“Dauphin Island has so much to offer, how can you pick just one pretty spot to spend the day? We wanted to encourage folks to get out and see the island,” Event Chairperson Amy Vice said of this year’s event. And it should prove to be a slightly different, yet more grandiose, affair than the four preceding ones.

The difference being the 2014 Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook off on Saturday, April 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will pretty much encompass the whole island. More than 20 teams will compete in two categories, but will be spread throughout three locations including the impossible-to-miss water tower, the Isle of Dauphine Country Club and the West End Shops across from the Holiday Isle Condominiums. Complimentary shuttles and trollies will be available for attendees, but if you are up for it I would suggest the bike path. The flat-as-a-flitter island is one of the best places to pedal two wheelers.

Alabama Gulf Seafood is providing 20 pounds of shrimp per team for the seafood category. The freestyle category has been crazy since year one, and has grown more bizarre with every following festival. Bring an open mind to that one. I have tried turnips and lima beans while judging, and I hear of even stranger ingredients and preparation.

Enjoy live music at each of the three locations and more music following the cook off at the 56th annual Dauphin Island Race awards ceremony. As if you didn’t have enough reason to attend, you’ll be thrilled to see all of those sailboats making their way to the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo headquarters. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Where can you get this much entertainment and food for $10? Be sure and check out www.dauphinislandchamber.com for more information or call 251-861-5524.

McDonald’s to return to Daphne

Remember the McDonald’s in Daphne on U.S. 98 next to Waffle House? Well, months ago they tore that sucker down. It was leveled to flat dirt. You’ll never guess what is going there now. That’s right. Another McDonald’s. The Eastern Shore will be rich with Christmas stocking-shaped chicken nuggets before you know it. Now if we could only get someone to build a Starbucks inside of a Starbucks.

Chipotle turning heads and taste buds

Mobile finally has a Chipotle, and I hear about it every day. It seems our citizens are ravenous for the organic burritos and chips at 3871 Airport Blvd., and who could blame them? It’s fast-food prices, but don’t put them in that category. These guys are really cooking over there.

It’s a Cinderella story that our culinary community is sure to gobble up. From humble beginnings in 1993 in Denver, Colo., the burrito restaurant had a meteoric rise to where they are now. Despite the success, they never got too big for their britches. Chipotle is constantly in a struggle to find better beef, poultry, pork and dairy free from growth hormones, antibiotics and harmful conditions.

It is this practice that gives the struggling organic farmer the fighting chance against the factory farmers across our nation. Sometimes it takes a little poking and prodding, according to their website, in order to get farmers to adhere to the Chipotle standards.

If fresh ingredients on the cheap interest you, then head down Airport today. Rumor has it another location may open in Spanish Fort as early as the end of the year. No emails have been returned at the time of print, but we will let you know as soon as anything is confirmed.

Easter Honey Ham glaze

The table for Easter in Laurel, Miss., is set with a platter full of beautiful pink ham that has changed little over the years. I’m a bit of a traditionalist, but am not afraid to experiment. The ham of my childhood was always studded with cloves and laced with pineapple rings held in place by a center cherry with a toothpick. You know the one I am talking about.

There are so many glazes on the Internet that I am dying to try, but a man cannot cook a ham every day. I’d love to shovel something new your way, but I think it’s best to go with what I know. To me nothing goes better with ham than pineapple. I’ve injected those bad boys with the juice, soaked the ham in pineapple juice, all with mixed results. I’ve settled on a glaze that delivers the triple sweetness from pineapple, brown sugar and honey with a little kick.

½ cup pineapple juice
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Combine all of the ingredients until smooth and brush over the ham in the last 45 minutes of cooking. Change the pineapple juice to yellow mustard and the brown sugar to mayonnaise, and you have terrific honey mustard for the leftover ham.

Whatever you don’t use for last week’s Ham and Egg Pie should be served on dinner rolls with orange marmalade with Swiss cheese and honey mustard for dipping. Use that bone for your next pot of beans. In the morning use a slice of ham to soak up runny yolks dashed with Tabasco. There is nothing more versatile than leftover ham, breakfast, lunch or dinner! Recycle the pig!