Category Archives: About

Shrimp Stock

A common ingredient in Cajun and Creole cooking.  This version is from


Shells and tails from 2 lb. of Shrimp
1/2 Cup chopped Onion
1/4 Cup chopped Celery
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon sliced
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Black Peppercorns


Add all ingredients to a dutch oven or a moderate sized stock pot. Cover this with cold water, it should be about 6-8 Cups Cups.

Bring almost to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface, and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Stock freezes very well. Break it up into batches in ziploc bags.

Creole Seasoning

A staple of Creole cooking.  There are many versions of this spice mix, this one is from


1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/3 Cup Paprika
1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
4 Tbsp Onion Powder
1/3 Cup Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tbsp White Pepper
2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
2 Tbsp Dried Basil
1 Tbsp Dried Oregano


Mix all ingredients.  Store in an air tight jar.

Emeril’s Essence

An all purpose Cajun spice mix from Emeril Lagasse.


2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

About Beans

Beans are a great source of protein and fiber in the vegan diet.  Lots of different varieties, and recently Whole Foods has started to carry heirloom beans adding a whole new range of flavors and textures.

Cooking Beans

You can buy beans precooked in cans, but to be honest, I don’t really like them.  Think about it.  The beans are cooked, packed into the can, and then they sit on the store shelf or in your pantry for weeks to months before you eat them.  And you are surprised that they taste is a little “mushy”?  The cans are also heavy and take up storage space.

The preferable alternative is to buy dry beans and cook them yourself.  Or, as we often do, cook a batch and freeze them away in zip lock sandwich bags, 2 cups each.  Dry beans are available in more varieties, they can be stored for months or even years, and they don’t take up much space.  Just be sure to keep the containers sealed you that you don’t get bugs.  An easy way to cook beans is to break out that old crock pot slow cooker you have had sitting on a shelf for years.  Super easy recipe:

1 lb beans
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Set the slow cooker on high, and come back in a few hours.  Exactly how long depends on the bean and your preferences for how well done you like them.  Adding the baking soda buffers the solution and makes the cooking process much more reliable.

Beans Time
Chickpeas (aka Garbanzo beans) 5 hrs
Kidney beans (including White, Navy, Northern, and Cannellini beans) 3 hrs

When the beans are done, scoop them out with a slotted spoon are dump the whole batch into a colander.  Use what you need, and freeze the rest away.   The cooked frozen beans keep for months as long as you seal the bag and keep them from drying out.

About Baking Soda

Baking soda is greatly under appreciated ingredients in too many kitchens.  Most chefs know it only as something you add to cakes and quick breads, and maybe a box you leave open in the refrig to absorb smells.  To learn more about baking soda, we need to get back to a little basic chemistry.  Sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, is a good buffer that keeps the pH around 8, mildly alkaline.

Depending on where you live, the pH of tap water may vary considerably, and the ingredients we add to foods may also modify the pH.  For example, canned tomatoes often have citric acid added to keep the tomatoes flavor fresh.  The problem is that the way many foods cook depends strongly on the pH.  For example, beans just won’t soften no matter how long you cook them in an acidic solution.  Adding 1/2 tsp of baking soda per quart of water when you cook beans speeds up the process and makes it much more reproducible.  Similarly, adding a similar amount of baking soda to the water when you blanch vegetables greens them up and speeds the process.