½ cup chopped nuts (I used roasted sliced almonds, but pecans or walnuts are also good)
¼ cup regular soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
Mix all together and stir to make sure everything is coated. If you use low-sodium soy sauce, you may want to add salt. Taste and add additional curry powder to taste. (Start with a very small amount as curry can overwhelm the salad).
My relationship with chicken salad has not always been a rosy one, and while it was me who knowingly and willingly put a formidable distance between us, it wasn’t my fault alone. It was chicken salad’s own bad behavior on several occasions that really caused the rift.
For years, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. In my mind, every scoop or plate of this Southern luncheon staple was the same: the same bland, rubbery chunks of chicken, hunks of boiled egg, inch-thick slices of soggy celery smothered in copious amounts of mayonnaise (and not even good mayo, probably some low-fat pretender). That was my first experience with chicken salad. I was dismayed. “Everyone loves it. It’s served at pretty much every bridal shower, church tea and favorite small-town restaurant in the South. I must be wrong. It has to be good.”
Those were my self-shaming thoughts, so I gave it a second chance. And a third. I won’t name the cooks and eateries that almost kept me separated from chicken salad forever with their sad renditions of the classic dish. Thank goodness, after years of intentionally being apart, I gave it one more shot and finally found some good – make that great – chicken salad.
Now, I never push a plate of chicken salad away. I’ll eat chicken salad all by itself, on crackers, in a hollowed out tomato, on top of lettuce, whatever. And despite an initial fear (based on past experience) of trying anything other than the chicken salad that finally won me over, I now enjoy any and all types: basic with just salt, black pepper and mayo; with all kinds of fruits and nuts; with little or no mayo; heck, even with jalapeno and pineapple.
When it comes to chicken salad, the only thing I won’t do ever again is eat the bad stuff, the chicken salad imitators that offer only mere shadows of the tastes and textures that make all true chicken salad delicious.
But how do I avoid them? I rely on the recommendations of trusted friends when it comes to ordering chicken salad in a restaurant, but the best way to ensure lasting chicken salad bliss is to just make it for yourself. Find one that seems like it suits you and don’t be afraid to fall fully in love with a new version of an old favorite.
If you were inspired to eat more crawfish from our trip to the archives, here’s the recipe for Crawfish Etouffee from our 1986 issue:
1 lb peeled crawfish tails
1 stick margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbl corn starch
1 Tbl paprika
1 Tbl chopped onion tops
2 cups water
Parsley for garnish
Creole seasoning of your choice
Salt and pepper to tatse
Melt margarine in Dutch oven. Season crawfish tails with Creole seasoning or salt and pepper. Add paprika to margarine. Saute crawfish tails about 5 minutes. Remove tails and set aside. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic to Dutch oven. Saute well for at least 10 minutes. Return crawfish tails to the pot and add 2 cups of water and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir and simmer slowly for 40 minutes. Check for taste, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Slowly add mixture of cornstarch and water until slightly thickened. Serve with rice and garnish with onion tops and parsley.
“Most people around Pike County think of going fishing when they think of crawfish. Around here more people use crawfish for fish bait than for food,” said Cyril Newman.
Newman has been working for Shell Oil off the coast of Louisiana for 20 years. In his spare time, he has learned about the ways of the people there.
About three years ago, Cyril and his wife Linda begin experimenting by raising crawfish on their land in Pike county. The crawfish the Newmans are raising are from Louisiana stock and are edible. They are of the species Procambarus clarkii. It is a special hybrid variety especially adapted for pond raising.
Much of the information the Newman’s have gained about crawfish has come from Louisiana State University.
Cyril said, “Louisiana State University studies crawfish much like Auburn studies hogs and cows.”
“To begin the process one needs an area of land that has subsurface water, the ability to drain the area and to flood the area with water. Control of the water level is important.
“The ideal depth for the pond is 28 inches. Ideally a pond site needs to be ready in June in order to stock it. The water is then drained from the pond side in July or August. When the water is drained, the crawfish go into the ground to reproduce. Usually the area is flooded again in September. Be December harvest can begin.
“Traps and seines are used to catch the crawfish,” he continued. During the heat of summer, Newman’s son Evan and his friends enjoy getting gin the mud to seine for crawfish.
According to Evan, “It is a good excuse to get wed and muddy. I don’t mind the squishing of mud between my toes.”
Newman’s wife, Linda, spoke up,”I wear shoes when I have to get in to help pull out the net full of crawfish. I am a county girl and can hale the tractor and take care of the farm when Cyril is away, but I wear shoes when I am in the water.
Linda continued, “My family enjoys boiled crawfish. You simply bring a pot of water, salt, and crab mix to a rolling boil. you drop the live crawfish into the mixture. I let mine boil for six minutes and then sit for about 30 minutes. They are then ready to peel and eat. When peeling them, you can tell the ones that were alive when they hit the boiling water because their tails are curled.
“Another of my family’s favorite recipes is Crawfish Etouffe. You can substitute shrimp for the crawfish in this recipe.”
Last year Linda won the Statewide Farm Bureau Cooking Contest with Crawfish Butter. Cyril claims credit for teaching Linda to cook the Creole style foods their family enjoys.
Newman is excited about crawfish farming in the area. “The marvelous thing about crawfish farming is that you an use land that is not suitable for anything else, land that can be bush-hogged is ideal. All you need is the ability to drain the area as needed and a good fresh water supply.
Newman added, “The crawfish yields 12 to 14 percent of meat while the shrimp yields 60 percent meat. I plan to work with the county again this prion in making more information about crawfish farming available to people in this area.
Bream fishing offers great fighting sport. The day was half gone when my son Matt and I decided to try one more shallow pocket in our hunt for a live well full of bream.
We had already carefully probed more than half a dozen pockets looking for the perfect mixture of ingredients that bring in the bream and entice them to hold and bed. Almost all the way to the back of the large sandy pocket, the strike finally came. It almost caught Matt off guard. He set the hook and the line began to sing. After what seemed like several long minutes, the big bream gave up and we quickly placed it in the live well.
Readear, shell cracker, bluegill, or just bream. By any name, this little giant pulls like a yearling bull and spells FUN in capital letters. Fishermen who make the mistake of not fishing of these fighters don’t know what they’re missing.
In the spring, bream by the thousands head toward the shallow end of lakes and rivers everywhere to bed. And when bream “go on the bed” fishing action gets hot and heavy. A bream bed is an area where fish gather to spawn. The fish whip out small circular depressions in sandy soil. Each circle is usually about 8-10 inches in diameter and normally about 2-3 inches deep.
The nests are built fairly close together, with only inches separating them. This gives the bed the appearance of a moonscape, or a battlefield with all its crater-like depressions. For some reasons known perhaps to the bream, some fish usually build such beds in fairly shallow water near shorelines (where they can be seen in clear water). Other set up housekeeping in deeper water.
Just finding beds of bream is only part of the challenge, but its definitely the toughest part. Once they’ve been located, they can usually be caught, specially if the fisherman sitting close to the bed uses the right combination of bait and tackle.
Several different baits will take bream. Crickets and worms are available at most bait shops and are relatively inexpensive and easy to keep alive and carry. Catalpa worms also will take bream, but the majority of bream fishing fanatics prefer crickets or worms.