Friday, December 21, 2007

Carolina Sauce Company Holiday Schedule Reminder

The Carolina Sauce Company will be closed from Saturday, December 22 through Sunday, January 6. You can still place orders online during that time, but they will be shipped after we re-open for business on January 7th. Although no one will be available to answer the phone or reply to email, you can leave voicemail or email and we will reply after January 6th.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a safe and joyful Holiday Season!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ring of Fire XX Hot Habanero Sauce

The newest -- and hottest -- member of the Ring of Fire Hot Sauce family has arrived: Ring of Fire XX-Hot Habanero Hot Sauce. The label warns that this sauce is so hot, "it'll burn ya twice", and it's a fair warning: Packed with plenty of habanero and serrano chiles, the sharp, fiery heat of this sauce is for serious chileheads! But unlike other intensely hot sauces, Ring of Fire XX Hot Habanero Sauce is all-natural and is not "spiked' with capsaicin extract. Fresh chiles are blended with red ripe tomatoes, minced onions and garlic to produce a rich, fresh-flavored sauce with a thick, mouthpleasing texture reminiscent of homestyle salsa. Yes, this sauce is hearty enough to eat with chips, if you have a teflon tongue and cast-iron innards! A safer way to use it is in or on Mexican, Tex-Mex, Southwestern, and Fresh-Mex/Cali dishes. It's also a surefire way to ratchet up the heat in chili, stews, and bland store-bought salsa, without adding any strange flavor overtones or harsh vinegar edge. You really get your money's worth with this sauce, too, because it comes in a generous 12.5 fl. oz. bottle instead of the typical 5 oz size hot sauce bottle. So go ahead and indulge in the painful pleasure of a seriously hot, full-flavored hot sauce and order yourself a bottle of Ring of Fire XX-Hot Habanero Hot Sauce, available now from the Carolina Sauce Company!

Zestfully yours,

Peculiar Peppers and Chile Facts

Here are some fascinating (or at least interesting) facts about chile peppers:

*Peppercorns such as black pepper (piper nigrum) or pink peppercorns are not at all related to chile peppers (capsicum). Columbus is credited--or blamed--for the confusion: Apparently when he reached the New World and "discovered" the capsicum, which the natives had been enjoying long before Columbus arrived, he mistakenly thought he had discovered the plant that produced black pepper, and hence christened the plant "pepper".

*The Datil Pepper, native to St. Augustine, FL (the oldest city in the US), is generally considered the rarest North American chile pepper. It is featured in the Florida-made Dat'l Do It Sauces.

*Chile (also spelled chili and chilli) peppers are found throughout the world, and the different varieties cross-breed freely, which makes it nearly impossible to generate a comprehensive list of all the different chile peppers in the world. Perhaps more importantly, it means you should plant your hot peppers far from your mild bell peppers when planting a garden, or by the end of the summer you'll end up with very spicy "mild" peppers (this happened to us once when we planted habaneros next to bell peppers).

*The Peri Peri, or Piri Piri or birds-eye pepper, is native to South Africa and is considered the hottest of the African chiles. It is featured in the US-made African Rhino Peri Peri Hot Sauces.

Pure Capsaicin crystals (kit)
*Most commercial chile powders are actually blends of black pepper, salt, sugar, cumin, garlic, paprika and just a bit of true dried chile pepper. To get true pure chile powder made from a single variety of chile pepper, your best bet is a Latin American grocery store or a specialty foods/gourmet store - and read the label carefully!

*Capsaicin is the chemical in chile peppers that's responsible for their heat. Especially when consumed in quantity, capsaicin triggers the brain to release endorphins, which create a feeling of well-being, stimulation ("buzz"), relief from pain and sometimes even rapid heart rate. Hence the name "Endorphin Rush" for a popular capsaicin-enhanced ultra-hot sauce. Nowadays you can even purchase pepper extracts that are mostly or even 100% pure capsaicin extract, which is 16 million SHUs (scoville heat units) hot. These should only be used in cooking (never directly on ready-to-eat food) and added carefully one drop at a time.

*Fresh chiles are high in Vitamins A and C, and also provide potassium, vitamin E and folic acid. They taste good AND are good for you!

Dried de arbol peppers
*Dried chiles often have a completely different name than their fresh counterparts. For example, chipotles are dried and smoked jalapenos, and ancho and mulato are types of dried poblano peppers. The flavors of dried chiles are far more intense and complex: just compare the fresh vegetal flavor of a green jalapeno sauce such as El Yucateco Jalapeno Hot Sauce with the smoky, earthy, rounder and hotter flavor of El Yucateco Chipotle Hot Sauce.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hot & Spicy Cheddar Popcorn

Make a batch of this zesty popcorn before settling in to watch your favorite team on TV - but make sure you have an icy cold beverage handy, too!

6 cups freshly popped popcorn
3 Tbs butter or margarine
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne or ground red pepper
1/4 cup finely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

Melt the butter or margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic powder and pepper, and remove from heat. Pour the butter mixture over the popcorn and toss to mix well (use a large bowl, or a very large plastic bag you can shake). Add the cheese and toss again to evenly distribute.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If super-extra-hot popcorn is what you crave, then try Dave's Gourmet Insanity Popcorn. But be careful: it truly is insanely hot!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Spicy Orange Broccoli

You control the heat level of this recipe by selecting which variety of hot pepper to use, and how many. Cooking time is very short when you use your microwave, and there's minimal prep time, too, making this spicy recipe an easy side dish for the busy holiday season (serves 4 to 6).

1 to 1 1/2 lb fresh broccoli
1 medium sweet bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)
1 to 2 hot peppers of your choice (jalapeno, habanero, serrano or other variety)
2 Tbs butter or margarine
2 Tbs orange juice (fresh-squeezed works best, or not-from-concentrate with pulp)
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbs water
1 Orange, sliced into thin half-circles
Optional Garnishes
Choose one of the following:
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbs crumbled bacon
2 Tbs slivered toasted almonds

Trim and peel the broccoli stalk ends and cut the broccoli lengthwise into uniform spears. Cut the sweet bell pepper into julienne strips. Using gloves to protect your skin, de-seed the hot pepper(s) and mince. Place the broccoli, peppers, and water in a microwave-safe 8x8x2 inch baking dish, cover with clear plastic wrap leaving 1 corner open to vent, and microwave for 6 to 8 minutes or until the broccoli is crisp-tender, stirring once during the cooking time. Remove from microwave, seal tight with the plastic wrap and let stand while you prepare the orange butter.

For the orange butter, place the butter or margarine, orange juice and orange zest in a microwave-safe small bowl or measuring cup and cook, uncovered, in the microwave for about 1 minute or until the butter is melted. Stir to blend. Carefully drain the broccoli-pepper mixture (be careful not to lose too much of the minced hot pepper!), place the orange slices in a single layer on a serving platter and arrange the broccoli mixture on top, leaving a "border" of orange slices. Drizzle the orange butter over the broccoli mixture and sprinkle with the garnish of your choice.

Zestfully yours,

PS: No time to cook? Here's a no-brainer and no-effort way to get your veggies and make them taste good as well: Simply microwave your favorite frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, peas, medleys, California or stirfry blends, you name it) and then top with a little butter or margarine and a few twists of a Nando's Peri-Peri Grinder. That's it!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Look for Carolina Sauce Company!

Check out the new and improved, easier to use home page for Carolina Sauce Company! We've replaced the old (and incomplete) menu tabs at the top of the page with simple text links to every section of our website and our store, including all the product categories. Now you're just one click away from our "About" page, Privacy Policy, SiteMap, Best-Sellers, Hot Sauces, and every other section of the Carolina Sauce company website. We've even included a quick link back to my blog! You'll find the same handy text menu at the top of every Carolina Sauce web page - but you'll see the familiar left side menu buttons on all the Carolina Sauce Store page.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think of the new Carolina Sauce home page and web page format!

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Twelve Days of Hot Sauce

Here's the final verse, to be sung to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas" -- and it also makes for a convenient shopping list if you need gifts for one or more chileheads or fiery foods fanatics, or if you haven't yet written your own list to send to Santa!

On the twelfth day of hot sauce, my true love gave to me:
12 Dave's Gourmet Sauce,
11 Crabanero,
10 Melinda's Hot Sauce,
9 Blair's Death Hot Sauce,
8 Marie Sharp's Sauce,
7 Susie's Hot Sauce,
6 El Yucateco,
5 Ring of Fire --
4 Blair Q Heat,
3 Da Bomb,
2 Satan's Blood --
And a Blue's Habanero Reserve!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, December 14, 2007

Reminder: Free Gifts for December Blog Readers

'Tis the season for giving, and Carolina Sauce Company would like to give you up to THREE free gifts to thank you for subscribing to our RSS feed and reading my blog. Here's how to claim your free gifts:

(1) Place an order by Dec. 31 for one or more products from the Carolina Sauce Company to be delivered to you, and enter the word "Blog" in the COMMENTS line on the online order form, and we will add a free item of our choice in addition to your purchase! You can also claim your free gift when you order by phone - just mention this blog when placing your order.

(2) Place an order by Dec. 31 for one or more products OR for a Gift Certificate from the Carolina Sauce Company to be delivered to someone else, and enter the word "Blog" in the COMMENTS line on the online order form, and we will email you a coupon for 10% off your next order of products from the Carolina Sauce Company, good through June 30th, 2008! You can also claim your coupon when you order by phone - just mention this blog when placing your order.

(3) Make a donation to Operation Sauce Drop in any amount between now and December 31st, and enter the word "Blog" in the COMMENTS line on the online order form (or if you donate through PayPal, send us an email at "sales AT carolinasauce DOT com" and mention this Blog). We will then email you a coupon for 10% off your next order of products from the Carolina Sauce Company, good through June 30, 2008! (And yes, even if you've already donated to Operation Sauce Drop in the past, you can still get your discount coupon if you make another donation between now and December 31st!)

You can do one, two or all three of the above and receive 1, 2 or all 3 of the gifts! Just remember to enter the word "Blog" when ordering online, or mention the Blog if you order by phone.

Zestfully yours,

Gourmet Gift Certificates

Stressing over what to get that special someone this holiday season? Running out of time to find the perfect gift? Dreading the last-minute shopping crowds at the mall? Carolina Sauce Company has what you're looking for, delivered in time for Christmas and without leaving the comfort of your home or office: electronic Gift Certificates! Available in denominations from $15 to $100, Carolina Sauce Company Gift Certificates never expire and can be redeemed online for anything in our store. So save yourself the hassle, frustration and lost time involved in driving to and shopping at the mall, and avoid the worry over whether a package will arrive in time for Christmas - simply send electronic Gift Certificates from the Carolina Sauce Company and your holiday shopping is done painlessly and quickly!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Greg's Mom's Sweet Potato Souffle

This holiday season why not try a rich, fluffy sweet potato souffle instead of tired old candied yams with marshmallows. Sure, it's a bit more challenging since it is a souffle, but even if it falls or doesn't rise evenly the flavor and silky texture will more than make up for any flaws in appearance! No, this isn't diet food (unless you're on a weight-gain diet), so there are no low-fat substitutions. If you're watching your fat or calorie intake, make sure you don't eat too much of this - or do what I do and have a small portion as my dessert.

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
6 eggs
1/2 lb butter, softened
1/2 cup (heaping) sugar
1 small can evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric hand mixer, mix together the eggs, butter, sugar and evaporated milk in a large bowl until well blended. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and continue to mix until smooth and completely combined. Pour into a large souffle pan (or individual souffle cups) and bake for 45 minutes or until the souffle rises and the top begins to brown and crack. Remove from oven and serve hot. Note: You can refrigerate leftovers, which I then like to have cold for breakfast with a cup of coffee for an energizing and filling breakfast.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you'll be serving a holiday feast for friends and family members that are chileheads or fiery foods fanatics, they'll thank you if you include a bottle of Toad Sweat Cranberry Dessert Hot Sauce on the table in addition to traditional cranberry sauce!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Easy Pork Loin with Mushrooms

This recipe is painfully easy - time to dust off that crockpot and put it to work! Nothing to measure - add as much as you need for however many people you plan to feed. Start it in the morning or at least a few hours before serving to make sure the pork is cooked thoroughly. This recipe is hearty and satisfying, with minimal effort!

Pork tenderloin
Sliced baby portobello mushrooms
Greg's Happy Sauce (on sale now!)

Place the pork and mushrooms in the crockpot and add enough Greg's Happy Sauce (shake well first) to cover well. Stir to combine, put the lid on the crockpot, turn it on and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork is cooked through. About 40 mins to 1 hr before serving, make a pot of rice and a salad or green veggie dish of your choice. Serve the pork and mushrooms over the rice, adding more of the cooked sauce from the crockpot over the pork and rice if desired.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Favorite Hot Sauces

People are always asking me what my favorite hot sauce is, and sometimes they're disappointed when I reply that I don't have one single favorite. But most people start to understand when I explain that some hot sauces are better for certain types of food, while others work much better with different dishes. Additionally, some are best used in cooking while others shine when splashed on served food (what I like to call a "table sauce"). So with all that in mind, here's my list of favorite hot sauces, in alphabetical order:

*Blue's Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce: Red Savina Habanero peppers provide a hefty amount of heat, but in a full-bodied tomato-lemon-vinegar base that helps control the fire without a harsh vinegary edge. This is my favorite hot sauce for scrambled eggs, quiche, and other breakfast/brunch fare.

*Conquering Lion Hickory-Smoked Mango Hot Sauce: Hotter than the Blues Habanero Reserve, this all-natural mostly-organic XXX hot sauce packs serious firepower in a thick, smoky base that's mellowed with just a touch of mango. I love this sauce in baked beans and on grilled foods.

*Mile High Hot Sauce: Made with red ripe jalapeno peppers, this hearty hot sauce has a rounder, less "vegetal" flavor than more astringent green jalapeno sauces. The texture reminds me of homemade hot sauce, with lots of pieces of peppers and seeds. I adore this sauce on nachos, in chili, and for cooking Mexican and Tex-Mex foods.

*Not Cool Garden Fresh Habanero Sauce: This one's my favorite on pizza, spaghetti and other Italian food, because of its rich garlicky notes, mild-medium heat and spices that nicely complement tomatoes and pasta dishes. It's organic, too!

*Ole Time Hot Sauce: OK, admittedly this sauce is considered a hot BBQ sauce in North Carolina (eastern style vinegar-based BBQ sauce), but anywhere else in the US it would be used as a hot sauce - and that's also how I tend to use it, too. The vinegar tang and straightforward red pepper/black pepper spiciness makes it my favorite for splashing onto collards, turnip greens, green beans and other homestyle vegetables, and I also splash it on french fries, too. And of course it's superb on pulled pork barbeque!

*Robert Rothschild Hot Raspberry Thunder: This is one of the few capsaicin-extract hot sauces that I actually enjoy, especially on chicken, turkey and other poultry. It also makes a great hot & spicy dip when blended with cream cheese.

*Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauces: Yes, sometimes I feel the need to spice up my ice cream or cheesecake! These unique, fruit-based sweet hot sauces really rock, and also work on savory foods - the key lime and lemon flavors are nice with seafood, while the cranberry flavor pairs well with turkey (of course!) and pork. The chocolate orange flavor works with all sorts of chocolate desserts. And you can stir any of them into your morning oatmeal to help wake you up!

*Capsicana Zing Gourmet Sauce: With its mildly spicy heat level, I love this zippy sauce on salads (I use it instead of a salad dressing), as a sandwich condiment and as a dip (either on its own or blended with cream cheese) for raw vegetables.

So what's YOUR favorite hot sauce? Leave a comment and let us know!

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Gourmet Stocking Stuffers

Here are some full-flavored sauces, spices and other treats that make great holiday stocking-stuffers and are sure to please:

*Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce Mini-Bottle, a best-selling Piedmont style NC BBQ sauce (and the mini jar now features the new 10th Anniversary label with the nattily-dressed pig)

*George's Original BBQ Sauce Mini-Bottle, a favorite of fans of tangy eastern NC style BBQ sauce

*Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauces mini-bottles, sweet and spicy, with 4 flavors (Cranberry, Key Lime, Lemon Vanilla and Chocolate Orange) per pack which you can give as a set or break up to use as 4 individual stocking stuffers

*Knox's Gourmet Dry Rubs, in 3 fabulous flavors (Cracked Pepper, Chipotle BBQ, and Jamaican Jerk) - each little cube is packed with the finest gourmet blend of herbs and spices

*Pluto's Caribbean Bliss Spice Blends, each little bottle is packed with aromatic Jamaican herbs and spices for authentic Caribbean cooking - comes in 4 varieties (Original Hot, Fiery, Mild and Salt-Free)

*Dave's Gourmet Insanity Popcorn, with its insanely fiery heat level, this microwave popcorn is definitely not for kids but will be greatly appreciated by serious chileheads

*Chile Pepper Soaps, hand-crafted in New Mexico using all-natural skin-soothing ingredients (no peppers used in the soap!) and molded into the shape of chile peppers, in Santa Fe Cinnamon and Santa Fe Lime scents

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Greg's Mom's Sausage & Oyster Stuffing

Greg's Mom is an excellent cook who makes mouthwatering old-fashioned homestyle meals. She makes this turkey stuffing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but she leaves out the oysters due to a fairly recently developed shellfish allergy. Greg includes the oysters, and they really do add a special richness to this dresing. He also cooks the stuffing (dressing) in a pan instead of inside the turkey. I appologize for the less-than-exact measurements, but this is one of those recipes where "feel" (or perhaps I should say "taste") is more important than precise amounts. Amazingly, neither Greg nor his mom measure ANYTHING when they make this delicious stuffing - but then again, they've both made it countless times. Go ahead and give it a try the next time you make turkey or otherwise need stuffing. The flavors are simply spectacular!
2 to 2 1/2 loaves white bread (you can also use whole wheat bread)
1 lb (approx.) ground turkey sausage (you can use regular sausage)
1 pint raw oysters, shucked & drained (optional)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery (Greg hates celery so he uses 1 cup chopped bell pepper)
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 can mushrooms, chopped
2 apples, cored and diced
2 cans chicken broth (or 2 1/2 cups water)
Celery seed
Rubbed sage
Poultry seasoning
Seasoned pepper

The day before you plan on cooking the stuffing, break the bread into bite sized pieces and place in 1 or two bowls to dry out, "churning" it up from the bottom several times until you're ready to assemble the stuffing.

One hour before stuffing the turkey (or cooking the stuffing, if cooked separately): Sautee the sausage until cooked through and browned, then drain off the grease. Add the onions, celery, water chestnuts, mushrooms and apples, and sautee until the onions and celery soften. Add the Seasonings to taste, and stir well. In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth or water to a bowl. Place the dried-out bread in a very large bowl (a soup pot also works) and pour in enough broth or water to moisten the bread (this should take the 2 cans of broth). Add the sausage mixture and oysters, and stir to combine. Stuff into the turkey and bake your turkey as planned. Or, if you want to bake the stuffing separately, spoon into a large baking pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350 to 375 degrees for about 1 hr or until the top is browned.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, December 7, 2007

George's BBQ Sauce Gift Box

Do you need a gift for someone who loves to cook on the grill? How about a gift for a displaced North Carolinian, or for someone who loves (or would love to try) NC style barbecue? If your answer to any of the foregoing questions is "Yes," then you need to get the George's Barbecue Sauce Gift Box and fill it with 3 full-size bottles of your choice of George's Barbecue Sauce! This authentic eastern NC BBQ sauce is made with mellow apple cider vinegar, spices and just the lightest touch of tomato, making it ideal for anyone who's never tried real vinegar-based BBQ sauce before - AND it will please the palate of pulled pork purists, too! The Original flavor of George's is vinegar-tangy without being harsh, while the Hot version adds red pepper to spice up the original recipe. George's Special Sauce is thicker and richer thanks to more tomatoes, and it adds jalapeno peppers to kick up the heat. All three sauces are fabulous on pulled pork as well as chicken, meat and anything else you want to marinate and grill or broil. Plus we include free recipes with every order of George's Sauces! The George's BBQ Sauce Gift Box is not only perfect for the holidays, but also makes a thoughtful housewarming gift, birthday gift, Father's Day gift and more. When you order the George's Barbecue Sauce Gift Box, be sure to specify which flavors you want to include (you can pick 3 of the same flavor, 1 of each, or 2 and 1).

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Chipotle Seasoned Peanuts

I have a new favorite spicy snack: Chipotle Seasoned Peanuts from The Peanut Roaster in Henderson, NC. Generously dusted with ground chipotle and other spices, these premium roasted peanuts start off with a medium burn, but quickly move up the scale to a fiery medium-hot to hot level (or extra hot, by North Carolina standards) as you eat more. The heat lingers pleasantly for a satisfying but not overwhelming burn, and the flavor is tangy, peppery-spicy, and savory with a hint of onion and garlic. There's no sweetness or smokiness, and just the right amount of salt. This time of year when things get crazy and I don't always have time for lunch, I can stave off hunger by grabbing a few handful of these peanuts while working and chasing them down with a big glass of water or iced tea. These Chipotle Seasoned Peanuts take care of my hunger, I get some energizing nutrition from the peanuts, and my craving for fire is satisfied - what more can you ask of a snack?? Try some today!

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

November's Best-Selling Hot Sauce, BBQ Sauce, & More

The stats by product category are in, and here are the Top Ten (or Top 5 or 6, depending on category) Best-Selling sauces and other products at the Carolina Sauce Company last month:

*Best-Selling Hot Sauces: A "usual suspect" came in at No. 1, but Marie Sharp's Mild Habanero Sauce cracked the Top Ten for the first time, at a respectable #10

*Best Selling Barbecue Sauces: Another longtime favorite was at the top, and Thomas Sauce debuted No. 9

*Best Selling Rubs: The authentic Cajun seasoning Slap Ya Mama (Black Pepper recipe) from Louisiana broke in at an impressive #4

*Best-Selling Marinades and Dressings: A recent addition to our store, Big Daddy's Marinade, also broke in at #4

*Best-Selling Salsa and Relish: Another new product, Pepper Dog Salsa Verde, made its first Top Ten appearance at #6

*Best Selling Jerks and Curries: Featuring a first-timer, Vernon's Jamaican Hot & Spicy Jerk Sauce, at #5

*Best-Selling Mustards: A first-time Best-Seller, Texas Pete Honey Mustard Sauce, blew past the others to take top honors

*Best Selling Wing Sauces: The original Buffalo wing sauce came in at number 1, but our most unusual (and versatile) wing sauce, Wahoo Willie's Jamaican Wing Sauce, finished in second place

*Best Selling Snacks: A favorite for gag gifts and pranks, Ass Kickin' Jelly Beans cracked the Best-Seller list for the first time, at #5

*Best Selling North Carolina Products: A newer product, Carolina BBQ Peanuts, came in at #3

*Best Selling Gift Sets: With the holiday shopping season picking up steam in Novemeber, it was no surprise to see a few new Top Ten finishers in this category. Interestingly, the Lawyer's Gift Set was the strongest finisher among first-timers, coming in at #4

If you're still looking for a unique gift for someone, or you're searching for some delicious holiday recipe additions, you can't go wrong with any of our Best Selling sauces and products!

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hot & Spicy Potato Latkes

The celebration of Hanukkah begins at sundown tonight. Here is my somewhat non-traditional, hot and spicy take on potato latkes, for folks who enjoy fiery food.

6 medium potatoes, grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large eggs (or the equivalent in egg substitute like Egg Beaters(R))
1/4 cup Matzo meal (or unbleached white flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Dash of red pepper or cayenne
Baking powder - just a pinch
Canola oil (or vegetable oil)

*Sour cream (you can use low fat or fat free)
*Apple sauce (I stir in a little bit of fresh grated ginger for some zing)
*Robert Rothschild Raspberry Thunder Sauce

In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, onion, eggs, Matzo meal or flour, salt, black and red pepper and baking powder until everything is combined well. If you prefer extra-light and crispy latkes, put all of those ingredients in a food processor or in a blender (you may need to divide into two batches) and process until smooth and well-blended. In a large skillet (cast iron works well), add enough oil - about 2 or 3 tablespoons depending on the size of the skillet - to cover the bottom and heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot enough (you'll know because the latke batter will sizzle), drop a large spoonful of batter in the oil and use the spoon to flatten it into a thin pancake. Fry on both sides until brown and crisp. You can add more oil as needed - just make sure it's hot enough before frying the next latke to avoid sogginess! Drain the fried latkes on paper towels, and keep them warm by placing on a cookie sheet in a single layer and placing in the oven at warm/200 degrees until your done frying and ready to serve.

Serve ASAP, topped with a dollop of sour cream. You can serve the apple sauce and the Raspberry Thunder Sauce on the side, or put a dollop of one or the other on your latkes. Just be careful with the Raspberry Thunder Sauce because it is SERIOUSLY hot - you might want to keep more sour cream handy!

Happy Hanukkah!
Zestfully yours,

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Three Free Gifts For December Blog Readers!

In the spirit of the holiday season, the Carolina Sauce Company is giving away FREE GIFTS for blog readers and RSS feed subscribers in December! There are three easy ways to receive a free gift - and you can do one, two or all three anytime through December 31st:

(1) Place an order for one or more products from the Carolina Sauce Company to be delivered to you, and enter the word "Blog" in the COMMENTS line on the online order form, and we will add a free item of our choice in addition to your purchase! You can also claim your free gift when you order by phone - just mention this blog when placing your order.

(2) Place an order for one or more products OR for a Gift Certificate from the Carolina Sauce Company to be delivered to someone else, and enter the word "Blog" in the COMMENTS line on the online order form, and we will email you a coupon for 10% off your next order of products from the Carolina Sauce Company, good through June 30th, 2008! You can also claim your coupon when you order by phone - just mention this blog when placing your order.

(3) Make a donation to Operation Sauce Drop in any amount between now and December 31st, and enter the word "Blog" in the COMMENTS line on the online order form (or if you donate through PayPal, send us an email at "sales AT carolinasauce DOT com" and mention this Blog). We will then email you a coupon for 10% off your next order of products from the Carolina Sauce Company, good through June 30, 2008! (And yes, even if you've already donated to Operation Sauce Drop in the past, you can still get your discount coupon if you make another donation between now and December 31st!)

Best of all, do all of the above, and you'll get all three gifts: a FREE item of our choice shipped to you with your order, and TWO coupons for 10% off your next two orders! (And yes, you can also do two out of three and get the two applicable gifts.) So what are you waiting for?!? Place your orders and make a donation today, and get your free gifts right away!

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, December 1, 2007

November's Top Ten Best Sellers

Here are November's Top Ten Best Selling Sauces and other zesty products at the Carolina Sauce Company:

1. Carolina Swamp Sauce, a unique marinade, grilling sauce and BBQ sauce with a funny name
2. Buderim Ginger Bears, made with real Australian ginger
3. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce, a tangy, spicy and flavorful eastern NC vinegar-based BBQ sauce
4. Carolina BBQ Peanuts, capturing the unique tang of North Carolina barbecue sauce in a crunchy snack
5. Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce, a favorite all-purpose hot sauce from Jamaica
6. Scorned Woman Hot Sauce, a peppery vinegar based hot sauce that's good on everything except dessert
7. Matouk's Calypso Sauce, a West Indian favorite that captures the fiery flavor of the Caribbean in a rich, thick hot sauce
8. Scott's BBQ Sauce, an old-style vinegar based eastern NC BBQ sauce with plenty of red pepper heat
9. Capsicana Zing Sauce, a zesty all-purpose table sauce that's wonderful on any dish and won't burn out your taste buds
10. Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce, full of scotch bonnet peppers and a touch of tropical fruit to temper the fire

Stay tuned for updated best-seller lists in specific product categories!

Zestfully yours,

Carolina Sauce Holiday Shipping Information

The holiday season is upn us, and Christmas will be here before you know it. Don't wait until it's too late to send the gift of good taste to a special friend, business colleague or relative. If you want to avoid paying for expensive Air shipping, please note that the last day to place a Ground Shipping order at Carolina Sauce Company for delivery by Christmas is Friday December 14, subject to product availability (and we will notify you ASAP if any ordered items are out of stock, so that you can make a substitution or change your order). If you place an order after December 14th and would like it to arrive before Christmas, I strongly recommend that you select one of the UPS Air services, unless you are shipping within North Carolina because regular Ground service delivers the next business day within the state. The US Postal Service and UPS will have regular delivery services for Ground and Air packages on December 24th, but neither service will deliver on Christmas Day, December 25th.

November and December are by far the busiest time of year for us, and by Christmas we are in desperate need for some R&R. As in years past, Carolina Sauce will close for 2 weeks after Christmas to rest up and then gear up for the new year. Specifically, we will be closed from Saturday, December 22nd and through Sunday, January 6th. You can still place orders online during that time, but they will be shipped after January 6th. If you email or call us while we're closed, please understand that we won't be able to reply until after January 6th. We will re-open for business on Monday, January 7th, and I'm already excited about the new features and new products that are in the works for 2008!

If you have any questions regarding holiday shipping, product availability, or anything else, please don't hesitate to contact us. You can leave a comment here, or you can call us at 919-765-0143 or email "sales at carolinasauce dot com".

Zestfully yours,

Friday, November 30, 2007

Operation Sauce Drop Milestone

As of today, Operation Sauce Drop has sent out 99 free gift boxes of sauce to US military personnel stationed abroad. This means that on Monday, the 100th Operation Sauce Drop gift box will ship out, along with several more gift boxes. We couldn't have done this without the generosity of our donors (60 of them to date), and we send out a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you who have contributed funds to Operation Sauce Drop. The troops also are expressing their gratitude, with thank you notes and photos that you can read and see on our Operation Sauce Drop Feedback Page. Time permitting, I plan on adding a few more recently-received notes and photos to that page over the weekend.

Now for the other news: As of tonight, we have 71 troops still waiting to receive a gift box (and some have been on this list for a month now). We have enough funds to send out a few more boxes on Monday December 3rd, and I've been told that a donor will be contributing $100 next week (which will help send out another 5 gift boxes, since they average about $20 with shipping and insurance). But at best that means we might be able to send out up to 14 gift boxes off the waiting list next week IF that promised donation comes in AND we can purchase the inventory in time - and new gift box requests continue to come in. Looming on the horizon like a storm cloud is the first deadline for shipping gift boxes in time for Christmas, this coming Tuesday, December 4th (for Priority Mail packages going to 093 zip codes).

I received a touching email from a Marine Corps Administrative Support Assistant, asking if we could please add two Marines to the Operation Sauce Drop Gift Box list. The writer explained that these two young men are single, and haven't received any packages from anyone the entire time that they've been deployed. Of course, I gladly added their names to the list so that they could receive Operation Sauce Drop gift boxes (and I crossed my fingers and said a prayer for more donations to come in soon so that we could send their gift boxes before the holidays).

So how about it - can you spare a little dough to help bring a smile to a deployed soldier's face, and help him or her spice up their chow with a taste of home or a favorite hot sauce? No amount is too small, and 100% of all funds received are used solely to purchase the gift boxes at cost (not retail) and pay for shipping. Plus, the Carolina Sauce Company chips in to cover the incidental costs associated with each donation and gift box (e.g., credit card transaction fees, internet transaction fees etc.), ensuring that all donated funds are used solely for gift boxes and shipping costs. To make a contribution, please go to the Operation Sauce Drop Donation Page. And please email the link to anyone you think might be willing to contribute, or post the link on your blog or website or forum. For more information on Operation Sauce Drop, just visit the Operation Sauce Drop Main Page and the Operation Sauce Drop Feedback Page. THANK YOU, not just from me, but from our brave servicemen and women serving abroad!

Zestfully yours,

Onions & Peppers a la Pig Pen

Pig Pen's Original Seasoning is one of our favorite dry rubs for chicken and pork, but its food-friendly, salty-sweet blend of spices works well as a seasoning for steaks, eggs, veggies and more. Our friend Cliff came up with the first version of this recipe when he sauteed some sliced onions in olive oil and Pig Pen's Seasoning until the onions were soft and golden, and served them as an accompaniment to grilled steaks. Tonight Greg came up with the following recipe as an accompaniment to grilled venison burgers. You can make this recipe on the stovetop by sauteeing the peppers and onions instead of grilling them.

2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 1/2 Tbs Pig Pen's Original Seasoning
2 Bell Peppers (we used green ones, but red or yellow would also work), sliced into strips
2 Medium red onions, sliced

Grilling instructions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl or reseasable plastic bag and mix to coat the vegetables evenly. Grill over medium heat until the vegetables soften and the onions start to turn golden (about 30 mins).

Stovetop instructions: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, careful not to over heat (you don't want the oil to smoke). Add vegetables and sprinkle with Pig Pen's Seasoning, stirring to coat evenly. Sautee until vegetables soften and onions start to turn golden.

Zestfully yours,

PS: I topped one of my venison burgers with Pluto's Paradise Potion instead of my usual ketchup - man, was that burger good!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pluto's Paradise Potion

I had the pleasure of tasting a little bit of Paradise yesterday - Pluto's Paradise Potion, to be precise. This is the latest creation from native Jamaican and now resident North Carolinian Pluto, and the label does not exaggerate when it claims this sauce is good on everything! Like Pluto's other two sauces (traditional Jamaican Jerks in Hot and Mild), Pluto's Paradise Potion is certified organic and uses all natural ingredients. But Paradise Potion is not a jerk sauce - rather, it's a Caribbean marinade that's reminiscent of chutney with its complex, intense flavors and thick, rich texture. When I first tasted the sauce straight from the bottle, I detected a slight bit of chile heat and ginger zip, but when used on food, the heat is gone and only the intoxicatingly good flavor is left. In addition to traditional Caribbean herbs and spices plus garlic, chiles and onions, Pluto's Paradise Potion also features real ginger, tangy citrus, tart tamarind, and a touch of sugarcane and vanilla to round out the flavors and bring everything together.

Pluto's Paradise Potion is the epitome of an all-purpose marinade, sauce and condiment. You can use it to marinade seafood, fish, meats, poultry, tofu and vegetables - add nothing else but the sauce - and cook at 375F until done, and you'll be blown away by the results. I've used it as a condiment on a turkey sandwich (and it would work quite nicely on a burger, much like a chutney), as a salad dressing and a dip for baby carrots. I plan on marinating some fish in it this weekend to either grill or broil, and I bet it would be fantastic on pork and lamb as well. You can also use Paradise Potion on beans, rice, pasta and in soups and stews. So if you've been looking for a unique, new way to liven up your meals that's healthy (it's fat-free) and helps the environment (it's organic) - or if you're just looking for some good eats - I highly recommend Pluto's Paradise Potion!

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hunters' Thanksgiving Feast

As has become our tradition in recent years, Greg and I (no, I'm not in the pic!) celebrated Thanksgiving at his deer hunting camp in northeastern NC - and as usual, Greg handled virtually all the cooking and did a masterful job using only the tiny kitchen area in our RV and the oven at the camp's "cookhouse." The menu featured smoked turkey with gravy, Greg's mom's oyster & sausage stuffing, green bean casserole, roasted sweet potatoes, and a special treat made by Ron (on left in pic), one of Greg's hunting pals: smoked antelope. Earlier in the month, Ron went antelope-hunting out west, and on Thanksgiving Day he rubbed one of the hams with a chile-based dry rub (it also had a hint of sweetness to it), wrapped it in bacon, and put the antelope ham on his smoker to cook at low heat all day. The result was fork-tender and absolutely delicious, with no gamey taste at all. This was my first time eating antelope, and I was quite impressed! The flavor was so rich and satisfying (and the bacon had kept the meat moist) that there was no need to add any sauce.

Greg prepared the turkey by brining it for just over a day in his standard brine (I posted the recipe earlier) using limes as the citrus, and then smoking it at 300 degrees until the meat reached 180 degrees (that took about 6 hours - it was a windy day and the smoker needed much tending to in order to keep it hot enough). The bird was succulent and had a pleasantly smoky flavor that did not overpower. On a whim, Greg placed a pan in the smoker under the turkey to catch drippings, with the thought of making gravy. While the bird smoked, he boiled and then diced the giblets to add to the gravy. Once the turkey was done, he removed the pan with the drippings and heated it on the stove, stirring in flour and cooking until thick & bubbly, then adding the giblets. One look at the finished product and we both thought it was a disaster: the color was a pasty gray, with a layer of grease on top (which he skimmed off). Thankfully we decided to taste the gravy before throwing it out - and it was remarkably tasty (if visually unappetizing), with a rich poultry flavor enhanced by a touch of smokiness.

As usual, the oyster & sausage stuffing was phenomenal (almost as good as when Greg's mom makes it). I'll see if I can post the recipe in the future. And especially because the turkey was cooked in a smoker, Greg baked the stuffing separately. The sweet potatoes were a new recipe (Greg didn't want to attempt his traditional souffle using the primitive kitchen environment): Greg chopped the unpeeled sweet potatoes into large chunks, placed them in a resealable plastic bag with enough olive oil to coat plus a healthy amount of brown sugar, and then shook everything well to mix. He then roasted them in a baking pan until the potatoes were done and the sugar had started to caramelize. They provided the perfect sweet counterpoint to the smoky turkey and antelope. The green bean casserole was the old warhorse found on the back of the can of mushroom soup. Definitely comfort food and a foolproof dish even in a hunt camp or RV kitchen. The only disappointment was the dessert: Greg didn't have time to make his famous bourbon pecan pie so we resorted to store-bought pie. But we were all so full by the end of the meal that dessert didn't really matter!

If you had any unusual or unique foods this Thanksgiving, feel free to share your comments and recipes.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, November 26, 2007

Problems Ordering Online? Please Call Us!

If you are trying to place an order online today but are experiencing problems, PLEASE call us at 919-765-0143. Unfortunately, Yahoo is experiencing widespread technical problems that are affecting Yahoo stores including the Carolina Sauce Company. Yahoo is working on the problem, but in the meantime the "order" buttons and shopping carts aren't working (or are very slow). You can still order by phone, so please call us at 919-765-0143 if you want to place an order - or email us your phone number and let us know when is a good time to call, and one of our representatives will call you. Please email sales "at" carolinasauce "dot" com.

We apologize for this inconvenience, and we hope Yahoo will resolve this problem ASAP.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas & Holiday Sale!

If you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday or special event between now and the end of the year, and you need that unique gift for someone special, the Carolina Sauce Company is where to shop and save big! We've slashed our already low prices for selected items, good while supplies last. Here are some quick links to help you find great savings - just look for the red sale prices, or for "On Sale Now":

* Selected Hot Sauces
* Selected BBQ & Grilling Sauces
* Selected Rubs & Seasonings
* Selected Marinades & Dressings
* Selected Salsas
* Selected Mustards
* Selected Snacks
* Selected Jamaican Jerks

To make shopping easier, we've also assembled Themed Gift Sets at a reduced price than if you bought the selected sauces individually. And if you're stumped and don't know what to get that finnicky foodie or picky relative, just send them an electronic Gift Certificate and let them pick out the perfect zesty gift!

Make sure to shop early because some of these products are in limited supply or take time to re-stock.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Carolina Sauce Thanksgiving Schedule

The Carolina Sauce Company will be closing at noon EST tomorrow (Wednesday Nov 21st) through Sunday Nov. 25th, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. You can still order online during this time, and we will resume shipping out orders on Monday Nov. 26th. You can also email or leave us voicemail while we are closed, and we'll reply as soon as we can once we re-open on Monday.

In case I don't get a chance to write again before Monday, here's wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hurricanes Tickets Winners!

The results are in, and it came down to the last minute. Here are the winning donations:

Weds Nov 21st: $140

Fri Nov 23rd: $65

The individual winners have been notified privately (we didn't know if they'd want their names and donation amounts made public).

THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to this fundraising effort! Thanks to the generosity of Carolina Hurricanes fans, we received a total of $520 today! One hundred percent of this will be spent on purchasing the Operation Sauce Drop gift boxes and shipping them to our troops serving abroad. Greg and I had originally thought we'd just sell these 4 tickets at their season ticket holder face value and donate that amount ($300) ourselves, but then he had the idea of holding the fundraiser to bring in even more money than the face value. Thankfully, it worked, and $520 will help send out more than 20 gift boxes from our waiting list! Thanks again to all.

Zestfully yours,

Last Chance to get FREE Hurricanes Tix!

As of 4 pm EST, here are the highest donations for the two Carolina Hurricanes games for which we're giving away a pair of Center Ice Premier tickets:

Weds Nov 21: $100

Fri Nov 23: $50

To win the tickets, simply make a donation to Operation Sauce Drop for more than the current highest donation for the game you want (don't forget to specify which game). The tickets will go to whoever donates the most money for that specific game, and winners will be announced just after 5 pm. If you've already made a donation but not for the current highest amount, you can donate again and we'll add your donations together.

For more info about the Hurricanes ticket giveaway, visit my Nov 14th post.

Thanks to all who have donated so far, and remember to check after 5 pm today for the winners!

Zestfully yours,


Brining a chicken or turkey for 1 to 3 days before grilling (or roasting) will result in the juiciest bird you’ve ever had. Do not worry about the amount of salt in the brine - the meat will not be salty, nor will you have a "high sodium" recipe. Likewise with the sugar: you don't end up with a sweet bird. Instead, the salt and sugar merely act to create an osmosis process that helps the flavor ingredients (e.g., the lemons and any herbs or spices) penetrate into the bird, together with some water to preserve moistness when you slow-cook the chicken or turkey. The key is to make sure the entire bird is submerged in the brining solution - and of course you need to keep the raw bird refrigerated. Here at Carolina Sauce Company, we like to use a cooler with zip-top plastic bags full of ice (because you don't want to dilute the brine with melting ice) as the container in which to brine a whole turkey or a few chickens. For parts or smaller birds, you can place the brine and the bird in a large zip top bag and store it in your refrigerator. Here are a couple of brines to try this Thanksgiving. You can multiply the ingredients to make as much brining solution as you need - just keep the proportions the same.

Basic Brine:
1 Gallon Water
1 Cup Kosher Salt
1 Cup Sugar
Juice and pulp of 3 lemons (you can substitute oranges for 1 or more of the lemons)
1/4 cup seasoned pepper

The Hound's Brine:
1 gallon water
1 cup Kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
Juice of 3 oranges
Juice of three limes
Juice of three lemons
Rinds from the oranges, limes and lemons
1 sliced white onion
1 head of garlic, crushed
Stems from a bunch of cilantro, chopped
Fresh serrano peppers to taste (at least 4)
rough ground cumin and coriander 2 Tbsp each
1/4 cup chili powder or any ground chile you prefer
Optional: 1/4 cup onion powder
Optional: 1/4 cup garlic powder

Directions for Either Brine:
Prepare the brine by either boiling everything together, or stirring vigorously to dissolve the salt and sugar into the solution. Place chicken or turkey in the brine in a zip top bag (or a cooler, adding zip-top bags full of ice to keep the bird at a safe cold temperature). If brining in a bag instead of a cooler, store the bag in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. If preparing a large batch in a cooler, check periodically to see if you need to switch out the ice baggies as they melt. When ready to cook, rinse off the bird to remove surface salt - do NOT soak or you'll pull out all the flavors the brine brought into the bird. If you want crispy skin, pat the bird dry with paper towels and let dry for a few hours in the refrigerator before cooking. Throw out the brine - never re-use!

Zestfully yours,

PS: You can still make a donation to Operation Sauce Drop and qualify for a pair of Carolina Hurricanes tickets at center ice for the Nov 21 or Nov 23 home games. More info in last week's posts....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tangy Green Bean Salad; Hurricanes Tickets Update

Still waiting for that first Operation Sauce Drop donation to get Carolina Hurricanes tickets for Nov 21 and Nov 23.... The biggest donation gets tix for the game specified by the donor, and since we've had 0 donations even a mere $20 would get you tickets worth $180 if bought at the box office. More info is available in my post for November 14. Won't someone please step up to the plate?

OK, I'm stepping off my soapbox now... And speaking of plates, here's a tangy green bean recipe that will be welcome on the plate of anyone who likes mustard. This green bean salad tastes best if allowed to marinate overnight. Try it this Thanksgiving instead of that tired old green bean casserole!

1 1/2 lb fresh green beans, rinsed and ready to cook (some folks like to trim the ends)
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs old-fashioned mustard with whole seeds (not yellow mustard and not dijon mustard - I like to use Scorned Woman Mustard for its deliciously spicy flavor and great texture)
3 Tbs olive oil (extra virgin or virgin)
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs fresh minced chives

Add enough water in a pot to cover the green beans (but remove the beans if you used them to measure the water level). Bring the water to a boil, add the beans and cook until tender (about five minutes). Drain the beans and blanch in cool water (I like to have a separate bowl with ice water ready for this step). Drain the beans well and remove to a plate with paper towels to dry (you can also pat them dry with paper towels when you're ready to add the dressing). For the dressing, whisk together the other four ingredients in a small bowl. Place the green beans in a non-metal container, pour the dressing over the beans, gently stir together to combine, and then cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours but ideally overnight.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Free Hurricanes Tickets Update

OK, I'm going to assume that the "underwhelming" response (i.e., 0 donations) to our Free Carolina Hurricanes tickets fundraising effort for Operation Sauce Drop is just that folks are waiting until the last minute to make a donation. To summarize the fundraising effort, here's the deal:

Make a donation for Operation Sauce Drop in ANY amount up until 5 pm EST Monday, Nov 19th, and specify in the "comment" section of the order form which one of the following Carolina Hurricanes home game you'd like 2 tickets for:

Nov 21 vs. Philadelphia Flyers


Nov 23 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

These are GREAT seats in Center Ice Premier (with access to Club Level): Section 103 Row K Seats 1 & 2, season-ticket price is $75 each (they're more expensive at the box office). Whoever makes the largest donation gets the 2 tickets for that game. The winner will be notified after 5 pm on Monday Nov 19th. More details are in my original post two days ago.

Greg and I are doing this because we had *hoped* to raise at least $300 (4 tix @ $75 each) to help send more free gift boxes to the troops - the waiting list has 90 troops on it, and we are completely out of funds to send any more gift boxes until more donations come in. The average cost to purchase and ship a gift box is $20. Of course, donations in any amount are most welcome - and we'll honor the Hurricanes tickets offer even if the total amount donated is less than face value. So how about it, faithful readers, especially those of you who are in the Triangle area: how about making a donation for Operation Sauce Drop, and maybe even go see a great hockey game in great seats! The troops will thank you for it....

Zestfully yours,

PS: I'll be at the Hurricanes game tonight but will post another fundraiser update after the game if we receive any donations.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Conquering Lion Hot Sauces

Conquering Lion Hot Sauces are hand-made in small batches using all-natural, farm-fresh, mostly organic produce. The neat thing about these hot sauces is that the manufacturer grows many of the ingredients himself on his West Virginia farm. Vine-ripened tomatoes and habanero peppers are cold-smoked using freshly-cut Appalachian hickory wood for a natural smokiness that perfectly complements the fiery habanero heat. Unlike the standard thin, vinegary hot sauces in your grocery store or from mass producers, Conquering Lion Hot Sauces have a hearty taste and rich texture that set them apart from the pack. The Original flavor features full habanero pepper intensity paired with earthy hickory smoke in a robust tomato base that's not sweet but also isn't harshly tart. The XXX Hot flavor multiplies the fiery heat level by increasing the proportion of habaneros to other ingredients, instead of relying on extracts that can add strange aftertastes. The result is a naturally super-hot hot sauce that still manages to taste really good. My favorite Conquering Lion Hot Sauce is the Mango flavor. Unlike other mango hot sauces, Conquering Lion Mango hot sauce isn't sweet, but rather uses mango to add a hint of tropical fruit that takes the edge off the smoky habanero without diminishing the heat level (the Mango flavor uses the XXX recipe as its base, so this is a serious hot sauce). The result is a food-friendly fiery-hot sauce that's great in baked beans, on hamburgers and meatloaf, in poultry dishes, and much more. Try some Conquering Lion Hickory-Smoked Hot Saucetoday, and taste what hot sauce was meant to be!

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FREE Hurricanes Tickets for Operation Sauce Drop Donors

If you would like to attend an upcoming Carolina Hurricanes home game, here's your chance to do so while simultaneously supporting a good cause. I’ve got 2 tickets available to the following home games:

Nov 21 vs Philadelphia Flyers

Nov 23 vs Tampa Bay Lightning (sure to be an exciting grudge rematch after tonight's less than stellar performance by the Hurricanes)

The tickets for both games are Center Ice Premier seats, section 103, row K, seats 1 and 2. These seats are on the blue line behind the visiting team's bench (the end where the Canes are on offense twice). These tickets will also get you into The Deck and the exclusive Club Level at the RBC Center. The season ticket face value on these seats is $75 per ticket, so that’s a $150 value per pair – and the walk-up price at the box office is higher, if you could get seats like this.

So how much will you have to pay me for these tickets? Absolutely nothing. You can have them for free - by making a donation to Operation Sauce Drop between now and Monday, November 19th.

As you already know if you've read earlier posts, the mission of Operation Sauce Drop is to deliver great-tasting sauces, and perhaps a little taste of home, to our troops serving abroad, for FREE. So far, we’ve shipped out over 70 gift boxes to appreciative service people, but we’ve got a backlog of 90 waiting for their gift boxes and we can't ship them out without more donations. Check out the feedback and photos we've received from military personnel to see the happiness you can help to spread with a donation.

So here’s the deal for the hockey tickets. Make a donation to Operation Sauce Drop and specify which game you’d like to attend in the comments on the order form (or send us a separate email if you donate through PayPal). The person who makes the largest donation for a particular game gets the tickets for that game. If you make more than one donation, we’ll add them up for the game you specify. I’ll post the current winning donation amount on this Blog each day until 5 pm EST November 19th, when the winning donor for each pair of tickets will be announced here and notified.

Please note that this is not an auction - our purpose in doing this is to raise as much money as possible for Operation Sauce Drop, so it takes a donation (and not just a bid) to have a shot at the tickets. But even if you don't win the tickets, think of the smile your generosity will bring to a deployed serviceman or woman's face when they receive a free gift box of sauce while spending the holidays far from home. So if you've been waiting for a chance to attend a Carolina Hurricanes home game this season, now's your chance - and win or lose, you can feel good about supporting Operation Sauce Drop!

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Marie Sharp's Shortages

We've recently learned that the folks who make Marie Sharp's Hot Sauces, a venerable brand of authentic Caribbean hot sauces from Belize, are experiencing production problems. Unfortunately, we don't quite know the nature of the problem or when they may be able to resume production of their tasty and fiery hot sauces. The good news is that the Carolina Sauce Company still has all but one of the flavors (the original Marie Sharp's Hot Habanero Sauce) in stock. But if you are a fan of Marie Sharp's hot sauces and your supply is starting to run low, or if you're planning on giving one or more bottles of Marie Sharp's hot sauce as a gift anytime before the end of the year, you'll want to order the hot sauce as soon as possible since supplies are dwindling. So don't delay - get your Marie Sharp's Hot Sauces now, because once they're gone, there's no saying when more will be available again!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sauce Slogans We *Didn't* Use

These days it seems like every hot sauce and BBQ sauce out there has a cutesy slogan or catch phrase. Some are clever; some are groaners. Here are a few we considered but decided not to use for marketing our own sauce. ***Warning: If you are easily offended, please stop reading now and tune back in tomorrow for a tamer topic!***

1. It makes unemployment tolerable.
2. So good you can eat it on roadkill.
3. Particulary good on spotted owl.
4. Locusts are better this way (they're still not good, but better).
5. More kick than a fat man doing Tae Bo.
6. It's the answer to the question, "W.W.J.E." (What Would Jesus Eat)
7. We know how to treat a chick.
8. Theo Fleury would grow new teeth to eat it.
9. It'll give you gas, but it's worth it.
10. Sauce that puts hair on your chest.
11. It's really good. Trust me, I'm in sales.
12. If you're offended by a slogan, then No Sauce for YOU!
13. All your sauces are belong to me.
14. We have ways of making you sweat.
15. Please put my sauce on the side, not on the meat.
And finally, my personal favorite:
16. More than just a condiment, it's a Personal Defense Weapon!

Send us your creative slogan for our list - if we like it, we'll post it and send you a special gift!

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Military Mail Holiday Shipping Information

If you are planning on sending Christmas or other holiday gifts or care packages to military addresses (APO and FPO), you'll want to be aware of the following deadlines from the US Postal Service if you want the package to arrive by December 25th (which falls on a Tuesday and is a mail holiday).

For all APO/FPO AE, AP and AA addresses, the deadline to ship Parcel Post packages for delivery by Dec. 25th is November 13th.

For APO/FPO AE addresses with ZIP codes beginning with 093, the deadline to ship Priority Mail packages for delivery by Dec. 25th is December 4th.

For APO/FPO AE addresses with ZIP codes beginning with 090 thru 092 and 094-098, and for all APO/FPO AA addresses, and for all APO/FPO AP addresses, the deadline to ship Priority Mail packages for delivery by Dec. 25th is December 11th.

If you are sending letters or cards via First Class Mail to APO/FPO AE addresses with ZIP codes beginning with 093, the deadline to mail for delivery by Dec. 25th is December 4th.

If you are sending letters or cards via First Class Mail to APO/FPO AE addresses with ZIP codes beginning with 090 thru 092 and 094-098, and for all APO/FPO AA addresses, and for all APO/FPO AP addresses, the deadline to mail for delivery by Dec. 25th is December 11th.

These dates will be here sooner than you expect, so make plans now to ship early if you have a loved one serving in the armed forces overseas. Likewise, if you've been considering making a donation to Operation Sauce Drop but just haven't gotten around to it, now is a good time to contribute so that we can get as many pending gift box requests off our waiting lists and shipped to our troops in time for the holidays. And don't forget to mention this Blog when you donate, and we'll send you a thank-you coupon good for 10% off the total product price the next time you shop with the Carolina Sauce Company.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Spicy Butternut Squash

I make this recipe in my microwave oven, because that really speeds things up. You can probably make it in a regular convection oven, and maybe even brown the cheese under the broiler. Please drop me a note if you try that, and include how long it took and at what temperature you set the oven.

1 Medium butternut squash (about 1 lb), peeled, deseeded and cubed
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced (use a clove of Twenty Pepper Garlic for a spicier dish)
1 Tbs butter or butter substitute
1/2 cup chunky salsa, such as Bone Suckin' Salsa (mild or hot depending on your preference)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided into 1/4 cup portions
Optional: Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Place the squash cubes in a 1 1/2 quart microwave-safe casserole, and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook at full power for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, stirring once while cooking. Drain and remove the squash into a separate bowl. Add the butter, onion and garlic to the casserole dish and cook at full power, uncovered, for about 2 minutes or until the onion is tender. Stir in the salsa, half the cheddar cheese, and the salt & pepper (if using) into the onion/garlic mixture, and gently fold in the squash cubes. Cook at full power, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes or until everything is heated through. Add the remaining cheese on top, cover, and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes to melt the cheese. Serves 4

Zestfully yours,

Friday, November 9, 2007

George's Barbecue Sauce

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the home base for George's Barbecue Sauces, located in an idyllic farm setting in Nashville, North Carolina (a picturesque little town in eastern NC). After driving down a pine-lined winding gravel road, the scene opened up to gently rolling farmland complete with pastures and a pond, with donkeys, geese and other farm animals. Past the main house is where the barbecue sauce action can be found: George's actually makes and bottles their sauces on-site, which is unusual (most small sauce companies contract out this labor-intensive process to a commercial bottler called a "copacker"). I was given the grand tour by Ashly, a very sweet and friendly young lady who took me through the bottling room where employees were busy filling bottles with sauce from a large commercial "vat", and to the warehouse where pallets were stacked high with cases of all three flavors of George's Barbecue Sauce (Original, Hot, and Special - a thicker version with tomatoes and jalapenos). Some of the cases still felt warm to the touch, evidence that the bottles inside had recently been hot-filled with freshly made BBQ sauce. Having visited copacking facilities and a commercial cooperative kitchen/manufacturing facility, it was fascinating to see a similar operation but on a much smaller scale.

All three flavors of George's Barbecue Sauce begin with an eastern NC style vinegar base that's mellowed with a touch of apples and just a hint of tomato. But don't get me wrong: Both the Original and the Hot recipes are real vinegar-based eastern NC barbeque sauces, very thin and tangy and just begging to be poured onto some pulled pork BBQ. The Special recipe adds enough tomatoes to make the sauce richer and thicker, and the jalapenos and extra spices create layers of peppery flavor. I particularly like the Special version on chicken, and it's also quite good on ribs. Through the years the folks at George's have developed some easy, crowd-pleasing recipes using their sauces on everything from pork and beef to poultry, baked beans and even shrimp. During my visit I picked up eight different recipes, and you'll get a copy of all of them the next time you order any flavor of George's Barbecue Sauces from the Carolina Sauce Company. There's even a recipe for Turkey Barbecue, just in time for Thanksgiving! If you haven't tried George's Barbecue Sauce, now's the time to try this Carolina favorite.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Carin's Ultimate Tuna Sandwiches

These aren't your kid's canned tunafish sandwiches - this recipe uses grilled or broiled tuna steaks and other fine ingredients for grown-up palates. My close friend and hockey teammate Carin sent me this yummy recipe.

1 lb. fresh or frozen tuna steaks (thaw if using frozen)
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. dill pickle relish (or if you prefer a hot & spicy relish, use Twenty Pepper Sweet & Hot Relish)
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon zest
1 tsp. minced garlic (for added spiciness, substitute a minced clove of Twenty Pepper Garlic)
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
4 6-inch long Italian-style or French-style rolls, or Italian flatbreads (you'll roll up the sandwiches like wraps if you use flatbread)

Brush tuna steaks generously with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover; chill 2 hours in refrigerator. In a medium bowl combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 2 cups of water. Add onions and allow to soak for 15 minutes. While the onions are soaking, grease the rack of your grill, start up the grill and bring the coals to medium (or set the grill at medium if using a gas grill). Drain the onions and set aside. Remove tuna from refrigerator and place on the greased grill rack and grill (uncovered) directly over medium coals for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2 inch thickness or until fish begins to flake easily when tested with a fork, turning once. Remove tuna from grill into a medium bowl and break into chunks with two forks. (Note: If it's too cold to grill outdoors, you can broil the tuna steaks instead.)

In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise, relish, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, minced garlic, and mustard. Add this mixture to the chunked tuna and stir gently to combine. Spoon the tuna mixture onto the bottoms of the rolls (or spread onto the flatbread). Top with the onions, and the remaining roll half (or roll up the flatbreads). Serves 4.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Operation Sauce Drop Photos

This is just one of several photos from our troops who have received sauce gift boxes as part of Operation Sauce Drop. You can see more photos, and read thank-you notes from soldiers, at the official Operation Sauce Drop Feedback page. Regardless on where you stand on the war, we should all be in agreement that the men and women serving overseas deserve our support, and need to know that folks back home are thinking of them and wish them well.

There are plenty of "support the troops" programs out there, so why should you support Operation Sauce Drop? For two reasons: first, Operation Sauce Drop lets a serviceperson select something for themselves, to suit their personal taste in food - a luxury or treat, if you wish, as opposed to a "necessity" (think cool toy instead of underwear for Christmas). Second, Operation Sauce Drop helps bring a taste of home to our military personnel spending time away from family and friends, especially as the holidays approach. Think back to the first time you went away from your childhood home for a long time - maybe it was a sleepaway summer camp, or maybe it was college, or maybe a job, marriage or military service caused you to relocate. I bet one of the things you missed the most was a homecooked meal, a favorite food, or the flavors and seasonings you were used to. By donating to Operation Sauce Drop, you can help our deployed servicemen and women enjoy a taste of home while stationed overseas. This can really make a difference (as you can read from the feedback), especially with Thanksgiving (a major food holiday!) around the corner, followed by Christmas, Hannukah, and other holiday celebrations.

As of this post, there are 92 servicemen and women waiting for their gift box. The average cost (with shipping) to send a gift box is around $20. Won't you please give something - just $5 will help - to send a taste of home to a soldier serving abroad? They will thank you for it, and appreciate it more than you think.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Mention this Blog when you make a donation, and as a personal thank-you I'll send you a coupon for 10% off the product total the next time you order from the Carolina Sauce Company.

Black Mamba Venomous Hot Sauce

I'm usually not impressed with the flavor of most ultra-hot hot sauces, even when I make it past the intense extract-driven heat level. It often seems to me as if flavor is an afterthought to most manufacturers when they're developing an ultra-hot sauce, as if the only thing that mattered was outdoing the heat level of the last new ultra-hot to hit the market. There's an exception, however: Black Mamba Venomous Hot Sauce. Yes, this ultra-hot packs a huge bite from the instant you taste a microdrop - and the searing heat lingers for a good long time. But because it's made with the darkly flavored chocolate habanero pepper (comparable in heat to Red Savina habaneros but with a more complex flavor profile) and blended with high quality capsaicin extract, Black Mamba actually has some pleasant smoky flavors that complement heavy foods like ribs and grilled meat. Make no mistake: Black Mamba is only for serious chileheads and you'll definitely get an endorphin rush from this ultra-hot (and you do NOT want to get it on your skin or eyes!). And if you're keeping score at home, Black Mamba Venomous Hot Sauce now occupies 4th Place on my list of Hottest Hot Sauces, right after Da Bomb Ground Zero and ahead of Blair's Mega Death. But Black Mamba actually tastes good, and is an ultra-hot that's meant to be enjoyed on food and not merely left on a collector's shelf gathering dust. So if you have a cast-iron stomach and teflon-coated tongue, get a bottle of Black Mamba today - just make sure you have plenty of antivenom (milk) handy in case its bite is more than you can handle!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, November 5, 2007

Thai Lime Shrimp with Rice Noodles

This exotic recipe is actually pretty quick (around 30 mins with prep & cooking), easy and healthy. Most if not all the ingredients are available at your better grocery stores in large cities, or at natural foods stores. Otherwise, you can definitely find the more exotic ingredients at Asian markets. This recipe feeds up to 4 people (or two really hungry ones, which is often the case in my house!)

2 Tbs canola oil
2 Garlic cloves, peeled
1 Lemongrass stalk (found in the fresh herbs section, or Asian markets)
2 Kaffir lime leaves (found in the Asian section of your supermarket, or Asian markets)
1 Small/medium red onion
1 Fresh hot red chile pepper, preferably an Asian variety (remove seeds to reduce the heat level)
1 1/2 inch Fresh gingerroot, peeled
1 lb Large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 oz Fresh snowpeas (you can use frozen - thaw first)
8 oz Bok choy, torn into pieces
2 Tbs Thai fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 Package of rice noodles, soaked according to package instructions (be careful not to oversoak, or they turn to mush!) and drained
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Lime wedges as garnish

Using a very sharp knife, very thinly slice the garlic cloves, red onion and chile pepper, and place in a bowl. Then cut the lemongrass stalk in half lengthwise, bruise with the flat side of the knife (this helps release the volatile oils), and place in the bowl. Use the knife to carefully shred the kaffir lime leaves into long, thin strips, and place in the bowl. Also cut the gingerroot into long thin strands and add to the bowl. Heat the oil to medium-high in a large pan or wok. You know the oil is hot enough when a slice of garlic sizzles as soon as it's dropped in. When the oil is ready, add the garlic, onions, pepper, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and gingerroot, and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, snowpeas and bok choy, and stir-fry until the shrimp is cooked through and the vegetables are just starting to soften but are still crisp. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes - be careful not to overcook the shrimp (you can remove into a separate bowl if they finish cooking before the vegetables soften, and then add the shrimp back in when you're ready to continue with the recipe). Remove the lemongrass pieces and discard. Add the fish sauce, and the lime juice to taste (some folks like 1/2 lime, I personally like the juice of the whole lime), and stir-fry for one minute to heat everything through. Add the drained rice noodles and cilantro. Stir-fry for another minute to combine and to heat everything through. Serve with lime wedges, and a bottle of Thai hot sauce such as A Taste of Thai Garlic Chile Pepper Sauce or Dave's Gourmet Garlic Chile Sauce, for folks to add to their taste.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, November 4, 2007

October's Top Ten Best-Selling Sauces & More!

The numbers are in, and the results have been tallied, and here is the list of the overall Top Ten Best-Selling Products for October at the Carolina Sauce Company:

1. Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce, a perennial all-purpose favorite from Jamaica (but not a jerk sauce!)
2. Blue Tick Dressing, a raspberry-poppyseed vinaigrette from the makers of Carolina Swamp Sauce
3. Matouk's Calypso Sauce, a rich, thick tropical hot sauce that's full of scotch bonnet fire
4. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce, a classic eastern NC vinegar-based barbeque sauce that's always in the top ten
5. Capsicana Zing Sauce, another perennial favorite with its spicy, food-friendly flavor - and it now comes with recipes!
6. Carolina Swamp Sauce, an Asian-inspired marinade and grilling sauce that's a North Carolina original
7. Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce, seriously hot with a touch of tropical fruit
8. Matouk's Flambeau Sauce, a thick, intensely hot scotch bonnet sauce that's packed with flavor and fire
9. Matouk's Hot Pepper Sauce, a traditional West Indies scotch bonnet hot sauce from Trinidad & Tobago
10. Calhoun's Charcoal Grill Seasoning, adds authentic charcoal flavor when you use a gas grill

If you're looking for specific categories of best-sellers, such as BBQ sauce, hot sauce and more, just click on the links below to see the latest best-sellers as of November 1st:

* Best Selling BBQ Sauces, with Corky's Memphis BBQ Sauce making its debut on the list;

* Best Selling Hot Sauces, including the intensely hot and berry-packed Robert Rothschild Hot Raspberry Thunder Sauce, back on the market by popular demand;

* Best-Selling Rubs and Seasonings, including the smoky Pepper Dog Dry Rub cracking the Top Ten for the first time;

* Best-Selling Marinades and Dressings, featuring the mellow Wahoo Willie's Mango Vinaigrette from Wahoo Willie's seafood grill in Wrightsville Beach, NC;

* Best-Selling Salsas and Relish, with Red's Sweet Salsa staying on the list;

* Best-Selling Jerks and Curry, including the great-tasting and good-for-you Pluto's Certified Organic Mild Jerk Sauce;

* October's Best Selling Mustards, Best-Selling Snacks and Best Selling Wing Sauces, featuring full-flavored favorites that are ideal for tailgating or watching the big game at home;

* Best-Selling Gift Sets with the Dave's Insanity Gift Set leading the pack; and

* Best Selling North Carolina Products, with more than just barbeque sauces on this list - see what other tasty treats North Carolina has to offer!

Zestfully yours,