Making Strawberries Cake

Strawberries grew wild for centuries and were enjoyed by many Europeans, although much smaller in size than we have now. But they first became cultivated in France in the 1750s (leave it to those French). Like so many other fruits valued originally as medicinal and mentioned in ancient Roman writings, they are depicted in oil paintings during the 15th century by Renaissance artists (a little snacking on the side, perhaps?). Seems they were consumed as a panacea to depression (who can feel blue when you have sweet berries to nosh on?).

Gathered in the woods by early colonists, foodie president Thomas Jefferson experimented with different varieties in his vast gardens as early as 1789, serving them up at grand dinners to the delight of his guests. His frustration was the small size at that time, still a strain of the Alpine variety which he brought home from France. Fortunately, horticulturists and growers continued to work on producing a larger size and of course were eventually successful.

But Americans are not the only country which cherishes this delightful red fruit. They are a tradition at England’s Wimbledon annual tennis tournament, served with cream. In Italy, strawberries are a favorite gelato flavor. The Greeks like to dip them in sugar, then roll them in brandy. Japan still experiments with dozens of varieties, which were originally very expensive and available only for royalty. During the 1930s, their production was increased dramatically, and they now rank as one of the top growers in the world.

Needless to say, America’s love affair with the strawberry is legendary, as we far surpass any other country in production and usage, cranking out 1.5 million tons a year, a third of the entire world’s production. Translating into just over 9 pounds per American in consumption, here’s what tops the U.S. hit parade:

Jam – America’s favorite flavor

Shortcake – with biscuits or sponge cake, topped with whipped cream, a classic

Pie – either fresh (with a sugar glaze) or baked, often with rhubarb

Ice cream – in popular Neapolitan (with chocolate and vanilla) or by itself

Yogurt – fruit on the bottom or blended

Smoothies – blended and flavorful

Pairs well with bananas

Fresh – by themselves, sliced and sugared or as a topping

Chocolate-covered – a candy and fruit in one

Sliced – on breakfast cereal and pancakes

Hardy and easy to grow, the plants also make an attractive ground cover, although local critters like to sneak into backyards and devour the fruit when the coast is clear. They also freeze well and can be enjoyed year-round.

If you are fortunate to live in a region where strawberries are grown, an enjoyable outing is visiting a “pick your own” field, even though it’s tiring under a hot sun and puts a strain on the back, worth doing once (and all you can eat in the process). So make it a point to pick up a quart or two on your next visit to the local supermarket or farmers market. The best ones are fresh, ripe and flavorful.

Tips To Make Great Lime Pie

Key West Florida is famous for two things: the Ernest Hemingway house (with its 6 toed cats) and Key lime pie, named after limes which grow in the Florida keys. A favorite American dessert made with Key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks, the traditional “Conch version” uses the egg whites to make a meringue topping. Key limes are smaller, more tart and aromatic than the common limes we buy year-round in grocery stores and grown abundantly in other regions of Florida and California. Key lime juice, unlike regular lime juice, is pale yellow, which, along with the egg yolks, produces the filling’s pale color.

Appearing in the early 20th century the exact origins are unknown, but the first recorded mention of Key lime pie may have been made by William Curry, a ship salvager and Key West’s first millionaire. Supposedly his cook, “Aunt Sally”, created the pie for him. It seems his crews of sponge fishermen at sea did not have access to ovens but the original version allowed the creamy pie to be prepared without baking. Early writings state that Aunt Sally’s version called for a graham cracker crust and softly whipped cream.

Many cooks and bakers in Florida claim their recipe is the only authentic version. Be that as it may, the filling is rarely disputed: rather, most debates revolve around the crust and topping. Everyone does agree, however, that green food coloring is for amateurs, and a proper version should be pale yellow. Key limes (also called Mexican or West Indian limes) are the most common lime found throughout the world; the U.S. is the exception in preferring the larger Persian lime.

The two contentious versions center around crust and topping. Early pies probably didn’t even have a crust, but now locals vacillate between traditional pie crust and graham cracker. And then there is the topping. The two camps argue meringue vs. whipped cream. (Apparently these folks have a lot of time on their hands.) Contrary to popular belief, what makes the filling creamy is not cream at all but sweetened condensed milk which is thicker than evaporated milk and comes in a can, first introduced by the Borden Dairy company in the late 1800s. It’s possible that if the sponge divers had anything to do with the pie, they indeed had plenty of canned milk, eggs and Key limes on board (and plenty of sponges for clean-up).

In other countries where Key limes grow, they are used more commonly in many dishes and as a popular flavoring. Although grown for centuries in Asian and South America, they didn’t make an appearance in the U.S. until the late 1800s. which means foodie president Thomas Jefferson missed out entirely. (How he would have loved those pies!)

If you visit Key West, pie factories and bakeries abound, and you can literally eat your way from one end to the other, reveling in the different offerings and deciding for yourself which one you like best. There are also shops which sell dozens of products enhanced with Key lime, such as moisturizers, potpourri, candles, soaps, candies and cookies. Unfortunately for much of America, procuring authentic Key limes is not always easy, and using regular limes just won’t do. Oh sure, you can buy bottled juice which the locals would frown on, but for some it’s better than nothing.

Starting in 2013, the annual Key Lime Festival is held over the July 4th weekend as a celebration of their favorite citrus not only as pie but in other foods, drinks, and an important part of their. Clearly these aficionados take their pie very seriously and expect no less from anyone else. And by the way, don’t even think about using frozen topping. The whipped cream police will find you and have you arrested.

Tips To Get Cakes Nearby

Cakes are always present on birthdays for both adults and kids. Thank the Germans for starting the annual celebratory of children’s birthdays with cake which then is called Kinderfest. Although many variations of sweets are eaten around the world for birthdays, candle blowing ritual has unknown exact origin. But theories from Greek origin explains that placing candles on birthday cakes is done to honor the birth of the goddess of the moon, Artemis, on the sixth day of every lunar month (in which the round shape of cakes are based to resemble the moon). This can be linked between her oversight of fertility and the birthday tradition of candles and cakes, however, this has not been established.

But on today’s generation, birthdays aren’t complete without blowing candles on cakes. It has been a tradition in mostly any part of this world. But a cake couldn’t just be on birthday celebrations, it is also present on mostly any occasion known – if we want to. Birthday cakes or any other cakes in several places comes from the best that is a long-established cake store with a reputation of producing only the best and provides the customers an outstanding experience.

Every place has a referred cake shop to order their cakes. But the question is, where to buy the best birthday cakes in your place? Big thanks to some cake shops for (answering our question and)producing high quality and consistent gourmet cakes that is perfect for birthdays or any other occasion. Being just around to some particular places is the perfect shops to be, for the best cakes, obviously!

You can fall in love with their lovely and delicious treats by being a unique cake shop in every place you are staying that astounds with creativity, variety, freshness and quality for their products. The commitment of using the finest and freshest ingredients available reflect on the products that can be distinguished by the texture, appearance and flavor of their cakes and gourmet.

Moreover, these cakes and gourmet aren’t just for birthday celebrations. Wedding celebrations or even at normal days, we love to eat cakes and gourmet. At some point, desserts are significant to every community. We may not admit but our children love cakes, cheesecake, gourmet and more. Our children today would eat without any occasion just to fill their days. I, too, would admit that I crave twice a week getting some triple chocolate cake for me to bring home and eat.

Lastly, the only way to know where to buy cakes not just in your community and on all other places is to make a list or a canvas then check them out on their physical store and try out their cakes or any products listed on your list.

All About Strong Coffee

Those who have to like for strong coffee, then they will surely love the Blue Mountain Coffee. Cultivated in extreme conditions and roasted using strict methods, Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is known for their mild flavour and lack of bitterness. While the Jamaican coffee has grown in popularity over the decades, it is the most sought type by espresso companies, cafeterias and also households. That is not only because of its great taste but a myriad of health benefits. Here, take a look at the some of them to have an idea of what wonders a strong coffee can do to your health.

#1 Gives energy and helps fight diseases

A cup of strong coffee bears a lot of nutrients and vitamins. Besides, there are tons of antioxidants which help in detoxifying the body of the consumers. The caffeine has been a great influence on the immune system and has the ability to ward off diseases. It blocks all the pathways that inflammatory molecules.

#2 Helps burn fat

Caffeine also affects the metabolism of the body and results in the rise in the oxidation of fatty acids in the body. It helps the drinkers with the appetite suppression, which means they feel less hungry and will eventually eat less.

#3 Stimulates brain function

The Blue Mountain Coffee of Jamaica will not only keep you awake but will also help your brain function more. Its caffeine acts as a pure stimulant and restricts certain functions so that the neural brain functioning is accelerated. Thus, one cup of coffee will let you think better, react on situations promptly, take decisions and strengthens memory and cognitive activities.

#4 Lowers the risk of Diabetes

According to researchers, strong coffee helps fight the two kinds of diabetes if one drinks 3-4 cups of coffee daily. Approximately, it reduces the chances of diabetes by 22-24%.

#5 Prevents Alzheimer’s disease

Evidence and studies have also proved that strong coffee drinkers who drink 3-4 cups habitually every day tend to suffer less from Alzheimer’s disease due to its caffeine content.

#6 Lowers the risk of Cancer

Even if it was once claimed that coffee is a carcinogen, recent studies have shown that it actually lowers down the risks of cancers.Regular drinkers of strong and quality coffee have near about 40% of fewer risks to develop any kind of cancers, especially skin, liver and prostate.

Well, the list does not end here! There are more benefits of health, revolving the strong coffee. And, Jamaican coffee surely counts in. So, the next time anyone asks you why you drink so much of coffee, or why you are an addicted drinker? Show them these benefits.

Benefit of Black Coffee

Black coffee may have a pungent taste, especially to those who are used to drinking coffee with loads of milk and sugar. But, the good it does it to your health is unmatchable with the health perks you drinking a sweetened creamy cappuccino. Just one cup every day, will get your metabolism high, burn calories, detoxify your body and leaves you with full of energy. Moreover, having black coffee before the workout will precisely enhance all these effects. While it’s time for you to acknowledge the health benefits of pure black coffee, here is a quick guide on how to prepare a perfect cup of the same.

Choosing the beans

Choosing beans that are finely roasted is no doubt the most essential step for you to prepare a cup of flawless black coffee. So, when you head to the market try finding out a store that assures you of best beans with minimum mix blend. Go for the beans that are freshly roasted, i.e. is not near to its expiry date.

Take care of the grinding process

To derive absolutely the best taste and benefits of black coffee, you need to grind the beans on your own. This is the only way you can control the size of the beans. Otherwise, the coffee drink is more likely to taste bitter. You can choose from two types of grinders i.e. Burr and blade. While Burr is costly and grinds beans into the size of sugar grains, Blade is quite a reasonably priced and chops beans unevenly. So, for uniform beans, which produces a good drink, you need to go for Burr.

Coffee-water ratio

The ratio is important to make sure the taste isn’t too bitter or too placid. While you’re pouring the hot water over the grinds, maintain the ratio of 1:3 (2 tbsps of coffee with 6 ounces of water). Further, pour water at the ideal temperature which is 200 degrees, because too hot or too cold can ruin your brew.

Proper brewing method

The last but the most crucial step is choosing the right brewing technique. While Drip brewing and French Press are the two most basic yet effective methods, you need to follow the one that suits your preference. Drip brewing needs a standard machine with a pot and a basket with a coffee filter to put all the coffee grind. Adding up water automatically does all the job. On the other hand, the French press is the old manual method where you need to wait longer before hot water seeps through grinds and need to handle press to separate them.

Despite the bitter taste and pungent flavour, black coffee wins over the creamy latte. The benefits one can get cover up its dreadful taste. However, try going through these simple steps the next time you want to brew a perfect cup of black for yourself or your loved ones.

Tips To Enjoying Coffee Brewing

Mmm, there’s nothing like freshly brewed coffee in the morning. For some people, coffee is the number one must have, and if you are one of those lucky people that can’t stop loving coffee in the morning then you’ll be pleased to know there are other ways to brew coffee.

There are so many takes on how to brew coffee – from decorative foam to French presses. In this article we present our top ten tips and tricks for brewing coffee. Enjoy your next cup of hot joe!

1. Decorating your own lattes

With some practice it’s possible for anyone at home to decorate their coffee in a way they probably thought only baristas could pull off. Baristas make it look simple, and if you do it then you can also get great and positive results – especially since you are not a barista who’s being rushed to perform four jobs at once.

The trick is to work with the milk and make it frothy without any big bubbles and then pour it into the coffee cup at an angle.

2. Buy fresh whole bean coffee

Don’t buy the pre-ground coffee. Buy fresh beans. Most coffee companies don’t bother with dates for when the beans were packaged – it’s likely the beans were left there for months after picking. Fresh coffee goes off pretty quickly. To find fresh beans, it’s best to check coffee shops, and some coffee shops will roast them right there, and that means fresher coffee for a great brew.

Pre-roasted coffee beans also mean the beans are discharging more carbon dioxide, meaning that the escaping gases remove more flavor from the coffee than freshly grounded and roasted beans.

3. Use good quality water

The quality of your water matters when it gets to the time for you to brew coffee. Hard water, which is full of extra minerals, won’t bond as well to the coffee that’s brewing, which leads to a weak coffee and not what you were hoping for. Worse, using this high content mineral water could result in limescale build up in your coffee maker. If you use this type of water then you will need to descale your coffee machine regularly, something you do not want.

Heavily filtered water can also lead to other problems when you brew coffee, but lightly filtered water will be perfect. Also, the best temperature for water for brewing coffee is 88 to 94 degrees centigrade.

4. How to cold-brew for a different flavor to your coffee

Cold brewing your coffee is a great option if you love iced-coffee and want to avoid buying pricey iced-coffee.

There are many ways to brew coffee that can be iced, but there are also machines that make this possible. A benefit is that this method eliminates the acids that coffee produces. This method also brings out different ranges of flavor for the coffee lover to indulge in, however some dislike it because there is no acidity.

Alternatively, you can use a special jar, called a mason jar. It’s really easy – you just take your ground coffee, pour it into the jar, and then pour in cold water before placing the water into your fridge for 12 to 24 hours. When it’s ready, just strain the grounds out and serve with ice. Give it a try!

Also, if you want to sweeten it up, add a caramel syrup, or something similar.

5. Measure your coffee out

When you begin to brew coffee, figure out which ratio of the coffee you measure out is the strongest, and which one is the weakest so then you get a great coffee experience without weakening it or making it too strong for your tastes.

The most common ratio is 1 liter of water to 60 grams of ground coffee, and the easiest way to get this is to simply measure the coffee out on a set of scales, however, it’s also possible to measure it out by simply measuring out 60 grams by using a spoon.

6. Pre-infusion, or the bloom

Always make sure that you remove the carbon dioxide from the coffee grounds or your brew will be weak. If you’ve got a coffee machine, make sure it’s got a setting that covers this, and make sure it’s always on.

Coffee blooms are common in coffee shops. It’s created by the roasting procedure, and the heart causes carbon dioxide to be captured by the bean and trapped. When the roasting is completed the gases are discharged slowly. This is called “degassing.” Ideally, if you use freshly roasted beans, the coffee will have more flavor than roasted and ground beans that have been left untouched for days.

7. Brewing and diluting for weaker coffee

If you want to brew coffee, that’s great, don’t brew it for too long, just increase how much ground coffee you have already. If, however, you prefer it weaker, then simply don’t brew it for a shorter time but rather brew it correctly and then you dilute it to drink afterwards.

8. Tips for using filter paper

If you prefer to use filter paper to brew the coffee grounds then gently pour hot water over the filter paper so that it is wet before use. This will remove the likelihood of getting that papery/cardboard like taste in your mouth that you’d likely get if you just pour the water over the coffee grounds if the paper is dry before you start. If you pre-wet the paper, then you’ll clean it and get rid of that papery taste, meaning you’ll still have a great tasting cup of coffee.

When you’re brewing a cup of coffee with this method, pour the hot water over the coffee grounds in a circular motion so that the water from the coffee slowly appears in the pot. This is called the bloom. Keep pouring more water slowly over the grounds, let it take its time to seep, and then wait for the coffee to collect at the bottom of the pot.

9. Flavored coffees

If you prefer your coffee to have different tastes, for instance a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla or almond extracts, then pour some of those extracts into the cream or milk. Sprinkle some cinnamon or nutmeg over the coffee, or you could even sprinkle some other ground spices like cardamom for a coffee which is more spiced and different than the type you know.

10. Maple syrup drizzle

Another option for flavored and sweetened coffee is to swap sugar with maple syrup.

Secret of Lobster Recipes

When the first ships arrived at Plymouth, most shellfish was not considered fit for human consumption, due in no small part to its resemblance to an insect as it crawled along the ocean bottom. Most early passengers during the 1600s were from England and other U.K. countries and accustomed to eating beef, mutton and fowl. What they did consume from the ocean was usually fish, in the form of cod, haddock and sole. Abundant lobster was fed to servants and domestic animals (there must have been a lot of happy cats). Native Americans used it for fertilizer. Just picture thousands of these spiny creatures as they were washed up on the shores of the Cape, where anyone could fill a bucket for free. (Are you drooling yet?)

Even though canneries began to pop up along the Eastern Seaboard two centuries later, lobster was not a desirable item on the dinner menu, but regarded as a cheap and nutritious protein for the poor and for prisoners, much like canned tuna was on the West Coast. You can be sure that foodie Thomas Jefferson never allowed the lowly lobster to darken the door of his kitchen. Keep in mind that Americans were still clinging to their native British diet, which was primarily meat-based. Shellfish were foreign to them and not widely eaten in any form.

Slowly lobster became more accepted, especially with railroad travel during the 19th century, when passengers moving cross country were unfamiliar with the succulent white meat and could be fed for pennies in the dining cars. And as wealthy vacationers flocked to Cape Code each summer, lobster was discovered and embraced, creating a surge in popularity and in price.

During the 1920s lobster prices really began to soar, only to plummet during the Great Depression when few could afford it. Due to no shortage, lobster was not rationed during WWII and thus became a delicacy among the more affluent. Shortly thereafter, fine restaurants featured it on their menus, and cookbooks praised its savory possibilities. By the 1950s, lobster had firmly positioned itself as a luxury food, just below caviar, and prices responded accordingly.There are many different species of lobster, from the prized Maine lobster, which commands the highest prices, to the smaller lobster of Mexico called langostino. Americans value the highly prized Maine lobster tail with drawn butter above all else.

Currently, business is booming. Last year, New England fishermen unloaded more than 130 million pounds, which adds up to approximately 534 million dollars. (Think of the butter required.) And that’s just U.S. figures. Our Canadian neighbors to the north also enjoy a prosperous lobster business, with much of their bounty exported to Asia. Current prices for the Maine variety, which are considered more desirable than Canadian cousins, hover around 9 to 11 dollars per pound at wholesale. Langostino lobster, which is common in the Southwest and Mexico, is not really lobster at all but another species of crab. It is sold by some fast food restaurants, featured at food stands and eateries south of the border and costs considerably less than American lobster.

So there you have it. A real rags to riches saga. Lobster thermidor, lobster mac and cheese, lobster rolls, lobster salad, New England clam bakes, bisque and just plain old outrageously delicious Maine lobster. Pity anyone allergic to shellfish, because lobster ranks right up there on the taste scale, and lobster fans pay dearly for their favorite food. Clearly, there is no end in sight.

How To Make Great Sandwich

Every day, half of America eats one or more sandwiches, mostly for lunch. That computes into 300 million a day. They’re easy, they’re filling, no muss, no fuss. And you don’t even have to know how to cook. The varieties are endless, so where do we start? The short list includes the BLT, Grilled Cheese, Club, Dagwood, French Dip, Monte Cristo, Muffuletta, Pastrami or Corned Beef on rye, PB&J, Cheesesteak, Po’ boy, Reuben, Sloppy Joe, Submarine, Fried Egg. It’s endless.

The British first referred to “bits of cold meat” as a “sandwich,” named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was an eighteenth-century aristocrat. Legend has it that he instructed his servant to bring him some meat between two pieces of bread while he was playing cards with his cronies. Apparently he could play uninterrupted, as the bread acted as a napkin (rather than his sleeve) and kept the card table tidy. His cronies caught on and followed his lead. What was in them we’ll never know, but what a beginning (the Earl will never know).

Let’s check out these favorites:

1) Elvis immortalized the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, although there’s not a big call for the.

2) Dagwood, named after comic strip Blondie’s husband, stacks up fillings and bread, impossible to eat except in sections, but somehow Dagwood Bumstead managed.

3) The French originated this sinful sandwich in a Parisian cafe in 1910; there is no one named Monte Cristo but simply a French term (Croque Monsieur) to describe a fried sandwich of ham and cheese, not on any weight loss program to be sure.

4) Sloppy Joe: kids grew up on these tangy and messy sandwiches. Its origin dates back to the 1930s and was created by a short order cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa. Originally called a “loose meat sandwich” it seems Joe added tomato sauce which cranked it up a notch; as its popularity grew, Joe wanted to get credit and renamed it after himself. Folks in Key West Florida insist it was dreamed up at a local bar called Sloppy Joe’s. Some historians want to give Cuba the credit, but let’s just give it to Iowa, okay?

5) Submarine: sub sandwich shops seem to multiply daily with no end in sight; also known as hoagies, heroes or grinders in the U.S. with a multitude of fillings, they come in foot long and smaller sizes, perfect for Sunday afternoon TV sports or a quick lunch.

6) Club: undeniably the grande dame of sandwiches. Historians track its creation to the Saratoga Club House, an exclusive gambling joint in Saratoga Springs, New York. Since its inception in 1894, the standard ingredients haven’t changed: toasted bread, lettuce, tomato, sliced turkey or chicken, bacon,and mayonnaise, and don’t forget the toothpicks. The BLT is a first cousin to its predecessor, without the turkey/chicken or third slice of toast. The Club has stood the test of time. Its only controversy is the turkey/chicken debate. (World-class chef James Beard insists on chicken.)

7) If you’re a New Orleans resident, the sandwich of choice is the Muffuletta, whose popularity is claimed by the Central Grocery where it got its start. A large round loaf of Sicilian sesame bread is loaded with Italian sliced meats and a spicy Creole olive salad. (If you don’t live in New Orleans, you’re on your own.)

8) Peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese, both beloved no-brainers. ‘Nuff said.

9) Reubens and pastrami or corned beef on rye take top billing at any self-respecting deli, especially Jewish. Slather on some mustard, add a few Kosher dill pickles and you’re in business. For a Reuben, throw in some sauerkraut and thousand island

dressing.

10) Those Louisiana folk sure love their originals. The Po’ Boy is basically a sub filled with meat or fried seafood, similar to the Northeast’s lobster roll.

11) Oh boy, don’t ask anyone from Philadelphia about Philly cheesesteaks, because they are fanatical about them. Be prepared for a long-winded answer. The same goes for Chicago’s most popular sandwich, the Italian Beef: Italian bread loaded with thinly sliced beef, topped with peppers and dripping with jus, hold the cheese; all-American French dip (in spite of its name) is a take-off, but rather bland by comparison.

12) Can’t leave out those wonderful “bound” fillings: egg salad, ham salad, chicken salad and tuna salad; we corner the market on those, whether they’re daintily served at teas and parties or just a big old scoop on whole wheat.

12) Pita sandwiches crammed full of turkey, cheese, avocado, hummus or falafel; a trendy ethnic take on the basics.

13) Hamburgers and chicken fast food sandwiches are a whole other subject.

Sandwich sales in the U.S. topped $27.7 billion and that’s not counting the sandwiches made at home. Wow, that’s a lotta bread, literally. Apparently, the U.S. is not the only country that likes their sandwiches. In 2017, the pre-made sandwich industry in the UK made and sold 11 billion in U.S. dollars, and that’s not counting freshly made.

We’re not even going to get started on sandwich cookies (Oreos) and ice cream sandwiches. It’s too exhausting. So many sandwiches, so little time.

All About Barbecue Recipes

Okay, so here’s the deal. What kind of meat, what kind of sauce, what method of cooking, what type of wood or heat, and how is it served. A lot to consider. And one thing is for sure–we’re not talking a backyard Weber grill here, folks. This is serious business, so let’s get to it.

In the South, especially North Carolina, the most popular outdoor version is the “pig pickin’.” Named after the Cajun phrase cochon de lait, traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings, which entailed an entire hog roasted for hours, then letting guests pick their own meat off the finished product (hence the phrase “going whole hog”).

But every region has its own version, usually pork, and the sauce is what makes the difference. In North Carolina, the three varieties of sauces include vinegar-based in the east, tomato-vinegar, sometimes mustard, in the central state and a heavier tomato-based sauce in western NC. The city of Lexington, just northeast of Charlotte, proclaims itself to be the “Barbecue Capital of the World,” boasting one BBQ restaurant per 1000 people (talk about going whole hog). And throughout the South, the meat is more likely to be served on a plate, accompanied by hush puppies, coleslaw and baked beans, not in a bun smothered with ketchup (in some places considered a capital crime). When ordered, it’s simply called Q and the sides are a given. (In Texas you might get a thick piece of toast, but that’s another story.)

According to South Carolinians, only in their state will you find all four “official” sauces: mustard-based, vinegar-based, light or heavy tomato based. To the west, Memphis barbecue favors tomato- and vinegar-based sauces, and in some restaurants (or more likely BBQ shacks) the meat is rubbed with a mixture of dry seasonings before smoking over wood. Don’t even think about charcoal briquettes, considered a misdemeanor at the very least.The dry rub ingredients are a closely guarded secret, setting them apart from the guy down the street. There may not even be a sauce basted over the meat, but simply served on the side.

Moving right along, in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee barbecue is usually pork, basted with a sweet red sauce. Some rebels even dare to use a mayo-based sauce with vinegar, mostly on chicken (which is not really considered a true barbecue, anyway.) A popular item in North Carolina and Memphis is the pulled pork sandwich served on a bun and often topped with coleslaw. Pulled pork is prepared by shredding the pork after it has been barbecued, then piled high.

In the Midwest, we’re talking Kansas City-style, characterized by using different types of meat, which might be pulled pork or ribs, smoked sausage, beef brisket or ribs, smoked/grilled chicken, smoked turkey, and sometimes fish. Whew. They don’t leave anything to chance, but remember, KC is a major meat packing city, no vegetarians allowed. Hickory wood delivers the best flavor and the sauce of choice is tomato-based, spicy or mild. No hush puppies–remember you’re in the Midwest. And in Chicago, when they’re not wolfing down Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs or pizza, they like to season the meat with a dry rub, sear it on a hot grill, then cook it slowly in a special oven. The meat, typically ribs, is then finished with a sweet and tangy red sauce. Not to worry, they won’t have you arrested if you order it on a bun (just no ketchup, understand?). Side dishes can be cooked greens, mac and cheese and sweet potatoes. Since many BBQ places are located on the South Side, they often comprise the main ticket item at soul food restaurants.

The state of Kentucky just has to be different, making mutton their meat of choice. In Maryland, beef is the ticket and it’s grilled over a high heat, served rare with horseradish. Hardly even qualifies as barbecue, so why are we spending any time on this?

Don’t mess with Texas, especially when it comes to BBQ. The bigger the better, and the Lone Star state takes no prisoners when it comes to their version (there ain’t no other version, pardner.) This tradition runs deep, and king-sized barbecues, thanks in no small part to the number of famous politicians who have hosted them over the years, try to diminish their Northern wannabes by claiming the best darn barbecue in the world. The emphasis is on the meat itself, not a sauce. Usually “Texas-style” means “Central Texas-style” and that spells b-e-e-f. Brisket is cooked over indirect heat, low and slow. They favor mesquite wood or a combo of hickory and oak, then served up on plates with potato salad, beans, slaw and a big ole slice of Texas toast. This is serious eatin’, y’all.

And there you have it. Exhausting, all these details and variations. Who’s hungry? What will you choose and where? So much barbecue, so little time.

Potatoes And Yams Recipes

Sitting here at my desk my mind ventured back to last years thanksgiving dinner. My wife Pam was in the kitchen preparing a feast for our dinner and what a feast it was. We had turkey complete with stuffing, a ham, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, potato and macaroni salads, the usual cranberry sauce and of course sweet potatoes. No major holiday meal was ever complete without sweet potatoes on the table.

These memories made me think about the differences which exist between the two similar vegetables.There is always a bit of confusion between these two items and in this short rant I intend to hopeful dispel the myths surrounding this rooted vegetable. The truth of the matter is that the vegetable that you have called a yam for a number of years is actually nothing more or less than a sweet potato. A true yam most people have never seen nor tasted.

That’s right folks; the sweet, orange-colored root vegetable which you cherish so dearly is actually a variety of sweet potato. All “yams” which you find in a grocery store or produce market are in fact not yams at all. The majority of people wrongly believe that those long, red-skinned products in the store are yams, but the fact remains that they are nothing more than one of many varieties of our common sweet potatoes. One wonders how we came to be so confused and wrong on this fine vegetable. To answer this question we would first need to discover the main differences which exist between the two products.

A yam is darker in colored than the its popular orange-fleshed cousin. A true yam is an edible root which is extremely starchy and is usually imported to the United States from the Caribbean. In texture it is rough and scaly and contains very little beta carotene.

Depending on the sweet potatoes variety its flesh can range from a pure white to the popular orange color or in some cases even a purple shade. The orange-fleshed variety arrived in the United States multiple decades ago. In an effort to promote the imported variety and to distinguish it from the white variety, producers and importers labeled the imports with an African word “nyami” and thus called them “yams” for short.