Saturday, August 29, 2009
But the thing is, I think I was so blinded by the anger and resentment that had built in my heart that I did not see all of the caring that was happening around me. That while we cannot rely on our government to rebuild our city, we can rely on the generousity and goodness of the people of this country to do so. Our city could not rebuild alone, and thanks to the kindness of others, we have not had to. I wish it did not take me so long to realize this. We have been truly touched by each and every person who has come to our dear city to help bring it back to life. When we no longer had the strength to fight for ourselves, you came to our rescue and fought for us. You have shown me that the American spirit is alive and well. That in this country, you would be willing to open your arms and your homes to us. You would house us, feed us, clothe us, and you would ask for nothing in return. That in this country, a group of college kids would be willing to spend their spring break building homes for people they may never meet. That in this country four years can go by and you have not forgotten us. There is God in that. Finally being able to see that has brought me a kind of peace I have not know for a long time. Four years in fact.
Friday, August 28, 2009
- The accent - I grew up going to a daycare called Buster Bear. At Buster Bear, we had made friends with two children whose father's name was John (traditional pronunciation). Here's the thing about him, until I was about 12 I thought his name was Mista Jawn. That's how everybody said it. The day I realized his name was John and not Jawn was like the day I found out the Easter Bunny didn't actually exist. The accent here is thick and can sometimes be abrasive, but at the end of the day, there is nothing more New Orleans than someone asking "where y'at" when like would like to know where you are.
- The food - it's hard to imagine a place more defined by food than New Orleans. There is a great book called Gumbo Tales: Finding Your Place at the New Orleans table. It is an amazing depiction of the importance of food culture in New Orleans. Dining in New Orleans is a ritual. Red beans and rice on Mondays. Fried catfish and seafood gumbo on Fridays. And crawfish boils during Lent. We cook because we love to eat, and we love to eat because we love to share our history and our stories with a circle of friends. the New Orleans table is there for anyone who is looking to find it.
- The culture - when you grow up in a place like New Orleans, you do not realize it is different. You think that everyone has off of school for Mardi Gras and that everyone knows how to peel a crawfish. And when you learn they don't you think that they are the ones who are strange. We are from a place where we consider the unusual an everyday part of life.
- The people - we have learned that you can't count out the people of New Orleans. We are fiercely loyal almost to a fault. We are prideful of what we do best - share everything we know and love with those who are interesting in appreciating it. We will take you into our hearts and teach you all there is to know and love about our dear city because it's the only thing most of us have ever known. And we will thank you everyday for wanting to learn about us and understand what would make us want to stay in New Orleans and fight for a better city.
- The spirit - it is everywhere. On one hand it is almost so tangible that you can cup your hand and hold a little bit of it. Yet, it is illusive and inexplicable. It is something you see, something you taste, and something you feel, but how do you describe it. I don't know how, to be honest. I just know that when you are born there, it is just in you. And when you visit, you will want to take it home with you. It is that spirit that we have kept alive four years later. Through our darkest hour our spirit never wavered. We knew that it might take time, but New Orleans would home again. We are New Orleans. And as long as the spirit of the city courses through our veins, New Orleans will be reborn.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
These are the Steven by Steve Madden ones I might actually get...It's amazing when a tv show has the ability to move from following trends to being the place we go to see trends start. Sex and the City did it, and I think Mad Men is doing it now. And I have to say as much as I like Carrie Bradshaw, I think I'll have an easier time pulling off Betty Draper.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
There is this great tradition here in Beaufort where the friends of girls who have just recently had a baby organize a meal sign up. And I don't mean just a few close friends - I mean a list of girls a page long volunteer to make the new parents' lives just a little bit easier. I just don't know if this happens everywhere. I think it's one of those small town things that Beaufort does so well. I have to say the first time I signed on for this job, I was very nervous. I wanted to make a meal that would taste as good re-heated as it would have if the family was eating right out of my kitchen. It had to be something that was homey and comforting so that they didn't feel like they were eating out each and every night. And I needed to make something that was as tasty for mom as it was filling for dad. Overwhelming, right!
After a lot of thought, I realized that I had just the right dish - cheeseburger pie. For my wedding shower, my sister had everyone bring a copy of their favorite recipe. She put them neatly in a little recipe box. It was one of my most used and cherished wedding presents. After we lost the box in the storm, Stephanie surprised me at Christmas with a newer, thicker, better version of the cookbook. I use it so often, and this is one of my favorites from the collection!
1 set of two Pillsbury deep dish pie shells
1 lb of ground beef
1 onion, small dices
1 green bell pepper, small dices
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (or to taste - I like a little extra in mine)
1 bag of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- In a skillet, brown beef, remove and drain pan with the exception of a little oil to cook in
- Saute onions and peppers until they are soft (5-8 minutes)
- Add beef and cream of mushroom soup to mixture
- Season with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper
- Mix in about a quarter of a bag of cheese and stir until blended
- Poke the bottom of the first pie shell with a fork to avoid bubbles when cooking
- Add beef mixture to pie shell
- Sprinkle cheese over the beef mixture
- Place the second pie shell over the top of the first and pinch around the edges
- Cut three slits diagonally across the pie shell to let steam release
- Cook until shell is golden brown (cover the pie with foil if the top shell is browning too much but the bottom needs longer in the oven)
Hint - If you received your post baby pie without a top layer it's likely because I let the second shell sit out too long and it wasn't firm enough for me to handle. I suggest letting it sit on the counter while you prep the pie. By the time you go to add it on, it should be soft enough to remove. Flip the foil container over and slowly pull the sides of the pie away until you are able to remove the whole pie shell.
If you decide to make this for someone, complete everything but the step required to bake the pie. You can make a card for the person congratulating their new arrival and include in the card the steps they need to take to bake the pie (preheat oven temp, length of cooking time, and foil tip).
This is such a yummy meal, and it is one that is easy to make for a large group or for delivery. I hope that all you girls living outside of Beaufort read this and think "we should start a food sign up here!" It really is such a great thing to do for your friends. And you get to have a peak at all the little ones too!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Shrimp and crawfish might run together for some people, but for non-shrimp eaters (I know it's a cardinal sin to admit this) like me, it's good to keep them separated. Shrimp is of course one of Louisiana's most prized exports. For more information on how important buying local shrimp is to the Louisiana economy, you can visit http://www.whitebootbrigade.org/index.php?page=home to learn all about the White Boot Brigade's efforts to keep shrimp prices high so that the local shrimp markets continue to thrive. The father of a friend of mine is a shrimper and I can tell you it is truly a labor of love. And in an effort to be a better New Orleanian, I am eating one shrimp each time I am somewhere that they are serving them or when Mark orders them. I am determined to love them!
Crawfish season has been one of the things I have missed most while not living in NOLA. There is something about the smell of a boil that melts my heart. Of course everyone loves a good boil because you can't get anything that tastes more like New Orleans than crawfish, onions, garlic (gawlic if you're my Dad!), sausage, lemon all stewed together in a hot vat of boiling Zatairan's crab boil, but I think the real reason the crawish boil resonates in New Orleans is that it is a celebration of food marked with everyone you love sitting around a communal table laughing and joking and telling stories. It's the perfect event to sum up the essence of everything that is New Orleans - good food, good people, good times.
Carnival - It's in February and already I get excited thinking about Mardi Gras. It truly is a season. Although it officially begins on All Kings Day, Carnival preparation really begin the very day after the last season ended. There is so much to get done to woo another crowd of revelers. The float builders have to get to building, the parade theme selectors have to get creative, and the Muses have to decorate shoes! For as long as I can remember, I have loved everything about Mardi Gras. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Just the other day, a diesel moving truck drove past Mark and me when we were out walking and I swear it smelled like a truck parade. It felt like in that moment around the next corner would be a marching band or a flambeau. It is the most amazing thing to know that no one person makes Mardi Gras, but together we all do. From the marching bands who provide us the rhythm that serves as the soundtrack of our lives, to the riders who put everything they have into entertaining the crowd, to the revelers who brightly line the streets in anticipation of something that for a local kid is just a part of the usual but is anything but usual, to the flambeaus who wait in line for hours to receive their torch that guides the way down the avenue, to the police officers who work countless hours to make sure it all goes off without a hitch. We are all apart of the greatest free show on Earth.
Last, but never least - football!!!!!!!!! Mark and I watched the Saints pre-season game this weekend (confession - I watched it twice). Every year about this time, I totally buy into all of the Saints hype. Every year around this time, I begin planning our annual trip (that never comes) to the Superbowl. I am not kidding. Just the other day, I started trying to figure out how much we should be putting aside each month to make the trip down to Miami to watch our Saints play for the championship. Of course, come December I am usually crying on our couch because we have wasted yet another opportunity to reach the heights of greatness. But see, that's what keeps me coming back. It's that each year in August I can dissect a pre-season game and give you at least five reason why this really is The Year! Being a Saints fan is like being in an abusive relationship. It is a relationship scarred with utter disappointment and pain, but you keep coming back because every once in a while it is just so good. Here's to this year. Black and Gold Superbowl!
PS - Although it has been given a title that would make you think it belonged in this group, hurricane season has no place on this list. In fact, the name of this time of year should be more appropriately named Hell.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
It also got me thinking about my favorite current trend in hair - the poof (that's what we call it in our house). I LOVE a good poof. It is currently my most sported look. I like that it is a way to dress up my hair and at the same time it holds back my bangs which seem to never grow out. The first few times I wore the poof, Mark thought it was the funniest thing ever! And I have to admit, sometimes the poof got a little out of control. Once I even had two poofs, one right in the front for my bangs and one at the crown of my head for a little added volume. Mark appropriately titled this look - the camel.
This weekend at my sister in law's wedding, I had the honor of witnessing the creation of some of the best poofs (or bumpits as the Thompson girls like to say) I have ever seen. The bride wore one, her maids of honor had one, and so did I. They were fab! It's just so nice to get a little volume in an updo so that you don't look quite so severe.
The trouble with a poof/bumpit is consistency. Sometimes you put too much hair in. Sometimes they just aren't as voluminous as they should be. And sometimes it takes you so many times to get the teasing right that your arm muscles start to cramp up. Ouch! Problems solved - you can get the all in one poof creator appropriately called the "Bumpit." How exciting! Now we can all have the perfect poof!
It's just amazing what the world of tv infommercials can get you nowdays. It used to just be a chia pet. Now you can get the best hairdo ever.
PS - you have to find just the right bobby pins IMO. They have some that are perfectly curved to fit the crown of your head. I love them. No more straight pins that stick out funny!!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
1/4 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
8 cups thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 cups chopped ready-to-eat roasted skinned, boned chicken breast (about 2 breasts)
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups fat-free baked tortilla chips (about 4 ounces)
To prepare vinaigrette, combine first 11 ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients except chips in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette; toss well to coat. Serve with chips.