It’s always been easy to find Louisiana-made foods and goods to tuck under the tree, and this year, the choices range far and wide. Once again, we present our annual holiday guide for the foodie in your life to highlight a few of the items that hit the market recently.
To satisfy literary foodies, two new food books by Louisiana authors offer fresh takes on eating and drinking. In Southeast Louisiana Food, A Seasoned Tradition, food historians Addie K. Martin and Jeremy Martin present an exploration of the evolution of Cajun and Creole cuisine in the southeastern part of the state. The New Orleans-based husband and wife are creators of the travel blog, Culture Curious (culturecurious.net). The book includes 10 recipes, many of which were passed down through Addie Martin’s family, including shrimp boulettes and white beans with fried fish.
Magic in a Shaker by New Orleans bartender Marvin J. Allen explains how to stock your bar, make bitters and create a wide range of reliable cocktails. Allen, the longtime bartender of the Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar, also offers themed libations for each month of the year.
By day, Gaye Sandoz runs the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator and advises small start-ups about developing food products. But in her spare time, Sandoz herself is also a culinary entrepreneur. As a single mom living in an apartment with her son, Sandoz wanted a better way to prepare a chicken—something that would impart the flavor of the grill but could be done in the microwave. Her Clever Kitchen BBQ Chicken Roaster hit the marketplace over the summer and she has sold more than 100,000 roasters. The contraption, which cooks chicken evenly and caramelizes skin, is a top-rated product on QVC by both customers and that network’s kitchen show host David Venable. clever-kitchen.net
From salad dressing to barbecue sauce, there’s been a boom lately in the number of Louisiana-made food products hitting grocery store shelves. One is Malco’s Magnificent Salsa, the brainchild of Baton Rouge-based Malcolm Young, who developed the recipe 25 years ago. Young used to give away more than 150 jars every holiday season, and routinely sent his signature salsa to the Washington Mardi Gras each spring. Now a commercial product, the salsa is made with fresh ingredients often procured from Louisiana farmers at the Red Stick Farmers Market, where Young himself is a vendor. Fresh chunks of tomatoes and garlic in the salsa are set off by a citrusy background and subtle heat. It is also available online and in some local supermarkets. malcosmagnificentsalsa.com
Disposing of hot grease resulting from browning ground beef can be a pesky chore for home cooks in the throes of making chili, tacos, spaghetti and other routine dishes. In fact, it’s what inspired Baton Rouge mom Michelle Schroeder to invent her Easy Greasy heat-resistant colander set. The product allows you to drain ground beef and cool the grease in a separate compartment, making it easier to discard in the trash. It’s neater, safer and easier on pipes, says Schroeder, a former marketing executive. Manufactured by a Louisiana-based fabricator, the product sells for less than $20 and is available in local stores. easy-greasy.com
Gifts that really give
For the foodie who’s got it all, a cash donation to a food-related charity is a great gift. The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is on the receiving end of thousands of pounds of cans and volunteer labor each year—which the organization continues to need—but cash donations are accepted, too. Food banks can purchase food at a more cost-effective rate than an individual can. A $100 donation to the Adopt-a-Senior program, for example, will provide a 40-pound box of food each month for a year to a senior in need. Cash donations also help the operation secure trucks of rescued food that sometimes come available. brfoodbank.org