How about that game Monday night with the Chicago Bears shutting down the Dallas Cowboys by 16 (34 – 18)!? The beauty of linebacker Lance Briggs intercepting the ball and running for a 74-yard touchdown. They looked good..and linebacker Brian Urlacher (my favorite player) he was all over the field knocking folks down. They are 3-1 with 12 games to go including one against the daunting San Francisco 49ers and a rematch w/ the Green Bay Packers in November and December. Go Bears!
While I was in New Orleans last month I went to the Bayou Beer Garden to watch the opening game of the New Orleans Saints season. *The Bears were playing that day so I made sure my iPhone was fully charged and checked in on their game (they won) every few minutes – love the Chicago Bears app! It was a good time and wow do those Saints fans get into the game. The Saints lost to the Washington Redskins (who I don’t like, but I do think their quarterback RGIII is pretty fantastic), but it was a pretty energized four quarters. The fans drank, sang, drank, jumped up and down, drank, sang…it was righteous. As someone who can get pretty rowdy watching the Bears play I appreciated the energy!
There is so much to tell you about what happened in Vermont at the conference. I met so many people with good intentions and green thumbs who taught me much and were impossibly nice. My presentation turned out all right, and the overall workshop more than all right. In the middle of summer in glorious Vermont to have spent two days among everyday heroes of the pure food movement was a very rich experience. The stories, the details all of it will come soon…
A few housekeeping details first. Last night and this morning I weeded and then had to get down to paperwork. All that everyday stuff had piled up/grown out while I was eating delicious foods and walking around (primarily school!) farms. Upon checking the squash bed I am happy to report everything in it is taking off, phew! My pride and joy last year were my “blue ribbon” Green Hubbards (no one needed to tell me my 15-pounder was worthy of best in show) so I’m relieved/excited to see them coming along. The squash is beautiful to look at, and will be delicious in breads, cookies and pasta this fall. The watermelon, like the corn and sunflowers I’m just plain old giddy about! It shall be eaten by hand in the field, seeds spit and remnants shared with the chickens.
Green Hubbard, Blacktail Watermelon, Sweet Reba Bush Acorn Squash
A very exciting thing happened last week as well. I decided to adopt a dog! It’s been a little over a year since Paige passed, and while my heart is not fully healed (could it ever be?) it seems time. Bacchus found me (I believe animals find us) via a friend of a friend in New Orleans (my favorite American city, the place I found my smile), and next month I head there to pick him up and bring him to Maine. There’s much to do to prepare for his (our) travels and arrival here.
Bacchus walked into Cheryl’s yard, skinny, flea infested, with parvo and scared to death. After a few days at the vet’s in isolation she brought him home and nursed him back to health. The funny thing is I’d seen pictures of him on her Facebook page since that time and thought what a cutie pie. Being a publicist for vintners and chefs, she named him after the Roman god of wine and intoxication. How perfectly New Orleans!
He’s about a year old, loves people, is interested in cats (in a friendly way), gets along with dogs (she has two small ones) and goes through stuffed animals at record speed. In a few weeks our adventure will begin…
Now, to get Kirkland on board…
My friend Traci is the best host. The woman should get an award (actually she did recently as a Person to Watch from New Orleans Magazine). We met at her home for this delicious homemade meal with her neighbors (super cool folks) and then a little after 10 p.m. headed to Lilette for dessert. Lilette has received significant praise from national food and travel magazines, but it is their dessert menu that had my eye.
As much as I wanted to risk my health for the Nutella Custard with Fleur de Sel, Caramel Cream and Chocolate-Hazelnut Brittle, I went with the OMG so good Quenelles of Goats Cheese Crème Fraiche with Poached Pears, Pistachios and Lavender Honey. Unreal and so worth the trip uptown. Thank you Traci for driving!
Afterwards we went searching for live music and found the Krewe of OAK (stands for “Outrageous And Kinky”) at their Mid-Summer Mardi Gras. A krewe is an organization that puts on a parade and or a ball for the Carnival season. In this case, the Krewe of OAK is associated with the uptown Carrollton neighborhood and has been around for at least a couple decades. Almost as miraculously as finding the event (they’d finished parading through the streets and were congregating in front of a few bars) is that most of the pictures I took came out!
If you buy one cookbook while you are in New Orleans I recommend it be Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. The other, if you can find a copy is the Sesquicentennial Edition of The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book (published by The New Orleans Times-Picayune). If you don’t have plans to visit the city then order the book from Chronicle Books.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, thousands of people lost their keepsakes and family treasures forever. As residents started to rebuild their lives, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans became a post-hurricane swapping place for old recipes that were washed away in the storm. The newspaper has compiled 250 of these delicious, authentic recipes along with the stories about how they came to be and who created them. Cooking Up a Storm includes the very best of classic and contemporary New Orleans cuisine, from seafood and meat to desserts and cocktails. But it also tells the story, recipe by recipe, of one of the great food cities in the world, and the determination of its citizens to preserve and safeguard their culinary legacy.
I’m sharing the recipe from the cookbook for Drago’s Famous Char-Broiled Oysters. Just one, with the hope you will buy it and giddily make your way through all the delicious options on your own as I did. Roosevelt Hotel Shrimp Remoulade, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (I’ll sub in chicken/turkey andouille sausage), Country Club Chicken Salad, Beignets (oh you know it!), and Oyster and Artichoke Casserole (come to mama) are a few of the gems I’ve got bookmarked.
For my friend Monica with whom I shared an evening of oysters and a day of inspiration in New Orleans.
Drago’s Famous Char-Broiled Oysters from Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans
*Each of the recipes has a short introduction about how that recipe came to be in the book. Some more informational (such as this one) and some more emotional (first hand accounts in the days after Katrina)
Since this recipe was published in the newspaper in January 1998, readers have asked for it many times. It is a signature dish of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant in Metairie. As the butter drips onto the grill, the resulting flare-ups create the characteristic smoky taste of the dish. If you wish to serve the oysters on oyster plates, simply place them on the plates when they come off the grill.
1 pound (4 sticks) butter or margarine
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
24 large raw oysters on the half shell
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Combine the butter with the pepper and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat until the butter is melted.
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill. Put the oysters on the grill and spoon the butter mixture over the oysters. Then sprinkle a pinch of each cheese and a pinch of parsley onto each oyster. Broil until the oysters puff up, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve at once.
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 appetizer or 2 entree servings.
That’s right folks there is snow in the south and year round if you like it. There are sno-balls, Snowballs, and Sno Balls. I grew up on Sno Balls, made by Hostess they are disgustingly sweet cream-filled chocolate cakes covered with marshmallow frosting and coconut flakes. I would doubt one could pronounce or even identify as many as five of ingredients. By the time I left Virginia and my youthful summers in Arkansas dwindled I’d had my share of these cakes.
While in New Orleans I learned about sno-balls and folks I’m madly in love with these. Give me a true New Orleans sno-ball (the Wedding Cake/Creamsicle combination is my favorite, though I would jump for joy over Pineapple)…Let’s get something straight – a sno-ball is not an Icee or a Slushie. It is not even a snow cone (I’m honestly not sure of the difference, I think it has something to do with shaved vs. crushed ice…but I was corrected twice while in New Orleans when I inadvertently referred to aghast a sno-ball as a snow cone). A sno-ball is a cup of shaved ice with syrup (nothing real about this folks) poured over it. Oh blissful empty calories! Some people continue the process by adding ice cream or condensed milk. Not I, purist I am (okay and being lactose intolerant no one including me wants this gal on dairy). Imagine everywhere you go the option of a sno-ball. I wish I’d had more! This was nothing like when I was in Rome, Italy and there were maybe two places serving sorbetto (sorbet) and everywhere were places with delicious looking gelato I could not touch. Nope, in New Orleans I could go hog wild. They should be consumed when walking anywhere in the city during the month of August or dancing in the street. I’m convinced these babies saved me from heat stroke (it was a mere 105 or so on the heat index I think one day) as I was determined to do it all and walk as much as possible (come on, it is the best way to experience a place).
Now, should you wish to experience a Snowball, turn to page 274 of the Sesquicentennial Edition of The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book (published by The New Orleans Times-Picayune) you will find a recipe. I made a batch last night and polished them off today. I did share, a little!
Snowballs from Sesquicentennial Edition of The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book (published by The New Orleans Times-Picayune)
Cup of rice
Pint of milk (**I’m lactose intolerant, I am not allergic to dairy so I can “afford” to test how much dairy I can tolerate. I was fine with this dish…maybe because the milk was cooked and actually my body seems to be becoming more receptive to dairy on a very gradual basis.)
1/4 cup white sugar
6 egg whites
3 (heaping) Tbsp powdered white sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Boil the rice with the milk, and add the whites of three eggs, well beaten with a quarter cup of sugar. Stir well, and flavor with the juice of one lemon. The mixture should be white as snow. Take from the fire (or top of range) as it thickens well, and set in a dish to cool. Form the Rice into small Balls of about 2 1/2 inches square. Have the rest of the egg whites beaten to a stiff froth, with three heaping tablespoonfuls of powdered white sugar. Cover the tops of the Balls with the mixture, and place in the stove to heat. Bake at 400 degrees. Let the Balls remain about four minutes, without browning. Take out, and serve (with a cool, Sweet Cream Sauce the book mentions and does not provide a recipe for).
Treme, David Simon’s brilliant TV series about the struggles of a diverse group of residents trying to rebuild their lives and city in post-Katrina New Orleans, has just been renewed for a third season. Thinking a little Dr. John and some Walter “Wolfman” Washington is going need to get turned up. SO excited to be returning to New Orleans this summer for a visit. I’ll be drinking a New Orleans Weather Forecast (think Southern Dark and Stormy) at Commander’s Palace in honor of the city, people, and hey why not the show.
New Orleans Weather Forecast from Commander’s Kitchen by Ti Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon
1 1/2 ounces dark rum (they use N.O. Rum)
4 ounces ginger beer (isn’t really beer, is a spicy, distilled soda)
1 lemon or lime slice
1 sugarcane skewer (optional)
Fill a tall, narrow glass with ice. Add the rum and the ginger beer. Stir, and garnish with the citrus slice and the sugarcane.
Kim Severson, an incredibly talented author/journalist, wrote a beautiful piece on New Orleans on post-Katrina food developments…well worth the read…inspiring really! I just reread it and can’t help but think about the devastation due to flooding happening now!
Top photos HBO. Bottom photo Better Culinary.
In 2001 I traveled from Los Angeles to Maine with one of my best friends in a black sport utility we’d nick named “Black Dog” in honor of Led Zeppelin. It was to that song we drove into downtown Camden, ME and our VIP access, premieres and beachfront haunts slipped into memories. As the sunset and new friends poured drinks I thought of my time on the open road. Simply said nothing beats it. The wind in your hair, great unknown and adventurous spirit a welcome constant.
The Grand Canyon is the only place we could imagine starting our journey and so it was with this landscape we headed down the highway.
In Santa Fe we purchased beautifully crafted silver and turquoise jewelry, filled our bellies with traditional Southwestern fare like chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, visited a number of galleries around The Plaza and admired the sheer number of strands of dried red chiles which seemed to hang everywhere.
Austin was full of cheerful hipsters, a brightly painted motel I think has gone out of business, outside dining at local landmark The Shady Grove, really good coffee and a considerable selection of music (pre iTunes when one still shopped in person for music) at Waterloo Records.
In Amarillo we visited a cattle yard, got lost trying to find Cadillac Ranch (we eventually found the ten Cadillacs half buried in a cow pasture) and moved on to Fort Worth where we toured the National Cowgirl Museum and opted out of a mechanical bull riding session. After a somber visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and welcome visit with family we landed in New Orleans in time to venture down Bourbon Street. Apart from the elegant Commander’s Palace I’m not sure what remains from our visit. Surely the cemetery and Café Du Mondewith its delicious coffee and beignets, but what of the engaging and fun people we met.
A couple hours south of Birmingham we scored by a tour of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio were everyone from Lynrd Skynrd to Etta James recorded hits and retraced the steps of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. With these lessons in history we realized taking time to explore America was really a no brainer.
For more pictures of Cadillac Ranch check out www.sandrafreylerphotography.com.