Monday, February 1, 2016

Feb. 25, 2016 is National Chili Day

National Chili  Day is celebrated the fourth Thursday of February. This year it will be celebrated onh Feb. 25. There's nothing better on a cold winter day.

Most historians agree that the earliest written description of chili came from J.C. Clopper, who lived near Houston. While his description never mentions the word chili this is what he wrote of his visit to San Antonio in 1828:  "When they [poor families of San Antonio] have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat--this is all stewed together.”

In the 1880s, a market in San Antonio started setting up chili stands from which chili or bowls o'red, as it was called, were sold by women who were called "chili queens." A bowl o'red cost diners such as writer O. Henry and democratic presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan ten cents and included bread and a glass of water. The fame of chili con carne began to spread and the dish soon became a major tourist attraction. It was featured at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 at the San Antonio Chili Stand.

By the 20th century chili joints had made their debut in Texas and became familiar all over the west by the roaring ‘20s. In fact, by the end of that decade, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlor, which were often no more than a shed or a room with a counter and some stools. It’s been said that chili joints meant the difference between starvation and staying alive during the Great Depression since chili was cheap and crackers were free. 

In 1977, chili manufacturers in the state of Texas lobbied the state legislature to have chili proclaimed the official "state food" of Texas “in recognition of the fact that the only real 'bowl of red' is that prepared by Texans.” 

Here’s a recipe for a unique version of chili made with Blue Crab Bay’s Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer which is made with clam juice:Jim's Bloody Mary Chili
·    1 lb. ground turkey
·    2 c. Sting Ray® Bloody Mary Mixer
·    2 15 oz. cans chili beans, drained
·    12 oz. jar roasted red peppers
·    6 oz. can tomato paste
·    large yellow onion, diced
·    3 cloves garlic, minced
·    2 tbsp. olive oil
·    1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
·    salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan, heat olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic until golden brown and remove from pan. Brown turkey in pan, season with salt and pepper if desired. Add onion and garlic back to the pan. Add all other ingredients except cilantro. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least half an hour or until flavors develop. Prior to serving, stir in cilantro or use as a garnish. Serve with your favorite toppings, such as sour cream, grated cheese, hot peppers, etc. Serves 4 to 6. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jan 24 is National Peanut Butter Day

Snowy Days

January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day. January is the first full month of winter. In Virginia, we are once again waiting for snow. It’s time to start planning for a wintry snowy day. That is why National Peanut Butter Day is in January.

The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg All Natural Peanut Butter is just that - peanuts and maybe a pinch of salt. It is available for all tastes, smooth, crunchy or salt free. We’ve chosen The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg All Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter for our Snowy Days Gift Basket and Snack Attack Gift Box, both with handy items for a cold, winter day. Both also include Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanuts

A delicious way to enjoy your Peanut Butter is covered in Milk Chocolate.The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanuts are crispy roasted peanuts covered in creamy peanut butter and double dipped in milk chocolate

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New Norman Rockwell Merry Christmas Labels from Virginia Diner

Give the gift of nostalgia and simpler times with Virginia Diner’s NEW Norman Rockwell licensed Merry Christmas Peanuts.

The Norman Rockwell painting for the 36 oz. Salted Virginia Peanuts label was originally published in the December 14, 1929 edition of the Saturday Evening Post.

The Norman Rockwell depiction of Santa Claus from 61 years ago on the 40 oz. Virginia Diner ButterToasted Peanuts was originally produced when the Virginia Diner was celebrating its twenty fifth anniversary.

The 18 oz. Virginia Diner Salted Virginia Peanuts features an iconic Norman Rockwell painting that appeared in 1949, the twentieth anniversary of the Virginia Diner. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Red Rocker Cashew Toffee with White Chocolate for the Holidays

For the Holiday Season we are excited to have added Red Rocker Cashew Brittle with White Chocolate to our gift baskets. Crunchy, roasted cashews are perfectly blended in buttery toffee. Gourmet white chocolate is melted over the top and then generously sprinkled with more delicious cashews. It's no wonder this original recipe is their top seller. ITts soooo good!!

 Red Rocker Candy, LLC started as a desire to make the best toffees and brittles as gifts for friends and family turned into the fulfillment of a life-long dream. This Virginia’s Finest Company is guided by the old-fashioned values of family, quality, goodness and customer enjoyment. Their products bring back the flavors and sentiment of times-gone-by when • it was acceptable to eat a rich treat • it was paramount to use only the finest ingredients • and making something by hand still meant something.

Red Rocker Candy is now based in the small Virginia town of Troy. Each batch of candy is hand-made in their facility using only the finest ingredients: pure butter, the best nuts money can buy, and the best chocolates available on the market. In August, 2015 Red Rocker Candy was in VIRGINIA Living magazine’s August feature about candy making in Virginia. Near the end of the month VDOT posted the Red Rocker Candy logo on highway signs on Interstate 64.
Holiday Snack Attack

Some of the gift baskets we have added Cashew Toffee with White Chocolate to include Holiday Snack Attack, Snow Day,Gingerbread Magic, and Holiday Brunch Delights.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Ultimate Holiday Ham

I saw this mouthwatering recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, for a Holiday Ham on the Today Show website. It would make our Smithfield Spiral Cut Smoked Ham into the ultimate holiday party dish. The glaze takes only a minute to make and the ham tastes like you worked it for hours. You can serve it with extra mustard and mango chutney.

1 (14- to 16-pound) fully cooked, spiral-cut smoked ham
6 garlic cloves
8 1/2 ounces mango chutney
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ham in a heavy roasting pan.
Mince the garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the chutney, mustard, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange juice and process until smooth. Pour the glaze over the ham and bake for 1 hour, until the ham is fully heated and the glaze is well browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Gift of Peanut Butter

We have been selling The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg All Natural Peanut Butter since we began The Virginia Marketplace in 2006. This peanut butter is just that - peanuts, and maybe a pinch of salt. No added sugars. It is available in smooth, salt free smooth, crunchy, or as sampler of all three.
This holiday season we have added The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg All Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter to some of our gourmet gift baskets and gift boxes.

Our Snowy Days Gift Basket includes The Peanut Shop of Williamsbug All Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter, Byrd Mill Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Mix and Ginger and Spice Cookie Mix, Red Rocker Cashew Toffee, The Peanut Shop Williamsburg Peanut Butter
Milk Chocolate Bars, Chincoteague New England Clam Chowder, Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard Maple Syrup, and The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Milk Chocolate Virginia Peanuts. Our Nut Lover's Basket includes The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg All Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter, Red Rocker Cashew Toffee, Graves Mountain Strawberry and Black Raspberry Preserves, and The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Bars.

Our Snack Happy Gift Box includes The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg All Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter, Byrd Mill Ginger and Spice Cookie Mix, The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Milk Chocolate Peanuts, Graves Mountain Strawberry Preserves, Monastery Almond Creamed Honey and The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Bars. Our Snack Attack Gift Box includes The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg All Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter, The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Bars, Byrd Mill Cinnamon Muffin Mix, Monastery Natural Creamed Honey, Graves Mountain Strawberry Preserves, and The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Hot Sriracha Seasoned Virginia Peanuts. Our Nutty Snack Time Gift Box includes Red Rocker Cashew Toffee, The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter, The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Bars, The Peanut Shop of Willimasburg Virginia Peanuts, Graves Mountain Strawberry Preserves and Monastery Natural Creamed Honey.

Some people feel they should not indulge in the rich, creamy taste of peanut butter because they are afraid of the fat. It’s time to take another look at peanut butter because studies have shown that it is indeed a very healthy food choice. Here are some of the reasons you should include peanut butter as a part of a healthy eating plan.
If you want to lose some weight, peanut butter can help. Peanut butter is very filling. A little bit goes a long way to keep you satiated. With its combination of protein (8g per serving) and fiber (2g per serving), it makes a big dent in your hunger pains and tamps down cravings to eat more than you’d prefer.
You can include peanut butter in your plan to keep diabetes at bay. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study demonstrating that participants, eating 1 ounce of nuts or peanut butter for a minimum of five days per week, lowered their risk of developing diabetes by 30 percent!
Peanut butter is considered a good food in your plan to keep your heart healthy. Packed with fantastic nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals and potassium, peanut butter can be good for your heart. Several studies bear this out, as those who consume peanut butter regularly in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease versus those who avoid it. One study showed that diets high in monounsaturated fat, which includes foods like peanut butter, lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while maintaining good HDL cholesterol.

To borrow from an old idiom about cake: you can have your peanut butter and eat it too!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Crabbing in Virginia Beach

When we were in Virginia Beach we went crabbing. We were so successful we spent a whole evening cracking and eating our bounty. You can find out an enormous amount of information on crabbing in Virginia Beach from the VB Guide: From late spring until early winter, the succulent blue crab abounds in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. All along Rudee Inlet and Linkhorn Bay, you will see clusters of people standing on the banks, dangling strings in the water. Although this method of catching crabs may seem primitive, it is highly effective.

A mature blue crab is usually between five and seven inches wide, across the back from “point to point”. The back of the blue crab is olive green, but their undersides and legs are white. Their claws have a blue-ish color, hence their name. One way you can tell a male blue crab from a female is by the tips of their claws. A female looks as if she has just returned from having a manicure- her claws are tipped in red. Many people assume that crabs are always red, but actually they become bright red-orange only when they are cooked.

A male crab is called a “Jimmy”. In addition to his plainer claws, you will notice that he has a small “apron” on this underside. A “Sally”, or she-crab, has a larger apron. If her apron is rounded and covered with an orange, spongy substance, she is known as a “sookie”, or egg carrying female. If you catch a sookie, you must return her to the water.

Crabbing is a major industry for the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore. Commercial crabbers usually trap their crabs in “crab pots”, although some set long baited lines along rivers. In winter, when crabs are dormant, boats dredge the bay. In the late spring, Watermen traditionally bait their pots by using a Jimmy as a male siren to attract the innocent Sallies.

Although crabbing for a living is a hard life, catching enough crabs for dinner is fun and easy. Crabs will eat almost anything. Watermen say they prefer eel, but weekenders usually save chicken necks or hunks of “trash fish” for them. Tie the meat to a piece of twine, and throw it into the water. (You may need to weight it down with a spare key or fishing weight.) Wait about 5 minutes, then slowly put it in. Crabs are greedy and this is often their downfall. A crab will usually hold onto the line as you gently lift it up. Bringing them in is not difficult, but don’t try to grab the crab or remove it from the line! Crabs will protect themselves! Carefully retrieve the crab with a net and then flip it into a cool container. Do not kill the crabs you catch. They must be alive when you begin cooking them. Just keep them cool until you are ready to begin dinner.

Crabbing is permitted in Virginia Beach without a license, but there are certain regulations. Crabs must be a minimum of five inches wide from point to point, and all egg-carrying females must be thrown back. You may catch only one bushel a day.

Most crabs you catch will probably have hard shells, but you may come across a soft-shelled crab, either in a restaurant, or while crabbing. When a crab has grown too large for its shell, it will molt or discard the shell. The remaining skin hardens in a short number of days to form another hard shell. But in the meantime, it is very vulnerable and is referred to as a “soft-shelled” crab.

Watermen and crabbers can tell when a crab is going to shed its shell. Some companies sort out the crabs and hold the shedders until the day they molt. On that day, the tender soft-shelled crabs are sent, still alive, to the market. But because soft-shelled crabs can remain soft for such a short time, many are now frozen and then distributed. Soft-shelled crabs are prized as delicacies. They are best when small, lightly floured and sautéed in butter. However, most local restaurants serve large ones, battered and fried. You eat the whole crab-claws, skin and all-sometimes in a sandwich. Many watermen augment their incomes by selling fresh crabmeat. Commercial firms also cook and pick the meat and then pack it in cans, often pasteurizing it. Undoubtedly it keeps longer, but the process also tampers with texture and flavor. Really fresh crabmeat is unbelievably sweet and delicate, and it needs very little cooking because crabs must be cooked before the meat can be removed from the shell. Just sauté the crabmeat in butter with a little pepper and lemon. Another favorite is a spicy, steamed crab dish. Add some seafood seasoning to a couple of inches of water in a large steamer or pot. Pour in a beer or two and some vinegar. Bring to a boil and dump in live crabs. Cover and steam the crabs until they are bright red-orange. Pick and dip in fresh, melted butter.
Crab Balls

Southern Shores Specialties Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes and Crab Balls come from the Chesapeake Bay. a fluffy blend of jumbo lump and backfin crabmeats are combined to impart the sweet flavor of the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab. Crab meat washed and cooked within an hour of delivery, then handmade and frozen to ensure freshness.