Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spicy Cajun Mail Call!

Happy Hump Day from the Hills!  We've had quite a fun Wednesday around here, full of playing with friends, seafood for the Bean, me lighting things on fire and our Louisiana mail call.  Come on, how could that not equal one fabulous day?

This morning Miss A hung out with the Bean and I while Tess got to go with D's class on his field trip.  I think everyone ended up thrilled with this arrangement - Mikayla is always down with having a playmate for the morning.  I ended up taking the girls to the mall to meet up with one of my MOPS friends (Missy, had a great time!) to let the kiddos run around while we gabbed.  Yes, everyone was definitely happy with this arrangement :)  It was nice to have a laid back morning amid our usual craziness.

So you can only imagine that the Bean was thrilled even further when I reminded her that seafood was on tonight's dinner menu.  When I was going through recipes I tagged Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee as a must do.  I've never actually had crawfish but Louisiana is the nation's leading producer of the tiny crustaceans.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a place here in the Mitten to be able to try them out.  The recipe mentions that you can also use shrimp, but we're having shrimp on Friday night in our jambalaya so I swapped in crab tonight instead.  I don't think it would have much mattered, seafood is seafood to the Bean.  The thing I've learned about Louisiana cooking this week is that it is not something to be rushed.  Twenty minutes of standing over the stove constantly stirring to create the perfect dark roux is not for everyone.  But the results - mmmmm! My crew were definitely on board with this one, and I'm thinking maybe we should just pack up and make a trip south so that I can try some crawfish.  Grant, whaddya think?

After dinner I decided that I hadn't played with fire lately (remember my mostly failed cherries jubilee attempt last year?) and we couldn't do Louisiana without making Bananas FosterThe original Bananas Foster was created at Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans in 1951, and its most often prepared and served tableside (because who doesn't want to watch the flambe?)  I tried my best tonight, again with only so-so success but it still tasted great!

I've been looking forward to our Louisiana mail call for quite awhile now.  My friend, Julie, from MOPS (who has three adorable, happy, polite boys all under the age of five which I believe qualifies her for sainthood) actually lived in Louisiana right after she was married for a short period of time.  Like Grant and I, Julie and her husband, Ben, got married and then moved across the country for a job.  While I would say for the most part Grant and I were fairly happy with our time in Florida, Julie and Ben had a bit of a rough time in New Iberia, Louisiana, partly due to the fact that they moved there only one month after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.  Louisiana's loss was our gain though as I am happy to have Julie as a friend.  Even more fortunately for us, she's kept in contact with some of her friends from Louisiana and a couple of them were kind enough to help us out with our mail.

Evangeline and Catherine both kindly sent us mail from their town of Layfayette.  Catherine sent two neat postcards from the annual Festival International de Louisiane held in Layfayette to celebrate its French heritage.  It takes place in April every year, and as our postcard told us it features five days of music, food, arts, theatre, cinema and cuisine.  The kids were delighted with Evangeline's package which had some authentic Mardi Gras beads (I may never get the to take them off), a picture that she took of an alligator on a swamp tour in Lake Martin and their own tiny bottle of Tobassco Sauce which is made on Avery Island which actually sits on top of a massive salt dome.  Tobassco is distributed worldwide and has quite an interesting history if you're interested, including the fact that it holds the second oldest food trademark in the United States, being awarded its trademark in 1906, only one year after revised the Trademark Act in 1905.  (For some reason I kept saying/thinking patent instead of trademark lately, so for anyone I've said patent to, I meant trademark!)  Anyway, the kids loved their Louisiana mail and I am so grateful to Julie for contacting Evangeline and Catherine and to both of them for helping us out.  The kindness of strangers touches me yet again with this project!

Tomorrow I get to catch up with a friend for awhile before I meet up with Grant at OLS for the Parent Blessing that Mikayla's class is holding.  Remind me to pack the tissues - can't believe this school year is wrapping up already!  Then the kiddos are going to work on their maps, we're going to talk a little more about Hurricane Katrina and do the We've Been There State.  Plus any Duck Dynasty fans out there will want to check out one of Miss Kay's recipes I'm going to try out tomorrow and we sample some meat pies from Natchioches.  Should be quite the day!  Until then...

Louisiana Fun Fact of the Day:  Louisiana produces 24% of the nation's salt, the most in the country.

Mail call!

Mikayla and A making A a mardi gras necklace this morning

Isn't she adorable?
Louisiana Etouffee

Bananas Foster cooking away

We have fire!

Bananas Foster, yum!

Postcards from the Festival International de Louisiane


Trying the Tabasco sauce 

Noah may not have been a fan...


A really neat authentic mardi gras necklace

Thanks Catherine and Evangeline!

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