Mike’s Southside

I would like to reintroduce to you kind folks to an old favorite of mine that you might know as Calhoun’s. It is a local sauce that I have absolutely loved from first taste. If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, that is okay because this saucy treat now goes by a new name, one that is a little more descriptive: Southside Mike’s BBQ.

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Since this fabulous product is made and prospers here in our own backyard, it is likely that you have seen Mike standing in front of a delicious smelling grill at events like the Farmer’s Market. Some of you may have even experienced his chicken wings slow roasted to perfection and drenched in the sweet-hot flavor of a homemade sauce. Inspired by his home town, Mike has mastered the Chicago-style BBQ.

Southside Mike’s is so versatile that I use it on everything from green beans to beef. It is irresistible on pork and chicken, which I feel it compliments best, but is also a fabulous steak sauce or vegetable marinade.

I know Mike well from his promotions at my store. At our Earth Day event, he draws one and all over to the sidewalk as he mans a smoky BBQ full of chicken wings marinated with Southside Sauce. In the fall he hangs out inside the store with the meat department, serving samples of turkey out of a giant crock pot with only a couple onions needed for flavor. He douses the cooked meat with his sauce upon serving, using it as a finishing touch (since the sugars in it have a tendency to burn under high heat).

Mike told me an anecdote once that has always stuck – about the goals he set when creating his business plan. He was participating in a class to develop his mission as an entrepreneur. On the form it asked what his vision was for the fulfillment of this product. His response to the question was:

I want my product to be the next ketchup; I want it to be a household staple; I want it to be in every one’s fridge.

Well, I don’t often have ketchup in my house, but what I do ALWAYS have is Southside Mike’s BBQ sauce, so his mission is alive and well in my home, heart & belly. I recommend you give it a try. It is this simple: don’t eat your meat without it!

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Casey Kemp gets her inspiration as the fromager of Eureka Natural Foods. Born in Baltimore to a couple of health educators, she graduated from Colorado State with an advanced Bachelors degree in Photo Image Making. As a writer and photographer, Casey expresses her enthusiasm for wellness through the theme of local, artisan-style food. Since finding Humboldt, there has been no lack of inspiration. You can reach her at kempcase@gmail.com

 

Shades of Cooking Taleggio

Shades of cooking: the grilled cheese sandwich

Ah, the joy of cooking! I like to make a meal with great gusto, especially when it is to be shared– it is an absolute labor of love. When my boyfriend and I first started dating, the meals I prepared for us often impressed even me! However, readying everything hours in advance can make staying ahead of the game a difficult task three times a day. That’s why I started to let him take me out for dinner; what a treat!

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Although our shared affections have only grown, we now moderate our eating out and/or cooking elaborate meals, leaving them for special occasions like Valentines Day. But alas, there are nuances along the continuum that lead from an afternoon of laboriously preparing food to having a pizza delivered. Stabbing my fork in an attempt at moderation informs this next approach to cooking—a simple meal that calls for just a couple of quality ingredients and a modicum of care, time and energy.

This recipe sprung from a picture that I saw of a Grilled Taleggio Cheese & Grape Sandwich. I had been trying to learn about this particular Italian cheese that I didn’t necessarily like, yet customers bought with great zeal. I would sample it to people expecting a wonderfully sour face – only to get mild approval from them!? What?!

Taleggio cheese is square-shaped and covered in blue, grey and green molds, which run rampant over a bright orange rind. Yet the interior has the runny consistency of Brie and a creamy enough flavor to balance the tingly tang of this stinker.

For the bread I sliced a subtle sourdough (made locally by Beck’s Bakery), buttered it and started it frying in a pan. Then I went to trimming the rind off of the Taleggio cheese, which is already quite moist and runny. Halve the grapes and the prep work is done. Now to the nuance of grilling cheese sandwiches!

I worried that my boyfriend would not be a fan of this cheese and therefore not enjoy the meal. My nerves were wracked when he came into the kitchen, looked around hungrily and asked if he could eat the stinky rind. My fingers still reeked of the stuff! The cheesemonger part of me wanted to encourage exploration (knowing it was entirely safe) but the girlfriend in me thought, “No!!! He is going to spit that out and run screaming from the kitchen in five, four, three…”

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But he devoured a fried-so-perfectly-that-the-cheese-browned-around-the-edges-open-faced sandwich in less time than it took for you to read this sentence. I was proud. It is a strong tasting cheese, but the grapes sweetly mock any bitterness away. We enjoyed the meal together savoring every bite while the cat lay snoozing under the table; it was just the three of us and it was a great combination – the bread, the cheese, the grapes; basic cooking, care and attention.

Now I pass that same inspiration on to you, through the filter of my experience. And I give you: Taleggio, the Grilled Cheese of Victory. That is the value of a simple, nuanced, tasty meal.

 

Burger Steak

I’ve got a great recipe today that features a couple of local products and is super simple; I’m talking about a Slug Slime Chicken Fried Grass-Fed Cube Steak!

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I recommend that you put on some water for macaroni and start steaming green beans before executing this beefy main course nice and quick-like. My breading consists of Los Bagels famous slug slime, grated parmesan, panko breadcrumbs and flour, all adhering to the meat with the power of an egg. Once you begin to bread and fry the beef you are essentially done.

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When we start eating, my boyfriend asks, “Is this a hamburger or a steak?” Good question. Good question, indeed. My answer? Well, it’s a burger steak!

Tenderizing meat is an absolutely fabulous process by which you take one tough piece of meat (like a London broil) and send it between two rollers with spikes on them- pretty medieval. By running the piece through several times at different angles, then folding it back onto itself, you get something that looks like hamburger, but sticks together in one meaty piece like a steak. Mmmh-eat Magic.

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Humboldt Hot Sauce

Humboldt Hot Sauce is something for us locals to be proud of and excited about. Not because it’s the new Cholula or bound to replace that bottle of Sriracha you carry around in your car. Not even because it is the most super hot spicy sauce around that makes your brain boil (although their red sauce is quite a kicker). Rather, Humboldt Hot Sauce is spectacular because it is well rounded and that presents a lot of possibilities when it comes to the kitchen.
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Cal and Dan make three varieties: Habanero-Mango (hot red), Island Style (medium yellow) and Emerald Sauce (mild green). Each has it’s own unique appeal but all of them have a depth of flavor that you don’t normally find in a hot sauce. These condiments are way more substantial than your typical Tapatio: think thick, not runny.

Cooking with Humboldt Hot Sauce is where the product shines; it is so versatile! I tend to choose the Island Style because I like my heat with a little sweet. Still, this is a savory sauce and not overly sugary. Its first ingredient is onion, so that tells me they have their priorities in the right place. (So many meals start with an onion because it creates a flavorful foundation for the meal; it seems like these guys are wise to that concept.) Then they bring the heat with spicy habanero peppers and the party really gets started! But don’t worry, sweet pineapple, bell peppers and mango cool this mix down and finally round it off with vinegar, garlic, ginger and lemon juice- what a ride.

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On its own, the Habanero-Mango sauce pushes my limits on heat. However, I do tolerate it and still appreciate its rich flavor. This red sauce really kicks it up a notch. Last week I added it to my fried halibut cakes and they turned out just wonderful and packed with flavor!

I have not had as much time to experiment with the newest addition to the lineup, but the Emerald sauce does do my nachos justice. It is milder than the rest with lime and cilantro notes. Any of the varieties can be added to a Bloody Mary, it just depends on your preferences.

As a condiment Humboldt Hot Sauce improves the taste of just about anything: eggs, salsa, burgers, oysters. Just the thought of using it to spice up red beans and rice leaves my mouth watering. No matter what you’re making, Humboldt Hot sauces provide the perfect punch to make it a scrumptious lunch!

 

Ground Round Low Down

My initial motivation to participate in farm internships was an interest in growing fruits and vegetables. I suppose that encountering animals on the land was a natural and inevitable process- although unexpected. It all started with a couple deer and a willingness to try something new, but I got my formal meat education at the butcher’s counter. I have been in love ever since. Today, that passion for local livestock keeps me planted firmly in Humboldt County because it is a place whose dedication to quality agriculture is unmatched anywhere else.

cowieman (2)I have developed a special fondness for beef, specifically the local, grass-fed and finished variety. Educating people about the benefits of grass-fed/finished animals has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job to date. I know that many people are into GMO-free and organic certifications (which are great to have) but I think the most important qualities of the cow are scribbled across every box of beef in our cooler: LGF, meaning local grass-fed!

0921112025 (2)Grass-feeding is not only a more natural way to raise a cow, it is also more nutritious for the consumer of meat and dairy. Bet-cha didn’t know that grass-fed/finished cows have the distinction of being a legitimate source of omega-3 fatty acids (according to astudy from Australia’s National Institutes of Health). Grass-fed/finished beef also boasts the optimal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 content. One of those omega-6s is a nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has many health benefits, including cancer fighting properties. Grass-fed/finished beef contains CLAs at three to five times the amount of their grain-fed counterparts, which makes it our best source of this nutrient!
HMlgf1Grass-fed/finished beef is also lower in overall fat than grain-fed beef. Personally, that makes me sad because fat equals flavor. And the flavor of grass-fed and finished beef is definitely different. One of my coworkers goaded me the other day by saying, “Some of us don’t like that gamey beef!” My response, “better learn to love it!” And I have. Since recognizing the two varieties with my own taste-buds, I can no longer tolerate the more marbled, grain-fed beef because it has too much fat and too rich a flavor that is sweet and oily on the palette. Today, I prefer the clean taste and beefier flavor of a grass-fed steak, where I can relish every bit of fat I find! Most people are accustomed to the taste of grain-fed meats so may have a hard time adjusting to the grass-fed flavor. Considering the alternative, you should give grass-fed/finished beef a go. It may be leaner, but the fat that it does have is much healthier, containing four times the amount of Vitamin E plus B vitamins, minerals, beta carotene and of course omegas.

There are many grass-fed and finished meats on the market in Humboldt County, which I personally believe is the biggest advantage to living here. At Eureka Natural Foods, we carry Clint Victorine’s Pacific Pastures and Eel River Organic Beef. Your local butcher can direct you to a cut that suits your needs and provide advice on how to prepare it. Have fun; yum yum!