Salsa, shrubs, watermelon rind and Great Fermentations | Rock Candy

Friday, March 6, 2015

Salsa, shrubs, watermelon rind and Great Fermentations

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 11:04 AM

click to enlarge CRUNCHY AND BRIGHT: A festive kraut that tastes just as good as it looks from Great Fermentations. - MICHAEL ROBERTS
  • CRUNCHY AND BRIGHT: A festive kraut that tastes just as good as it looks from Great Fermentations.

What a wild couple of weeks! Apologies for no Friday open line last week, we were holding a photo shoot for our 2015 Arkansas Food and Farm Spring Food Issue. Special thanks to Scott McGehee (Local Lime, Lost Forty, Big Orange, ZaZa Pizza, Heights Tamale and Taco and my goodness this guy is busy), Matthew Lowman (South on Main), Brandon and Tara Brown (Hillcrest Artisan Meats), Stephanos Mylonas (Mylo Coffee Co.), Angela Nix (Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery), two-time James Beard nominee Matt McClure (The Hive), Kelly Carney (North Pulaski Farms) and everyone else who worked with us to create a great seasonal cooking issue.

Thanks also to our contributing authors: Kat Robinson, Steve Shuler, Kelli Reep, Louis Williams and Lyndi Fultz. These folks scoured the state to find delicious things to talk about, and they are rock stars.

But let's get on to our Friday Five. As always, this is an open line for you to say whatever it is — we've had some very entertaining comments of late over on Facebook, so just go nuts.

Today I'm talking about five great Arkansas products that you can pick up, put in the pantry, and make your life better. High quality stuff here, so check them out.

*Hot Stuff: I picked up a jar of My Brother's Salsa from Whole Foods last week, and I'm basically addicted to it now. It's fresh, it's flavorful, it's perfect for chips, eggs, tacos or pretty much anything else that needs some kick.

*Clean Thyself: Ok, this one isn't food — although there is food available — but rather soap from Our Green Acre. I have been using a selection of handmade soaps from this farm in Low Gap, and they are excellent. Exfolliate with oatmeal, or wash your face with soothing clove soap. Again, I'm hooked.

*Pros at Probiotics: Fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut. It gets a bad reputation, but that's because we're all used to the cheap canned stuff. Great Fermentations has a message for you:  Re-acquaint yourself with kraut that has been fermented to perfection, retaining a pleasant crunch while packing a complex flavor of sour and slightly sweet. Plus it's a gorgeous and striking pink and beyond healthy for you.

*Cocktail Magic: What is a "shrub?" Well it depends on the context. For our purposes, a shrub is an acidulated beverage with natural fruit flavors that makes a fantastic addition to any bar setup. Even better, you can get some of the best shrubs (along with simple syrups and bitters) from an Arkansas company, Pink House Alchemy. They sell both retail and wholesale so whether you're mixing a drink at home or mixing them for a hundred or so of your best friends, add some Pink House products to your line-up.

*Preserving the Past: Preservation methods from a time before ready refrigeration are making a comeback in a big way. For Bryant Preserving Company, they never went away since the founding of the company in 1947. Try their tomolives (a special pickled green tomato) or go really old school and get picked okra or pickled watermelon rind (a personal favorite). Their selection of preserved vegetables can add a sharp splash of color to a charcuterie tray, and their flavor will compliment a variety of meats and cheeses. Or do what I do and just eat them standing in front of the refrigerator at 2 a.m.

So that's my story told. What's the last two weeks been like for all of you? What have you been putting in your face? Share with us and let us know what's good.

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