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Farmer Nick Usner keeps his hands 'in the dirt'

Photo by Jyl Benson  --  Nick Usner starts the day before dawn harvesting okra grown in his fields at Grow Farm in St. Tammany Parish.

Nick Usner’s father was an organic pig farmer who suffered a fatal heart attack while jogging at age 44 when his son was just 13. Though his time with his son was cut short, the impact of Thomas Usner’s long days “in the dirt” with his son was profound.… Continue reading →

Eat Your Vegetables: Faith fundraiser something to give a fig about

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Stuffing mix adds unique flavor to easy-to-make Scalloped Eggplant.

Martha Simmons and I were both University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana at Lafayette) home economics graduates, and our paths continue to cross when it comes to food. She recently sent me a copy of “Cooking Up a Legacy of Faith” by the St. John’s Rosary Altar Society in Zachary. The Altar Society… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Gluten-free cookbook can serve whole family

Have someone in your family who needs to be on a gluten-free diet — and have young children, too? Then the cookbook for you is “Gluten-Free Family Favorites: The 75 Go-To Recipes You Need to Feed Kids and Adults All Day, Every Day.” The book by Kelli and Peter Bronski features home-style, easy-to-follow recipes that will appeal… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Breakfast casseroles can save the postgame day

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Gourmet Galley, French Toast Casserole

From now until the first of the year, schedules will be more hectic. The excitement of games on Friday and Saturday nights is talked about all week. A big part of the planning must center around company and meals, and the more that can be done ahead, the better. I like the planning and the decorating, but… Continue reading →

Louisiana Craft Brewers Week spotlights home-grown beer businesses

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Brewer Jamie Agness checks the progress of fermentation of a beer sample last year at the Abita Brewing Co. in Abita Springs.

Louisianians not only know how to recognize good beer, they also know how to craft it. During the second annual Louisiana Craft Brewers Week running Monday-Saturday, Sept. 28, the state’s 11 breweries will work with their distributors and retailers to host events, debut specialty beers and allow the public to meet the owners and brewers.… Continue reading →

Cha-cha-cha-chia: More Americans filling up with nutritious seeds

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- A tablespoon of tiny chia sees crams tons of protein, fiber, healthy fats, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and omega fatty acids into a Strawberry-Banana-Chia Breakfast Smoothie.

Pity the chia seed. For so long, this nutritional powerhouse was relegated to late-night television commercials hawking sprouting cat-shaped clay planters. That is, until recently. Americans have suddenly realized chia seeds have a lot to offer a healthy diet. A tablespoon of tiny chia seeds crams in tons of protein, fiber, healthy fats, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Yogurt made at home

Photo by Beth Colvin  --  Make your own Home-style Yogurt in the VitaClay yogurt maker and personal slow cooker.

The yogurt craze has hit the slow cooking market by way of a new product, the VitaClay yogurt maker and personal slow cooker. While I had heard of people using their slow cookers to make yogurt, many of the techniques did not seem food safe. The new slow cooker/yogurt maker seeks to change that with more temperature… Continue reading →

For a good year: Begin the High Holy Days with sweetness of Rosh Hashana dishes

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Carrot Tzimmes, or Honeyed Carrots, are traditional for  Rosh Hashana.

At sundown on Wednesday, Sept. 24, Jews around the world will celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, but not with Champagne and fireworks. It is a time for reflection and prayer. And, of course, food. Rosh Hashana begins the High Holy Days — 10 days of contemplation and repentance that end with Yom Kippur, the… Continue reading →

Bread makes the meal

If you haven’t yet checked out Forte Grove Bakery of Plaquemine, you should. This treasure makes artisanal breads at an affordable price. From French country loaves to challah and brioche, Forte Grove offers a wide range of options for your shopping list. The bakery sells its products each Saturday at the Red Stick Farmers Market in downtown… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Good stuffing: Fill hens or chickens with tasty dressing

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Use the recipe for Stuffed Cornish Hens to make 'chicken packets' with either deboned chicken thighs or half of a Cornish hen.

This recipe for Stuffed Cornish Hens (or Stuffed De-boned Chicken Thighs) is one I adapted from a Cornish hen recipe in “Louisiana Legacy,” published by the Thibodaux Service League, Inc. I think all of us have gone to serving smaller portions then a whole Cornish hen. I split the hens in half. I place one half over… Continue reading →

What’s Happening, Sept. 18, 2014

Advocate Staff Photo by Travis Spradling.  Photo shot on 8-17-07 00008233a EwingFood Instructor Kay Ewing.   Kay Ewing cooking school, and the people in the class, held at The Royal Standard,16016 Perkins Road.

Menchie’s frozen yogurt chain is celebrating its one millionth cup of yogurt sold in Louisiana by offering free frozen yogurt to guests in all Louisiana locations. Get your free 8-ounce cup of yogurt between noon and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21. The millionth cup of yogurt was sold… Continue reading →

Whole grains and honey make for healthy snack cake

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Honey Applesauce Snack Cake With Orange Glaze has loads of fiber, healthy whole grains and a good taste.

My grandma Ursula relied on honey to solve nearly any culinary or health problem. Have a nagging nighttime cough? Swallow a spoonful of honey. Chocolate sauce not smooth enough? A dab of honey will do it. My mom loved honey, too, favoring the creamy spun variety, which she smeared on toasted hunks of white bread… Continue reading →

To get N.O. weekend brunch before football kickoff, it pays to use a different playbook

Photo by Ian McNulty -- Entomadas combine folded tortilla cakes with eggs and steak for hearty morning meal at Panchita's.

In the beginning, there was breakfast. Then breakfast begat brunch. But then brunch went crazy, and getting some poached eggs and Hollandaise for a laid back weekend meal somehow became a half-day affair of crowd control, waiting lists and self-serve Bloody Mary stations. Even with the boom in new breakfast joints around New Orleans, many… Continue reading →

Preparing pregame drinks

Photo provided by Lucid Absinthe  --  Don't forget cocktails like the Bloody Hail Mary when planning a game day get-together.l

With football season underway, it’s time to tailgate. Grab your fan gear and prepare your pregame party supplies. Whether getting together with friends at home to watch the game on television or heading to the stadium, don’t forget about snacks and drinks. For drinks to kick off the game, consider… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Pie disappears from the plate­

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Joanie's Blueberry and Ice Cream Dessert will disappear quickly.

Julie Ourso, who’s with the Baton Rouge Bar Association, will occasionally send me a good recipe she’s tried. Her student worker, Kacy Bringaze, had gone blueberry picking one Sunday, and her grandmother, Joanie Bringaze, made a blueberry and ice cream dessert for Kacy to take to the office on Monday. The rich, but simple little pie/cake… Continue reading →

Eat Your Vegetables: Slaw more than mayo, seasoning

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Slaw Superb combines cabbage with celery, apple, raisins and nuts.

I had a request for a good cabbage slaw besides one made with just mayo and seasoning. I immediately thought of Slaw Superb, which is in “From The Sugar Bowl, A Collection of Cajun Recipes From LA Sugar Families & Their Friends,” published by The American Sugar Cane League. This slaw combines cabbage with celery,… Continue reading →

Tasty pork skewers a tailgating hit

Photo by National Pork Board  --  Offer your tailgate guests a winning taste with Spicy Korean Pork Skewers.

At your next tailgate, tackle a winning taste with portable, bite-sized Korean Pork Skewers. The tasty, on-the-go option is a perfect choice for a tailgating party, whether at the game or at home. Spicy Korean Pork Skewers won’t take a lot of preparation time, and clean-up is easy, too. For the dish, cubes of pork ribs… Continue reading →

Bites of History: Plenty to do with popcorn when the movie is over

Photo by Cynthia L. Nobles  --  Parsley, oregano, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese flavor Italian Herb Popcorn.

Popcorn has one of those enticing smells that makes you drop just about anything you’re doing and rush to the kitchen to be sure you get your share. We never seem to outgrow this infatuation. No matter what kind of newfangled treats entice us at the movies and football games, we still keep reaching for popcorn.… Continue reading →

What’s Happening for Sept. 11, 2014

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Slow Food Baton Rouge volunteer Kyle Hymel, right, empties a wheelbarrow full of soil, as Dufrocq Elementary School students Ryian Bell, 11, left, and Annalese Perrien, 9, spread it out to make a new garden, as part of Slow Food's  farm-to-school program 'Greauxing Healthy Baton Rouge.'

Monjunis Italian Café will host a “Wine Dinner for a Cause” benefiting the Arthritis Association of Louisiana at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Cost for the five-wine, four-course dinner $65 per person, with $10 from each plate going to the Arthritis Association, a news release said.… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Squash pie tastes a bit like pumpkin

Regular shoppers at the Red Stick Farmers Market in downtown Baton Rouge on Saturday mornings probably know Buddy Miller, the farmer who sells pecans and peaches. He and his wife, Carol Lee Miller, owners of Plantation Pecan & Gift Co. in Waterproof, have been longtime vendors at the farmers market and the adjacent Main Street Market.… Continue reading →

Enjoy healthy blueberry muffins all the time

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Hearty Blueberry-Banana Muffins can begin a day with a healthy start.

Ripe, plentiful blueberries are such a highlight of summer that some of us are prone to getting the blueberry blues during the rest of the year. Happily, imported and frozen blueberries make it easy to enjoy them all the time. In fact, if you’re really on your game, you can pick extra now and freeze… Continue reading →

N.O. bartender in ‘Imaginative’ finals

New Orleans mixologist Amber Peterson on Monday will compete for the title of “Nation’s Most Imaginative Bartender” in the United States Bartenders’ Guild’s finals competition sponsored by Bombay Sapphire gin. Peterson, who works at Apolline Restaurant, will be showcasing her “Rose Nylund” recipe made with Bombay Sapphire, Martini Bianco and rose water during the competition in Las… Continue reading →

History in the mix: Every drink has a story, and this bartender tells them all at his monthly classes

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Joey Goar, bartender at The Cove, makes one of five cocktails for members of his monthly cocktail class series featuring cocktails of several historical eras starting with the 1700s.

Baton Rouge bartender Joey Goar enjoys learning about the history of cocktails and thinks others might, too. Consequently, he has begun teaching a series of monthly classes about cocktails at The Cove, where he works. He started the series with the 1700s, the era of the punch, and plans to go through the tiki era. “In… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Mushroom appetizer via Arnaud’s

Mushroom appetizer

During Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, I attended an outstanding cocktail party hosted by Hennessy cognac at Arnaud’s Restaurant. The cocktails by a group of talented mixologists from across the country were innovative and excellent. For example, Christian Sanders, of Evelyn Drinkery in New York City, offered Satchmo’s Tea, which included Earl Grey tea-infused Hennessey… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Fun with rice

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Use converted rice to make slow-cooked Seasoned Rice.

Many readers have asked about rice in the slow cooker. The answer isn’t simple, but the solution lies in the type of rice used. Specifically, converted rice works best. I’ve had regular rice turn gummy or clump while still not tasting cooked. Converted rice is much more suited to the slow-cooking process. The rice cooker is… Continue reading →

Cast Iron Kings crowned at Jambalaya Cook-off

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Ken Holmes, left, watches the steam rise as Robert Berg stirs the pot for

The fifth time was the charm for the Cast Iron Kings, who took the top prize at the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge United Way Jambalaya Cook-off. The four-man team of Randy Tadlock, Trevor Holmes, Mike Galloway and Shane Corban were among 60 teams competing in the 25th annual event on Aug. 22 at the Baton Rouge refinery.… Continue reading →

What’s Happening, Sept. 4, 2014

Favorite Louisiana foods, fish and Cajun comfort foods are among the leisure cooking classes scheduled at Louisiana Culinary Institute, 10550 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge, in September and October. The classes will be taught by chef Colt Patin. Go to… Continue reading →

Turn zucchini abundance into delicious dish

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Cutting a zucchini into frylike sticks then cooking them delivers a signature crunch without the deep-frying.

Those darn zucchini! There’s an army of them occupying your garden right now and each one is as big as a blimp. What if I told you there’s a way to transform the whole lot of them into a delicious dish resembling french fries, but without all the calories? The secret involves cutting your zucchini… Continue reading →

N.O. area waterfront restaurants offer an easy holiday weekend alternative

Advocate photo by Ian McNulty -- Middendorf's Restaurant in Manchac dates to 1934 and is a regional destination for seafood.

Labor Day weekend typically sees an exodus of city dwellers headed to the beach to beat the heat. But even if that type of outing is out of the question for you this year, there might be another answer. A revived restaurant row along the New Orleans lakefront and some old waterfront favorites further afield offer views, cool… Continue reading →