Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Trends are In!

Have you heard about the fastest-growing dining trends?

Sustainable seafood is right up there in alternative sources along with local produce and organics.

The National Restaurant Association’s second annual “What’s Hot…What’s Not” food and drink survey has been released, and 1,282 chefs rated these items along with others as the “hottest new trends in U.S. restaurants.”

Sorry, all you food lovers out there, but smaller portions are also hot! The Reuters article revealing these tidbits and giving us some idea about how restaurants might serve us in 2008 can be found here.

Suffice it to say that catfish raised in U.S. farm ponds is sustainable, and diners don’t have to worry about consumption of antibiotics, hormones, iodine or mercury.

Eat More Fish!

Another recent Reuters Health article noted that studies are showing that senior citizens who eat more fish do better on tests of memory, attention, orientation, verbal fluency, visual conception and spatial motor skills. Whether the fish was fatty or lean didn’t seem to matter, and there may be something more in fish than omega-3 fatty acids that improves cognition, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Heavenly Pecan Pie

In honor of Thanksgiving, this post is devoted to pecans, that delicacy that ranks right up there next to turkeys on most southern tables.

Our family will have pecan pie, sweet potatoes topped with pecans and brown sugar, congealed salad with pecans and perhaps even orange pecan pralines if I don’t spend too much time on this computer! Now, while catfish isn’t considered a Thanksgiving staple around here, I found a recipe for Pecan-crusted Catfish with Ginger Orange Dressed Salad in case you’re interested!

We are lucky to be able to “harvest” our own pecans; rather, we are lucky that my father-in-law picks up the nuts from beneath his tree and sends them to us to get cracked!

At our home in Greensboro, we had several pecan trees…from slender seedlings to fat Stuarts. We picked them up for our own use as well as to sell to pecan merchants. I spent many an afternoon after school raking through leaves to be sure no pecan got left behind! Some were packed to ship to relatives who lived where pecans didn’t grow.

Pecans make great gifts either in the shell or toasted, glazed or salted. Put them in pretty tins or make a pecan brittle or pie. Now, I don’t do pecan brittle, but I do make a pretty good pecan pie, and its “secret ingredient” doesn’t seem to be included on any of the Thanksgiving websites I’ve searched. Not even Dear Abby’s Famous Pecan Pie recipe includes it!

The secret to a heavenly, delicious pecan pie is flour and the kind of corn syrup you use.

Forget the dark syrup and opt for the light syrup. Follow the pecan pie recipe on the syrup bottle, and add a heaping tablespoon of plain flour to the filling. The flour helps cut the overly sweet, syrupy taste. It also gives the filling a nice, custard-like texture that is easy to cut and eat. No more sticky pecan pie!

Heavenly Pecan Pie

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. margarine, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. plain flour
1 ½ cups pecan pieces, broken
1 9-inch unbaked, deep-dish pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir first six ingredients well, then stir in pecans. Pour into pie crust. Bake on center oven rack 50 to 55 minutes. Cool. Makes 8 servings

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's a Wrap!

From big fish to small fry, it’s a wrap over at Leather District Gourmet’s Sustainable Seafood Blog Event!

Jacqueline posted a big catch with more than two dozen recipes, including two catfish recipes. Of course, one of those was mine, but the other came from NASCAR driver Ryan Newman. Check out his Beer-Battered Catfish.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

WSB TV's Foreign Fish Special Report

Speaking of food safety (See the COOL post below), a Dallas County, Alabama, catfish farmer is featured in an Atlanta TV station’s special assignment on foreign fish.

I was listening to our local ABC radio station this morning when the WSB-TV report was mentioned. The full video report can be found on the WSB-TV website.

Browns farmer Butch Wilson is shown on his fish farm talking about how U.S. catfish producers can’t compete with cheap importers who cut corners on food safety. But, they can compete with anybody in the world provided the playing field is fair. U.S. fish costs more, but the health and environmental standards are strict and safe. Yet, when it comes to foreign fish, Alabama’s food testing lab rejects up to 60 percent due to the discovery of illegal antibiotics and other contaminants. The antibiotics are used because of what the report terms polluted production conditions.

By the way, Alabama is one of only a few states that has a seafood safety testing program.

Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science and Public Interest adds that “We don’t expect to get a dose of medicine with our seafood dinner,” but that can happen, and the Food and Drug Administration currently only inspects a tiny fraction of imports.

What to do?

Know where your fish and seafood come from! All grocery stores are required to post Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), but so far, restaurants are not. The report recommends asking your waiter or waitress where the fish was produced.

Catfish and seafood are just too good to have to worry about contamination!