Tag Archives: Louisiana

Red Beans and Rice

There is nothing better than spicy Louisiana cuisine. I like it all. Gumbo may be the state cuisine, but I’m sure red beans and rice run a close second.

Wikipedia states that the red bean originated in Haiti. I spent two weeks there and we ate diri am pwa like it was going out of style. Everyday, lunch was diri ak pwa, the Haitian version of red beans and rice. To add variation to lunch, I added scotch bonnet sauce, ketchup, Tabasco, anything. Americans are so spoiled. We rarely eat the same meal twice in a week. Haitians eat what they can get. They don’t have the luxury of variety.

I need variety and it definitely shows in my cooking. My beans vary each time I cook them. It all depends on what I have on hand. I tried to get some beef bones yesterday to render out the delicious marrow, but I had to settle for pork shank. I’ve also used ham hocks. I think they are pig knuckles. They taste great.

I decided to write down today’s recipe in case I want to recreate it. (Who am I kidding, this is probably the last time I see it).

Ingredients:

2 oz finely diced Tasso
1 slice smoked ham shank
1 link smoked sausage
1 12 oz Pictsweet seasoning blend
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 cup Bordeaux (or any other red wine)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Gebhardt brand)
1 tablespoon beef base

Method:

Soak beans overnight.

Heat Dutch oven and brown ham shank. Dice the Tasso and the smoked sausage. Add to pot and add EVOO.

Once browned, add the Pictsweet chopped vegetables. I hate using frozen vegetables because they steam while you try to sauté them. When I am feeling puny, though, I’ll take the occasional shortcut.

Add bay leaves, minced garlic, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, oregano, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce.

Sauté until onions are translucent. Add red wine to deglaze pot (if the steaming veggies haven’t done so already).

Add beans and fill pot with water and cover.

Simmer beans for approximately one hour with occasional stirring. Remove shank. Dice meat and return to pot. Add beef base.

Cover and simmer approximately 30 minutes. Smash about 1/4 cup of beans against side of pot with wooden spoon to give a creamy consistency and season to taste.

Serve over rice with some crusty French bread.

Feeding the Masses

I am spending my day at Common Ground Community (CGC) today. CGC is a faith-based organization and It’s quiet as I’m the only one here. This evening will resemble a three ring circus with kids running loose and parents being ministered to by our volunteers. I’m in charge of tonight’s meal.

I guess I’ve been volunteering here close to three years. I typically volunteer to create supper one Thursday a month. I think volunteering here and with Mercy Chefs are what helped me become comfortable with catering. It’s only a fledgling business and I’m not looking to make millions, just enough to contribute to our household so we can finally melt that debt snowball.

Most people who come here don’t know who I am or what I do. I like it that way. I hope they came for Jesus, but I’m sure many just come to get some of their basic needs met.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to volunteer here as my wife and children have told me that on several occasions, they have heard people whine and disparage my food.

They hear this while serving the members of this community. I ignored what they said for a couple of years and kept making things like spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf, BBQ chicken, and homemade bread. Along with the main courses were various sides and desserts. I usually don’t go all out on the sides, but the main courses and desserts have always been from scratch.

A couple of months ago, we were short handed. After I was done in the kitchen I went to serve meals. We serve cafeteria style to feed everyone quickly. That night I heard many negative remarks and only one positive remark. I’m not here to boost my ego, but I hope all of my effort is well received. I’m wasting everyone’s time if nobody wants to eat it.

After this experience, I looked back on my experiences with Mercy Chefs I served in Kenner, LA after a hurricane, West, TX after a plant explosion. (I think that was a feed plant.) I even spent time in Colorado after last year’s flooding. We have served thousands of meals and I have never heard anything negative on any of these adventures. There was only gratitude. Again, this isn’t about some pity trip I’m on. I’m just making observations.

I believe that the victims of disasters are so grateful because they just lost everything. The people I encounter in this neighborhood are victims of the system.

This system encourages government dependence. This system holds very little value for dads or for families with both a mom and a dad. This system encourages thug life where eight year olds try to act like their favorite hardcore rapper wif diamonds in their teefs.

Granted, there are many who come here and are struggling to raise their children properly. To raise them to have respect for their elders. To raise them to have respect for themselves.

Society as a whole can get locked in a groupthink mentality where they think it is best to throw money at the problem. To give handouts. CGC, a Bible believing organization, now appears to be transitioning from a handout system to one that encourages the individual to help himself. I’m not a fan of clichés but in a sense, to give a ‘hand up.’

Since hearing feedback firsthand for the food I expended so much love to prepare, I’m in a sort of transition. Maybe I should cook something more fundamental. Last month I made Hoppin’ John, a dish consisting of blackeyed peas and rice. Today, I’m making pinto beans and rice. Don’t worry, I’m going to have cornbread, too.

I still expend the same energy shopping, chopping, and cooking. These beans are going to taste out of this world, but for now, I’m offering two basic meals that we enjoy every week at home: beans and rice and rice and beans.

I can feed them today, but I hope they find the Bread of Life where they will never hunger again.

Nuts and Feet

I remember this radio promotion I was involved with many years ago at this Active Rocker. We had front row tickets to see Tool along with passes to the pre-show party.

This was during Fear Factor’s heyday and we wanted to cash in on that notoriety. A select number of listeners were going to be abused for their big opportunity by playing Nuts and Feet.

The premise was simple. Fill a kiddie pool with mayonnaise, pork and beans, relish, and a few more ingredients. Several boiled pig feet and one boiled pig testicle were buried in this slop. Score a foot and win a free CD. Land the baseball sized pig part and win the grand prize. Oh, and you had to retrieve these items with your mouth.

The smell emanating from that pool was horrendous. I almost vomited. The smell hit a woman and she threw up. We had this stunt in a store parking lot next to a busy street. This commotion even caused a car accident.

I don’t remember who won. I don’t even care. I was too busy laughing at this spectacle.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/prompt-moments-to-remember/

 

The Real Pickle–Shreveport, LA

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They bring a small bowl of these guys to you as you look over the menu.

Since Dave Ramsey took over our home two and a half years ago, we haven’t had many opportunities to go enjoy a meal.  Today was different because I was only with my fourteen year old daughter, Alli, so it wasn’t too hard on my pocketbook.

I try to frequent local places because franchises sometimes seem really stale, unless of course you are talking about Five Guys.  I just love those fries.  This afternoon was no exception and we decided to visit The Real Pickle.

It’s been here as long as I can remember.  I’ve only been here a couple of times prior, but those gastronomic experiences were definitely memorable.  I usually get the shrimp poboy with remoulade sauce because it has always been excellent.  Today, it was very good but it was too salty for my taste.  We were the first customers of the day.  Maybe the chef got too excited and oversalted the shrimp.  Maybe I cut him off in traffic one day and he finally had his chance to get back at me.  Nonetheless, I go light on the salt in my own cooking and I frequently have had meals at restaurants that were too salty for me.  Perhaps I’m just a salt wuss.

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These fries are nothing like Five Guys.

On the plus side, the prawns were breaded nice and happy and were a fried jubilee.  The spice level was excellent.  I love firey hot food, and typically if I can detect ANY heat, it’s too much for many people I know, but I was surprised with a nice, warm burn.  The remoulade was remoulade.  I don’t care where you get it.  Remoulade tastes great.  It tastes good on everything.  The bread was so light and crusty and had a hint of buttery delight.  The fries?  Well, they weren’t Five Guys.

Alli had a ham and something on a croissant.  It wasn’t mine, so I didn’t pay much attention to it.  She liked it and that is what’s important.

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Alli really enjoyed her ham and something sandwich.

In fine, (I’ve always wanted the opportunity to say “in fine” as I remember it from the poem “Richard Cory“).  In fine, the most important aspect was that I had an opportunity to spend some quality time with Alli.  I need to take her to another Texas BBQ joint soon, but that’s another story.