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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 →

Fall presents a bevy of food-centric neighborhood festivals

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Samuel Poursine serves up a half dozen charbroiled oysters at the annual Louisiana Seafood Festival in 2012.

Cooler temperatures are on the way, along with a handful of fetes that feature a certain culinary genre or food item — from barbecue to boudin. The next couple of months present an opportunity to splurge on your favorite eats and, perhaps, delicacies that you’ve never tried before, like flammkuchen at the Oktoberfest or vegan gumbo at… Continue reading →

There’s plenty to chew on at The Southern Food and Beverage Museum

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER- Southern Food and Beverage Museum at located at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Blvd. in New Orleans.

Museums don’t tend to be big fans of food and drink. Typically there’s a guard at the entrance keeping an eye out for plastic cups and paper plates with a finger outstretched toward a nearby trash can. But now there’s a museum in New Orleans that will support those who wish to nibble while… 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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

Behind a modern, savvy design, Louisiana flavors resonate at this new Marigny restaurant

Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZA -- The bar is a dominant feature at the Franklin, where small nooks and a communal table invite upscale casual dining.

The Franklin is a new restaurant in a historic neighborhood with a very modern look built around old bones. Against all probability, the food reflects this mix, taking familiar Louisiana flavors in unconventional directions. There’s plenty of opportunity for friction between all these moving parts, as when the expectations of fine dining clash with no reservations,… 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 →

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 →