Monthly Archives

November 2015

Celebrations, Christmas, Citrus, Fruit, Healthy, Kumquats, Local, Louisiana, Salads, Southern, Thanksgiving

Ambrosia revisited: Southern holiday fruit salad goes all natural

November 24, 2015

For the record, I’m a big fan of the mini-marshmallow.

Big fan.

One of my greatest food memories is cozying up to a marshmallow-y fruit salad — classic Southern ambrosia – that someone brought to my maternal grandfather’s after funeral gathering. I’ll never forget the way the baby marshmallows melted into the citrus juice, creating creamy goodness and a perfect comforting texture. I couldn’t stop eating it. Years later, I similarly fell in love with something called Green Stuff, a congealed cottage cheese and marshmallow fruit salad made by an old boyfriend’s mother and always served at his family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Yum. I love a bowl of trashy.

But as much as I savor marshmallows, and as much as I bow down to tradition, this year, I wanted an all-natural version of the classic holiday side….


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Farmers Markets, Local, Louisiana, Sandwiches, Soups, Southern, Vegetables

Meatless Mains: Curried 3-squash soup with fresh tomato bruschetta

November 19, 2015

Here’s one for my vegetarian pals, or anyone who likes to incorporate an occasional meatless main course: a veggie-centric soup-and-sandwich combo made with fresh farmers market ingredients.

A couple of weeks back, I posted on 5 fall produce soup ideas, and briefly mentioned this one: roasted butternut squash soup studded with sautéed summer squash and zucchini. It showcases the range of produce available in south Louisiana right now. We can still get a lot of summer produce alongside the inaugural harvest of fall vegetables. And with fresh tomato bruschetta on the plate, too, this dinner takes advantage of Southern vegetables that refuse to be confined to just one season.

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Louisiana, My Book Shelf, New Orleans, The Writing Life

The Book Shelf: A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook fuses food and fiction

November 18, 2015

“May I select my own?” Ignatius asked, peering down over the top of the pot. In the boiling water the frankfurters swished and lashed like artificially colored and magnified paramecia. Ignatius filled his lungs with the pungent, sour aroma. “I shall pretend that I am in a smart restaurant and that this is the lobster pond.”

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

Few books capture real New Orleans and its quirks like the Pulitzer Prize-winning, A Confederacy of Dunces. Set in the early 1960s, the satirical novel covers the misadventures of Ignatius J. Reilly, an overeducated bombast who can’t seem to move out of his childhood bedroom, and who writes manifestos and suffers from chronic flatulence.

I first read this book when I was considering moving to Louisiana shortly after college. At the time, I was living in Miami, and had been dating a guy who lived in Baton Rouge. Once on a visit, I found the novel on his bookshelf and gave it a whirl. It was deliciously insane, and even though I didn’t fully get the cultural references, I could not put it down.

Fast forward to this year, 2015 — the 35th anniversary of the book’s publication by the LSU Press. I had indeed moved to Baton Rouge way back when, and while that particular relationship didn’t last, I stayed. Louisiana became my home. I re-read the book this spring, and it was full-circle fun. I had a completely new appreciation for “jambalaya with shrimps” and Lucky Dogs.

One of the reasons I read it again this year was because my friend and fellow LSU Press author, Cynthia LeJeune Nobles, was finishing her A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook (LSU Press).

I couldn’t wait to see what she came up with.

(Update: Cindy was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition on Dec 4. Check out the interview here.)

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Celebrations, Holiday, Thanksgiving, The Writing Life

My secret date with cornbread dressing

November 11, 2015

Ahh, the holiday rotation. Years ago, my hubby and I put a system in place that divvied up the holidays as fairly as possible among the grandparents, none of whom live here in Baton Rouge. I won’t bore you with the drama (you can probably relate), I’ll just share the result. For the last 15 years, the system has pretty much had us traveling to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving, while we host Christmas. I love planning and hosting the Christmas meal, but I have to admit, I miss the opportunity to cook — really cook — traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, we bring stuff. But it’s minor. The main meal, and especially the dressing, is claimed by our family’s various Thanksgiving hosts. And you gotta respect territoriality, especially where cornbread dressing is involved.

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Cooking with Kids, The Family Life, Weeknight

Meal planning for foodies. Save money and sanity. For real.

November 9, 2015

Borrowing words from my friend, writer Renée Bacher, I threw up my hands recently upon reading my bank statement, and screeched to my children, “Stop eating! You’re devouring your college funds!”

For years, the amount of money I spend at the grocery store has been creeping . . .no. . .  skyrocketing, up. I used to fantasize about how much I’d save when our children were finally out of diapers. Right. Diapers were cheap compared to the endless list of items I collect at the supermarket to satisfy their needs as growing kids, and mine and John’s as food enthusiasts. Even if we didn’t like food so much, getting meals for five people on the table (two to three meals a day, seven days a week) ain’t cheap.

I finally got frustrated. There had to be a better way of doing things. And so, after 15 years of marriage and 14 years of parenting, I bit the bullet and tried what so many people before me claim works like a charm. I started planning meals. I generally resist forced organization, and part of me sees myself as a childless gourmand who thinks she can still eat at dinner 10 pm and shop at the “market” every day with an eco-basket. “Food should be spontaneous, not restrained!” I’d think. “They don’t plan meals in France!”


I finally got over myself and started planning meals. And guess what? It does work like a charm.

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Appetizers, Celebrations, Louisiana, LSU, Tailgating

LSU-Bama: Embrace your inner corn dog

November 5, 2015

Somehow, we earned the corn dog nickname. There are so many other things we creatively devious LSU fans could have been called, so many other foods we’re obsessed with and probably smell like…but corn dogs…hmm. Always been a head scratcher. Alrighty. Let’s just go with it. Here’s to embracing your trashy, Bama-hatin’, carnival lovin’ corn dog self this weekend over fine specimens made in the comfort of your own home. It is an away game, after all, robbing LSU fans of the opportunity to cook up elephant-themed delicacies outside Tiger Stadium, which have actually been known to stump aghast internet columnists.

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