The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Wash Those GROSS-ery Bags!

So, do you want to be CLEAN or GREEN?

Next time to head out to the grocery store — all proud of yourself with eco-friendly resuable bags in hand — consider this bit of frightening news from a recent study. (SPOILER ALERT: Gross details below!)

During a recent test, scientists from the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University found that nearly half of the reusable grocery bags they sampled contained traces of fecal bacteria, including E coli. Eewww.

Here’s how it happens: You put fresh fruits and veggies in your bag, and germs from the surface are left behind when you remove them. Or you buy a package of raw meat and some of the juices leak out, possibly contaminating other items — and your bag.

The solution? Wash your bags after every trip. Yes, that uses more soap and water (kinda negating the eco-benefits or skipping plastic bags) but at least you’ll stay safe and healthy.

SOS … Save Our (Pumpkin) Seeds!

The best thing to come out of carving jack-o-lanterns (besides the obvious smiles from delighted young-uns) is the mound of tasty pumpkin seeds you can harvest from the gourd’s innards. I know it’s a mess to salvage seeds amid all that goop, but you’ll be glad you put forth the effort.

To make the process go a little quicker, plop your pumpkin guts into a large pot and fill it with water. This helps separate seeds from pulp, making it easier to divide the two. Once you have your seeds rinsed and dried, you’re ready to turn them into a tasty snack. You have several options. Simply season with salt and toast in a hot oven until slightly browned. You can also toast as above, but sprinkle with brown sugar afterward for a sweet option.

Or try something a little different, like I did this weekend. I separated my seeds into two piles and experimented with savory flavors. I sautéed one batch in olive oil, salt and cumin, and the other in sesame oil with soy sauce and a little ginger. Then I toasted both in the oven as above. YUM.

Got Goetta?

Work took me to Cincinnati this week, where I was introduced to one of that area’s regional culinary specialties. Not chili smothered in a mountain of shredded cheese, but a delicious German specialty called goetta. Pronounced ged-da or get-uh, it’s a rustic sausage made with ground meat (usually pork) and oats that became popular among poor families trying to stretch out their food supply in the early 19th century. (Thus the oat “filler.”) It’s usually seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary, and can include minced onions and vegetables inside as well.

Peasant food no more, goetta’s modern-day popularity has garnered it the nickname “Cincinnati caviar” among aficionados. You’ll find it served on a bun with spicy mustard and onions, of course, but it also pops up in omelets, pastas, pizzas and a number of other dishes, too. I loved my goetta omelet and – because of the oats inside – even pretended it was “good” for me. Not a chance, but it tasted so good I didn’t care.

Go get ya’ some goetta!

Welcome to the new “Food Guy” food blog!

Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to the new “Food Guy” food blog!

If you’ve followed my weekly food column in the Charleston Daily Mail for the past 10 or so years, you already know I’m pretty obsessed with cooking, recipes, restaurants, wine — pretty much anything food-related. Or maybe I just like to eat. Either way, I figure I’m not alone, so I hope you’ll check back here often so we can share our love of all things yummy together. I’ll still be writing my weekly column for the newspaper, but this here blog is where I’ll start sharing cooking tips, restaurant updates, new food finds, random rants and more on a more frequent basis. And I look forward to hearing what you have to say, too.

So welcome, food friends! And let the discussion begin!!