Tag Archives: cooking

How Shocking

Before I get to today’s post, just a quick reminder that today is my day to blog on two of my group blogs. I’m over at Darker temptations talking about what goes on in my brain (It’s a twisted labyrinth) and I’m at gee/k/ink talking about my favorite cult classics.

Over here though, I’m talking about how I shocked the hell out of my relatives this weekend. No, it had nothing to do with the LSU Alabama game. They all know my feelings of intense dislike for LSU, so that isn’t a surprise. No, I shocked them all by voluntarily cooking something.

*huge gasp*

There was even a comment made that it only took me thirty-five years to cook which is a blatant exaggeration. I cook. When I feel like it. I’m not a gourmand. I’m happy chowing down on frozen dinners or soup or things like that. However, I had a massive envie for red beans. But not just any red beans. I wanted my sister’s red beans. It’s hard to explain, but her beans are flat-out amazing. If you’ve ever eaten at Popeye’s or Copelands, they have red beans that are flavorful and creamy. That’s how hers are, but with more kick.

I’ve guilted her into making pots of red beans for me, but I’ve only ever managed to get a bowl out of the entire pot. Yes, her family gets dibs and I get leftovers. Normally that doesn’t bother me since leftover red beans are just as good—if not better than freshly cooked red beans. I wanted a whole pot to myself, or rather, my mom and I.

So I asked my sister for her recipe, wrote it down on a sticky note and put it in my purse. Saturday I decided I’d attempt my first pot. Now, mind you, my mother is a great cook. She makes a roast beef and gravy so good it’s in constant demand. I love her cooking (if you were in any doubt, you should see the size of my hips), but she doesn’t make red beans like my sister. While I was cooking my first pot, she had a few things she wanted me to add, but I refused to divert from the exact recipe my sister had given me.

And it was gooood. Oh, not as good as my sister’s, but it was my first pot. One thing I’ve noticed about cooking is that every dish differs between cooks. My lasagna is vastly different from my mom’s, similar to my sister’s, but (in my opinion) far superior to either of theirs. My sister’s fettucine is better than mine, but her roast isn’t nearly as good as Mom’s. We use the same recipes, but the taste is different. Weird, huh?

So that’s what I did this weekend. I cooked to the complete shock of my family. Even more, I did it without anyone asking if I wanted to make something. Of course this means I’ve probably shot myself in the foot since they’ll expect me to cook more often. Damn!

How about you? Do you enjoy cooking, or do it when you have to?

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Cajun French: Boucherie

It’s been a crazy week! Today is day 4 of my blog tour and I’m over at Deep In the Heart of Romance (http://www.deepintheheartromance.com/) with a guest blog and excerpt of Ain’t No Bull. There are giveaways going on as well at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews (http://lauriethoughts-reviews.blogspot.com/2011/08/aint-no-bull-by-danica-avet-interview.html), and an excellent review and giveaway over at Close Encounters with the Night Kind (http://closeencounterswiththenightkind.blogspot.com/2011/08/giveaway-and-review-of-aint-no-bull-by.html). Sorry for the long URLs, my wordpress is hating me lately. *sigh*

Anyway. How many of you watch No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain? I don’t normally. Oh, sure there was a time when I had to watch it every week, but I moved away from it after a few seasons. This week though, I simply had to watch. Why? Because Anthony Bourdain was in Cajun Country. Serious Cajun Country in a little town called Breaux Bridge, The Crawfish Capitol of the World.

Here’s a clip (the opening of the show):

Anthony got to experience a real Cajun boucherie (pronounced boo-sha-ree). It’s a pig slaughter, simple as that. What isn’t so simple though, is the process. The entire set-up has to be perfect and families who’ve worked together years have it down to a quick and easy process which has the pig slaughtered and butchered in a matter of minutes.

It doesn’t end there though. Every part of the pig is used in some recipe whether it’s grattons, hogshead cheese, boudin, stew, bbq, or sausage. I’ve only been to one boucherie and I didn’t have to experience the entire process. I just got to eat really great food. (Have I mentioned how much I adore grattons (cracklins))?

What I loved about the show this week though, was that America got to see something we take for granted here. Ready for it? The men cook. Yup, you heard me right. One of the people in the show even said that. Men in south Louisiana love to cook. And I don’t just mean stews and barbeques and seafood boils. These men are taught by their mamas, or their daddies, to make extravagant dishes using old family recipes and don’t tell them they’re doing it wrong because they will argue with you!

I never really gave it much thought, but Anthony Bourdain pointed it out that none of the people are professional chefs, yet they all know what they’re doing, or point out what someone else is doing wrong. It made me laugh because I’ve heard way too often a couple of men talking like this:

Mais, you call this spaghetti?

Hey, I don’t have the right spices!

I’ve made a spaghetti over here and it didn’t come out like this.

If you think you can do better…

Get the idea?

How about where you’re from? Do men get into deep conversations about ingredients and the proper way to make anything that doesn’t involve a grill?

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At The Boil

Quick reminder that there’s still time to win a free e-book from yesterday’s guest author, Ruth Hartman. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win!

Last Friday was Good Friday, which means most people in my area were scrambling for crabs, crawfish, and shrimp to boil. Boils are a bit part of the social scene here in south Louisiana. It’s a time for good food and excellent conversation. For those of you who don’t have crawfish boils in your part of the world, I’m going to take you through a little of the process.

Before you can even get started with a boil party, you have to get all the fixings. Crawfish, crabs, shrimp, and all the fixings. Fixings are potatoes, corn on the cob, onions, garlic, and anything else you can possibly think of boiling. For us, we like to add mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, and  sausage to the mix. Fixings tend to soak up all of the seasoning that doesn’t make it to the seafood. They’re perfect fillers. Once you have all of the sides and seafood, it’s time to head to the boil.

We had our crawfish boil at my sister’s house. Generally, boiling is kind of like barbecuing: it’s a man thing. In this case, my brother-in-law and brother were the boil masters with my nephews providing manual labor. The first step in the process for a good boil is purging:

In this picture, you have a basket of crawfish sitting in water. We add salt to the water to help purge dirt and impurities from the crawfish before they even reach the pot. As many of you know, crawfish are also called “mudbugs” and they’re called this for a very good reason: they live in the mud. Purging them cleanses them of mud and keeps you from having a dirty taste in your mouth while you’re eating.

After the purging, the crawfish are dropped in a boiling pot filled with seasonings. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how to add the seasonings since every boil master has their own secret ingredients. All I know, is that the propane tanks are loud, which means you have to shout to be heard.

While you’re waiting on that batch of seafood to boil, it’s time to set another batch of crawfish to purge…and entertain the dog.

This isn’t the best picture, but what you have here is my sister’s miniature dachshund, Minnie, taking on a crawfish contender. Minnie won and tried to eat the crawfish alive. We had to snatch it away from her before she could show the crawfish the inside of a puppy dog.

While crawfish is boiling and purging, it’s time for everyone to visit. This means breaking out the drinks (beer, wine, water) and throwing yourself down in a chair because it’s such hard work standing around building up your appetite. My brother-in-law took the time to share his man cave with my brother and a friend of his. Yes, all the men disappeared into the shed leaving all of the women to sit down and soak up the sun.

But they couldn’t be gone for long! Oh no, not when there’s crawfish boiling!

In this picture, my brother is lifting a boiled basket of crawfish out of the pot. My brother-in-law (genius that he is) has a system where they’ll place two planks on top of the pot to help drain the water before the crawfish is carried to the tables. Normally everyone runs out of the way when the basket comes out of the pot because that water is hot! Don’t you just love his shirt? He looked like he was ready for a crawfish boil…with his glow in the dark legs and everything!

The minute the first pot is finished, everyone stampedes to the tables to eat. I can’t eat crawfish because I’m allergic to something in it, but my brother-in-law and sister were sweet enough to make sure I had crabs to eat instead. They were so, so good!

The finished product:

So have you ever been to a boil?

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Sometimes I Like to Cook

A couple of days ago, I dreamed about making one of my specialty dishes: stuffed meatloaf. Well, yesterday I put dream into action.

I don’t know how many people are aware of this dish. I learned it from a co-worker several years ago, and my family loves it. I don’t cook often. I freely admit, I’m not a domestic goddess by any stretch of the imagination. I can make a mean lasagna, a decent fettucine, a kick-ass cottage pie, and stuffed meatloaf. Oh sure, I can cook other things, but these are my dishes.

A stuffed meatloaf is a great way to clean your fridge of sandwich meat and cheese, or anything you could possibly imagine could go in a meatloaf. It sounds weird, I know, but it rocks. Really. I’ve even thought about making a pizza stuffed meatloaf, with pepperoni, lots of cheese, and tomato sauce. Haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t give you details about it.

Anyway, this is my recipe:

Ground beef (however much you would use for a regular meatloaf)
Sliced sandwich meat
Shredded cheese or cheese slices
Bacon

Season your ground meat as you normally would. Once seasoned, place on wax paper and flatten. Place sandwich meat and cheese over the surface of ground meat. Put as much, or as little, you want. Taking one end of the wax paper, flip one end of ground meat over the other (like a turnover). Press down ends making sure cheese won’t leak out.

Place in baking pan and “wrap” strips of bacon around the loaf. I normally make sure as much of the top of the loaf is covered. As the bacon cooks, it seeps into the meatloaf and adding flavor. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a half.

It really is a great dish. Some day (if I can ever convince my picky family), I’ll try it with broccoli, cauliflower, and ham with lots and lots of cheese. If any of you try it, let me know how you like it.

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