Archive | 11:38 pm

New Book on Oysters from Robb Walsh

11 Feb


When award-winning Texas food writer Robb Walsh discovers that the local Galveston Bay oysters are being passed off as Blue Points and Chincoteagues in other parts of the country, he decides to look into the matter. Thus begins a five-year journey into the culture of one of the world’s oldest delicacies.

Walsh’s through-the-looking-glass adventure takes him from oyster reefs to oyster bars and from corporate boardrooms to hotel bedrooms in a quest for the truth about the world’s most profitable aphrodisiac.

On the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Gulf coasts of the U.S., as well as the Canadian Maritimes, Ireland, England, and France, the author ingests thousands of oysters—raw, roasted, barbecued, and baked—all for the sake of making a fair comparison. He also carefully considers the merits of a wide variety of accompanying libations, including tart white wines in Paris, Guinness in Galway, martinis in London, microbrews in the Pacific Northwest, and tequila in Texas.

Along the way, he learns how to shuck, cook, and identify all five oyster species. And he manages to glean enough information from each region’s scientists to debunk the myths and marketing malarkey dispensed as gospel in provincial oyster bars.

SEX, DEATH & OYSTERS (Counterpoint; Hardcover; February 12, 2009; 240 pages; $25.00; 978-1-58243-457-5) is a record of a gastronomic adventure—a fascinating collection of the most exciting, instructive, poignant, and just plain weird experiences on a five-year journey into the world of the most beloved and most feared of all seafoods.

About the Author:

Robb Walsh is a food writer and restaurant critic. Winner of the James Beard Award, he is the author of several books, including The Texas Cowboy Cookbook and Are You Really Going to Eat That? He lives in Houston, Texas.

Black Beans with Kale & Ham

11 Feb


Found this recipe on the Whole Foods site – easy and deee-lish!

Black Beans with Kale & Ham – Serves 6 to 8

This very simple dish provides an inexpensive hearty alternative to simple beans and is great as a main course on a cold night.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (1/2-pound) piece cooked ham, cut into small cubes
2 bunches kale (about 1 pound total), stemmed and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans (no salt added), rinsed & drained, divided
2 cups water
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder, more to taste (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ham to a small bowl; set aside. Add kale, salt and pepper to pot and cook, tossing often, until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pot then add onions. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, put 1/3 of the beans and all of the water into a blender and purée until smooth; set aside.
When onions are golden brown, add whole beans, chili powder, sugar, reserved ham, puréed bean mixture and salt and pepper to pot, stir well and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in reserved kale and serve.

Blueberry Sorghum from Bourbon Barrel Foods

11 Feb


What a wonderful new product from Chef Matt Jamie and his crew at Bourbon Barrel Foods of Louisville, Kentucky. I whipped up some Mary B’s frozen biscuits for lunch today and slathered them down with some real butter and a healthy splash of this blueberry sorghum. Incredibly delicious! The blueberry taste comes thru loud and clear, yet the sweet sorghum flavor is not lost in the process.

They sent us a whole mess of bourbon-related products to try,  so be looking for more praise about Bourbon Barrel Foods in the coming days. In the meantime, learn a little bit more about them by digesting the blurb below.

Bourbon Barrel Foods is a maker of gourmet food products that reflect the rich heritage of Kentucky’s Bourbon Country, “The Napa Valley of the Bluegrass”.  Our philosophy is to make quality gourmet sauces and seasonings by adhering to a 3 word philosophy: slow, small, simple.  From the farmer in southern Kentucky that grows the soybeans for our naturally fermented, small batch soy sauce, to the grower in Eastern Kentucky that harvests the sorghum we use as a sweetener. We have a hands-on approach that requires us to search for the best the state has to offer and develop relationships with the farmers that get great satisfaction seeing their crops grow from the seed to the shelf.”


Bourbon Barrel Foods is located in Louisviille, Kentucky inside historic Butchertown Market (formerly the Louisville Butchers Hide and Tallow Company, home to a consotrium of “boss butchers”, organized in 1873 to maximize profits) where our products are made slowly, in small batches, with simple ingredients.  Our bourbon barrels, in which some of our products are aged, are housed in a 120+ year old rick system that came from the Old Crow Distillery in Woodford County, Kentucky, allowing us to help preserve part of the rich heritage of Kentucky’s Bourbon Country.

Kelloggs vs. Phelps battle heats up

11 Feb


OK — now this is starting to get interesting …

Yes, he smoked it. But Michael Phelps has not gone to pot just yet.

There’s a “Phelps backlash” out there. Fans and sympathizers have issued a cheeky call to boycott Kellogg’s, the cereal and snack megamanufacturer that dropped the Olympic swimmer’s lucrative endorsement contract after his experience with marijuana became public a week ago.

“Kellogg’s has profited for decades on the food tastes of marijuana-using Americans with the munchies. In fact, we believe that most people over the age of 12 would not eat Kellogg’s products were they not wicked high,” reads a multipart petition written by Lee Stranahan, a Los Angeles writer and filmmaker.

Pop-Tarts, Cheez-Its and other junk-food favorites of marijuana users figure prominently in the drive, along with mentions of the “freaky” lifestyle of John Harvey Kellogg, who founded the company in 1906. Mr. Stranahan’s petition was featured Friday at the online Huffington Post and elsewhere.

Kellogg’s said it would not renew a lucrative endorsement contract, which will expire at the end of this month, with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps after a photo was published of the athlete smoking marijuana.

“I was cracking a bunch of jokes about it on Twitter,” he said, referring to the popular Internet social network that showcases instant reports from millions of visitors.

“Then came a serious tipping point. It became evident that more people than not thought that what happened to Michael Phelps was ridiculous. It’s not like he was standing on the street in a Snoop Dogg T-shirt, smoking a joint. His privacy was violated,” Mr. Stranahan said.

“What makes people mad is that Kellogg’s knew he had a driving-under-the-influence charge when he was 19, and yet they still sponsored him.”

The fuss has sparked controversy over Mr. Phelps’ fitness as a role model, the state of marijuana laws, the commercialization of sports figures and the health risks for a swimmer who inhales recreational smoke.

“People who abuse marijuana are at risk of injuring their lungs through exposure to respiratory irritants and carcinogens found in marijuana smoke,” said the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which also noted that users are more susceptible to psychoses, depression, anxiety, chest colds, coughs, bronchitis and spikes in normal heart rate of up to 50 beats per minute.

Kellogg’s, which announced late Thursday that it would not renew Mr. Phelps endorsement contract at the end of the month, has already set up an toll-free line for consumers who want to weigh in on the situtation, pro or con.

He has been formally disciplined as well. USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport, suspended Mr. Phelps from swimming competitively for three months.

Among the sponsors, Kellogg’s stands alone in its harsh judgment so far.

Others commercial backers — including Speedo, Omega and Visa — appear satisfied with Mr. Phelps’ public apology for “regrettable behavior” and “bad judgment,” which was made after a British tabloid published a photo of the record-breaking Olympic athlete smoking marijuana at a college house party in November.

None have canceled their reported million-dollar sponsorships with Mr. Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has 14 Olympic gold medals overall — both records.

“We have spoken with Michael, and he has expressed regret for the situation, has committed to being accountable and improving his judgment in the future,” Visa said. “We intend to support him as he looks to move forward.”

Some athletes also are coming to his defense.

Mark Spitz, who won seven swimming medals in the 1972 Munich Olympics, expressed his sympathy for Mr. Phelps this week to the press, though he prefaced his feelings with the phrase, “as strictly a fan,” and offered no further comment.

“It is obvious that all sportsmen should set an example to youngsters, but Phelps has asked for forgiveness and faced up to things,” Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo said.

Jon Urbanchek, a University of Michigan coach who worked with Mr. Phelps before the 2008 Olympics, said Friday that he had not “lost the support of the Michigan family,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

“He needs guidance,” Mr. Urbanchek said. “Businesses look at him as a commodity. But Michael is more than a commodity to me. He’s a human being and he needs love and affection, and periodically he needs a shoe up his you know what. That’s how kids are.”