Monday, March 31, 2014

Our VIP Coupon Sale Ends TODAY!

Carolina Sauce Company coupons
HEADS UP: Our VIP Coupon sale ends at midnight EDT tonight!

If you haven't yet used your special 7% off VIP coupon for hot sauce & barbecue sauce (and more), what are you waiting for, an invitation?!?

Then consider this your official invitation, and head on over to the Carolina Sauces online store to shop for your favorite zesty products and get 7% off their already-reduced sale prices when you use your VIP coupon code. Just be sure to do so before midnight, when the coupon will expire automatically.

Don't have a coupon code but want one? Email me right away with the subject heading "Sign Me Up!" I'll add you to our VIP Club and send you our 7% off coupon along with our March VIP Newsletter so that you can reap your membership benefits immediately.

Already used your special coupon code only to realize that you forgot to order something? No problem, you can use the same VIP coupon code again, as many times as you want, up until it expires.

Reading this email after March 31st and wish you could get future VIP coupons? Simply sign up for our VIP Club -- it's free, no strings attached, and we only email you once a month. Upon confirming your subscription, you'll automatically receive a 5% off "welcome" coupon and you'll be all set to receive the next monthly newsletter when it goes out.

Questions? Concerns? Need help signing up? Send me an email and I'll be happy to help any way I can.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Random Ramblings from Week 3 of RV Life

funny street sign
Happiness is seeing horseshoe tracks instead of graffiti on my morning run.

A bracing winter wind whipping through my hair as a front moves in can have a powerfully mind-clearing, soul-cleansing effect.

The locals no longer look baffled by the almost-daily appearance of a (presumably crazy) woman running down the road while muttering to herself.

I'd love to sit down with an old-timer from these parts to hear the stories behind Preacher Joe Road, Doc Thompson Road, and my favorite, Beef Tongue Road.

A previously mundane, mindlessly simple household task, i.e., doing the laundry, can suddenly turn into an epic saga spanning 3 towns, almost 100 miles, a possible death threat and over 2 hours of driving (stay tuned for Adventures in Laundromat-Land in a future post).

If anyone knows of any useful ecological purpose served by chiggers, or any reason why they should not be eradicated from the face of the planet, kindly please enlighten me.

To my surprise, living full-time in the RV-Que (aka The Silver Sausage) is proving to be far more relaxing and enjoyable than merely vacationing in it, because I don't resent having to spend time on work and I don't feel guilty when I'm not working.

I have an uncanny knack for always sitting downwind of a campfire. Too bad that's not a marketable skill.

After spending over 3 weeks in an RV with cats that are allowed to roam free outdoors during daylight, I am confident that my cats really are smarter than your honor student.

Remington appeared at the RV door carrying a vole in his mouth and was quite perturbed when I refused to permit him to enter with it. After I explained my lack of recipes or sauces for vole, he deposited said rodent carcass next to our grill and trotted off to find Greg. If any readers happen to have a recipe for vole barbecue, please post in a comment below.

I didn't realize just how much of a "regular" I had become at the Sheetz station in Henderson until the night I was standing in a long line to pay for my M-T-O peppermint mocha and the employee who made it came from her station to hand it to me without first calling out my order number or waiting until I had paid.

I'm getting used to my new GPS, which Greg kindly programmed with the addresses I need but for which he wickedly selected the not-quite-authentic southern female voice. If "Clarabelle" says "bless your heart" the next time I deviate from her suggested route, I swear she'll find herself pitched out my car window.

My new cell phone has great reception at and around camp, can take pictures, and possesses a comfortingly mediocre intelligence (I'm avoiding owning a "smart" phone for as long as possible). Unfortunately, its memory is now full of unintentional, inadvertently-taken photographs of my thumbs and my feet. Perhaps it's time I read the manual....

Some people can stare for hours at a fish tank watching the fish swim. I'm captivated by the hypnotic dance of lively flames and glowing coals within a womb of blazing logs.

On clear nights, no matter how cold the temperature or how late the hour I'm arriving back at camp, I cannot help but spend a few minutes gazing upwards in breathless wonder at the countless multitude of stars shimmering against the infinite blackness of the sky. #LivingTheDream.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gloria's Homemade Sherry Mustard

how to make mustard
For some time now I've been reading about how easy it is to make mustard. I finally decided to give it a try, with the encouragement of mustard maven, fellow blogger & foodie friend,  Monica Cateron of Rockin' the Kitchen, and the guidance of a post titled "How to Make Mustard" by the popular food blogger and writer Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. The latter post is quite instructive on the nitty-gritty (pun intended) of mustard-making and what to expect from your efforts, and Monica's blog makes my mouth water and gets my creative juices flowing with her inspired recipes for specific kinds of flavored mustards. I recommend you check out both blogs for tips and recipes, and that you also give my recipe a try.

When freshly made, homemade mustard will taste extremely -- some would say excruciatingly -- sharp or hot, much like powerful wasabi or Chinese mustard. Rest assured, your mustard will lose its bitter bite within 24 hours, and continue to mellow as it ages or cures over time. It also will taste much less sharp with food, as it is meant to be used -- it's a condiment, after all -- rather than straight from the jar. Some people recommend letting the mustard age or cure at room temperature, explaining that it will not spoil and in fact will lose its piercing bite much more quickly at room temperature than if refrigerated. Being particularly paranoid about food safety, however, I have kept my homemade mustard in the refrigerator from day one. After several weeks, a taste from the jar still packs a powerful, sinus-clearing punch that's almost too intense for me but is just right for Greg. The good news is that when spread on a sandwich or enjoyed with bratwurst or other sausage, my sherry mustard delivers a surprisingly smooth, remarkably complex and nuanced flavor with hints of subtle sweetness from the sherry and earthy pungency from the mustard seed.

The following is my very first homemade mustard recipe. It is indeed extremely simple to make, and I look forward to trying my hand at making beer mustard, honey mustard, hot pepper mustard and other varieties of homemade mustard.

One final note: When compared to other mustard recipes by other bloggers including the two mentioned above, my recipe uses much more powdered mustard than whole mustard seeds. This is because I had a ridiculous amount of bulk powdered mustard in my pantry (don't ask, it's a long story), and not very much mustard seed, and I made this recipe right before we moved, when I was trying to use up as many spices, condiments etc. as possible so as to have less to pack.

Verjus du Perigord-25.35 oz.3 Tbs whole yellow mustard seeds
3/4 cup ground mustard aka mustard powder
1/2 cup verjus*
1/3 cup dry sherry (something drinkable, not "cooking sherry")
1/4 cup water
1 to 2 tsp Kosher or sea salt

*Verjus is the unfermented pressed juice of green grapes, with less acidity than vinegar and a mellower, more food-and-wine-friendly flavor. If you cannot find verjus in a local specialty foods store, you can buy verjus online from one of our Partners by clicking on the picture on the right. You probably could substitute white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar for the verjus in my recipe, but I suggest using only 1/3 cup of the vinegar, and possibly increasing the water slightly if the mustard is too thick. If you try this, please comment below to let me know how your mustard turns out.

homemade mustard
Coarsely grind the mustard seeds in a spice grinder or using my favorite method, a mortar and pestle. Transfer into a pint jar (e.g., a Mason jar or other canning jar) and add the mustard powder, then cover with lid and shake to mix together. Pour in the sherry and water, close the lid tightly and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined. If the mixture becomes too thick or clumpy, use a small whisk or a fork to stir. When well combined, let sit for 10 minutes, then add the salt (start with the lesser amount) and verjus, cover tightly with lid and shake vigorously, also whisking if necessary to combine thoroughly. Taste for saltiness, keeping in mind that your mustard will seem very sharp, and add more salt if desired -- I find that 1 1/2 tsp salt is enough. Cover with lid and let the mustard sit at least overnight before use. This mustard will keep pretty much indefinitely in your refrigerator, and possibly also in the pantry according to some sources.

Zestfully yours,

PS: No time or inclination to make your own mustard? No worries, the Carolina Sauces online store is where you'll find the perfect mustard for your taste preferences, whether you prefer sweet and zesty or fiery-hot and savory, or something completely different.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What Would YOU Cook with Dried Whole Ghost Chilies & Scorpion Peppers?

dried scorpion peppers
Do you relish the relentless firepower of extremely hot chili peppers?

Do you swoon for the searing heat of brutally hot scorpion peppers?

Does the painful burn of fearsome ghost peppers bring tears of painful pleasure and shivers of devilish delight?

Is the idea of playing with peppery fire in the kitchen appealing to you?

If you answered YES to any of those questions, then I have fantastic fiery news for you:

The Carolina Sauces online store is now your source for dried whole ghost chilies (also known as bhut jolokia or naga jolokia peppers) and for even hotter dried whole scorpion peppers -- and both are currently on sale, no coupon required!

These ultra-hot chilies are among the hottest known to man (or woman), with the large smoke-dried ghost pepper pods rating at or above 1 million SHUs (Scoville Heat Units) and the dried scorpion pepper pods measuring at or above 1.4 million SHUs.

dried jolokia peppersIn other words, these are not your friendly everyday dried chilies. You need to exercise extreme care and wear rubber gloves when handling these wrinkly embodiments of hellish flames. And as with ultra-hot hot sauces and pepper extracts, you only need a tiny amount to deliver intensely hot heat -- in other words, a little goes a LONG way.

If you dare cook with these super-hot dried peppers, what would you make with them? The world's hottest chili? Perhaps a lethal chimichanga, or a weaponized burrito? Or how about some nuclear-strength curry, or atomic hot wings?

What would YOU cook with dried ghost peppers or scorpion peppers?

Tell us in a comment below, and please share your recipes if you dare!

Zestfully yours,

PS: Interested in learning more about the Scoville heat scale and how the heat of hot peppers and hot sauces is measured? Click here to read about the Scoville Heat Scale and for a chart showing where many of the popular chili peppers fall on the scale.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Address for Carolina Sauce Company

Carolina Sauce Company
The Carolina Sauce Company has a new mailing address!

If you wish to write to us or send us something via old-fashioned U.S. Mail, our new mailing address is:

Carolina Sauce Company
Attn: Gloria Cabada-Leman
P.O. Box 384
Littleton, NC 27850

Please note that this address is NOT for our warehouse, and is NOT for returning any products. This is simply my new business address for correspondence that doesn't pertain to the online store.

If you need to return an online order, please go to the Customer Service page on the Carolina Sauces website and follow the instructions there for Returns and Exchanges.

Any questions? Visit our FAQ page or our Contact Us page, or leave a comment below, or send me a PM on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page. We love hearing from our customers, friends, fans and fellow lovers of zesty food, and we're always happy to help any way we can.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gloria's Cha-Cha Chicken Fricassee

Cuban Chicken Fricassee
My Chicken Fricassee recipe is an adaptation of Cuban-style chicken fricassee, which is not to be confused with classic chicken fricassee from French cuisine. Like the traditional Cuban version, which my Mom made when I was growing up, my Cha-Cha Chicken Fricassee features robust creole flavors without the peppery heat associated with other Caribbean cuisines. The green olives, pimientos and capers in the alcaparrado provide a jaunty little tang that balances the subtle sweetness of the sherry, for an intriguingly complex yet family-friendly flavor.

Alcaparrado is a mixture of manzanilla olives, capers & chopped pimientos, sold in jars along with olives. It is used frequently in Cuban and Puerto Rican cooking, especially in ground beef recipes. You can find this condiment in grocery stores that sell Latin American products, and Goya is a popular brand. If you cannot find Alcaparrado, you can substitute an equal amount (total) of pimiento-stuffed green olives and capers. If you don't care for capers, simply omit them and use only the pimiento-stuffed olives.

To complete the meal, serve the chicken fricassee over cooked white rice with a green salad or other green vegetable of your choice on the side. If you are limiting your carbohydrate intake, just serve this as a low-carb stew without the rice, as shown in the photo on the left. My recipe makes 4 to 6 servings, and any leftovers taste great when reheated the next day.

Approx. 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks, thighs, or whole legs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, sliced into rings
1 onion, sliced into rings
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup Alcaparrado (or combination of capers & pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place the chicken, garlic, bell pepper, onion and lemon juice in a shallow lidded container or a resealable plastic bag. Cover or seal, then shake to combine. Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot or deep, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Remove the onion & pepper rings from the marinade, add to the hot oil and cook until the onions & peppers are soft, stirring occasionally. Turn up the heat, add the chicken & reserved marinade and cook until the chicken is lightly browned on all sides. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce heat and partially cover with lid to let some of the liquid evaporate during cooking. Cook until the chicken is done, about 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot, preferably over cooked rice. Garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NEW Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauces from Melinda's & Susie's

Melinda's Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce
Good news for fans of super-hot hot sauces and lovers of the unique flavor and heat of Caribbean scorpion peppers:

The Carolina Sauces online store now carries two new scorpion pepper hot sauces!

Melinda's Scorpion Pepper Sauce is the latest from the world-renowned maker of Melinda's Hot Sauces in Costa Rica. The main ingredient in this VERY hot sauce is the fearsome Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper, one of the hottest chilies on the planet. These peppers are blended in a traditional Caribbean hot sauce base of vinegar, carrots, onion, lime juice, garlic & salt for a straightforward, savory-tangy flavor that lets you experience the scorpion peppers in all their potent glory. This all-natural hot sauce is a fine example of what a well-made, single-pepper hot sauce should taste like, and proves that an extremely hot sauce (around an 8 on a 1 to 10 scale) need not be a "taste bud killer" to satisfy one's craving for serious heat and pure chile flavor.

Susie's Scorpion Pepper Sauce
Susie's Scorpion Hot Sauce also boasts only natural ingredients, with flaming-hot scorpion peppers taking center stage. Made in Susie's kitchens in Antigua & Barbuda following the local hot sauce traditions that have made Susie's hot sauces highly sought-after and famous around the world, this fiery, savory pepper sauce features a tangy vinegar-mustard base with a secret blend of complementary spices that bring out the best in the scorpion chile. Around an 8 or so on your average 10-point heat scale, this hot sauce is powerfully hot but not dangerously so. Nevertheless, I recommend starting off with just a small amount on your food until you become comfortable with the heat level.

Both of these scorpion pepper sauces can be used on any savory dish, either at the table or in recipes calling for all-purpose, versatile hot sauces. And both of these new hot sauces are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Gloria's Healthy Catfish Gumbo

Catfish gumbo
My gumbo recipe is different from most in two notable ways: First, it does not use a roux, which makes it lighter and healthier -- much lower in fat and in carbohydrates -- but without sacrificing on flavor because of the zesty spices and herbs. Second, unlike most Cajun or creole gumbos, my catfish gumbo recipe omits celery, but only because Greg hates celery. If and when I make gumbo just for myself, I plan on including some chopped celery with the other traditional gumbo vegetables.

One more note specifically for okra-haters: The okra in this recipe does not get slimy. This gumbo is 100% slime-free. If you absolutely, positively refuse to eat anything with okra in it, you could replace the okra in my gumbo with frozen green beans, but then it wouldn't be a gumbo but would be more of a creole or Cajun catfish stew. Either way, it'll be bursting with Louisiana flavor. Traditionally served over hot cooked white rice, you can also serve the gumbo "as is" in bowls, with some bread on the side if desired.

Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning
2 or 3 Tbs olive oil*
1 large bay leaf (or 2 small)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
Opt: 1 small hot pepper, seeded & minced
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups frozen sliced okra
1 to 1 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning such as Slap Ya Mama or Emeril's Original Essence
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
3 or 4 meaty catfish fillets** (approx. 12-16 oz total)

Emeril's Original Essence
*Sometimes I substitute 1 Tbs bacon fat for 1 of the Tbs of oil.

**Fresh or frozen will work. If fresh or thawed, cooking time will be much shorter than if using still-frozen fillets.

Heat the oil and bay leaf in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic & hot pepper if using, and saute until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, okra, seasoning & herbs, cover and cook until okra is thawed and just tender, about 10 minutes, stirring once. Add catfish fish, gently stir the sauce & vegetables over the fish, cover the pot and cook until fish flakes with a fork (about 20 to 25 minutes if using frozen fillets; much less time if fresh or thawed fillets), stirring once or twice. Serve in bowls over cooked rice or "as is." If you want a spicier gumbo, add a few splashes of your favorite Louisiana hot sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Read This to Get a VIP Coupon for Carolina Sauces

Carolina Sauce Coupons
Our March Newsletter was emailed to our VIP Club members earlier this week, and in addition to zesty recipes and info on new products, the VIP newsletter included a 7% off coupon for the Carolina Sauces online store. This special coupon is our biggest discount to date this year, and is exclusively for members of the Carolina Sauce VIP Club.

Would you like to be a Carolina Sauce VIP?

It's easy, and it's FREE. And it gets you exclusive VIP-only benefits including our monthly newsletter with special, limited-time, VIP-only coupons with the best discounts we offer. The newsletter also comes with recipes, cooking & grilling tips, news about products, and sometimes even additional discounts and giveaways from our Partners.

To join our VIP Club, simply click here to sign up. You'll receive a confirmation email with a link you'll need to click to confirm your membership. Once you click that link, you'll automatically receive a welcome coupon for the Carolina Sauces online store, and you'll be set to receive our next monthly newsletter (and we won't send you anything else - we hate spam and value your privacy as much as you do).

If you'd like to receive a complimentary copy of our March Newsletter with this month's VIP coupon, just email me with the subject heading "sign me up" and I'll send you a copy of the newsletter and add you to our VIP list.

Any questions? Send me an email, or PM me on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page, or leave a comment below, and I'll be happy to help.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

RV Life: Pithy Observations from Week 2

Avion RV trailer
When it comes to RV housekeeping, there is "Greg clean," and then there is "Gloria clean." The secret to peaceful coexistence and marital harmony is finding that elusive middle ground that both parties can achieve and accept. We're still searching for it....

A fully-functional, properly draining (and no longer leaking under the floor) shower with hot water & enough pressure to wash my hair thoroughly makes me a very happy camper.

Any man that can fix the plumbing & random ceiling leaks, install new laminate flooring in the RV, rig up a "tech center" with wireless internet that's faster & more reliable than what we had in Durham, smoke competition-quality pulled pork BBQ & chicken for dinner, and surprise me with a box of fancy chocolate truffles from his trip to Chapel Hill is a keeper in my book.

Tick "season" is year-round out here.  So is spider season. Thankfully, the same is not true of snake season. Hopefully we'll move before that one starts.

The local Laundromat is every bit as entertaining as an urban DMV office.

There is a special place in Hell for people who don't empty their pockets of candy & gum before washing & drying their clothes at the Laundromat.

There is not a single bottle of EVOO to be found in any grocery store for many, many miles (yes, I know, #FirstWorldProblems). But there's some mighty fine BBQ to be enjoyed if you're not afraid to visit the local joints, especially the ones that look rundown and forgotten by time.

All the sweetener in the world won't make almost-gone-sour milk taste any better. And while one shouldn't cry over spilled milk, it is perfectly acceptable to cry over a ruined latte when you used the last of your coffee to make it (yes, another #FirstWorldProblem, but caffeine withdrawal is an ugly thing).

The gentle patter of a steady rain on the RV roof is a more powerful sleep aid than any pill or tonic.

sleeping cats
Always let sleeping cats lie. At least they're not wreaking havoc in tight quarters.

Even the quietest of cat toys is startlingly and unacceptably loud at 3:47am.

Hungry cats are more reliable and effective than any mechanical alarm clock. Unfortunately, the feline ones aren't equipped with snooze buttons, cannot be unplugged, and are unable to differentiate between work days, weekends & holidays.

Keeping the litterbox fresh is very important a moral imperative matter of human survival when sharing an RV with cats.

Happiness is ending the day sitting by the campfire as we watch the sunset and listen to the hauntingly beautiful, mournful song of distant coyotes while we savor a glass of wine or bourbon and share a fine cigar from Greg's stash. #ThankfulForMyBlessings.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jan's Lemony Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil & Lemon soup
This surprisingly simple, delightfully lemony and heartily satisfying soup is the ideal vegetarian/vegan comfort food at the end of a long day -- or even for lunch -- especially when the weather is damp and chilly. My former neighbor Jan shared the recipe with me, and she says she got it from a dear English friend over 20 years ago. Even my carnivorous husband happily devoured this zesty, thick soup and savored the bright citrus notes and rich lentil earthiness.

If your regular supermarket doesn't have red lentils, you can find them in Indian grocery stores (sometimes labeled Masoor Dal) or in specialty/gourmet food markets. or, you can buy red lentils online from one of our Carolina Sauce Partners. Although they're a lovely reddish-salmon color while uncooked, red lentils inevitably turn yellow during cooking. To add color to this dish, I like garnishing the served soup with two or three kinds of citrus zest. This is easy to do if you regularly zest your lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus and store the different varieties of zest in little containers or baggies in your freezer. The bowl shown in the photo is garnished with lemon, lime and orange zest.

I've found that the juice of 1 large, juicy lemon is sufficient for our tastes. I also prefer to use two very large garlic cloves, or 3 to 4 smaller ones, for a bit more garlic flavor. Feel free to adjust the quantities of these ingredients, as well as the salt & pepper, to suit your tastes. For a spicier peppery bite, you could also add a dash or two of ground red pepper, ground jalapeno or even ground habanero powder. Finally, if you are not vegan, you can use ghee (Indian clarified butter, also available online from our Partner) instead of oil.

masoor dal red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs oil or ghee (clarified butter)
2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
1 cup red lentils (masoor dal), picked over and rinsed
2 to 3 cups of water
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp ground pepper (or to taste)
Optional: Grated lemon zest (or other citrus zest) as garnish

Heat the oil or ghee in a soup pot or other large heavy pot over medium heat, then saute the onion slowly until translucent and tender. Add garlic, lentils and 2 cups water, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are very tender and starting to fall apart, adding the additional cup of water or more if the soup gets too thick. This should take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

masoor dal red lentil soupWhen the lentils are tender and the soup has thickened to your desired texture, stir in lemon juice, salt & pepper. Taste for balance and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve garnished with lemon zest or other citrus zest if desired.

Makes around 6 servings, and leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated. The soup will thicken in the refrigerator, so you might want to stir in a little water (or even a little more lemon juice) when reheating. This recipe can be doubled or tripled, too.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Heartbreaking Dawn's Nuit En Enfer Hot Sauce

Heartbreaking Dawn's Nuit en Enfer Hot Sauce
"Nuit en Enfer" means "Night in Hell," and that's likely what you'll experience if you don't treat this ultra-hot sauce with the proper respect and due care. Yes, it is THAT hot, and should be handled and consumed with discretion and restraint lest you burn your insides and suffer the consequences.

That said, Heartbreaking Dawn's Nuit En Enfer Hot Sauce is a masterpiece of mind-numbing hot peppers and mysteriously luscious, exotic flavors. The serious heat comes from some of the hottest peppers on the planet: Moruga and Trinidad scorpion peppers, ghost peppers (jolokia) and scotch bonnet peppers. The intriguingly tasty flavors come from an inspired blend of apricots, cardamom and rice vinegar. The overall effect is hellishly delicious. If the devil were a gourmet chef, this is the kind of hot sauce he'd develop for his pleasure.

A little goes a long way when you use Nuit En Enfer from Heartbreaking Dawn's. Start off with a toothpick drop until you get a "feel" for the intensity of the heat and a sense for the flavor profile. Once you're comfortable with this extreme hot sauce, you'll love how it goes with all of your favorite hearty fare, especially grilled or roasted meats, poultry and vegetables, robust rice & bean dishes, and more substantial stir-fry creations.

Buy Nuit En Enfer online while it's on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Favorite St. Patrick's Day Recipes

Irish pork chops recipe
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here are some of our favorite St. Patrick's Day recipes. Some are Irish and others are Irish-inspired, but they're all appropriate for today and anytime you want a little taste of the Emerald Isle.

Probably our favorite dinner for celebrating St. Patrick's Day is Grilled Irish Pork Chops with Creamy Guinness Mushrooms, pictured on the left along with Roasted Leeks and Carrots (both are popular vegetables in Ireland). Although this is not a low-fat dinner, it is most definitely low in carbohydrates and also paleo-friendly if dairy and beer as an ingredient are part of your paleo lifestyle. If the weather isn't right for grilling the pork chops outdoors, you can cook them in your kitchen on a George Foreman grill or other indoor grill. They won't have that smoky flavor achievable on a charcoal grill, but they'll still be succulent and mouthwatering.

Irish stew
If you're in the mood for a hearty, warming "comfort food" Irish recipe, you can't go wrong with Irish Stew. My Crockpot Irish Stew recipe is quite easy and requires very little effort. Although my version uses both beef and lamb, you can use all of one type of meat if you prefer. Likewise, if you don't care for one of the root vegetables called for in the recipe, e.g., rutabagas, just substitute a root vegetable you do like, e.g., potatoes. One can never have too many potatoes in Irish stew, according to some cooks.

If you're fond of hot & spicy foods and find ordinary Irish stew a little bland for your tastes, try my Spicy Irish Stew recipe -- sure, Ireland isn't known for hot sauce, but that doesn't mean you can't add some spicy, peppery heat to your stew. If you decide to do that, try one of our Irish-themed hot sauces, such as Boyle's Irish Scream and the original Irish Scream Hot Sauce, both of which are made with a wee splash of real Irish whiskey and feature leprechauns on the label..

Irish hot sauce
Speaking of Irish-themed hot sauce, my spicy turnips with bacon are sure to please even hard-core turnip-haters, because bacon makes everything better. If you're worried about your family refusing to even try them, just don't tell anyone you're serving turnips and call them "country potatoes" instead, like Greg's mom used to do in order to get the kids to eat them, which they happily did without realizing they were eating turnips. Personally, I think the ugly-sounding name "turnip" gives that lowly root veggie a bad rap and discourages an open mind (or palate). For the mildest, most family-friendly and generally more appealing flavor, select small, young turnips. It's the larger, older ones that are more likely to taste bitter or be tough and fibrous. Also, make sure your turnips feel heavy and solid, and avoid any with soft, wrinkly spots (that means they're old and past their prime). Go ahead and load them up with plenty of bacon, too, if you think that will make your family more willing to give turnips a chance.

cheddar onion soda bread
Irish Soda Bread is a no-brainer on St. Patrick's Day. It's a simple bread to make, particularly because it doesn't require yeast and therefore is far more forgiving and less temperamental than making a yeast bread. If you want to try something more interesting and flavorful than the traditional Irish soda bread recipe I recommend you try my Cheesy Onion Soda Bread, shown on the right. This variation on the traditional recipe uses ingredients common in Irish cuisine including oats, onions, and cheddar cheese (Ireland makes some wonderful cheddar style cheeses).

If you serve corned beef today and have some left over, this zesty recipe for corned beef hash & eggs is a hearty way to begin the next day. I can't promise that it'll cure a hangover, but it's worth a shot and at least it will stick to your bones until lunchtime.

braised cabbage with bacon
And don't forget the cabbage, one of Ireland's most-consumed vegetables: Among your options are Roasted Cabbage with Parsnips & Apples, which is delightfully mellow & naturally sweet due to the roasting process; Braised Cabbage with Onions & Peppers, which isn't so much Irish as it is deliciously savory and an excellent side dish for all sorts of red meat; and Braised Cabbage with Bacon, shown on the left, which certainly can be considered Irish because bacon and cabbage are eaten with gusto in Ireland.

What are YOU eating on St. Patrick's Day? Please tell us in a comment below, and you're welcome to share any recipes, too!

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Montreal Steakhouse Marinade

ribeye steaks
The following classic steak marinade is wonderful with all types of steak, from inexpensive cuts of beef to the finest filet. It tenderizes tough cuts of meat while infusing them with zesty savory flavor from peppery Canadian steak seasoning. It's also an excellent marinade for venison.

After marinating, simply grill or broil your steaks, venison medallions or other meat as usual, and get ready to enjoy a gourmet meat feast!

Use the ingredient amounts below for up to 1 pound of meat. If cooking more than a pound, just multiply the ingredient quantities as needed.

Ingredients (per 1 lb of meat)
2 Tbs olive oil
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Click to buy
2 Tbs water
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs Montreal Steak House Seasoning
Optional: 2 garlic cloves, crushed

Combine all ingredients and pour over steaks in a resealable plastic bag or shallow lidded container for marinating. If using a bag, seal and shake to coat steaks thoroughly with marinade. If using container, gently stir and move steaks around to ensure they're coated on all sides with marinade. Refrigerate and marinade for at least half an hour and no more than 2 hours (marinate thinner steaks a shorter time and thicker steaks longer). Cook marinated steaks or other meat as usual and be sure to discard used marinade.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Montreal Steakhouse Seasoning is fantastic as a steak rub and all-purpose seasoning for meats and poultry. Simply sprinkle and pat it on (don't actually rub it because rubbing damages the meat fibers), then cook any way you want.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

New Flavor of Deano's Jalapeno Chips: White Cheddar

Deano's Jalapeno Chips White Cheddar
Attention low-carb and gluten-free diet followers, and anyone who enjoys spicy snacks:

Deano's Jalapeno Chips has a new flavor: White Cheddar!

Jalapeno chips are just that: thinly-sliced fresh green jalapeno peppers that are crisp-fried for maximum crunch and then generously seasoned with specially selected complementary spices, real cheese and other delicious seasonings. Previously available in dairy-free Sea Salt, tangy Ranch and cheesy Cheddar flavors, the new White Cheddar Jalapeno Chips are a welcome addition to the Deano's family with their rich, creamy, tangy white cheddar cheese flavor and feisty jalapeno pepper kick.

Deano's Jalapeno Chips are the gluten-free, low-carb spicy snack of choice among health-conscious snackers who want great flavor and satisfying crunch without the empty calories, high carbs or greasy fat of potato chips and other highly processed commercial chips. Deano's White Cheddar Jalapeno Chips are made with fresh jalapeno peppers grown in Texas and New Mexico, real cheddar cheese, fresh buttermilk and other wholesome ingredients, and fried in pure vegetable oils. There are NO hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, NO trans fats, NO cholesterol, and NO gluten.

Order a bag or three today, and try one or more of the other flavors of Deano's Jalapeno Chips to experience the delightfully delicious spicy snack that's sweeping the nation.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, March 14, 2014

RV Life: Lessons Learned in Week 1

1.  Neither a GPS nor a husband is infallible when it comes to driving directions. Only one of them, however, will say "I told you so" when you end up lost after disregarding their advice.

2.  Regardless of which service provider you use, you won't have cell phone reception when you discover you're going the wrong way late at night and have no clue where you are (is that banjo music in the distance??)

3.  UPS will deliver packages addressed to "Silver trailer at top of hill." Query whether that will work with pizza delivery...

4.  You don't have to worry about stepping in dog poop when out on a morning run along a country road. You do, however, have to look out for bear poop.

5.  A leaky RV roof is still better than an unheated, bathroomless tent.

6.  No matter how handy you/your spouse may be, your local RV repair guy will soon become your best friend.

7.  Go ahead and start your day by making a to-do list. At least then you'll know everything you WON'T get to that day.

8.  Don't forget to turn off the water pump after filling the RV tank.

9.  If a cat's head fits, the rest of the cat will follow.

10.  When sharing an RV with cats, NEVER leave anything out to thaw, no matter how solidly frozen it is or how well-behaved you think the cats may be.

11.  There is such a thing as one too many cats in an RV. Sometimes that number is one.

12.  There's no such thing as having too many quarters on laundry day.

13.  Speed limits and no-passing zones apparently don't apply to locals driving after dark on winding two-lane roads.

14.  Sometimes an angel drives up in a Jeep equipped with a winch -- this is especially fortuitous when your 3/4 ton truck & attached utility trailer are stuck in the mud up to their axles on the side of a steep hill (I'll let Greg explain this one if/when he chooses).

15.  There will be rain. And mud. And dirt. And spiders. Deal with it. It's camping, after all.

16.  There will also be glorious sunrises, majestic sunsets, velvet-black night skies strewn with millions of glittering diamond-like stars, and other breathtaking moments. Take the time to enjoy them.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Basic Verjus Vinaigrette

verjus vinaigrette salad dressing
The following is a very simple, mild vinaigrette dressing made with verjus, which is similar to vinegar but less sharply acidic and more wine-friendly, making it the acid of choice for chefs and good cooks who like to pair food with wine.

I call this a basic recipe because you can enhance and vary it with your choice of fresh or chopped herbs, perhaps a little Dijon or grainy mustard, and other such ingredients to create an array of differently-flavored salad dressings for greater variety of flavor. Of course, you can also simply enjoy this basic recipe as a classic light vinaigrette that will subtly complement the unique flavor profile of each salad ingredient rather than masking or overwhelming it. Because there are so few ingredients in this recipe, for best flavor don't skimp on their quality.

Verjus vinaigrette can be served with salad greens and other raw chilled salads as well as with steamed, sauteed or grilled vegetables, and it also doubles as a light marinade for fish, shellfish and poultry.

1/3 cup verjus
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (or other herb or herbs of your choice)
1/2 tsp sea salt or Kosher salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground pepper

I like to make this vinaigrette in a Mason jar or other wide-mouthed lidded jar that I can close tightly and shake to combine the ingredients. Alternatively, you can whisk everything together in a small bowl or a large measuring cup.

Use the flat side of a chef's knife or other large, sharp knife to crush or press the garlic clove on your cutting board so as to extract its juice, then finely mince the garlic and scrape the bits plus the juice into your jar or bowl. Add remaining ingredients, then close lid tightly and shake until combined or whisk together in a bowl. Store any leftover dressing in your refrigerator and use within a week or so.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

February's Best-Selling Sauces & Products

Matouk's Calypso Sauce
February was a surprisingly busy month at Carolina Sauce Company, with an unusually large number of online orders for this time of year -- and this is a good thing for a small family business! Although in some years past there had been no point in tallying up the best-selling sauces for what's typically one of the slowest months of the year, this February we had a sufficiently high number of orders to generate a statistically significant list of best-sellers for the month. So, here goes:

1. Matouk's Calypso Hot Sauce: This brightly flavorful and fiery hot sauce captures the essence of Caribbean sun and fun. Powerful scotch bonnet peppers, succulent papaya, savory West Indian mustard and island spices deliver festive flavor and heat in a thickly textured sauce that will cling to your food and make your mouth sing. Made in Trinidad & Tobago in the West Indies, Matouk's Calypso is one of our most popular hot sauces and was the top-selling hot sauce for the month of February.

2. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce is made in eastern North Carolina in the traditional fashion for this part of the state: tart vinegar, zesty spices and absolutely no tomatoes, for a thin, super-tangy sauce that's meant to be splashed liberally on slow-smoked, hand-pulled pork barbecue. If you want to experience authentic Carolina barbecue the way the locals do, this is the sauce you need. You can also use Wells BBQ Sauce as a marinade for chicken and meats, or as a seasoning sauce for collards or green beans, especially if you add a little oil to balance out the vinegar. Wells Hog Heaven is not only our best-selling barbeque sauce (and our second-best selling sauce last month), but it's also our overall best-selling product of all time at the Carolina Sauces online store.

ghost pepper jolokia potato chips
3. Blair's Death Rain Jolokia Pepper Potato Chips are kettle-cooked slices of crispy, crunchy, FIERY-HOT potato to satisfy the cravings of serious fire-eaters and lovers of spicy snacks. Quite possibly the hottest potato chips on the market, you'll definitely want to have a well-chilled, heat-quenching beverage nearby or a cool, creamy dip in which to dunk these Death Rain potato chips seasoned with dried jolokia (ghost pepper) and other savory, spicy seasonings.

4. Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce: Similar to Matouk's Calypso but with a slightly milder heat and a delightfully brighter, fruitier flavor from luscious tropical papayas, this hot sauce is deeply satisfying in terms of rich island flavor, food-coating thickness & texture, and cheerful color. Excellent with poultry, seafood, vegetables & rice dishes, it's also quite good with anything you grill including sausages, burgers and more.

Johnboy & Billy's Hot BBQ Sauce
5. *TIE* JohnBoy & Billy's Hot & Spicy Grillin' Sauce *and* Busha Browne's Pukka Hot Pepper Sauce shared the 5th place position on last month's best-seller list. The Grillin' Sauce features a tangy blend of vinegar, tomatoes & mustard with a pretty decent kick from hot peppers & zesty spices. If you enjoy hot & spicy barbecue sauces for your grilled or smoked meats and chicken, JohnBoy & Billy's Hot Grillin' Sauce is for you. Also for fans of heat that tastes great is Pukka Sauce from Jamaica, a colonial-style all-purpose hot pepper sauce that packs a good punch but won't destroy your taste buds. Pukka Sauce is equally good at the table on served food or as an ingredient in any recipe calling for hot sauce.

6. Gator Hammock Hot Gator Sauce is a favorite of Floridians and is rapidly growing in popularity throughout the United States and even abroad. Featuring a special blend of cayenne, habanero, scotch bonnet & jalapeno peppers in an all-natural, garlicky, savory-tangy spiced vinegar base, it's the go-to hot sauce for foodies who appreciate heat and for hot-sauce lovers who appreciate a well-balanced, great-tasting hot sauce.

Busha Browne's Jerk Rub
7. Busha Browne's Authentic Jerk Seasoning comes in a deceptively small jar that holds a highly concentrated, intensely flavorful and aromatic blend of traditional Jamaican jerk spices and herbs. A little goes a long way both in terms of flavor and heat, and connoisseurs of Jamaican cuisine will be pleased when served jerked meat, poultry or seafood prepared with Busha Browne's special "wet rub" seasoning paste.

8. Walkerswood Traditional Jerk Seasoning, Hot & Spicy is another genuine Jamaican jerk seasoning that delivers superb flavor and authentic heat in a highly concentrated package. Each brand uses its own specially-developed combination and ratio of spices, herbs, scotch bonnet peppers and savory ingredients like garlic and scallions, with Walkerswood adding a bit of sugar unlike Busha Browne. Some people prefer one over the other; I like them both. You can use them the same way in the same recipes, so if you're a fan of jerk cooking, I recommend you get a jar of each and do a side-by-side taste test comparison to see which you prefer.

Jim's Own Sauce & Rubs
9. Jim's Own BBQ Sauce, Rubs & Gifts: For over a decade, this family-owned and operated small business has been making award-winning North Carolina barbecue sauces that add delicious tangy-sweet flavor to everything from pulled pork to marinated & grilled chicken, vegetables and even shrimp & fish. Jim's Own now also makes Mustard and Smokey BBQ sauces as well as a variety of zesty, savory BBQ rubs and a new hearty, wholesome chili mix that takes virtually all the work out of making homemade chili. Jim's Own also offers a special selection of gift baskets and other gift items suitable for any occasion. It's no wonder Jim's Own products are regularly among our best-selling sauces, seasonings and gifts for barbecue enthusiasts.

10. Bacon Gift Baskets & Bundles are always welcome with baconistas and other people passionate about the best part of the pig. From gourmet and flavored bacon to traditional and nitrite-free cuts, bacon-flavored foods, bacon cookbooks and even bacon-themed novelties like bacon-scented cologne & candles, bacon-flavored lip balm, bacon plush toys and t-shirts proclaiming one's love for bacon, you'll find them all at our partner Bacon Freak.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I'm Back... and Life's an Adventure!

cat under sink
After selling our house and moving out, we're mostly settled into our temporary home, a 1986 Avion RV that I'm calling The Silver Sausage (over Greg's objections, but that's a story for another day).

If you're wondering what The Silver Sausage looks like, you can see a photo in my previous blog post in which I announced that I'd be offline temporarily for a week or so during this transition period.

There's still lots of work to be done in our cozy quarters to make them more comfortable, including a new major plumbing project involving the shower and tub, but at least the leaky bathroom sink was easy to fix, with the able assistance (or so he'd like you to believe) of Teufel, our magnificently massive and charmingly chatty black cat. Now if only we could train him to repair the tub drain pipes or at least hold a flashlight for us, we'd really be in business....

cat hanging out
Remington, on the other hand, is living up to his second name (Underfoot) and his honorary title as VP of Work Interruption for Carolina Sauce Company, as his youthful and seemingly boundless energy and unrestrained curiosity create chaos out of order. Let's just say he's quite lucky to be irresistibly adorable and the master of the "innocent look," or else he'd find himself evicted and living outdoors here at the camp. Surely he'll settle down as he adjusts to his surroundings, and it'll also help when I begin to allow him some supervised outdoor playtime.

Every day brings a new adventure and interesting situations when two humans are living in and working out of a vintage RV with two lively and curious cats. We've yet to have a single day go as planned since moving here almost a week ago, and some days have presented significant problems -- take, for instance, the current shower/tub plumbing crisis, now entering Day 3 (we've had to call in the pros and I'm praying they can get out here in the next day or two to repair or replace the leaking pipe/joint) . Nevertheless, we are learning to roll with the punches, appreciating the beauty and solitude of our surroundings, enjoying our houseless freedom and meeting each new challenge as calmly as possible. It helps to be able to end a long day sitting by a campfire under a myriad shimmering stars (no city light pollution!), sipping hot cocoa or something somewhat stronger,  commiserating over the day's events and wondering what tomorrow will bring...

As long as I can find a few minutes a day and our internet connection remains stable, I should be able to resume posting recipes, new product reviews and other zesty Carolina Sauce news here and on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page. Likewise, look for new pins on the Carolina Sauce Pinterest boards.

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and if you have any questions or comments about anything not related to orders placed on the Carolina Sauces online store, please don't hesitate to email me, PM me on Facebook, or leave a comment below. And as always, if you have any inquiries or comments pertaining to online orders, simply email Customer Service at the warehouse and they'll be happy to assist you (remember, they're a separate company from me and I don't have access to order information, which is why I can't assist with that).

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Very Important Announcement from Carolina Sauce

RV Avion trailer
Dear friends of Carolina Sauce Company:

For the next few days, Greg and I will be busy moving out of our house and preparing to begin a most excellent adventure:

We are moving across the country!

We sold our house in Durham, NC, last month and starting this coming week we will live the RV life in rural North Carolina at least through mid-May. Yes, that's a photo of our "new" abode on the left, a vintage Avion trailer, parked next to our current house (photo taken last autumn, hence the green grass and leafy trees). Sometime in May the real adventure will begin as we commence the long trek across the country to Bozeman, Montana, which we plan to call home.

What does this mean for Carolina Sauce?

The good news is that it will be "business as usual" with the online store, as our warehouse partner will continue processing orders and shipping them out. That's the beauty of no longer operating my own warehouse and instead partnering with a larger company here in NC that can fulfill orders even in my absence. So you needn't worry about customer service or whether you still can shop online for your favorite hot sauces, BBQ sauces or other zesty products -- all of that will go on as it currently does, without any effect from my move.

The only places where you might notice my absence is here on this blog, and on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page and our Pinterest boards. Because I am solely responsible for administering those sites, you won't see much activity from me here or on those sites for the next week while we transition out of our house and into our RV. But rest assured that once we are settled in at base camp in the North Carolina wilderness about a week from now, I will be back on Facebook, Pinterest and this blog with more recipes, product reviews and other zesty tidbits of information.

If you need to contact me during the next few days, the best way to do so will be to comment below or on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page, or to send me an email. Please remember that I do NOT have information on customer orders and I am unable to provide customer service regarding order status etc., because all of that is handled by our warehouse partner (a separate company located elsewhere in NC) and I simply do not have that information. If you have inquiries about an order placed on the Carolina Sauces online store, please contact customer service directly as usual and they will be able to help you.

Thanks for your loyal following and support, and stay tuned for new posts in a week or so!

Zestfully yours,