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Boiling Crawfish

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Food | Posted on 12-05-2009


It is May and that means Crawfish are in season down South.  It is one of these things we just do down here and if you’ve never had crawfish before I hope you’ll get a chance to experience it one day. 

This past weekend I cooked a sack of crawfish along with an assortment of vegetables in the mix and they turned out fantastic.  Well, I thought they were fantastic but some of my friends thought they were on the tad spicy side.  Oh well, you can’t please everyone right?


Too me the vegetables are just as important part of a crawfish boil as the crawfish and they make for a great filler and believe it or not they absorb a lot of the spices. 

In this batch I had potatoes, corn, mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, and onion.  It turns into a beautiful arrangement of reds, green and yellow in the pot. Of course you can’t forget the sausage.  I typically use Conechuh Sausage in mine but I also had some green onion sausage I picked up as a filler (Conechuh is expensive).  All in all it was a good time even though it is a lot of work.


Updated: 5/13/2009

It seems my choice of vegetables in my crawfish has some puzzled some so let me clarify how I cook it.  Let’s start with the mushrooms.  I use a whole pack of mushrooms per pot, sometimes two (i usually get them from Sam’s Club).  The trick is to not overcook them and the only way to do that is to put them in after the heat is turned off.  The mushrooms are always a favorite.  They are juicy, a little spicy and carry a lot of flavor.  After the crawfish come to a boil for 5 minutes, the heat is turned off and then I add in the mushrooms, stirring them in while the crawfish soak. 

For the asparagus and broccoli I wait about 5 minutes before putting them in.   I’ve also used cauliflower.  I’ll warn you again, the broccoli will be hot (as in pepper hot, so will cauliflower).

Fried Bologna Sandwich

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Food | Posted on 15-12-2007


image I was reminded the other day about something I used to eat when I was growing up during a conversation with a friend.  It has been years, heck, a decade and then some since the last time I had a fried bologna sandwich. 

Growing up I considered it a delicacy.  The taste and satisfaction it brought was only equaled to that of a Hot Fudge Sundae (with no nuts).  How I forgot about this beloved treasure I have no idea.  Maybe age and the pursuit of other foods made me forget.  It is time to get back to the basics though.

Bologna Background

For those that find the thought of fried bologna a little weird we need to first understand what it really is made of and how it is made.  Bologna is actually a smoked sausage made of cured beef, pork, turkey or a combination thereof.  That’s right, it is considered a sausage.  At the factory it is made into a puree so it can be molded into different shapes and then sliced.  Everyone that eats sausage understands that sausage is fried before eaten.  Thus, since bologna is actually sausage, it should no longer come as a shock that bologna can be fried.

Bologna is also a great sandwich meat although many consider it the bottom dweller of meats because it isn’t a pure cut meat like ham, or turkey.  A lot of people refer to it as a “government” meat since the government provided it to those on welfare years ago. 

Best User Experience

imageThe best way to buy bologna is not to go to the store and buy a small pack.  To really experience a fine bologna it must be purchased in bulk.  Typically a Sam’s Club or Costco sales it by what is called the “stick”.  Normally a stick will weigh about 5lbs.  While it is a lot of meat, if kept refrigerated it will keep for a long time.  Bryan bologna has been around in the South for years and it is the first choice usually selected.  Another benefit of purchasing by the stick is it isn’t sliced.  This allows for varying degrees of thickness when sliced and allows it to serve different roles easier.

Ways To Eat Bologna


Fried Bologna Sandwich

The very first and best way to eat bologna is to fry it and eat it on a sandwich.  For the best flavor use a cast iron skillet.  Really for any meat that is going to be fried it should be cooked in a cast iron skillet.  If slicing your own bologna from a stick, do not make your cuts too thick.  When frying bologna it should be thin.  The perfect thickness when slicing your own is slightly less thick than a store bought pack of bologna.  Once cut to the proper thickness, slice bologna in the middle to make two halves. 

Unlike sausage, you must add a small amount of oil to the skillet.  This will keep it from sticking.  As the bologna cooks it will bubble up in the center.  If the skillet is hot, cooking time will be relatively quick so don’t put it in the skillet and walk away.  To get the perfect flavor of fried bologna I prefer it to be cooked to where there are charred markings on the bologna.  It shouldn’t be completely black when cooked, but it should have some black markings on it. 

Once the bologna is cooked, take two pieces of bread either toasted or plain and place several slices of bologna onto one side.  Then grab a jar of mustard and add several teaspoons.  That’s it, you are ready to eat!  I’ve had people ask me, why do you use mustard only?  The reason is it just tastes the best with the fried bologna.  Mayonnaise or other dressing do not work near as well with fried bologna, and neither does adding other things like tomatoes or pickles.  There is plenty of flavor in just the fried bologna so there is no need to dress it up anymore.

Traditional Bologna Sandwich

A traditional way to eat bologna is on a sandwich.  Bologna has such a strong flavor that it isn’t wise to mix it with other meats.  This is why delis do not offer turkey, ham, roast beef and bologna sandwiches.  The bologna is so rich and powerful it will overtake the flavor of the other meats.  This is why bologna should be eaten and served by itself. 

To fix a bologna sandwich it is simple.  Use one or two slices of bologna, miracle whip salad dressing or mayonnaise (depending on which one you prefer), and a slice or two of tomato.  While a slice of cheese can be added choose wisely.  About the only type of cheese that can take bologna head on is a sharp cheddar.  Anything else and it diminishes the flavor combination of the mayonnaise and the tomato and also gets in the way of the bologna.  Again the bologna provides plenty of flavor on its own.

Bologna, Cheese and Crackers

When I was a child growing up during the summer, one of the most anticipated days I looked forward to in the week was Tuesday.  Every summer I use to ride along with my Father and help him on his Pepsi Cola route.  It was hard work but I got to meet a lot of people and learned the art of salesman ship and the gift of gab from my Father.  Tuesday was the day we went to a country store outside of Ripley, MS called Curtis’s.  Curtis, the owner, had a store between Ripley and Booneville on HWY 4 that served the community.  It was a quaint country store with hardwood floors, a small meat counter where meats were sliced, and rows of candy.  Curtis was a supper nice guy and I enjoyed stopping into his store because that meant we got to eat.  We always got to Curtis’s store around lunch time. 

For lunch some days we’d have Curtis fix us a sandwich.  He’d slice a big piece of bologna from a stick and then other days we’d have him just slice a really thick slice of bologna, a thick slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and pick up a few packs of crackers.  When I mean thick slices, I mean thick.  Like a 1/4 lb slice of each. 

Hunters, fishermen, and explorers today are known to carry bologna, cheese and crackers because it stores easily, is quick to grab a quick bite, filling, easy, and requires no tools or utensils to eat.  The next time you go canoeing, camping, fishing, or hunting, give this a try, you’ll be glad you did.

Bobby Flay Cooking Show

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Food | Posted on 04-11-2007


My wife and I are Food Network-aholics.  Not that we cook anything we see on the shows hardly but we do watch the Food Network a lot for some reason.  The shows are wholesome shows (no blood, guts, killing, and crime investigations) and they are educational.  If you watch the food network at all you probably have heard of Chef Bobby Flay.  He’s been an Iron Chef since 2003 and has numerous show’s on the Food Network including Throwdown where he shows up to various renowned local places to challenge the chef to a cook off. 

Ellen’s Mom (Sue) had a birthday yesterday and to surprise her Mom we took her to a Bobby Flay cooking show in Mobile, AL.  We picked her up around 10:30 AM at and drove to Mobile, AL arriving around lunch time.  Our first stop was to get some lunch so we stopped in at Felix’s Fish Camp off of Battleship Parkway.  If you are ever in the Mobile area this is one of those places you have to go.  As a matter of fact when we walked in the ladies that greeted us were talking about Bobby Flay because he had eaten supper there the night before.  We sat next to the window over looking the bay.  I had the BBQ Shrimp (again) so I could wear the bib.  After we finished eating we locked in the Mobile Civic Center address into the GPS and headed 3.3 miles to downtown Mobile.  The Civic Center had a bunch of food related vendors there so we walked around.  We bought Ellen’s Mom a new chopping board and she bought us the Bobby Flay Mesa Grill cookbook so we could get it signed. 

The show started at 3:00 and I suspect there were probably 500 – 750 people there.  It was hard to judge but a lot of people just for a cooking show!  He cooked two main dishes and some margaritas.  One of the dishes he cooked was a salmon dish.  Having recently returned from a salmon fishing trip I have to try this recipe.  We were right up front for the show and it was interesting because he wanted people to ask questions as he was cooking.  It was a really open format and I liked it. 

The Mobile Gas company sponsored Bobby coming down so he cooked with a gas grill and a gas stove.  At the end when he was taking a lot of rapid fire questions I had to do it, I just had to ask, “Bobby, when you are grilling, charcoal or gas?”.  Immediately people started laughing because there was this huge sign behind him with “Mobile Gas” on it.  He laughed and said “Both, charcoal has more flavor but gas is quicker and evenly disperses the heat.”  He said he owned both grills and recommends to have both around depending on what you are cooking and how long you have.

All in all it was a fun little side trip and just reminded me why Hattiesburg, MS is such a great town to live in.  We call it the Hub City because it really is the hub of a lot of places to visit.  Literally within 1, 2 or 3 hours you can be anywhere from:

  • Jackson, MS our state capital
  • Fishing in the bayou of Louisiana for red fish
  • On the beach in Florida
  • At a casino in Biloxi or the beach there or fishing
  • A Taledega race outside of Birmingham
  • Cruising up and down Bourburn Street in New Orleans or at a Saints game

You can view pictures from the trip to Mobile here on Flickr:


Make the Holidays More Simple – Order Thanksgiving Off the Internet

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Family, Food | Posted on 27-11-2006


Last year when Ellen and I moved into our new home we were excited to cook our first Thanksgiving meal in our new home. That was the general feeling until we spent ALL day in the kitchen preparing the meal. While the meal was excellent, it wasn’t worth a whole day of effort and roughly $300.00 of groceries. I vowed next year I wasn’t going to spend my day off cooking. There had to be a better way. I am a smart guy, couldn’t I figure something out? Turns out there are lots of ways to have a really nice Thanksgiving dinner without all the fuss. This year we ordered Thanksgiving dinner off the Internet and had it shipped all the way in from Dallas, Tx via Mr. Billy’s Cajun Market. The meal costs $129.00 and included all the sides (mashed potatoes, green bean caserole, etc). The meal we got was the Spicy Cajun Fried Whole Turkey Dinner.


The meal included:

  • Spicy Cajun Fried Turky
  • Green Bean Caserole
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Crab Cakes
  • Giblet Gravy
  • Bread Pudding Pie
  • Geaux Juice
  • Crawfish etoufee

The package arrived very nicely packed via Fedex on Wednesday around 2:00 PM. Here are some pics we took as we unboxed it:

This is a picture of Mom and me. This may be her Blog debut, I’m not sure 🙂

How everything was packaged.

Everything unpacked.

After everything was unpacked we placed it in the fridge and then headed to town later that evening to get some items to round out the meal. Ellen made a strawberry cheescake and brocolli caserole, mom made a caramel cake and the dressing and Ellen’s mom brought a caserole dish. As you can see our cooking was really at a minimum this year. Besides putting the turkey in the oven and heating up everything it was relatively painless and I even got to watch a lot of football earlier in the day (always a plus). So how was everything? Honestly, if you had came over and eaten with us and I hadn’t told you, you would have never known we ordered it. As a matter of fact, we never told Ellen’s mom we ordered it and while she was somewhat in disbelief that I cooked crawfish etoufee, crab cakes and had a spicy cajun turkey fried for Thanksgiving, everything had a home cooked flavor. This was my first spicy cajun turkey and I don’t think I can have Thanksgiving without it again. The turkey was tremendous and easy to heat up, just 5 minutes per lb. All in all it was a great meal and no one killed themselves this year trying to cook.


Every Restaurant Needs a Tractor

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Food | Posted on 09-11-2006


Every restaurant needs a John Deere tractorAt least once a week I leave the comfort of my home office to venture out for lunch. Normally Will messages me about 10:45 AM asking where we are going to eat that day. Today Bob (Will’s co-worker that eats with us) wanted to go to one of my favorite places to eat which is an old movie theater in Purvis, MS they re-opened as a buffet style restaurant called the Movie Star Restaurant . And man is the food good! Just good country cooking and for $8.00 which includes sweet tea, you can’t beat it. This is one of those places that is hard to describe to people so I took some photos that you can view to get a feel for the place. If you are ever are in the area of Hattiesburg, check it out!.