ham curers, attorneys, toqued chefs, and people who just like to cook—spiritual Southerners of myriad ethnicities, origins, and culinary skill levels.

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge, written, collaboratively, by Sheri Castle, Timothy C. Davis, April McGreger, Angie Mosier, and Fred Sauceman, the book is divided into chapters that represent the region’s iconic foods: Gravy, Garden Goods, Roots, Greens, Rice, Grist, Yardbird, Pig, The Hook, The Hunt, Put Up, and Cane. Therein you’ll find recipes for pimento cheese, country ham with redeye gravy, tomato pie, oyster stew, gumbo z’herbes, and apple stack cake. You’ll learn traditional ways of preserving green beans, and you’ll come to love refried black-eyed peas.

Are you hungry yet? Place your order now!

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Foodways-Alliance-Community-Cookbook/dp/0820332755

Is The Biscuit King’s Reign in Peril?

3 Jul

It’s the Fourth of July weekend. I woke up on Saturday morning and wanted to do something beyond cereal for breakfast. It had been a long while since we had paid homage to Fairhope’s Biscuit King, so I shook my youngest son Travis out of bed and we promptly motored south on AL State Highway 98. This sign (above) is seen at the intersection of Highway 98 and Highway 24. I never really bought into the “Best Lunch” claim, but did recall that “The King” made a mighty fine biscuit. They are located in the boondocks among the cornfields of South Baldwin County. Its clientele is a mix of simple country folk and tourists passing through on their way to the coast.

This portable sign announces The King’s daily “LUNCH PECIAL” pricing.

This sad looking pooch is the unofficial mascot — greeting folks out front.

T-Shirts sell for just $10. Never knew the kingdom extended to Virginia!

Rural clientele inside Biscuit King. Overalls and mesh hats abound.

The cheddar-encrusted Ultimate “Ugly Biscuit” – The King’s signature item.

Treasures lay inside the “Ugly Biscuit” – cheese, eggs, pepperoni, & sausage

The biscuits (priced at about $2.50 each) this go around were good – not great. Certainly not worthy of a throne and crown. Yes, I’ve had a better biscuit in my day. Come to think of it, I’ve had better biscuits right here at Biscuit King. The service was incredibly slow too (about a 30-minute wait for 4 biscuits). It appeared that the kitchen was being run by the same folks managing the BP oil spill cleanup. Chaotic? For sure. Sluggish? You know it. No urgency? Uh, yeah. If you’re gonna make the trip, I would strongly urge you to call ahead to place your order … especially on Saturdays!

So is the Biscuit King’s kingdom in peril? I would have to say it is. There is surely an opportunity for someone else to step up and do it all better. In doing so, that lucky person could seize the butter-coated scepter that has apparently gathered some dust over the past couple years.

Thanks for the memories, Biscuit King. It may be time for me to turn the page and move on to the next big thing. Your long reign, in this humble servant’s mind, may be history.

Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter

15 May

I first learned about this wonderful product in one of my favorite magazines – Garden and Gun. We had to try it and, thankfully, the folks at Cunningham Farms were nice enough to send along a sample jar. I slathered some on my toast yesterday and I can tell you this jar will not last us long. The first word that comes to mind when describing this Sweet Potato Butter is “fresh.”

Hand crafted in small batches in Hancock County, Tennessee, Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter is made with only the finest natural ingredients. Organic sweet potatoes, apple cider, and organic spices all play a major part in this tasteful blend. The spread is not exceptionally thick and murky, I’m guessing because it contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Preservatives? Hah! You may even polish off the whole jar in the first day!  

You can definitely taste the ground clove in each jar. The overall flavor profile is sort of a cross between a really fine homemade apple butter and sweet potato pie. Spread it on biscuits, bagels or English muffins in the morning. It can also be used as a glaze for pork and chicken. No matter how you plan on using it, just use it! And did I tell you it’s delicious?

Cunningham Farms provides a gourmet version of an old favorite-Sweet Potato Butter. Our product is handmade in small batches using organic sweet potatoes and locally made apple cider; yielding the highest quality gourmet Sweet Potato Butter. Hints of organic cinnamon and clove and the full flavor of the sweet potato couple with fresh apple cider to create a velvety smooth, slightly sweet spread that’s great with a wide range of foods. It’s not too sweet, just rich, warm and invocative of autumn-certainly enjoyable for every meal.

Cunningham Farms gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is perfect on toast or a croissant in the morning, on a ham sandwich, as a glaze for chicken or pork and as a topping for cake or ice cream. Also, one jar of Cunningham Farms gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is the perfect filling for a delicious sweet potato pie.

Besides providing a delicious product, Cunningham Farms is also committed to enriching our community. Our gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is handmade in the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen, and Cunningham Farms is a member of the Appalachian Spring Cooperative in Hancock County, Tennessee. The Cooperative was created as a microenterprise incubator for entrepreneurs to make and sell value added food products. By producing our Sweet Potato Butter at the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen we are creating jobs in one of the poorest counties in the nation. Cunningham Farms’ goal is to grow so that we can continue to help the people of our community.

Sweet Potato Butter & Cream Cheese Appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter
  • 8 oz block of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp very crisp bacon pieces
  • 2 Tbsp pecan pieces
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Frost cream cheese with Sweet Potato Butter
  2. Sprinkle with bacon pieces
  3. Sprinkle with pecan pieces
  4. Top with scallions
  5. Serve with crackers. May serve immediately or refridgerate.

Submitted by: Joan Bertaut – Jackson, MS

http://www.cunninghamfarms.com

Montgomery Biscuits Baseball!

17 Apr

I attended my first Montgomery Biscuits (AA Tampa Bay Rays affiliate) game last Monday night. The home team was taking on the Mobile (AL) BayBears (AA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks). Montgomery’s Riverwalk Stadium is a great new facility, located in the city’s historic downtown.

Our evening began a short block away near this old water tower

We enjoyed dinner at world famous Dreamland BBQ

Here’s a look at “The Alley” – cool space!

Grabbed a pint of microbrew (Hopitoulas IPA from NOLA)

Dinner was BBQ bird, sauce and Sunbeam Bread

Got a complimentary order of Nanner Puddin’ too!

The brick exterior gives the ballpark a classic look

The team’s apparel store is aptly called the “Biscuit Basket”

Team mascot, Monte Biscuit (complete with butter slab tongue!)

The ballpark was built on the site of the old railroad station

Love this exposed brick feature

Some great details remain from the old railyard

Me and the boys hangin’ out with “Big Mo”

Strolling the inner concourse at Riverwalk Stadium

Listen to team theme songs here:

http://www.biscuitsbaseball.com/FANS/songs.html 

Some more of the ballpark’s retro features

Real trains still run just beyond the left field wall

Of course, they serve biscuits at Biscuits’ home games!

www.biscuitsbaseball.com

Claire’s Place on the Creek – Mobile, AL

6 Apr

Claire’s is a fairly new country buffet place on Halls Mill Road in Mobile, AL. The Stagecoach Cafe used to be at this rustic pine-shaded location, but they have decided to focus all their attention on their primary location in Stockton, AL. But not to fear! Louisa “Claire” Terrell has re-opened the place and really all that has changed is the name.  

You can always tell a good Southern lunch joint by the vehicles in the parking lot. Lots of trucks and police cars = good chow. Really good chow!

The grilled pork chops were simply delicious with a authentic char-grilled flavor. I snagged a couple chops at the bottom of the chafing dish to make sure they were plenty juicy — and they were. The green beans were smoky and soft to the bite. Claire’s also makes a killer jambalaya loaded with tender pieces of white chicken and bright green bell pepper. The cornbread dressing was excellent and the tomato pie tart & tasty (especially if you can score an end piece). I even tried fried asparagus spears for the first time in my life and found the flavor combo to be, well, a downhome natural.

Believe it or not, I did save a little room for dessert. That’s a good thing because the choices here are plentiful. Claire’s buttermilk pie was moist with lots of chewy flaked coconut in each and every bite. The banana pudding was even better — incredibly smooth and heavenly. I was on Cloud Nine.

Pricing at Claire’s Place on the Creek ( yes, they are on a creek) is $9.50 and includes the all you can eat lunch buffet, drink ( I suggest the Leroy Hill fresh brewed Sweet Tea), and as many dessert treats as you dare tackle. You will not go away hungry or dissatisfied. This is the real deal y’all and I am so glad to have found them. They can already count me as a regular.

NOTE: Claire’s Place is also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

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