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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.

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Louisiana’s Sugar Cane Country

15 Nov

 Louisiana is home to Cajuns, Gators, Saints and … SUGAR CANE!!!

Fields of sugar cane are a frequent sight in these parts.

A sugar cane processing plant we happened upon near Jeanerette, LA.

Spent sugar cane stalks are seen spilling out just to the right of the red truck.

Truck beds loaded with spent cane stalks preparing to head out.

Steen’s makes perhaps the best — and best known —100% LA Cane Syrup.

Steen’s bottling plant in Abbeville is a surprisingly small operation.

This is where all the magic happens – Steen’s is simply the best!

www.steensyrup.com

Abbeville is also famous for oysters – Dupuy’s is a pretty popular spot.

Our favorite Abbeville bivalve slurping spot is Black’s Oyster Bar.

Fresh Topless Salty Oysters – need I say more???

Louisiana-Grown Jazzmen Aromatic Rice Doesn’t Blow

1 Aug

Louisiana’s Jazzmen Aromatic Rice – “Music for your Mouth.”

We tried this new jasmine rice for the first time last night — it is truly amazing! Nice and fluffy and filled with flavor. Best of all, it’s grown right here in the good old USA (Crowley, LA to be specific) thanks to three Chinese-American gents who have been friends since childhood. It’s a fledgling enterprise at this stage. Last fall they harvested just 500 tons of rice. This year, according to co-founder Andrew Wong, it will be more like 12,000 tons. American-grown jasmine rice tends to cost less (about $2.99 for a 28 oz. bag) thanks to reduced transportation expenses. Jazzmen brand rice is now available in 6 states. It can also be purchased online at Jazzmenrice.com. Eat well and buy American whenever you can — you will not be disappointed!

For generations, the most flavorful rice Americans have eaten has been Jasmine rice imported to the U.S. from Asia (most notably Thailand). Jasmine is recognized for having the most desirable “gummy” white texture after cooking and its “aroma” before, during and after cooking is what causes it to be called “aromatic.” Regular rice does not emphasize aromatic qualities nor is it noted as having any fullness of taste. Aromatic rice has a very pleasant notable aroma and taste qualities that contribute considerably to a variety of cuisine styles.

Twelve years ago, the LSU AgCenter started a project to increase rice production in Louisiana. We currently average approximately 500,000 acres of rice agriculture annually. There is a vast amount of acreage to build on.

The LSU AgCenter strives to help promote and build the quality and expertise of Louisiana’s agricultural community – our farmers and our farms. And, the AgCenter thinks of everything possible to enhance and increase the productivity of Louisiana’s vast acreage of farmland.

For twelve years, the “AgCenter” has been evolving, testing and improving a varietal (variety) of rice intended to compete head on with the quality, taste and cost of the thousands of tons of Jasmine rice coming into America each year from Asia. It has reached perfection.

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Louis Armstrong’s Creole Red Beans

Satchmo’s personal recipe,
courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum

Ingredients:

1 lb. kidney beans

½ lb. salt pork (strip of lean, strip of fat; slab bacon may be used if preferred)

1 small can tomato sauce (if desired)

6 small ham hocks, or 1 smoked pork butt

2 onions, diced

¼ green (bell) pepper

5 tiny or 2 medium dried peppers

1 clove garlic, chopped

Salt to taste

Preparation:

Use a 2 qt. pot with cover. Wash beans thoroughly, then soak overnight in cold water. Be sure to cover beans. To cook, pour water off beans, add fresh water to cover. Add salt pork or bacon and let come to a boil over a full flame in covered pot. Turn flame down to slightly higher than low and let cook 1½ hours. Add diced onions, bell pepper, garlic, dried peppers, and salt. Cook 3 hours. Add tomato sauce and cook 1½ hours more, adding water whenever necessary. Beans and meat should always be just covered with water (juice), never dry. This serves 6 or more persons.

To prepare with Ham Hocks or Pork Butts…

Wash meat, add water to cover, and let come to a boil in covered pot over medium flame. Cook 1½ hours, then add beans (pour water off) and add rest of ingredients to meat. Cook 4½ hours. Add water when necessary.

Suggestions:

For non-pork eaters, chicken fat may be used instead of salt pork. Corned beef or beef tongue may be used instead of ham hocks or butts.

To Serve:

On dinner plate – Rice then beans, wither over rice or beside rice, as preferred… Twenty minutes later – Bisma Rex and Swiss Kriss.

www.jazzmenrice.com 

Shrek Peddles Vidalias to 50% Growth Spurt

3 Jul

http://www.vidaliaonion.org/

Nothing Scary about Alabama’s Bates House of Turkey

25 Apr

On a recent business trip to Montgomery, I happened to drive through the town of Greenville, AL. As I headed south, I spotted Bates House of Turkey on the right side of I-65. Hmmm, I thought to myself. Why have I never heard of this place? The Bates Motel, yes. The Bates House of Turkey, no. It looked like an inviting little restaurant and it appeared to have been there for quite a while. Hmmm again, lots of cars in the parking lot. License plates from all over the USA. Why was this big secret being kept from me? It wasn’t lunch time or dinner time, but I just had to pop in and have a look around.

The menu I picked up informed me that the Bates Turkey operation began over 80 years ago. In June of 1923, Mr. Bates received 9 turkey eggs as a wedding present from his Aunt Mamie (not sure where you would register for that type of gift). This led to a full-fledged turkey farm that has now been in the Bates family for 5 generations. The farm, I learn, is located in Fort Deposit, AL — just 12 miles down the road. A short ride from the farm to the table … gotta like that.

Bates House of Turkey is proud to offer this naturally nutritional meat for your eating enjoyment. Bates House of Turkey uses only select turkeys from Bates Turkey Farm. Home cooking is their specialty, because they use fresh vegetables and farm fresh turkeys. Bates’ Roast Turkey dinners are just like the old fashioned dinner your grandmother would cook. The Bates family supervises your turkey from the egg to the table to assure you the finest turkey ANYWHERE.

As I continued on my way home to Fairhope, I made a mental note to return to the Bates House of Turkey for a meal one day soon. In fact, that was not going to be soon enough for me. I recalled the packed dining room and the happy, satisfied faces on the patrons (mostly wise old folks who know something about a good home cooked Southern meal).  It was then that I decided to order myself a hickory smoked turkey breast when I arrived home that evening. Momma didn’t raise no dummy. 

When I contacted Bates via their website, they seemed excited to make my acquaintance as well. They quickly offered to send me a turkey breast for us to review at no charge whatsoever. It arrived at my front door this week in a well-packed styrofoam container. Upon lifting the top off the box, the aroma of delicious hickory smoked white meat permeated the entire house. Why don’t they make air freshener out of this stuff??? Well, that’s just me thinking out loud.

Last night we heated the bird (300 degrees for about 15 minutes) and served it with some cornbread stuffing, stewed zucchini & sweet onions, and a nice Pinot Grigio. The brilliantly white turkey slices really needed no gravy or sauce. It was so incredibly moist and tender – no knife required. It was nice and smoky thorughout, but the slices closest to the bird’s golden brown skin were just sublime. The dining table got very quiet and we all chowed like it was a certain Thursday in November. Yes, we had reason to give thanks — even if it was late April.

This is not your typical corporate-run poultry horror show, folks. Far from it. These happy, healthy birds are farm raised with a TLC that shines through with each and every bite. I’ve had some wonderful turkey meals in my day, but honestly can’t recall enjoying one any more than I did this go around. The folks at Bates really know what they are doing. Alfred Hitchcock’s  “Bates Motel” turned out to be a house of horrors. But the Bates House of Turkey promises nothing but sweet dreams of the most delicious turkey you may ever put in your mouth. So check in with Bates — and check it out! 

BATES TURKEY FARM, INC.
45 Bates Road
Fort Deposit, AL 36032

Toll Free: (888) 249-4505
Fax: (334) 227-4386

Farm: (334) 227-4505
Restaurant: (334) 382-6123
www.batesturkey.com

Baldwin County Strawberry Festival in Loxley, Alabama

11 Apr

Yesterday we attended the 23rd Annual Baldwin County Strawberry Festival in Loxley, AL. What a slice of “American Pie” this event has become. Crafts, classic cars, live music, a beauty pageant, and lots of good food. That makes for a fun, family-oriented day out.

Flats of fresh picked strawberries were sold for $18 each. We actually held off and later found a better price of just 99 cents per quart. I had some on my cereal this morning and they were delicious. Who needs added sugar when Mother Nature delivers all the sweetness you could ask for?

The festivities also included a classic car show. The vehicle seen directly above looks like something I once saw on the cover of a Stray Cats LP. This is a very cool rockabilly ride! Flames are often overdone and cliche, but in this case it was a perfect match.

Gotta love the big fat whitewall tires. I onced owned a 1956 Buick Special and a 1961 Mercury Monterey — had whitewalls on both of ‘em. The Special (the Virginia plate read “HoDad”) was totaled while parked outside my pad back in the early ’80s. The Monterey I traded in on a new Honda Civic.  What the hell was I thinking???

They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Have you seen the new Impala’s lately? They used to be sleek and sporty. They are now an ugly piece of crap. Sorry, but ya know I’m right.

The Brits were represented with MGs (above) …

… and a Cooper Mini with Union Jack – smashing, baby!

This is my new dream beach wagon — love the color!

Interior of the VW Camper — all original & old school

’70s muscle cars were well represented (see Chevy Nova above)

This kind of detailed striping just isn’t seen much anymore  

Strawberries, as you can see, were flying off the shelves

Lindsay Farms (www.lindsayfarms.com) was sampling their salsas and chow chows. We also bought a nice Ball jar of “Jacked Up” Peach Preserves (spiked with Jack Daniel’s) from Atlanta-based Jammin’ Jellies. Really nice and loaded with huge chunks of peaches. They also make several varieties of wine jellies. Check them out at www.jamminjellies.webs.com .

This tiny Southern belle was vying for Little Miss Strawberry crown 

Humorous “Not So Welcome” mat for sale in crafts area

We stopped by Burris Farm Market on our way home

These freaky white coconuts caught my eye

Pickled Eggs — folks either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Me? Dig ‘em!

http://redsmithfoods.com 

Mrs. Wheat’s Pralines are made in nearby Mobile, Alabama

The best discovery of the day was Millie Ray’s Orange Rolls. Millie Ray was in the house and she was offering up samples of her cinnamon, orange, or sausage rolls. They were all quite good — but the orange rolls stood out as being extra special.

Each batch is rolled out by Millie Ray herself in her bakery near Montgomery, AL. The visible flecks of orange zest and the tart natural orange flavor make it clear that these rolls are made with lots of love. All three varieties sell for about $5 per package ($5.99 at Burris, $4.99 @ Allegri Market on Hwy. 181). If you’re lucky, you’ll be seeing these products in your local grocery store in the not too distant future. Take it from us, they are top notch!  

http://millierays.com/index.php

http://www.baldwincountystrawberryfestival.org/

Images from Allegri Farm Market, Daphne, AL

3 Apr

The Allegri Farm Market is just a short country drive from our home in Fairhope, AL. As you can clearly see, my wife Eileen was anxious to get started with the shopping. Left me in the dust!

Rarely seen Mississippi White Sweet Potatoes.

A closer gander at the rather stout Mississippi Whites.

Baldwin County (AL) Red Sweet Potatoes – good price too! 

This sweet potato looks just like a bird at rest — amazing, huh?

Troyer’s Hand-Rolled Amish Butter – you can really tell a difference!

These Creamer Potatoes were just trucked up from Florida.

Fingerlings for those fancy Easter Sunday roasts.

We had to get a whole mess of bright green string beans.

Baldwin County is the #1 producer of AL Pecans.

Spend the $16 and make your life a lot easier.

These Sweet Baby Vidalias looked really good!

Sweet Home Dairy Farm – Elberta, AL

29 Mar

The dirt road to Sweet Home Dairy Farm

Knew we were gettin’ close when we saw this sign

When you see this mailbox you have arrived!

Lots of great cheesy choices @ Sweet Home Farms 

A tempting selection of local cheeses – we chose Gouda

I am a sucker for old trucks & rustic locales

“How much do you want for the truck?”

This cute little house is for the birds — literally!

They’re what’s for dinner — and they know it!

Picked up some massive fresh strawberries on the way home

Sweet Home Farm is a working family dairy established in Baldwin County, Alabama in 1985. Their herd of Guernsey cows has access to fresh pasture grasses nearly year-round, supplemented with regionally grown grain. Using a variety of sustainable agriculture practices permits them to control quality every step of the way as the cows transform grass into milk, and they convert that milk into cheese. They use no herbicides, pesticides or growth hormones on the farm. Sweet Home handcrafts a wide variety of cheeses, all made from fresh cows’ milk, enzymes and salt, and aged for a minimum of 60 days. Farmstead cheese reflects the particular soil, climate and herbage of each season. They celebrate these seasonal variations in the cheese and recognize them as the hallmark of unique regionally-produced food.

http://vimeo.com/5699851  – Video Feature from Oxford American

http://www.southerncheese.com/Pages/sweethome.html

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