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Alabama’s “Pecans Project” Is Worthy Of Your Support

5 Feb

This unique non-profit program is based in little Greensboro, AL.

Here is a brief history:

Pecans!: born in 2009 from a HEROyouth* marketing assignment, is revered not only for its quality of taste, but for its business model. Pecans! is not only a sustainable small business, but co-serves as a job training opportunity for at-risk HEROyouth to gain valuable food service skills. Utilizing home grown ingredients to forge its pecan butter, sugared pecans and pecan brittle, it is a must taste in the South. To make it even sweeter, all Pecans! profits go to the HEROyouth Scholarship Fund that rewards three (3) scholarships annually to HEROyouth students who are pursuing a post-secondary degree.

*HEROyouth serves 18 at-risk, out-of-school youth annually through  GED courses, job training and career readiness

Great cause, no doubt about it. But are the products any good? We posed this question to the project’s management and they responded by sending us a sampling of their goodies. Pecan Butter, Pecan Brittle, Sugared Pecans. What’s not to like? I had never tried Pecan Butter before … and boy, was  I in for a treat! It’s not exactly creamy like peanut butter. It is drier and more crystalized. The ingredients are simple and natural: Alabama Pecans, honey, cinnamon, and a touch of salt. It comes in an attractive glass jar made by the famed German company Rundrand Glas Weck. It is a keeper, for certain. The pecan butter inside these beauties is very tasty. We enjoyed it immensely. It’s not exactly spreadable, so a quick spin in the microwave helps.  ***The only oils in this product are the natural oils from the pecans.

The project’s pecan brittle is also totally natural: Pecans, sugar, light corn syrup, salt, water, butter and baking soda. And it is just what you would expect it to be — crunchy, crackly and good. My wife loved it and greatly assisted me in quickly emptying the brown paper bag. The sugared pecans, in my opinion, were even better. I’ve had lots of candied pecans before, yet there was something unique about this taste. A gander at the bags ingredients gave me the answer: NUTMEG! What a stroke of genius. Never thought about doing this before. It may seem like a subtle little thing, but the results are life changing. Make sure you order more than one bag. If you don’t, you are truly a NUT! 

http://pecansproject.com

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.

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

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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.

Roadside Mayhaw Jelly in NW FL

5 Jun

I spotted the above signs as we were driving through NW Florida recently. Not the heavily traveled FL panhandle, but the remote, unglamourous part of the “Sunshine State” just before you connect with Interstate 10. Stands like this really don’t exist on the interstates anymore, so I figured this might be my last chance to explore the flavors of Old Florida. It ain’t Stuckey’s or Cracker Barrel, folks — and that is truly a good thing in my book!

Willie Robinson’s Pecan House was furnished with all kinds of edible Southern goodies, yet it was the Mayhaw Jelly and Tupelo Honey that struck my fancy this particular day. Tupelo Honey is pretty hard to find outside of this part of the world and can be rather expensive. Mayhaw Jelly is even more rare … only appearing in roadside stands & country farm markets in the late Spring of each calendar year.  

Mayhaw Jelly is a pricey seasonal treat & worth every penny. It is made from a small, tart wild berry that grows in Dixie swamps. Here’s what the nerds at Wikipedia have to add: 

Mayhaw is the name given to the fruit of the species of Crataegus series Aestivales[1] that are common in wetlands throughout the southern United States. The principal species are C. aestivalis, the eastern Mayhaw, and C. opaca, the western mayhaw.[1]

Mayhaws grow in moist soil in river and creek bottoms under hardwood trees. The fruit ripens in late April through May, thus the name mayhaw. The fruit is also found in bayous surrounding lakes, such as Caddo Lake on the Texas/Louisiana border. Mayhaws are often collected out of the water from boats to be used to make jelly.

Families used to go on outings to collect mayhaws and create stockpiles of the jelly to last throughout the year, but the tradition has declined with the increasing urbanization of the South and the destruction of the mayhaw’s native habitat. The fruit has also been cultivated to grow outside of wetlands and this is increasing the source of the jelly.

Willie Robinson ran this little cottage industry for several decades before passing away a few years back. His brother Arthur (pictured above) picked up the reins in hopes of carrying on the family tradition. Arthur was kickin’ back in a battered recliner, rusty fan going full blast, when I met him on this steamy, hazy May afternoon. He pulled himself out of his “Archie Bunker chair” and slowly walked me through all the merchandise.

Arthur is a very mellow old dude. He paused momentarily to show me a recent newspaper clipping singing the praises of his sweet Tupelo Honey. All the while, I was wondering if I was his first customer of the day — this place was pretty remote and he, it seemed, had all the time in the world.

I wasn’t packing a whole lot of cash and let’s just say Arthur doesn’t accept credit cards. No surprise there, right? However, I did rustle up enough green to score a tall jar of Mayhaw Jelly. We were already packing some fresh Greek bread that we had picked up earlier in Tarpon Springs and I sensed that the Mayhaw preserves would make an excellent foil for the recently baked loaf. I turned out to be right on the money. A clash of cultures, perhaps. But the end result was a true melting pot of pleasing textures and flavors.

We’ll be passing through again in December and I trust our friend Arthur Robinson will still be here – chillin’ in his beat-up easy chair, rusty fan buzzing away, carefully balanced jars of Mayhaw Jelly, pickled Okra, and Tupelo Honey standing at attention, ready for service.

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