Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Traveling tip: Pecan Waffles

 In motels, I have developed a dislike for the the waffle irons that many motels feature in their breakfast rooms. The waffles they produce lack whole grains and the fake maple syrup is main line sugar...literally. I have been determined to make them at least a wee bit healthier or, at the very least, taste better. My solution is to travel with a small bag of chopped pecans. When no one is looking, I pour the waffle goop into the iron and add a half cup of the chopped pecans. I end up with a pecan waffle that tastes a heck of a lot better and has a better nutritional profile. Instead of the supplied fake syrup, I improvise as best I can with fruit cocktail, fresh fruit, even biscuit gravy....anything but the syrup. 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Buster and John's Red Beans and Rice


David Rosengarden once observed that when ask an aficionado of red beans and rice for their true favorite version of this widely loved New Orleans staple, they will likely go into a stage whisper and tell you, after securing a promise of secrecy, that Popeye’s makes the best red beans and rice on the planet. With that in mind, I have been trying recipe after recipe trying to find the holy grail of red beans and rice. I think I have found it. If there are recipes better than this one: Bring ‘Em On!

This recipe is adapted from Jane and Michael Stern’s book, Road Food. The inspiration for their recipe came from Buster Holmes restaurant in New Orleans and John Thorne’s pamphlet, Rice and Beans: The Itinerary of a Recipe. I have made a few minor changes to suit my tastes.


  • 1-14 oz package of dried red beans, washed and picked through
  • 3 cups of Sauterne wine. If you have trouble finding Sauterne, try a sweet wine such as Madeira. I also have used apple juice successfully.
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into disks
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup minced scallion, reserve green tops
  • 1/8 teaspoon, Crystal hot sauce (I never use Tabasco)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups, rice
  • 4 ½ cups, water
  • 2 cloves, garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Creole seasoning to taste


  • Soak beans overnight in wine and enough water to cover.
  • Pour off liquid and put beans in a 6-quart stockpot with 2 quarts of water.
  • Add ham hock, sausage, garlic, onions, scallion, and seasonings, stir gently, and bring to simmer gradually.
  • Partially cover and simmer gently for three hours, adding a half-and-half mixture of water and wine as needed to keep the beans soupy.
  • After 2 ½ hours, mash some of the softened beans to thicken gravy. I use an immersion blender, but a potato masher will work.
  • Serve over cooked rice.