Archive for the ‘food’ Category

6 Restaurant Meals in Charleston South Carolina for $137

November 17, 2022

My wife wanted to stay at the Ansonborough Inn in Charleston, South Carolina for her 60th birthday. I granted her wish, though we made reservations too late to make it in time for her actual birthday. Our vacation was a couple weeks later. We researched restaurants in Charleston to prevent getting suckered into an establishment with what I call are kiss-my-ass prices. I feel insulted, if a restaurant charges $38 for a plate of shrimp and grits–a popular dish in the area. Wholesale cost for a bowl of shrimp and grits is about $4. I looked for soul food restaurants, knowing that they wouldn’t charge extravagant prices for good food, and I found Hanibal’s.

My daughter ate ribs, collard greens, and rice. Yum.
My wife ate grilled shrimp, braised cabbage, and candied yams.
I had crab rice. This is a Gullah dish.

The food at Hanibal’s was very delicious and reasonably priced compared to most restaurants in Charleston. I was interested in trying crab rice, a dish of Gullah cuisine. It was good and kind of tasted like a Chinese stir-fry. My daughter couldn’t finish her collard greens, so I helped myself to about half of hers. I love collard greens, especially the pot liquor. My wife’s shrimp were tasty and fresh, and the braised cabbage was sweet. Other interesting dishes at Hanibal’s include the lima bean plate and okra soup. At the Harris Teeter, they sell local specialties, but the okra soup they sell in a jar is not the same as that at Hanibal’s. The Harris Teeter okra soup is more like a tomato soup with okra. Hanibal’s lists smoked turkey neck bones and pig tails as ingredients in their okra soup. I may have to try making that at home. Most of their clientele seems to be regulars who pick up takeout orders, but Hillary Clinton and Danny Glover have enjoyed eating here.

Photos of celebrities who have enjoyed eating at Hanibal’s adorn the walls.

For lunch the following day we ate at Fleet Land Seafood Restaurant and Bar. This restaurant is very popular, and we had to wait awhile to be seated. My wife had a bacon cheeseburger…there is really not much she can eat in restaurants because she can’t eat spicy or smoked food, and rice makes her choke. My daughter had the fried flounder plate. I had a blackened grouper sandwich. My sandwich was good, but I don’t understand why they put cheese on it. On the way home the following day, we stopped at a Hardees in Allendale, South Carolina (mostly because I had to pee really bad, and there was nothing else), and I wanted either a plain hamburger or a plain hot dog. Every burger on the menu had cheese, and the hot dog had chili on it. I got so irritated; I didn’t order anything for myself. I didn’t want to have to ask for a special order for just a plain burger or dog. Jeez. I waited until we got home an hour later and made myself a peanut butter sandwich, saving $9 anyway. Fast food combo meals are $10, and I just can’t get motivated to spend that kind of money on nothing special.

My daughter’s fried flounder plate.
My wife’s bacon cheeseburger.
My grouper sandwich. My side dish was red rice, a famous side dish served in the region. My home-made red rice is much better. I serve it as a main dish with hamburger meat, lots of bacon, and plenty of onion, bell pepper, celery, and hot sauce.
A yacht sailing in the bay behind the Fleet Land Restaurant and Bar.

The Harris Teeter grocery store was right next to the Inn where we stayed–a great convenience. They have an end cap with local specialties including stone ground grits, Carolina gold rice, bags of benne wafers, local honey, Charleston Chew candy, various barbeque sauces, and sunchoke relish. Benne wafers are thin sesame crackers. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $9 on a small bag of crackers. I have made them from scratch at home, and mine are probably better.

We spent most of the morning and afternoon walking alongside the bay at the White Point public park and through their huge flea market that takes up several blocks of downtown. Women love Charleston because there are lots of shops where they can waste money on shit they don’t need. I saw 1 woman shopping who had a lunatic-like grin on her face as if she was in ecstasy. She kind of scared me a little.

That night, we didn’t feel like eating much after our large lunch, so I went walking to pick up a few slices of pizza for supper. Charleston is usually a pretty good town for girl-watching, and while walking down a narrow dark alley, I saw a tall, beautiful woman. When I got close to her, I realized it was a dude dressed like a lady. She/he seemed a little afraid of me, even though she/he was 12 inches taller than me. Maybe, he/she feared transphobic violence. White Point Park reportedly has tried to restrict gay pride marches. When I learned about this, I joked with my wife that it would be funny, if a wore nothing but a jock strap, pretended to be gay, and marched in a gay pride parade. Don’t get the wrong impression. I’m into making love to old fat ladies because that is what I am used to, and I have no desire to step outside my comfort zone.

I prefer nature-oriented vacations, so I didn’t particularly enjoy this one…I was doing it for my wife. Pushing her wheelchair around Charleston for hours was not fun for me. I had to be careful and roll her slowly along the sidewalk and pier because hitting a bump too abruptly could cause her to fall out of her wheelchair. I got to know every fucking crack on every sidewalk in Charleston. Areas of the sidewalks around trees were troublesome. The roots push up the sidewalk, and it was quite an adventure every time I had to navigate one. I did see some nature, however. While driving, I saw a bald eagle for only the 5th time in my life. This was near the Burke County/Screven County line in Georgia. I was hoping to see dolphins in the bay. I didn’t but I did see common loons fishing in Charleston Bay. This was a first for me. Common loons spend summers up north but do migrate to the coast during winter. I’m not usually near the ocean this time of year. I tried to photograph them, but they dove below water level to fish as soon as my camera had one in focus. They spend an amazingly long time fishing underwater without coming up for air, and they don’t spend much time above water when they do take a breath. I also saw a pair of belted kingfishers. I’ve seen them near fresh water, but I didn’t know they spent time near saltwater. And, of course, ring-billed gulls were common. Road killed animals seen while driving from Augusta to Charleston included 8 deer, 3 skunks, 3 opossums, 2 armadillos, 1 raccoon, 1 coyote, 1 bobcat, and 1 vulture. A turkey vulture was scavenging a deer carcass, and a black vulture fed upon the dead raccoon.


Trichinella sp.

April 12, 2022

My late father was a physician fresh out of medical school when he encountered a patient with symptoms that baffled his more experienced colleagues. The patient suffered from fever, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle soreness, headache, stomachache, and eye swelling. None of the older doctors could diagnose his ailment, and the young teenager appeared to be on the verge of death. In desperation they consulted with my father, and he recognized the symptoms of trichinosis, a parasite infection caused by roundworms in the trichinella genus. At first the teenager denied eating undercooked pork, but then he admitted to tasting uncooked pork sausage. He was treated with life-saving anti-parasite medications. The boy’s father happened to be a gangster who worked for the mafia, and after this incident my dad liked to brag the mafia would get him anything he wanted in gratitude. My dad also liked to think his help influenced the boy not to follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead of becoming a gangster, he chose dentistry as his profession.

Lifecycle of a trichinella round worm parasite. Image from the CDC.
Image of trichinella cysts in human muscle tissue. From a medical encyclopedia.

Carnivores, humans, pigs, and rodents spread trichinella worms when they consume meat infested with roundworm cysts. Digestive juices in the small intestine activate the cysts, freeing the roundworms from encasement within the cyst. The parasites pierce the lining of the small intestine and enter the blood stream where they burrow into muscles, mate, and lay eggs that become cysts, waiting to get eaten. How sick an animal gets depends on how many cysts are ingested and how strong the animal’s immune system is. An ingestion of highly infested meat can be fatal because the trichinella worms will also burrow into heart, lungs, brain, and eye tissues. Doctors diagnose trichinosis by taking a muscle biopsy and exposing it to digestive juices. If roundworms are activated, the patient is considered to have trichinosis. Patients are treated with anti-parasite medications including mehendozole or albendozole.

Trichinella is supposedly absent from pork raised in the U.S. and western Europe because modern pigs are fed a clean grain-based diet and are kept in sanitary cages where they don’t have the opportunity to eat dead rats. This hasn’t always been the case. During the middle of the 20th century, trichinella was widespread among domesticated pigs. One study in 1947 of 5000 people found trichinella roundworms in 16.1% of the population. The infestation rate was particularly high in New York City during the 1930s because New Jersey pigs were fed restaurant garbage with trichinella-infested meat and rats. An average of 400 cases of trichinosis were diagnosed every year during the middle of the 20th century, and this figure is likely an undercount because trichinosis symptoms mimic flu symptoms. Many people with trichinosis probably thought they had the flu. As late as the 1960s, 2.2% of Americans had trichinella parasites in their bodies.

New cases of trichinosis in the U.S. average about 20 a year now, and these are from hunters who consume undercooked wild boar or bear. The CDC recommends cooking meat to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F to kill trichinella, though other sources say temperatures as low as 120 degrees F are adequate. Freezing meat at 5 degrees F for 10 days will kill Trichinella spiralis, but freezing does not kill other species of trichinella, and these species are more likely to be found in wild game.

I ate wild boar last week. Sprouts Market sells Durham Ranch products, and this company sources wild boar from Texas. I made wild boar papardelle–a dish reportedly popular in the Tuscan region of Italy. To make wild boar papardelle, marinate 1 lb of ground or finely chopped wild boar in 1 cup of Burgundy and 1 TBL of rosemary overnight. Put a carrot, onion, and chopped garlic in a food processor and grind them up. Remove the meat from the marinade and brown it in an electric skillet, while sautéing the chopped vegetables. Mix the vegetables with the meat and add the marinade and a 6 ounce can of tomato paste. Let this simmer, then add cooked egg noodles. In Tuscany parmesan cheese is not added, but my wife and daughter wanted it on their servings. The meat tastes of wine and tomato paste, and any meat would probably taste the same with this recipe.

Wild boar should be cooked thoroughly. Unlike pigs raised in modern sanitary conditions, wild boar can ingest trichinella parasites.
Wild boar papardelle is reportedly a popular dish in the Tuscany region of Italy. It’s easy to make.

My Latest Trip to the Asian Food Store

November 19, 2021

I shop at an Asian grocery store twice a year. I am knowledgeable about food, but I can always find items that are unfamiliar to me at this store. Canned eel, jarred snake fish, stinky durian fruit, dried lotus seeds, seaweed salad, cucumber kimchi, and preserved duck eggs are some of the unusual items they carry. I was somewhat less adventurous last week. Below are some of the items I purchased.

Dried shitake mushrooms, mung beans for sprouts, chicory coffee, Thai bananas, white sweet potatoes, cherimoya, almond cookies, and 3 kinds of noodles. Not pictured are bok choy and Japanese persimmons.
A 7.3 pound duckling with the head and feet attached. This bird yielded a quart of cooking fat.
Spring rolls.

Here are a few recipes using items I purchased last week.

Leftover Roast Pork and Bok Choy Lo Mein

I forgot to take a photo of the bok choy, but Asian food stores almost always carry the highest quality bok choy a shopper can find. Dice up the meat from a leftover seasoned pork tenderloin (many grocery stores sell pre-seasoned pork loins). Sprinkle some soy sauce on the meat and brown in hot fat (I prefer bacon grease). Remove the meat and set aside. Sautee the chopped bok choy for a few minutes in the grease. Next add cooked seasoned noodles and the meat. Stir and serve.

Roast Duckling

Cut off the head and feet and feed them to your cat or dog. Remove the giblets and save for another dish. Liberally season the duckling with garlic salt. Poke holes in the skin and fat. Put the duckling on a rack and roast at 350 degrees for about 2 hours. (Oven temperatures vary so you might want to cook it for a shorter or longer time.) The duckling I bought was exceptionally large. Most of them weigh about 5 pounds. I was hoping I’d get more dark meat, but the extra weight was all fat. It yielded a quart of excellent cooking fat. I love duck. Eating duck is like eating a bacon cheeseburger. The crispy skin is like bacon, the layer of fat is like cheese, and the dark meat is like a juicy hamburger.

Home Fries Cooked in Duck Fat

Peel the potatoes and slice the potatoes into oval-shaped pieces. Melt some duck fat in an iron skillet. Place the potatoes in the hot grease, season with salt and pepper, and cover for 10 minutes. Uncover, turn the potatoes over and re-cover for 5 minutes. Take the cover off for 5 more minutes, and they will be cooked perfectly.

Leftover Duck and Hard Boiled Egg Gumbo

Remove the meat, skin, and fat from a leftover duck carcass. Set this aside. Put the duck bones in a crockpot with an onion and bay leaf and cover with 6 cups of water. Cook on low for at least 4 hours.

Make a roux with 4 tablespoons of melted duck fat and 4 tablespoons of flour. Stir until the roux is a dark brown. Dice 2 onions and 1 stalk of celery and add that to the roux. Season with an heaping teaspoon of Tony Cachere’s Cajun seasoning mix (or salt, cayenne, black pepper, and chili powder) and 1 teaspoon of paprika and stir. Sautee until the vegetables are soft. Add the 6 cups of duck stock made with the duck bones. Add 1 cup of cooked brown rice. I usually don’t add rice directly into my gumbos because it dilutes the flavor, but duck is rich and the rice reduces the greasiness of this particular gumbo. The rice will kind of disintegrate. Simmer for 2 hours. Just before serving add the reserved meat to the gumbo to heat through. To serve, put an hard-boiled egg sliced in half into a bowl and ladle the gumbo over it. Top with finely chopped green onion and parsley.

Recent Experiments in the Kitchen–Custard Pie and Making a Black Roux

May 28, 2021

I had extra milk the other day, and I decided to make a custard pie. I searched the internet to find a recipe. The top 2 results used the same recipe that called for 2 and 1/2 cups of milk. I am an experienced cook, so I should have known better, but a 9 inch pie pan will not hold that much liquid, let alone the 4 eggs and sugar. The filling spilled over the top, and I felt annoyed. I cleaned up the mess and put the pie with the remainder of the filling in the oven. Again, I should have known better, but I followed the recipe instructions and blitzed the pie at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. The result was edible but not up to my usual standards. I remembered a reliable, oft-used buttermilk pie recipe, and a few days later tried again, substituting milk for buttermilk, and the result was much better. Buttermilk pie is a type of custard pie as are pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, and pecan pie; any pie using eggs is a custard pie. The following recipe for custard pie is better than the top recipes found in a google search. I think they are written by people who don’t really even cook.

First, make a pat-in-the-pan pie crust from scratch. The leading recipes claim store bought pie crust is adequate, but it is not. Take 1 cup of cake flour and 1/3rd cup of bread flour and mix with a pinch of salt, 1/3rd a cup of vegetable oil, and a little cold water to make a pie dough. Put the dough into a 9 inch pie pan and pat it into a crust.

Next, make the filling. Mix 1 melted stick of butter with 1 cup of sugar, 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of flour, and cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Put the filling in the pie crust and bake gently in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour. The spices float to the top. The top recipes call for pre-baking the pie crust, but this is an unnecessary step. The premise for this step is the prevention of a soggy crust. What nonsense? Pour water on a baked crust and an unbaked pie crust and both will get soggy.

My custard pie made the right way, not the way the leading search results on google suggest.

The standard custard pie will never replace a family favorite of ours–the Cajun tart ala bouillie. This custard pie has a sweetened cookie dough crust and is best served warm.

For the crust mix 3/4 cup of lard or Crisco, 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of buttermilk, 3 and 1/2 cups of cake flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and nutmeg. This batter will by very sticky, and it is messy to work with. Line a pie pan with about half of this mixture.

Next, make the filling. Scald 2 cups of milk while mixing 2/3rds cup of sugar, 6 tablespoons of flour, 2 eggs, and 2 cups of milk. Slowly pour this mixture into the scalding milk. It’s best to temper this mixture by adding some of the scalded milk to it before pouring it into the scalding milk. This prevents the eggs from scrambling. When the custard is thick add 2 teaspoons of vanilla to it and put it into the pie crust. Top the pie with the rest of the crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Tarte ala bouille. Made with a sweetened cookie dough crust, this is much better than a traditional custard pie.

I was reviewing my copy of the late Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen recently and came across something I hadn’t noticed before. There are photos of different roux stages in this book, and I had never paid attention to the picture of the black stage of a roux. Moreover, I was a little surprised to learn Prudhomme considered this the best stage of roux to make a proper gumbo. He believed a light brown roux was right for dark meats, a dark brown roux was right for white meats, , but a good gumbo required a black roux. Well, the weather is currently too warm for gumbo. Instead, I decided to experiment with making a black roux to flavor the gravy for shrimp and grits.

I melted 1/2 cup of lard over very high heat and added half a cup of flour. I stirred constantly until the roux almost turned black. (I lost my nerve at the last minute.) I believe the result bordered between a dark brown roux and a black roux. I added 2 finely chopped onions to the roux and turned the heat down. I sauteed the onions until they were tender, then added 1 pound of shrimp. I seasoned the shrimp with salt and would have added red and black pepper, but my wife can’t eat spicy food. When the shrimp turned pink I added 2 cups of chicken broth and cooked until it came to a boil. Flour loses its thickening power the darker a roux gets.

I liked the flavor. It was slightly bitter, but a pleasant bitter, like coffee, chocolate, or beer. I don’t think I burned it. However, in the future, I’m going to stick with a dark brown roux for my gumbos. I feel more comfortable with them.

Shrimp and grits. The gravy was made with an (almost) black roux.

A Bowl of Red

December 19, 2020

The forerunner of modern chili has ancient origins, perhaps dating to the Pleistocene.  For thousands of years nomadic people dried meat into jerky to preserve it and often pounded it into power and stuffed it into animal skins, so they could easily carry it.  When it was time to eat, they reconstituted the powder in water and cooked it.  The stew would swell in size and provide a filling meal.  Some nomads added onion and garlic to make it taste better and to retard bacterial contamination.  Dried berries were also added for flavor and nutrition, and when freshly rendered fat was mixed with it, it became pemmican–an energy rich creation of Native-Americans.  Nomads traveling through southwestern North America discovered the small berries of wild pepper plants that grew throughout the region and started mixing them with their meat powders.  Eventually, some Native-Americans became sedentary and cultivated peppers, resulting in many different varieties that varied in flavor.  Present day Mexican cuisine includes hundreds of dishes that mix chilies with meat, but modern day chili, as people in the U.S. know it, is not a Mexican dish.  In fact a Mexican dictionary defines chili as, “a disgusting dish falsely claimed to be Mexican.”

The modern day version of chili probably originated in San Antonio, Texas shortly after the U.S. defeated Mexico in 1848.  American soldiers stationed at the Presidio, a fort located in San Antonio, ate food prepared by Mexican women who were paid to do their laundry.  The big iron cauldrons where they washed clothes doubled as cooking vessels for large portions of meat seasoned with chili peppers, onions, garlic, and cumin.  Tough cuts of meat from locally abundant longhorn cattle, small deer, and even wandering goats were stewed in the cauldrons until tender.  The cumin originated from Spanish settlers who came to Mexico from the Canary Islands.  The Mexican “chili queens” also sold tamales, tortillas, and beans to the soldiers.  De-commissioned soldiers graduated to become cowboys, and they brought the dish north on their cattle drives.  From the stockyards of Chicago the dish eventually spread through the Midwest, becoming a cheap depression-era favorite.  The cowboy cooks spit-roasted the finer cuts of beef, but used the poorer quality cuts and trimmings in their chili.  Canned tomatoes became readily available during the late 19th century, and cowboys didn’t really know what to do with it (some thought it was a dessert), but the cooks started adding it to their chili.  Beans were added to stretch out chili, if meat was scarce.  75% of Texans think tomatoes do not belong in chili, but I disagree.  I think chili without tomatoes tastes awful, but the acidity of the tomatoes brings out the flavor of the chili powder and elevates it to my favorite dish.  Some chili-heads think beans don’t belong in chili either, but I like beans in my chili.  However, I do think beans should not be cooked with the chili or the starch that cooks out will dilute the flavor.

Here is how I like to make my favorite dish after 38 years of practice.  The earliest chili recipes call for great quantities of suet, so the meat wouldn’t stick to the the bottom of the iron pot after hours of cooking.  This is unnecessary in modern kitchens.  I prefer my chili very lean.  Most original recipes also call for a slurry of corn flour and water to be mixed in for thickening.  Again this is unnecessary, if enough meat is used.

Brown 2 pounds of lean ground beef, bison, or venison in a dry pan under high heat.  I prefer a chunky chili grind or if I’m not feeling lazy, I will dice a sirloin tip or round steak into small pieces.  A regular grind is ok, however. After the meat is no longer pink season it with 4 tablespoons of pure New Mexican chili powder, 1 dried chipotle pepper cut in half, 2 teaspoons of cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 chopped onion, 4 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of Mexican oregano, and 1 bay leaf.  Mix the spices with the meat while it continues to brown for about 5-10 minutes.  This toasts the spices and brings them to life.  Put the meat and spices into a pot and add a 28 ounce can of Hunt’s crushed tomatoes.  Stir and simmer for 2 hours.  Shortly before serving add a drained can of dark red kidney beans.  Stir and heat through.  Pinto beans, black beans, and even roasted peanuts can be substituted for kidney beans.

My chili the way I like to make it.  If you prefer it soupier, add beef broth.

Mexican oregano is in the verbena family but tastes like mint.  Mediterranean oregano is in the mint family but tastes nothing like mint.  If you can’t find Mexican oregano substitute mint, but don’t use Mediterranean oregano.  


Bridges, Bill

The Great Chili Book

Lyons and Buford Publishing 1981


How to Make Dirty Rice and Jambalaya

November 14, 2020

Dirty rice probably originated as a creation of slave cuisine long before the onset of the Civil War. Slave-owners gave the poorer quality cuts of meat, even pig intestines, ears, and feet, to their involuntary servants. Slaves learned how to make these discarded animal parts taste good, and today these old treats are a component of Soul Food. In Louisiana rice was plentiful and slaves combined chicken offal with their rice ration into a popular dish most call dirty rice because the browned bits of meat give the rice a dirty appearance. Cajuns, also often living in poverty, adopted this economical dish, and now it is a famous part of Cajun cuisine.

I’ve studied many recipes for dirty rice, and they vary quite a bit.  Some call for 4 stalks of celery; others use no celery at all.  Justin Wilson, the late television chef, included canned cream of mushroom soup in his version.  His dirty rice is about the only recipe in his first book that doesn’t use cayenne pepper, but dirty rice definitely needs heat from cayenne.  Another late Cajun chef, Paul Prudhomme, wrote 2 recipes for dirty rice in his Louisiana Kitchen cookbook, including a seafood dirty rice, but in the Prudhomme Family Cookbook a recipe for dirty rice is not listed, though a recipe called “greasy rice” with hamburger and bacon basically is dirty rice.  The following recipe is my version of dirty rice, and I think it represents the best elements of the herb-flavored, starchy, meaty dish.

Cook 1 and 1/2 cups of rice in 3 cups of water with plenty of butter and salt.  While the rice is cooking brown 1 pound of Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage with 1 pound of ground chicken livers in a dry skillet under high heat.  Feel free to substitute any kind of ground meat, if you don’t like liver.  Use a spatula to break apart the meat. When the meat is no longer pink, smother it with 1 bunch of chopped green onions, 1 bunch of chopped parsley, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped bell pepper, and 1 chopped stalk of celery.  Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.  Cover and cook until the herbs and vegetables are soft.  Mix the cooked rice with the meat and vegetables and let this sit together for 30 minutes with the skillet left on warm.  Dirty rice can be served as a main dish or a side and can be stuffed into poultry or bell peppers.  Boudin is a sausage made with a filling similar to dirty rice, though ground pork and pork livers are usually used.  Ground gizzards are also commonly used in dirty rice, but I think they are chewy and tough.  To make gizzards taste delicious, roll them in seasoned flour, brown them, smother them in onions, and cook them in a crockpot with a little water for 6 hours.  They will be nice and tender.

My dirty rice.  I left out the bell pepper (always optional in my opinion) and substituted ground turkey for ground chicken livers.  I prefer the latter, but my daughter doesn’t like liver.

One day when my daughter was about 6 years old she asked what was for supper.  I told her dirty rice.  She said, “I don’t want dirty rice.  I want clean rice.”  Then she didn’t like it because she didn’t care for the taste of liver.  Ever since, I’ve substituted ground turkey, called it Cajun clean rice, and she likes it just fine.

Dirty rice comes under the category of rice dressing when cooked rice is mixed with other cooked ingredients.  Jambalaya is different.  Jambalaya is like a dry soup when raw rice is cooked with other ingredients, and the rice absorbs the flavor of the items it’s cooked with.  Jambalaya originated in southern France and northern Spain  and is very similar to a Spanish paella.  There are a great variety of jambalayas.  I make chicken and sausage jambalaya most often, and this is how I make it.

Dice 1 pound of boneless chicken thighs and roll the pieces in flour seasoned with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Brown the pieces in a little oil and set aside.  Chop 2 onions, 1 bell pepper, and 1 stalk of celery and sautee them in the grease the chicken was browned in.  Add 1 and 1/2 cups of raw rice and 2 crushed cloves of garlic to the vegetables and brown the rice. Season to taste with salt, red and black peppers, and thyme. Add 3 cups of chicken broth, stir the pan, scraping up the browned bits, and pour all of this in a casserole dish.  Add the chicken and 1 pound of smoked sausage such as andoullie or kielbasa cut into pieces.  Pour all this into a casserole dish.  Stir it so the rice is covered with liquid and the meats are evenly distributed.  Cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour.  I made this 2 weeks ago but didn’t think to take a photo of it.

I make many other types of jambalaya.  Just plain chicken jambalaya is the easiest.  Season and brown 6 chicken thighs and place them on top of the rice, vegetables, and chicken broth in a casserole dish and bake.  Double sausage jambalaya uses 2 pounds of 2 different kinds of sausage instead of chicken and sausage.  Triple sausage jambalaya uses 2 pounds of 3 different kinds of sausage instead of chicken and sausage.  Shrimp and sausage jambalaya is not hard to make either.  The shrimp doesn’t need to be browned ahead of time, and I like to add tomato paste to it, but don’t worry about overcooking the shrimp.  I’ve found that baking them with rice for an hour does not overcook them, though many chefs claim it does.  Jambalaya is a great way to jazz up leftovers.  Turkey, ham, and mushroom jambalaya can be made from holiday leftovers using broth made from the turkey carcass.  Leftover pot roast can be converted into beef and cabbage jambalaya. (I like tomatoes in this 1 too.)  And leftover leg of lamb can be turned into lamb and raisin jambalaya.

How to Cook Farm-Raised Quail

September 14, 2020

When I moved to Georgia during 1976 there was a beautiful old field between my neighborhood and a fishing pond.  We lived in the Cedar Creek subdivision located in Athens, Georgia, and I don’t know who owned the land with the pond we often trespassed upon.  Sadly, that land has been transmogrified into a shopping center parking lot.  Clarke County should have purchased the land and made it a park.  Back then, it was hilly and covered in tall yellow grass and within sight of a bottomland forest that grew alongside a chain of beaver ponds.  The outlet of the pond was a small waterfall that led to pools where large catfish often became trapped.  Crayfish and claw-less freshwater shrimp abounded in the creek, and signs of raccoons-their hand-like paw prints and discarded crayfish shells–could be seen all along the sandy creek side.  An otter slide led to part of the stream.  Deer darted into plum thickets.  One side of the 4 acre pond was bounded by a thick growth of alder; centuries old oaks shaded the other side where we usually fished.  Every Saturday morning while my friend and I headed toward the pond for another fishing adventure, we were frequently startled by the sudden drum-like explosion of a quail covey.  They could have stayed hidden in the tall grass and we would have never known they were there, but apparently we crossed a danger zone for them.  The explosive sound of a quail covey launch probably scares predators too.

Bobwhite Quail Covey by Lynn Bogue Hunt | eBay

Covey of Quail.

Populations of northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) currently are in decline, and I have not heard its 2 note call in several years.  Quail prefer old fields, grasslands, and open pine savannahs–habitats that have been replaced by 2nd growth forests, pine tree farms, subdivisions, and urban sprawl.  Bobwhite quail survived population declines during Ice Ages.  A study of bobwhite quail genetics determined their populations declined during the Last Glacial Maximum about 20,000 years ago but stabilized at the end of the Ice Age ~10,000 years ago.  Subfossil remains of bobwhite quail dating to the late Pleistocene have been excavated from 8 sites in Florida, 3 sites in Virginia, and 1 each in Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.  Quail remains along with those of ruffed grouse were the most common bird bones found in Kingston Saltpeter Cave in Bartow County, Georgia, dating to ~13,000 years BP.  Predators such as owls and hawks likely carried them into the cave.

Bobwhite quail belong to the New World quail family (Odontopharidae) group that is related to Old World partridges.  There are 32 species of quail in the Odontopharidae family, but the northern bobwhite quail is the only species native to eastern North America because this region has more continuous homogenous habitats.  They are a sister species to members of the quail family in the Callipepla genus which includes California, scaled, and Gamble’s quails.  Most other species in the Odontopharidae family are found in Mexico and South America.  The family likely originated there.

Meadows Quail Farm, Georgia Giant Bobwhite Hatching Eggs for sale

Photo of the inside of a quail farm in Georgia.  Nestlings like heat.

Kroger’s Supermarket sells a box of 4 dressed quail for $6.49.  Most other stores, if they have it at all, are double the price. These quail come from a farm in Greensboro, Georgia about a 90 minute drive from my house.

The best way to cook quail is to broil or grill them.  Unfortunately, most restaurants deep fry them–a culinary crime.

Farm-raised quail is readily available in supermarkets, and they are easy to prepare.  The best way to cook them is to sprinkle them with lemon juice, salt, and pepper; then stick them under a broiler for 15-20 minutes.  They can also be grilled.  Marinate them in your favorite marinade, and charcoal grill them for about 5 minutes per side.   (Wild quail may require a different cooking method.  I never cooked wild quail.)  Quail tastes a little better than chicken, but they don’t have much meat.  At least 2 birds per person should be served.  Deep-frying quail is a travesty, and they should never be cooked that way.  The breading covers up the delicate taste of the meat.


Halley, S. ; et. al.

“A Draft De Novo Genome Assembly for the Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) Reveals Evidence for Rapid Declines in Effective Population Size Beginning in the Late Pleistocene”

Plos One March 2014

Tuna- The Superfish

June 24, 2020

Most people think of tuna as just some fish in a can that is an ingredient in tuna salad.  They don’t appreciate what a spectacular animal it is.  Biology books state that fish are cold-blooded, but tuna are an exception to this rule.  Tuna are actually a warm-blooded fish, and this physiology enables them to swim at ultra high speeds of up to 47 mph.  That is faster than most boats.  However, their warm-blooded physiology has a greater temperature range than those of mammals and birds.  Their blood temperatures do vary, while mammal and bird temperatures generally stay constant, unless they are sick.  The video below shows off the impressive speed of this animal.  They swim with dolphins for protection against sharks, explaining why dolphins can get caught in nets intended for tuna.


Tuna are large predatory fish that can swim up to 47 mph.

There are 15 species of tuna within 5 genera including the Allothonnus (thunder tunas), the Auxil (frigate tunas), Euthynnus (little tunas), Katsunnus (skipjacks), and Thunnus (true tunas).  Bonitos are considered a sister species to the tunas, and both are part of the mackerel sub-group.  4 species of tuna overwhelmingly make up the tuna found in supermarket cans and at fish markets and sushi restaurants.  These include bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack, and albacore.

Tuna did not become a popular food fish until well into the 20th century, but now every grocery store in the U.S. stocks tuna.  It doesn’t seem likely to me that this can go on forever.  Eventually, wild tuna populations will become too depleted to support this fishery.  The future of tuna remaining a staple in our diet is aquaculture, but tuna fish farming is in its infancy.  Some Japanese have had experimental tuna fish farms for decades, but the 1st tuna farm in America just opened business last year in San Diego.  Tuna fish farming, unlike tilapia, catfish, and salmon aquaculture, has a long way to go.

There is evidence from Indonesia that humans caught tuna as early as 42,000 years ago. (See: ) It’s surprising some primitive people had deep sea fishing technology that early, though tuna swam closer to shore during the Pleistocene because land extended over the continental shelf and deep waters were located closer to the coast then.

Albacore - Wikipedia

The most common species of tuna found in a can–albacore.

Giant Bluefin Tuna Sells for $3.1 Million in Tokyo | Fortune

500 pound tuna are worth over 3 million dollars to sushi chefs.

1 of my favorite summer dishes is tuna noodle salad and it is very easy to make. Mix a 12 oz package of tuna with the juice of a lemon.  Add a 16 oz box of cooked macaroni, mayo to taste, a can of peas, chopped celery, chopped Vidalia onion, and couple of chopped hard boiled eggs. Stir it up and serve it warm or cold from the refrigerator.

This is my tuna noodle salad.  It’s great warm or straight out of the refrigerator on a hot summer’s day.

Thanksgiving Special: Eating Rabbits and Pigeons

November 23, 2019

The expansion of temperate climate environments following the end of the Ice Age led to the extinction of many species of megafauna because it resulted in an increase in the population of humans.  Oak woodlands and forests provided acorns, nuts, and fruits that could sustain humans when they overhunted and extirpated big game within their range.  Most predators are not common enough to consume all of their prey…otherwise they would starve and become extinct.  But humans are so adaptable, they can survive on other sources of food.  Wiping out megafauna had no impact on human populations because they could switch to hunting smaller animals and also rely on plant foods for survival.  Resource rich environments meant more humans which in turn meant more hunting pressure on large, slow reproducing species such as mammoths, mastodons, and ground sloths.  Fish and small rapidly reproducing species such as rabbits, squirrels, and pigeons easily replaced the sources of protein lost when larger animals became scarce or extinct.

I visited a Vietnamese grocery store recently and found some items that were commonly eaten in the U.S. until the 1940s when American diets became more homogenized with the rise of mechanized farming and chain supermarkets.  Today’s grocery store meat departments sell beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and occasionally lamb; but rarely any other kind of meat.  Modern kids grow up on a diet of hamburgers and chicken nuggets.  I get bored with this monotonous fare.  So when I saw pigeon and rabbit at the Vietnamese store I snatched them up.

A baby pigeon, also known as squab.  They are expensive.

Broiled pigeon is delicious comparable to duck.

The pigeon came uneviscerated. I was afraid this would be a problem, but I learned eviscerating poultry is even easier than cleaning a fish.  Simply chop off the head and cut a slit near the bird’s anus.  Pull the front and the back apart until the keel bone breaks.  Then just pull the intestines and organs out.  I fed the intestines and gizzard to the cats, and they enjoyed eating them.  I ate the heart and the liver myself.  I decided to cook the pigeon just like I prepare quail.  I seasoned it with lemon juice, salt, and black pepper; and stuck it under a 375 degree broiler for 20 minutes.  Pigeon meat is very good.  It is a rich, dark meat, similar to duck, and it also has crispy skin and delicious fat.  Pigeons are built for endurance flying, and they have an high amount of hemoglobin, explaining why the meat is so dark.  The juice that came out when I was pulling the bird apart and eating it was black.  The main drawback to eating pigeon is the small birds just don’t have a lot of meat on them.

Pot-roasted rabbit.

Rabbit meat is just the opposite of pigeon meat.  Pigeon muscles are almost entirely slow-twitch, and therefore dark.  Rabbit muscles are fast-twitch and built for speed, not endurance.  Rabbit meat is all white and has very little fat.  I’ve made rabbit 6 or 7 times, so I’m more familiar with it.  It is good stewing meat.  Most people fry rabbit meat, and it is ok that way, but it is rather dry because it is so lean.  I chose to pot roast the rabbit, using a recipe I often use for a beef roast.  I put the whole rabbit in a casserole dish, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and smothered it with ketchup, celery and onion.  I poured a bottle of good beer in the casserole dish, and baked it, covered, in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours, until the meat was falling off the bone.


Peanut Soup

November 2, 2019

The modern peanut (Arachis hypogaea) originated in the region encompassing northwestern Argentina and southeastern Bolivia.  Peanuts are a sun-loving legume that thrives on the open grassy pampas and in fire adapted woodlands. Remains of peanuts were excavated from an archaeological site dated to 7600 years BP, and it seems likely humans were eating wild peanuts thousands of years earlier than this date.  The modern peanut is an hybrid species resulting from a cross between 2 species of peanut still found in the wild–A. duranensis and A. iapensis.  Cultivation of the peanut spread rapidly across South America, and during European colonization it was introduced to Africa where it mostly replaced the native goober nut (a distant relative) in popularity.   There are 5 groups of peanut cultivars including thousands of varieties.  Cultivars include Spanish, Virginia, runner, Valencia, and Tennessee red and white.  Oily Spanish peanuts are my favorite snack.  In addition to human consumption peanuts are used as animal feed and in hundreds of various industrial products.  Surprisingly, the U.S. ranks 4th in worldwide production behind China, India and Nigeria.  Sudan, a desert nation, almost grows as many peanuts as the U.S.

The peanut is not actually a nut, but instead is a legume related to beans and peas.  I grew peanuts in my garden 1 summer.  The plant flowers on a stem.  Following pollination, the stem grows into the ground, and the peanut shell forms at the end of the stem underground.  They are easy to grow in climates with long summers, and they don’t require much fertilization.

During Colonial times peanuts were mostly used as animal feed, but Inns did serve peanut soup.  I went through 3 pages of peanut soup recipes on a google search and discovered that none of them were the original peanut soup recipe served in Colonial era Inns.  The following is the correct recipe for peanut soup.  All other recipes on the internet are wrong, unless they follow this recipe.

Peanut soup made the way it is supposed to be made.

Fry 6 strips of bacon.  Cut up 4 stalks of celery and 1 onion.  Remove the bacon from the pan and add the celery and onion to the bacon grease.  (Celery really pairs well with peanut butter.  The crisp texture of the celery contrasts with the creamy fat of the peanut butter.)  Sautee the vegetables until just tender and add 1/3rd cup of flour.  Add the vegetables and flour to a quart of low sodium chicken broth along with a cup of peanut butter and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Stir and heat until the peanut butter is mixed well with the chicken broth and there are no lumps.  Serve with crumbled bacon and/or chopped peanuts on top.

This recipe must include celery and bacon.

Jiff is by far the best brand of peanut butter on the market.

The original recipe includes 2 cups of milk with 3 cups of chicken broth instead of just a quart of chicken broth.  I never add milk to mine.

The original recipe also uses white pepper.  I prefer cayenne.  I never use white pepper because it literally smells like crap.


Tullie’s Receipts

The Kitchen Guild of the Atlanta Historical Society

Atlanta Historical Society 1976