The rest of the day before Noah got home paled in comparison but it was filled with Beach Day for the Bean, laundry, errands and work. And aromas that made my stomach growl all day long. Shortly before we headed off to the bus stop this morning I cranked the knob of the crock pot and got to cooking the Louisiana Red Beans and Rice that constituted dinner tonight. It was the perfect meal for today, as I learned from my awesome Taste of Home, Recipes Across America cookbook that "A classic Monday-night dinner in Louisiana is Red Beans and Rice. Historically, the meat used for this dish was left over from Sunday's dinner - either pork or ham. The beans would simmer unattended on stovetops, while housewives did their Monday laundry." Well, I employed my crock pot, and its Tuesday, but I was doing laundry! Anyway, it smelled incredible and tasted just as good at dinner tonight.
If you've been with us on our little state adventure since the beginning you may remember that while New Orleans may be known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, the true origins of Mardi Gras in the United States can be traced to Mobile, Alabama. But let's face it, you say 'mardi gras' you think New Orleans. And we couldn't really 'celebrate' Louisiana this week and not do something mardi gras related. So since we'd already made masks for this weeks project I decided we needed to make our own mardi gras beads!
Mardi Gras parades began in New Orleans in the 1830's. The floats in the parades are manned by krewes who toss 'throws' to the parade goers, consisting of items such as doubloons, plastic cups, inexpensive toys and the most well known - strings of beads! During some of the first parades inexpensive necklaces made of glass beads were tossed by the krewes. The beads were an instance hit with the residents of New Orleans and tourists and became a fixture of the mardi gras experience. And just so you know, the need to 'flash' to get beads - totally a myth. Not to say it doesn't happen but if you avoid the French Quarter (where no actual parades run anyway) Mardi Gras is considered a Family Friendly experience by the locals. (If you're still a little concerned, consider checking out Family Gras!) Beads are commonly seen in the three official colors of mardi gras; purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power.
Anyway, tonight while we listened to some fabulous Dixieland Jazz tunes we strung our own sets of mardi gras beads and talked about the whole mardi gras experience; what it means, why its celebrated, how its celebrated in different parts of the world - there was no end to the questions from the kiddos tonight. Like pretty much every state we've talked about before they've now decided we should move to Louisiana. I've told them that a visit certainly may be in order (I was in New Orleans in 2001, pre-Katrina and fell in love with the state. They probably wouldn't have to work too hard to convince we to take a trip back...) but that I was otherwise pretty satisfied staying in Michigan.
Tomorrow night is our Louisiana mail call and I can't wait! One of my MOPS friends, Julie, actually lived in Louisiana for a few months after she was married (shortly after Katrina. The stories she shared with me a few weeks ago were terrifying!) and she still has friends there that kindly hooked us up with Louisiana mail! Can't wait to share it with the kiddos tomorrow night! And the Bean has been excited since we went to the grocery store on Monday when she found out that crab was on the menu this week (wait til she hears that the next three weeks are Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts - no end of seafood in sight around here) and I'm going to try to light things up by making Bananas Foster! So until then...
Louisiana Fun Fact of the Day: In 1718 The French found New Orleans and marked "Cannes Brulee" on maps upriver in the area known today as the City of Kenner. French for "Burnt Canes", Cannes Brulee was a name given by explorers who observed natives burning cane to drive out wild game.
She had a good time at Beach Day today
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
Mikayla picked me some flowers when she was outside this afternoon - looks like Spring is in the air!
Ready to make our necklaces
The face of determination strings away
Ready for Mardi Gras!
(I swear we didn't tell him to wear the Batman PJ's tonight)
One beautiful little girl ready to party!