Sunday, September 30, 2007

Putting Out the Fire

As the official taster at Carolina Sauce Company, I have learned how to "put out the fire" when encountering an incendiary hot sauce (especially a pepper extract) or taking a bite of food that turns out to be too spicy. Here's what works, and what doesn't, at least for me.

Many people reach for water when eating spicy food, or perhaps an alcoholic beverage like beer. Water provides very temporary relief at best, usually quenching the fire only so long as the water is still in your mouth. The problem is that plain old water cannot "neutralize" the capsaicin that causes the burning sensation when you eat hot sauce or hot peppers.  Instead, water merely spreads around the natural oils in the pepper without really diluting them, much like trying to mix water into salad oil:  the two liquids remain separate.

I find that alcohol makes things worse - and indeed there are articles that explain that alcohol merely "dislodges" the capsaicin in your mouth, allowing it to come in contact with even more of your tongue and mouth. I guess if you No drinkingdrink *enough* alcohol, you dull your ability to feel pain in general, but then you create a host of other problems which are beyond the scope of this topic! But the bottom line is that water and alcohol are poor fire-quenchers. The same is true for soda and other carbonated beverages - and at least to my taste, they leave an awful aftertaste when "mixed" with hot sauce and hot peppers.

Some folks swear by orange juice as an effective means of stopping the burn from hot sauce and hot peppers. I've tried this method only a few times, and while the OJ worked better than water, the burning sensation would return after a few seconds (and as with soda, I didn't like the aftertaste).

03-03-09So what is my fire extinguisher of choice? Milk! In fact, part of my preparation to taste new hot sauces is to pour myself a glass of milk to keep on hand in case I encounter something particularly hot. I also use milk (together with some saltine crackers) as a "palate cleanser" when sampling multiple hot sauces, so that I can get a more accurate sense of the heat level of each sauce. Although I normally drink skim milk, I've found that milk with a bit of fat in it works better at coating and soothing a burned tongue. Other dairy products do a good job too, including plain yogurt (which is probably why lassi is a popular drink in southern India), sour cream (why do you think it's served with Mexican food?!?), cream cheese (often mixed with peppery condiments to create a flavorful but tamer spread or dip), and ice cream (especially vanilla). As with milk, the fat free versions of these other dairy products don't work quite as well as full-fat or reduced fat dairy products, but even skim dairy beats water, beer and orange juice when it comes to soothing a hot-sauced tongue.

So what is your favorite fire extinguisher? Post a comment to let us know, especially if you have a good hot sauce tasting story to go along with it!

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Operation Sauce Drop Banners

We've had requests for Operation Sauce Drop banner links from folks who would like to add a link on their websites or on blogs and forums to let people know about Operation Sauce Drop. As a result, I've created two different banner links: one that links to the "Contribute Here" page for Operation Sauce Drop, and another that links to the "Military Sign Up" page where military personnel can sign up for a free gift box of sauce (and where people can sign up a serviceperson to receive a free gift box).

If you would like to place a banner link on your site, blog or forum so that people can click and make a contribution to Operation Sauce Drop, please feel free to copy the following code to generate the "Send Free Sauce" banner shown here:

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src=""></a>

If you would like to place a banner link on your site, blog or forum for military personnel to click on and sign up for a free gift box, please feel free to copy the following code for the Military Sign-Up banner shown here:

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src=""></a>

Thank you for helping to spread the word about Operation Sauce Drop, and sending the gift of good taste to our troops!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, September 28, 2007

Easy NC Style Pulled Pork

If you don’t have a smoker but want to make some North Carolina style pulled pork, here's a "cheater's recipe" that's a lot less work (and less tricky) than smoking and produces delicious results. Purists may complain that it's not authentic NC barbeque, but why get hung up on terminology when the end result is good food with great flavor?!? Heck, most NC barbeque restaurants no longer smoke their pork, but they still call what they serve "barbeque"! So here goes:

Rub a Boston Butt or pork shoulder with a spice rub and cook it long and slow in an oven or on a grill until it’s cooked through and tender (internal temperature of about 180 degrees). We like to use Adams Rib Rubb or Pig Pen's Original Seasoning when we make this recipe, and if we want to recreate a smoky flavor we use Pepper Dog Dry Rub. When the pork looks like it's done, you'll want to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure. If you pierce the meat and the juices running from the meat aren't clear, or if the meat is still pink inside, or if it doesn't pull pretty easily from the bone, you need to keep cooking it. Once the pork is cooked through, remove it from the oven or grill and pull or chop the meat off the bone and place in a serving tray. Mix in your favorite NC BBQ Sauce, seal the tray with aluminum foil and put it in a warm oven or on a grill at low heat for at least 30 minutes, or until you're ready to serve. One NC BBQ sauce that works particularly well with this recipe is Pit Road BBQ & Dipping Sauce. Serve the pork as is (perhaps with some collard greens and hushpuppies or fries on the side), or on a bun with slaw, and have plenty of the barbecue sauce available for your guests to add to taste. The pork won't be smoky and I can’t call it "authentic" NC barbeque, but I can tell you from experience that it will taste pretty darn good!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gloria's Healthy Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread

Healthier cranberry orange nut bread
I'm always looking for ways to make an old favorite recipe a bit healthier by cutting fat without sacrificing flavor, and making other ingredient substitutions or additions to add fiber, nutrition, etc. Here's my take on a popular recipe, Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread. I've made some healthy substitutions, and you can go even further by replacing all of the flour with whole wheat flour. In fact, the photo on the left shows a loaf made with 100% whole wheat flour.

This recipe easily doubles, and freezes well if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in a freezer bag -- squeeze out all air before sealing. I like to slice a piece of this bread while it's still warm from the oven (or I warm a slice in my toaster oven), top it with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt, and drizzle a bit of Toad Sweat Cranberry Orange Dessert Hot Sauce on top - mmmmm, mmmmm good!

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (a food processor does this quickly)
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Toad Sweat Cranberry Hot Sauce1 Tbs grated orange peel
1 1/2 cups flour, plus ½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar (or you can use 1/2 cup each of sugar and Splenda® brand sugar substitute, to cut calories)
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 Tbs butter, melted
¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup Egg Beaters® (or other brand) egg substitute

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan and slicing.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Gift Boxes for Operation Sauce Drop

We are pleased to announce that 3 new gift boxes are now available at no cost for US Military personnel stationed abroad, as part of Operation Sauce Drop. This brings the total to 7 different gift boxes from which military personnel may choose a free gift. The three new gift boxes feature NC barbeque sauces and come packed in a hand-made, rustic wooden crate that holds two pints of sauce. The Mild BBQ Gift Box holds two pints of the award-winning Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce, while the Hot BBQ Gift Box holds two pints of the spicy Jim's Own Hot BBQ Sauce. And for folks who can't decide between mild and hot, or who like them both, we have the NC BBQ Combo Gift Box, with one pint each of Jim's Own Homestyle and Jim's Own Hot BBQ Sauces. These three new gift boxes are made possible thanks to the generosity of Jim Arnold, the maker of Jim's Own BBQ Sauces, who has donated the wooden crates being used for the gift boxes. Thank you, Jim!!

If you are in the military and stationed abroad with an APO or FPO mailing address, please don't hesitate to sign up for a free gift box of your choice (and yes, even the shipping is free, thanks to the generosity of our donors). If you have a friend or a loved one serving abroad, you can sign them up to receive a free gift box if you know their APO or FPO address. And if you want to do something to support our troops, please consider making a contribution to Operation Sauce Drop. Any amount will help, and 100% of all donations are used solely to pay for the cost of the gift boxes and the shipping. If you can't afford to make a monetary contribution, then you can still make a difference by telling everyone you know about Operation Sauce Drop via email, blogs, forum postings, word of mouth, whatever you can do. And if you have a way to spread the word in the military community to let service personnel know they can claim a free gift box, then please let them know. Many thanks for your support!

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What's Special About North Carolina Barbeque?

OK, I guess I should come clean and confess the following before I continue with this post: I am not a native North Carolinian. It gets worse: I wasn't born or raised in the South. Now brace yourself for the biggie: I'm from............ New York City. {horrified gasp - "New York City?!?"} Now that that's out of the way, I can honestly say that I fell in love with North Carolina barbecue when I moved to Winston-Salem at the impressionable age of 18. Until then, I thought "barbecue" was only a verb (as in, "to barbecue") or an adjective ("barbecued pork"). One taste of the pulled pork at my first pig pickin' and I quickly learned that "barbecue" is quite properly used as a noun - and it's delicious! Since then, I've had barbecue from one end of NC to the other, at family-run BBQ joints, chain restaurants, catered events and private homes. I know better than to try to make authentic smoked pulled pork BBQ myself, but I've certainly eaten enough of it to understand what makes NC barbeque unique, and what distinguishes the different styles of NC barbeque. And you can certainly slow-cook a boston butt at home on your grill without too much effort and make a pretty good pulled pork. But with apologies to those of you who already know this, I'll proceed with the explanation. And even if you know the basics, you might want to keep reading as I'll mention some representative sauces that you might not be familiar with.

First, "barbeque" (regardless of how you spell it) in North Carolina always means pork. More specifically, real NC barbecue is slow-cooked (at least 16 to 18 hrs), preferrably over real charcoal, at a very low temperature for pork (usually between 250 to 300 degrees). The long cooking time is needed to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly to kill the parasites commonly found in pork. Dry rubs, sauces or seasonings usually aren't used during cooking, except perhaps for occasional basting with a vinegar sauce containing a few spices such as red or black pepper, salt, and maybe something else relatively innocuous. The basting is merely to keep the outside of the pork from completely drying out, and not to add specific flavors. The pork is done when it easily pulls off the bone - and the key word is "easily". If you have to tug at the meat or use a knife to remove it from the bone, or (heaven forbid) the meat is pink, then it ain't done yet! The sauce is added after the pork is pulled from the bone, chopped and ready to be served.

Second, there are two main styles of NC barbecue: Eastern style, and Western (also called Piedmont or Lexington) style. The differences are in the pork, and the sauce. The dividing line for the styles is somewhere in the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), so that both styles are found in the Triangle, but Eastern Style is dominant east of Raleigh while Western Style is common west of Raleigh.

Eastern style NC BBQ uses the whole hog, as in, meat from the entire pig, and the meat is chopped to a relatively fine consistency. The star is the pork, and eastern style sauces are "simple" in that they are supposed to enhance the meat instead of hide any flaws in the meat or the cooking process. Accordingly, true eastern NC style BBQ sauces are vinegar-based without any tomatoes, and usually include a definite peppery flavor. Two classic eastern NC style barbecue sauces are Scott's Barbecue Sauce and Ole Time Hot Sauce. Some authentic eastern style sauces add a bit of sugar to "soften" the acidity of the vinegar - an example of such a sauce is Duplin's Finest BBQ Sauce. One of the most beloved authentic eastern NC BBQ sauces is Wells Hog Heaven Barbecue Sauce, which adds a touch of sugar and also a hint of natural smoke, but stays true to the tomato-less, straight vinegar base.

Western or Piedmont or Lexington style NC BBQ uses only the pork shoulder, and the meat is more coarsely chopped than eastern style BBQ. The western NC BBQ sauces add tomato (in varying amounts) to a vinegar base, and usually also some sweetener and additional spices or other ingredients. The resulting sauce is somewhat thicker (although usually still "thin" compared to Texas or Memphis sauces) and sweeter than eastern NC style sauces. A typical example of a Piedmont style barbecue sauce is Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce (which also comes in a Hot version). It's not uncommon for western NC style barbeque sauces to include unusual ingredients to add complexity to the flavor. One prime example (which is also one of my favorite sauces) is Ole Time BBQ Sauce, which includes a touch of coffee and tamarind, although you can't taste either ingredient individually. Another excellent western NC style barbecue sauce that's thicker and sweeter than most is Lazy J Bar-Bee-Q Sauce - and it's an anomaly because it's actually made in the eastern part of the state! In the far western NC mountains, you can find much thicker, richer sauces that start bringing to mind the thick, sweet and smoky sauces more typical of Texas. One of my favorite NC barbecue sauces from the mountains is Old Mule BBQ Sauce, a tomato and vinegar based sauce that's slow-cooked down to a rich thickness for complex flavor with a peppery kick.

Finally, a lesser known style of barbeque sauce found in North Carolina is "low country" or mustard-based BBQ sauce. This style is more typical of South Carolina and Florida, but it can be found in the southernmost and southeastern parts of NC, especially near the SC border. A good example of low-country BBQ sauce is Joe Bud's Everything Sauce.

I hope this information has been useful, and that you'll try some NC barbecue sauces at home. In fact, we'll gladly send you our instruction sheet on how to make NC barbecue if you mention this blog when you order a North Carolina barbecue sauce from the Carolina Sauce Company!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Christine's Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Here's a hearty recipe to herald the coming of Autumn - Enjoy!

3 small sweet potatoes (total 1 ¼ to 1 ½ lbs)
1 lb bag peeled baby carrots
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
3 large dried sage leaves, or 1 Tbs dried rubbed sage
½ cup Greg's Happy Sauce
½ cup port or red wine
1 cup half and half (or 1 cup evaporated skim milk, to cut fat)
3 to 4 cups water or chicken broth
2 Tbs vegetable or olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Optional: 1 or 2 dashes of your favorite hot sauce (see note below)

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch thick pieces. In a deep large skillet or soup pot, heat oil and add sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and carrots. Stir and add port or wine and Greg's Happy Sauce. Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until potatoes start to soften. Add water or broth, sage, and black pepper (and optional hot sauce) to taste, and stir. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are cooked through. Turn off heat and add vegetables to a food processor or blender with some of the liquid, reserving the rest of the liquid in the pot. Puree the vegetables to your desired consistency. Pour back into skillet or pot, stir in half and half or evaporated skim milk, and bring back to a simmer (do not boil) on low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve with bread (a nice rustic loaf with fall herbs such as rosemary or basil works well). Note: We like to use Cackalacky Spice Sauce as the hot sauce in this recipe because it's neither vinegary nor too hot, and its ingredients (including yams and red wine) complement the flavors in the soup quite nicely.

Prep time: approx. 15 mins.
Cooking time: approx. 1 hr.
Serves 6 to 8

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Durham Bulls Triple Play BBQ Sauce

Some years ago, the popular movie "Bull Durham" brought national fame to our local minor-league baseball team, the Durham Bulls. Since the filming of the movie, the Bulls have changed major league affiliates (from the Braves to the Devil Rays), moved up to Triple A from Single A ball, and relocated to a bigger, newer ballpark a few blocks away from the original Durham Athletic Park where the movie was filmed. More recently, the Bulls made another move to further endear themselves in the hearts of locals who love baseball and barbeque: they introduced their very own BBQ sauce, Durham Bulls Triple Play Bar-B-Que Sauce! Deliciously tangy and slightly sweet with its tomato and vinegar base, Durham Bulls Triple Play Bar-B-Que Sauce brings authentic Piedmont NC barbecue flavor to your pulled pork as well as other grilled meats and poultry. This BBQ sauce is perfect for basting and mopping, and you can also use it as a marinade, dipping sauce and finishing sauce. In addition to adding lipsmacking-good flavor, Durham Bulls Triple Play Bar-B-Que Sauce will make your meats and chicken tender and juicy, making it a real winner. Until today, the only way to buy this tasty sauce was at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park - but now anyone can enjoy Durham Bulls Triple Play Bar-B-Que Sauce thanks to its arrival at the Carolina Sauce Company. So step up to the plate and get yourself a bottle - and another for your favorite baseball fan!

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Special Discount for Blog Readers

It's time for me to say Thank You to all the faithful readers and subscribers of the Carolina Sauce Company Blog, and that means you get to cash in on special money-saving deals! The Carolina Sauce Company provides over 300 unique zesty products from around the world; however, our specialty is sharing the best that North Carolina has to offer. To that end, our new special "thank you" gift for Blog readers and subscribers is a copy of the brand-new, full color 2007-2008 "Dish This!" catalog published by the North Carolina Specialty Foods Association, AND a coupon good for 10% off your next order of select NC products from the Carolina Sauce Company. This coupon is valid through the end of the year, which means you can use it during the holiday season or to do your Christmas shopping. However, if you want to claim your catalog and coupon, you need to act now: Simply place an order with the Carolina Sauce Company for ANY products in our store, between now and October 22nd, 2007, and make sure you type the words "Dish This Blog" in the Comments section of the online order form. If you order by phone or by mail, then make sure you mention the "Dish This Blog" special in order to receive your copy of the catalog and discount coupon. So don't delay - order today and you'll receive a beautiful catalog and a valuable discount coupon good on select North Carolina Products!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chile Soap

No, our chile soaps are NOT made out of chile peppers, nor do they feature capsaicin oil as an ingredient - thank goodness! These lovely soaps are in the shape of chile peppers, and are hand-made in New Mexico using skin-pampering ingredients including soothing natural oils, shea butter and natural fragrances, plus vegetable glycerine - a humectant that passes moisture straight from the air to your skin to leave it soft and supple. The brilliant red chile soap is scented with spicy cinnamon, and the green bar with tangy lime. Both soaps create a rich, luxuriant lather, but they look so good and smell so nice that you'll want to hang them in your kitchen or bathroom for display, and to serve as decorative air fresheners. You can purchase these unique chile soaps in single bars, or in ristras (the traditional string of chile peppers) of 5 soaps. The ristras make a particularly stunning visual display, and can be given as a thoughtful housewarming or hostess gift. No matter which chile soap you choose, every time you use it you'll be reminded of that famous question asked in restaurants all over New Mexico, "Red or green?"

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Operation Sauce Drop Update

It's taken me a while to post this, but (finally!) here's a photo of the first batch of Operation Sauce Drop gift boxes to be shipped to US troops, thanks to the generous donations received to date. So far, Operation Sauce Drop has received contributions from 24 donors, including some current and retired members of the US Armed Forces, family members of active duty military personnel, and regular folks who want to let our brave servicemen and women know that we're thinking of them back home. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have sent out 21 Gift Boxes to date, and we have 5 pending requests for gift boxes, which we hope to be able to ship next week. We have posted these statistics on the main page for Operation Sauce Drop, which is also where donations can be made and where gift box requests can be entered. Make sure to check there for updates, as we plan to post revised statistics at least once a month and hopefully more frequently. In addition to the four different gift boxes currently available, we're working on adding one or more BBQ sauce gift boxes, if we can get the right packaging and products assembled. More info on that if and when it's available.

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed and otherwise helped with Operation Sauce Drop! As you can see from my earlier posts with feedback from the troops and from family members, you are helping to make a difference. Every contribution helps, regardless of size. And if for whatever reason you are unable to make a monetary contribution but you want to help somehow, then here's how: Spread the word about Operation Sauce Drop. Tell your friends. Heck, email the link to them and anyone else you think might be interested. Post a link to Operation Sauce Drop on blogs, forums, discussion groups and websites. And if you know anyone in the armed forces, let them know about the Military Sign-Up for a free gift box. By spreading the word about Operation Sauce Drop and how easy it is to contribute, you'll help make sure that all gift box requests can be fulfilled, and that a gift box will be sent to every serviceman and servicewoman who requests one. Thank you!!!

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Deer Slaw

Most people think of cole slaw as a tangy cold side dish for picnics, cookouts and parties, seasoned with vinegar or mayonnaise or even mustard. Deer slaw is different: It's cooked and served hot.

No, there’s no deer or venison in this slaw – the recipe was created at a hunting camp, as a relish to be served with venison, but it's just as appropriate as a side dish for BBQ, burgers, or grilled beer bratwursts and summer squash as shown in the photo on the left.

 Like most hunt camp food, it’s very easy to make, will feed a lot of people, and the leftovers are even tastier the next day. Don't be daunted by the 2 heads of cabbage that the recipe calls for: like mushrooms, cabbage is mostly water, and you'll be surprised how much it cooks down! You can also halve the recipe. And if you end up with leftovers, don't despair: Simply refrigerate and enjoy the next day, either reheated or cold (the flavors develop and taste great cold or hot the next day).

2 Heads of Green Cabbage
2 Large Carrots, diced
1 Bottle Caesar Salad Dressing (Not creamy)
1/4 tbsp Black Pepper

Cook the carrots into a steamer until they get al dente, tender but not mushy. Slice cabbage into thick strips. Steam the cabbage with the softened carrots until the cabbage becomes soft and pliable. Drain any excess liquid from the carrots and cabbage, fold in the Caesar salad dressing and black pepper. Serve hot.

Deer slaw is great to take tailgating, and yes you can chill it overnight and eat it cold the next day.

Zestfully yours,

PS: We have all the BBQ tools & tailgating accessories you need this season, so make sure to browse our updated selection and "shop small" with Carolina Sauce!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bear-Man BBQ & Dipping Sauces

Upstate New York is well-known for hot chicken wing sauces - after all, the original Buffalo chicken wings were invented at a bar in Buffalo, NY. But thanks to a Canadian pal of ours, we were lucky enough to be introduced to Bear-Man Barbecue & Dipping Sauces. If you crave thick, tomato-based barbeque sauces that deliver layers of slow-cooked flavor without being overly sweet or smoky, then these are the sauces you've been looking for. The texture is thick and rich, with little bits of real onions, garlic and other savory ingredients in a tangy tomato base. These homemade flavors are enhanced with just the right touch of peppery heat. Bear-Man BBQ & Dipping Sauces come in two finger-licking good flavors: Black Bear Boogie, which is enhanced with a splash of beer that adds a pleasant complexity and tang to this big and bold sauce, and Growlin' Grizzly, which is on the spicier side with a pleasantly savory bite. In addition to the full-bodied flavors of these sauces, we really like the fact that Bear-Man BBQ & Dipping Sauces will stick to your food instead of just running off like many thin sauces will. This makes them ideal for basting, mopping and finishing anything you grill (as well as for dipping!). We think these sauces are especially suited for venison and other game, as well as beef ribs, pork and even chicken. If you haven't tried Bear-Man sauces yet, you don't know what you're missing - fix that problem today by ordering one of each flavor, and discover upstate NY's best-kept secret!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tasty Fish & Seafood Ideas

One of the perks of being the "Sauce Diva" here at the Carolina Sauce Company is that I get to taste all the new products being considered as possible additions to our online store. After a very satisfying dinner tonight of grilled tilapia and sweet bell peppers, seasoned with a few products currently under consideration, I started thinking about all the great sauces and seasonings we carry that are fabulous on fish, shrimp and other seafood. While some products, like Thomas Fish Camp Cocktail Sauce and Thomas Fish Camp Tartar Sauce are obviously meant for seafood just from the name, quite a few other items are superb on a variety of fish, shellfish and more. Here are some of my personal favorites:

1. Crabanero Hot Sauce: Spiced with the original Old Bay seasoning, this habanero hot sauce just begs to be sprinkled on raw or steamed oysters, boiled or fried shrimp, butter-sauteed scallops, crabs, and other delights from the sea.

2. Ruth's Mango Sauces: These fruity and spicy sauces from Jamaica are a lovely complement to light fish like catfish, sole, flounder and tilapia, and make a tempting tropical dipping sauce for fried shrimp. Whether fried, grilled, sauteed or steamed, your fish will thank you when dressed with Ruth's Mango Sauce (in spicy Original, fiery Hot, and zippy Ginger varieties).

3. Greg's Happy Sauce: Simply marinate raw salmon or shrimp for 30 minutes to 2 hrs with Greg's Happy Sauce, then grill or broil, and get ready to enjoy one of the best (and simplest) meals of your life!

4. Char-Crust Roasted Garlic Peppercorn Seasoning: Tuna, salmon and other robust fish are sensational when seasoned with this gourmet dry rub and then cooked until just done on the grill or in the oven.

5. Nando's Lemon-Herb Peri Peri Grind: This citrusy and slightly peppery spice blend from South Africa enhances mild seafood dishes without overpowering your tastebuds.

6. Pepper's Chipotle Smoked Corn Blue Crab Salsa: Dress up your fish tacos and other southwestern or Tex-Mex fare with this chunky, fiery-hot and smoky salsa that includes real Maryland Blue Crab! This salsa also makes a nice alternative to cocktail sauce. If the Chipotle is too hot for you, try the milder but flavor-packed Original Blue Crab Salsa, and if horseradish is your preference then you need the zingy Zesty Blue Crab Salsa!

7. Blair's Q Heat Wasabi Green Tea Exotic Hot Sauce: This versatile gourmet sauce pairs nicely with tuna steaks, seared Ahi tuna (hot or cold), and sushi and sashimi. You can also use it as a marinade.

8. Dave's Gourmet Soyabi Sauce: With its blend of soy sauce and wasabi in a savory and slightly sweet base, this sauce is an obvious choice for sushi as well as Asian stir-fry dishes featuring shellfish.

So what are you waiting for? No more boring fish dinners: dress things up with a zesty, spicy or fiery sauce, seasoning or condiment - give one of my favorites a try!

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Favorite Sauce Names

The Carolina Sauce Company takes pride in being a family-friendly hot sauce & specialty foods store, meaning that we don't carry any X-rated products like other hot sauce vendors. But just because we like to keep things clean doesn't mean we don't have a sense of humor. We get a kick out of the names of some of the products we carry, and here's a list of my 11 favorite names:

1. Toad Sweat: I did a double-take the first time we saw that one, and I'm glad I stopped to taste a sample! Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauces are spicy, sweet and fruity, and are made especially for ice cream, cheesecake and other sweet delights that could use a peppery kick. Toad Sweat comes in 4 great flavors plus a 4-pack of mini-bottles so that you can try them all!

2. Carolina Swamp Sauce: This deliciously savory marinade with the funny name is wonderful on meats and poultry and anything else you grill.

3. Happy Sauce: I confess I'm a little biased with this one, but folks always smile when they hear the name or see a bottle, and many ask if there's "real happy sauce" in the recipe. No, there's no booze, but the great flavors in this award-winning marinade and grilling sauce makes everyone happy!

4. Blue Tick Dressing: With a name like that, your dressing/marinade had better taste good! And in fact, this one sure does. Blue Tick Dressing is made by the same folks who make Carolina Swamp Sauce.

5. Oink Moo Cock A Doodle Doo: The down-home name lets you know that this lip-smacking-good Piedmont-style NC BBQ sauce is yummy on pork, beef and chicken.

6. Cackalacky: Some folks refer to NC as "North Cackalacky" and that's where the name of this spicy, flavorful table sauce originates.

7. Liquid Stoopid: You KNOW you're in for trouble when the label for this ultra-hot sauce warns that you'll taste your IQ points melting away and "One drop will Stoopify ya!"

8. Pain Is Good: Finally, a hot sauce that declares what serious chileheads have known all along! We carry 3 great flavors of Pain Is Good: Garlic, Louisiana, and Jamaican style. Each label features the photo of a guy screaming in pleasure/pain, making the bottle a guaranteed conversation starter at your next BBQ, tailgate or cookout.

9. Lawyers Breath: This garlicky hot sauce is a favorite with lawyers, judges and other legal professionals, and is one of 4 different judicially-themed hot sauces. Check out our Lawyer's Gift Set with all 4 flavors!

10. Hot Honeys: A cute name for deliciously spicy honey-roasted chipotle-dusted peanuts. Warning: Hot Honeys are addictively good!

11. Satan's Blood: The ultra-hot sauce bearing this sinister name actually LOOKS like real blood, and it's bottled in an old-fashioned flask to add to the scary visual impact.

That's my list - now let us know which are YOUR favorite product names!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Greg’s Happy Mushrooms

This recipe doubles easily – if you’re feeding a crowd, simply use as many mushrooms as you need. You can also make this with other vegetables that absorb sauces well, including zucchini and yellow summer squash. Or better yet, use a combination of those veggies and toss in some sliced onions, too!

8 oz. Portobello, Crimini or White (button) mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 bottle of Greg’s Happy Sauce

Place mushrooms in a large (gallon-size) resealable plastic bag or in a container suitable for marinating. Pour enough Greg’s Happy Sauce (shake bottle well first) to completely cover the mushrooms, and gently shake the bag or stir the mushrooms in the container to coat well with sauce. Marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours or longer. When ready to cook, heat your grill*, remove mushrooms from bag or container and place them in a grilling vegetable basket, and grill until done (a few minutes, depending on how many mushrooms), stirring occasionally and basting with the remaining sauce from the bag or container. Serves 2 as a side dish.

*Instead of grilling, you can also cook the mushrooms under the broiler, or sauté them in a non-stick pan.

If you end up with leftovers, simply store in your refrigerator and you can enjoy them cold the next day over a tossed green salad with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon (no need to add any additional dressing), or just heat up the leftovers in your microwave.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dave's Insanity Private Reserve, 2007 Edition

Dave's Gourmet Insanity Sauce is considered to be the original "hottest sauce in the universe", and to this day it's the only sauce ever to have been banned from the Fiery Foods Show for being, well, too insanely hot. That was years ago, before the "ultra-hot" craze swept the chile pepper-loving world. Indeed, the original Dave's Insanity Sauce began an arms race of sorts, with specialty hot sauce manufacturers trying to outdo each other by increasing the amount and potency of capsaicin extract in their latest ultra-hot creation. Not to be outdone, Dave's Gourmet decided to create a very special ultra-hot sauce for serious collectors and connoisseurs, made from select aged habaneros blended with unique seasonings and issued each year in very small quantities (like a rare vintage wine). Each bottle of Dave's Gourmet Insanity Private Reserve Hot Sauce is individually numbered and hand-signed by Dave himself, and is packaged in a wooden coffin with yellow "caution" tape, making it a great gift for chileheads and a nifty conversation piece on your dinner table or in your tailgating crate/picnic basket.

About two to three times hotter than Dave's original Insanity Sauce, Dave's Private Reserve Insanity Sauce is unbelievably hot and should only be used one micro-drop (from a toothpick) at a time in food as you cook it - it's simply too intense to be added directly to served food, and no, we're not exaggerating (think "military-grade pepper spray" and you'll be in the ballpark for heat level).

Here at Carolina Sauce Company, we're proud to announce that the 2007 edition of Dave's Gourmet Insanity Private Reserve has finally arrived! Unlike other hot sauces, Dave's Insanity Private Reserve can become a valuable collectible because of the limited quantity made each year and the fact that each bottle is numbered, stamped with the "vintage year", and hand-signed. Dave's Gourmet reports that an early edition sold for about $1,000 a few years ago - not bad for a hot sauce! This "king of the hot sauces" tends to sell out quickly, and because it's produced in such small quantities, once it's gone it's gone. So don't delay - order today to get your 2007 edition of Dave's Private Reserve for yourself, or to give as a special gift!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

World's Best Spare Ribs

OK, so maybe I'm a wee bit biased, but I really think the following recipe makes the world's best spare ribs - and I'm really, really picky about my ribs. But don't take my word for it: Get yourself a bottle of Greg's Happy Sauce and try the following recipe for yourself! FYI, you'll need a smoker to do this right, or you can do the "Cheater's Ribs" version.

World's Best Spare Ribs: Take a full rack of spare ribs and cut the membrane off of the bottom. Rub with a little salt and chili powder (not too much, just enough to bring out some flavor). Smoke at low heat (225 degrees) until the meat starts to pull back from the bone. Baste the ribs liberally with Greg's Happy Sauce , and keep cooking until you can grab a bone and twist off a rib. If you have to chop your ribs, they're not done. A full rack can take 6-8 hours.

Cheater's Ribs: If you want to do something fast that will appear as ribs, you can purchase "Country Ribs" in many meat markets in North Carolina. It's really just pork butt cut into the shape of ribs, but you can marinate those in Greg's Happy Sauce overnight in the refrigerator, and then cook on low heat on your grill or under the broiler until they're done (maybe an hour). Or you can do baby back ribs -- just marinate overnight in Greg's Happy Sauce, and grill them like you normally would grill your baby back ribs.

If you're lucky, Greg's Happy Sauce is available in a store near you and you won't have to pay for shipping - here's our list of stores that sell Greg's Happy Sauce.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bourbon BBQ Nuts

Here's a creative way to use your favorite BBQ seasoning or Dry Rub on the grill. This recipe multiplies easily, so make a big batch before your next football party, or better yet, grill them up while you tailgate - eating the nuts while they're still warm is pure pleasure!

1 Cup of roasted shelled Peanuts or Pecans
1 Tbs butter
1/4 tsp of the BBQ seasoning or Dry Rub of your choice
1 splash of Bourbon (resist the urge to use too much, or else it will dilute the flavor of the dry seasonings)

Melt the butter in a pan. When the butter is melted, splash in the bourbon -- don't use the good stuff, we're just looking for a little strong flavor. Add the seasoning or dry rub and stir in to mix, then add the nuts and stir well to coat. Place all of this on a tinfoil sheet, crimping the corners to make a "pan." Grill on low heat until done (any liquid will evaporate and the nuts will have a light "crust" of seasoning). Remove from grill, place nuts in a heat-proof bowl and sprinkle with additional seasoning if a stronger flavor is desired.

Can't decide what kind of BBQ seasoning or Dry Rub to try for this recipe, or your other grilling needs? Check out this list of Best-Selling Dry Rubs and Seasonings for some guaranteed winners!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blues Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce

North Carolina is known better for its pulled pork BBQ than for its hot sauces, but I have a feeling that's about to change, thanks to Blue's Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce, the First Place Champion in both the Critics' Choice and the People's Choice categories of the first annual NC Hot Sauce Contest held this past weekend in Oxford, NC. Made in the little town of Concord, NC, by the same folks who brought us the tamer but just as tasty Blue's Carolina Pepper Sauce (which is wonderful on pulled pork BBQ and collard greens, by the way), Blue's Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce is an inspired blend of Red Savina habanero peppers (the hottest strain of habaneros) and other fiery hot peppers in a rich and tangy tomato-lemon-vinegar base that's not thin and runny or harshly tart like your typical vinegar-based hot sauce. The use of multiple varieties of hot peppers creates complex layers of heat that you experience on different parts of your tongue and mouth, but only after you first taste the sweetly ripe tomatoes that give great body to this sauce. In addition to the superb flavor, you'll enjoy a heat that builds gradually to serious intensity but without searing your taste buds to the point that all you get is pain without being able to taste your food.

Don't get me wrong: Blue's Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce is hot enough to give me an endorphin rush when I splash it on my food (and it's good on just about anything except dessert!). But its great taste and fiery heat serve to complement and not kill the other flavors on your plate, making for quite a sensory delight. And you've gotta love the unique, eye-catching label, too! So try a bottle of the award-winning Blue's Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce today, and go ahead and treat yourself to Blue's Carolina Pepper Sauce for when you need a gentler touch of peppery spice.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Eye-Opening Breakfast Ideas

My Sunday evening isn't anywhere near over yet, so I'm already thinking ahead to an early morning "wake-me-up-and-get-me-going" breakfast to start off my Monday. Luckily I've planned ahead and brewed an extra-large pot of coffee this weekend, and refrigerated what I didn't drink hot. This cold coffee will be a key ingredient in my quick & easy breakfast smoothie recipe, which is below. You don’t need to add sugar if you’re using a ripe banana, but if you prefer a sweeter drink, just add some sugar or honey to taste.

1 ripe banana
1 cup strong brewed coffee, chilled
½ cup milk (or more, to taste)
Optional: 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder
Optional: 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate ice cream
Optional: Honey or sugar to taste

Place all ingredients (including any optional ones) in a blender, blend until combined, and pour in a tall glass or travel mug. You can even dust your drink with a sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg or cocoa powder if you’d like.

Now, if you have time to make yourself a proper breakfast such as an omelet or scrambled eggs, or perhaps some pancakes or oatmeal, a splash of just the right hot sauce can help you wake up without the buzz and jitters of too much caffeine. Here are some (perhaps unusual) ideas to spice up your breakfast:

1) Try some Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauce in your oatmeal or other hot cereal, or to "spike" your pancake syrup. Toad Sweat comes in four delectably sweet and spicy flavors: Cranberry, Key Lime, Chocolate Orange, and Lemon Vanilla. Better yet, get the 4-pack of mini-bottles to sample each flavor!

2) If you like ketchup on your scrambled eggs or hash browns, reach for a bottle of Cackalacky Spiced Ketchup instead of your ordinary grocery store variety for some savory zip.

3) If you're a hearty steak-and-eggs breakfast kind of guy or gal, dress up your morning meal with the rich flavor of Boar and Castle Sauceto wake up your senses.

4) If bagels and cream cheese are your cup of tea, mix in a little Capsicana Zing with your cream cheese for a savory, spicy treat.

5) The next time you serve up breakfast sausage, spoon out some Red's Sweet Salsa on the side: made with sunny-sweet chunks of ripe tomatoes, sweet peppers and onions, this non-fruity sweet salsa is the perfect complement to salty sausage and other breakfast meats.

So start your day with a bang and say goodbye to bland breakfasts!
Zestfully yours,

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Just My Taste Jalapeno Dip

If you love the flavor and heat of fresh green jalapenos, then Just My Taste Jalapeno Dip is the answer to your prayers. This North Carolina original is made with farm-fresh jalapenos and just a touch of seasonings, preserving the summery flavor and fiery zing of the peppers at their peak. I like to use Just My Taste "straight" as an alternative to tomato-based salsa, and I add a spoonful to omelet fillings, top my nachos and pizza with Just My Taste, and stir it into chili and stew recipes. You can also blend Just My Taste with cream cheese for a zippy party dip, add it to stir-fry and meatloaf recipes to heat things up, and of course it's a natural in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. If that's not enough to get you interested, then consider this: each bottle of Just My Taste comes with a FREE 5-page recipe brochure for marinades, meat dishes, veggie dishes and more! Whether you are a serious chilehead or a cook who enjoys an occasional hot and spicy dish, Just My Taste Jalapeno Dip is just what you need!
Zestfully yours,

Grilled Venison

My husband tells me that bow season opens this weekend in North Carolina, so I thought it would be appropriate to post an easy, foolproof venison recipe. Greg’s Happy Sauce was created in a North Carolina hunt camp, to tenderize venison and eliminate the “gamey” flavor. This recipe works with any type of meat or game, but is especially good with venison as originally intended. It’s very simple, and there’s no measuring involved – simply use as much venison or other meat as you have, and as much Greg’s Happy Sauce as it takes to coat the meat for marinating.

Venison or other meat, cut into large chunks or strips
Greg’s Happy Sauce

Place the venison or other meat in a large (gallon-size) resealable plastic bag or in a container suitable for marinating. Don’t pack tightly – there should be enough room to move the meat in order to coat and marinade. Pour enough Greg’s Happy Sauce (shake bottle well first) to completely cover the meat, and shake the sealed bag or stir the meat in the container to coat well with sauce. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and preferrably overnight to tenderize the meat and allow the flavors of the sauce to penetrate. When ready to cook, heat your grill, remove meat from bag or container and place the chunks or strips on the grill. Grill until the meat is done to your taste (medium-rare or 140F is ideal), basting with additional Happy Sauce from the bottle as a finishing glaze.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, September 6, 2007

More Feedback for Operation Sauce Drop

Many thanks to all of you who have generously contributed to Operation Sauce Drop, and/or have posted the link ( on blogs and forums, forwarded it to friends and family, and otherwise helped to spread the word. Operation Sauce Drop wouldn't be possible without your support. We continue to receive notes of gratitude from the troops, as well as from family members. Here are some of the most recent comments:

From a serviceman in the Air Force who requested the North Carolina Gift Box: "It is very nice to see companies such as yours supporting the troops. We GREATLY appreciate people/business's such as yours. Thanks"

From a family member who signed up a soldier to receive a gift box: "Thanks for your program for our soldiers. This particular soldier is my nephew, on his 2nd tour of the Mideast."

From a military mom who signed up her son: "Thank you for thinking of my children in this way."

From a serviceman back in the US who sent in a very generous contribution: "I can attest to how much the food at the DFACs in Iraq could stand a little of your products -- wish I'd known you guys shipped to APOs a year ago! Great idea you've come up with."

We hope to have some photos to share in the near future, so stay tuned -- and thanks again for your support!
Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Kerry's Spicy Rice Noodles

If you like Pad Thai, you will love this fast and easy recipe that takes only 20 minutes from start to finish!

8 oz. rice noodles
2/3 cup Greg’s Hot 'n Bothered Sauce or Greg's Happy Sauce (shake bottle well)
1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno or other hot peppers (remove seeds and membranes to reduce heat)
Juice of half a lime (or of a whole lime, if you prefer more)
1/4 cup salted peanuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onions, including some of the green part
Optional: 1/4 cup of one or more of the following: peas (fresh or frozen), diced yellow and/or red bell pepper, diced summer squash (zucchini or yellow squash)
Optional: 8 oz. cooked and peeled shrimp

Prepare the rice noodles according to package directions, but only until slightly soft (al dente). Be careful not to oversoak or overcook! Drain noodles thoroughly and set aside. Pour Greg’s Hot 'n Bothered Sauce or Greg's Happy Sauce into a medium pot, add hot peppers, lime juice, peanuts and any optional ingredients. Add a little more Greg's Sauce if needed to coat all ingredients. Stir over medium heat for a few minutes to combine the flavors. Add drained noodles and stir until noodles are well-coated - add a little more Greg's Sauce if ingredients still seem too dry (make sure you shake bottle well first). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is heated through and the noodles are done (approx. 5-10 minutes). Serves 2.
Note: For a list of stores near you where Greg's Hot 'n Bothered Sauce and Greg's Happy Sauce are available, just click here.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Matouk's and Walkerswood Shortages?

Well, as one might expect, the recent major hurricanes that have hit the Caribbean have not been kind to the local pepper crops, including scotch bonnet peppers. Local manufacturers are already warning of upcoming hot sauce production shortages, and our importer has notified us that the Matouk's hot sauces from Trinidad & Tobago as well as the Walkerswood line of Jamaican Jerks will be in very short supply this fall and winter. Here at Carolina Sauce Company, we will make every effort to keep these popular sauces in stock, and currently we have plenty available. But if you enjoy any of the Matouk's hot sauces or the Walkerswood products and want to make sure you have enough to last you through the winter, place your orders now. Don't delay in stocking up, because once these two manufacturers run out of their current inventory of sauces, it may be many months before they have enough peppers to produce more!
Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 3, 2007

Tasty Tailgating Specials

Although it might still feel like summer in many parts of the country, there's something special in the air now that the kids are back in school and football season is cranking up.... It's Tailgating Time! Gather up friends and family, pack the cooler with grillables and your favorite beverages, load the grill and some lawn chairs into the truck, and don't forget the BBQ Sauce and party snacks! If you want to make your next tailgating party spread truly memorable as well as pleasing to the palate and wallet, make sure you check out our Tailgating Specials. Enjoy!
Zestfully yours,

Sunday, September 2, 2007

August Best Sellers

The long, hot month of August is finally behind us, and that means that we have updated our lists of Best-Selling sauces and other zesty products at the Carolina Sauce Company! We have a new product breaking into the overall top-ten best sellers this time (Boar and Castle Sauce), and deservedly so as anyone who's ever tried it will tell you. The following sauces proved to be our customers' favorite products for August 2007:

1. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce, a hugely popular Eastern NC style (vinegar based) BBQ Sauce that's peppery with a hint of sweetness and a touch of smoke, making it ideal for pulled pork
2. Capsicana Zing Sauce, a versatile spicy sauce that's not fiery but rather full of flavor
3. Matouk's Calypso Sauce, a thick and spicy hot sauce from Trinidad and Tobago
4. Scott's Barbecue Sauce, a peppery-hot vinegar-based Eastern NC BBQ sauce that's made the traditional way, without any sugar or tomatoes and makes classic eastern NC pulled pork BBQ
5. Georgia Peach & Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce, an award-winning mildly-spicy hot sauce capturing two Southern delicacies: sweet Georgia peaches and Vidalia(R) onions
6. Bone Suckin' Sauce, a thick and tangy Western NC-style (tomato-based) NC BBQ sauce that's great on ribs
7. Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce, an all-purpose hot sauce from Jamaica that isn't overly vinegary or garlicky and is a perennial favorite
8. Boar and Castle Sauce, an old-fashioned steak sauce that's new to Carolina Sauce Company but has been around since 1929
9. Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce, a tangy-sweet Piedmont style NC BBQ sauce that's wonderful on pulled pork, BBQ chicken and more
10. Carolina Swamp Sauce; a unique Caribbean-inspired grilling sauce and marinade that combines vinegar, tomato and worcestershire sauce with a gourmet blend of herbs and spices.

In addition to updating our list of overall best-selling sauces, we have also updated our Best-Seller lists for individual product categories, including hot sauces, salsa, dry rubs, BBQ sauce and more. You can't go wrong with any of these popular products!
Zestfully yours,