Tag Archives: food

Red Beans and Rice

For those who usually stop by here on Thursdays for Cajun French lessons, today I’m going to pass along a recipe for one of my favorite dishes: red beans and rice. This is more of a Creole dish rather than Cajun, but when it comes to food, we claim everything as our own.

I’ve only made this dish once, following the recipe my sister gave me. She learned how to make it from our mom, who learned it from my paternal grandmother (who from what I understand was an amazing cook). But like I mentioned earlier in the week, my sister’s red beans taste nothing like our mom’s. I’m sharing my sister’s recipe with you. You’re welcome to change anything to make it your own.

Ingredients:
1 pound of dried red beans
1 cup diced sausage***
1 large chopped onion – now I haven’t tried it, but for this recipe you could use the “holy trinity” of chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery (that may be used next time).
4 bay leaves

Seasoning:
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Tony’s Original Chachere (This seasoning is a bit like cheating, but everyone uses it.)

Preparation:

Before you begin cooking, soak the dried red beans for two hours. Sort through the beans for rocks.

Once beans have soaked, rinse them off and put them to boil.

While the beans boil, saute the onion (bell peppers, celery optional) until it’s nearly clear. Add sausage and saute together.

Once beans have begun to boil, add sausage and onions to the pot. Add ingredients to your taste.

Now it’s time to stir and wait and get hungry. The beans will need to cook until they’re somewhat soft. You can check them by pressing a bean between the pot side and the back of the cooking spoon. If the bean is still firm, let it cook longer. The beans will start to stick to the bottom of the pot. When this happens, add more water and continue stirring.

You may notice the beans are almost completely cooked, but they aren’t creamy. To thicken it, smash some of the beans. I’ve heard 1/4 of the pot will help. I just smashed until I was satisfied with the texture. Once you’re satisfied the beans are cooked, remove the pot from the burner, and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

Serve over rice with a side of smoked sausage, or a pork chop and you’ve got a south Louisiana staple meal.

Your beans should look like this. Creamy with the beans firm, but not crunchy.

** We use smoked sausage for our recipes, but you can use ham, Tasso ham, andouille sausage, etc. but the consensus seems to be it has to be some type of pork.***

 

 

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It’s A Texture Thing

I’m deviating from my usual Cajun French post today because I need to gather more intelligence before I delve deeper into the language. Before I get to the post though, I’d like to mention that I’ll be over at Queen Tutt’s blog tomorrow for an interview and giveaway. **Warning: It is an 18 and over blog**

Now for the purpose of today’s post. Last night my aunt stopped by and for some reason, we started talking about how she tortures bribes her grandchildren into eating vegetables with dessert. Not a big deal, right? Kids need their veggies, after all. However, I had to put my two cents in because of the vegetable (or is it a fruit?) that she chose to make her grandchildren eat. She’s an evil woman. Later I’ll discuss how she tried to fool me into eating eggplant when I was younger.

The dreaded tomato. Oh sure, y’all think I’m crazy because who doesn’t like tomatoes? They use them to make spaghetti (which I’m not overly fond of), lasagna (which I love), pizza (which I adore), and you can slice them up and put them on sandwiches and burgers…okay, so maybe they’re not all that horrible, but to eat them raw? Or in a salad? *shudder*

I can handle them on food where I can’t see what I’m eating and there are different textures to combat the…squishiness. What bothers me about it? Well, I think because it’s a deceptive vegetable/fruit thing. A ripe tomato looks like it has some substance, like it’s crunchy, but as we all know, they aren’t. They’re liars, fooling people into thinking they’re hard like an apple or a pear when they’re so not.

*shudders* Have I ever eaten a raw tomato? Hell to the no. And I won’t either. If food looks hard and crunchy, it should be hard and crunchy. If it looks soft and squishy, it should look soft and squishy. I eat sushi after all, it isn’t like I don’t enjoy squishy. But sushi doesn’t lie to me with shiny, tight skin. It doesn’t feel firm or hefty. It is what it looks like. Unlike the lying, cheating tomato.

And that’s all I have to say about that. What vegetables/fruits do you dislike?

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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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Cajun French: Grattons

Before I get into the Cajun French lesson of the day, I have two, no three announcements to make. First of all, the winner of an ARC of Fated by Rebecca Zanetti is…Lara Dunning! I have to say, I loved that interview and all of the fun comments. I hope to have Rebecca back some day…perhaps with her next release? We’ll have to see.

The second announcement is that today is your last chance to win a hand painted Mardi Gras mask made especially for my release of Ruby: Uncut and on the Loose. I’ll be over at Avril Ashton’s blog for an interview. I’ve had so much fun on this blog tour and I hope you have as well. It’s been an absolute pleasure! Now go comment for a chance to win! 😉

Last, but not least, I have a release date for the 2nd Veil book, Succubus-in-Waiting. It’ll be released March 8, 2011, which is Mardi Gras! Woo-hoo, party time! Probably not, I don’t party like I used to, but that’s okay! I’ll spend it online goofing off instead 😉 There’ll be another blog tour with  yet another giveaway for that book, so be on the lookout for those dates. If you’d like to have me over, just drop me an e-mail!

Okay, now to the really fun part of today’s post. Cajun French. I think my next book’s release date has put my mind in Mardi Gras mode. The first thing that popped into my mind was how much I adored my one Mardi Gras experience in Gheens, Louisiana. It’s a one-road community and we used to laugh that the world revolved around Gheens, but they sure know how to put on a Mardi Gras celebration.

Now, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into this event. Hogs are butchered which sets up the best tasting heart-attack-on-a-table  you’ll ever have. Most of you know fried pig fat as cracklins. We call them grattons (pronounced gra-tons, roll the gra and it rhymes with batons). If you’ve never had grattons straight from the pan, you haven’t lived.

When I say heart-attack-on-a-table, I mean it because the batches of grattons are tossed onto a protectively lined table and a box of salt poured over them. You want them when they’re hot. *stomach growls* I haven’t had fresh grattons in years. The closest I’ve come is when a vendor brings in a batch from two hours away. They’re slightly warm and still kind of soft, but nowhere near as good straight out of the pan.

It doesn't look appetizing, but mais! They're like crack!

 Those are grattons. It’s a much cooler word than cracklings. When I hear cracklings, I always think about Clash of the Titans when Calibos says, Release the Kraken! And as much as I’m all for eating squids and octopi…it just doesn’t compare to grattons.

So, the next time you’re at the store and you see a bag of cracklings, you can now call them grattons and have everyone stare at you. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to drool over the thought of a table of grattons with no one to share it with 😉

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