Trying Out the Char-Broil Oil-Less Infrared Turkey Fryer
The other day I watched Andrew putting the finishing touches on the fried turkeys we were planning to take along to a gathering at a friend's house. About 12 pound each, they had soaked in brine for two days then been injected with an emulsion involving cognac, Tabasco and butter. Andrew has fried many turkeys and they are always a big hit but these were different: He had cooked them in a Char-Broil Big Easy oil-less infrared turkey fryer, a contraption he had eyed with suspicion until some total stranger he met at Lowe's raved on and on about his, effectively persuading Andrew to lurk in wait until they went on sale soon after Thanksgiving.
Probably the result of a slip-up at the Ortho factory, I was born 17 years after my brother and 13 years after my sister. They flew the coop when I was very young, leaving me to a relatively boring, lonely childhood.
Photographer David Gallent and I have been traipsing around northeastern Louisiana for the better part of the week, meeting interesting people and gathering interesting news and photography along the way. Yesterday, knowing we needed to make a stop in Baton Rouge, we left Mississippi on Highway 61, which took us past Mammy's Cupboard, a restaurant built inside a 28-foot tall black woman's skirt, which is made of bricks, which compliment her horseshoe earrings nicely.
The 60-some-year-old restaurant was closed yesterday so we just snapped some exterior pictures and drove on but it brought back memories of the first time I visited the famed lunch and pastry joint, which was 20 or so years ago.
Exactly six weeks from now will mark the one year anniversary of the day when I took complete leave of my mind and succumbed to Cecilia's plea that I drive her and Julia to Slaughter to check out a Catahoula/Chocolate Lab puppy the West Feliciana Parish Animal Shelter was having fostered at a local farm. She was desperate for the experience of having a male dog who would worship her as Boogie, my late, beloved, male mutt, worshiped me. It is true that not one of our existing four female dogs was devoted solely to Cecilia-worship. Lovebug, my bitchy four pound Chihuahua, is devoted to me; with three legs, one working eye, dreadlocks and an under bite, so-ugly-she's-cute Poppy is all about Andrew; and Happy and Penny Lane distribute their attention equally among the three of us.
We left Slaughter with a 9 pound, green-eyed pudgeball with a mottled golden and brown coat. Cecilia named him Bonzo after John "Bonzo" Bonham, the late drummer for Led Zeppelin.
Today is Bonzo's birthday. He is one year old.
Living with five dogs —five primarily indoor dogs—
Chefs Keith Frentz and Nealy Crawford-Frentz: The Reigning Royalty of Louisiana Seafood
I first met Nealy and Keith Frentz in 2009 when they were recognized by a culinary magazine as rising star young chefs and I have watched them grow personally and professionally ever since. Like many young, modern, talented chefs they are looking to take their careers to the next level, a desire that was really put on steroids for Nealy when she recently recorded a segment for a soon-to-be nationally televised cooking show. "I just felt myself come alive in front of the camera," Nealy told me. "It felt so right; I just knew that's where I've always wanted to be." This is a desire I simply cannot relate to; I feel as though a vampire has stolen my soul every time someone so much as takes my picture — but that's a story for another day.
Yesterday I watched Nealy and Keith take one gigantic step closer to realizing their dream when they won the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board's Louisiana Seafood Cook-off and Keith claimed the title of King of Louisiana Seafood.
As I am packing up to hit the road on a fact finding mission for the next issue of Louisiana Kitchen it struck me: I am doing EXACTLY what I have always wanted to do. Near the beginning of my "career" I was a regional grunt for both Time magazine and The New York Times. This means I was the unfortunate soul who received the telephone calls at 2 am with instructions to get my ass out of bed and do things like drive into hurricanes or cross state lines to investigate trail derailments. I roved around the region and discovered all sorts of interesting things but nothing so fascinating as the cultural mishmash we have within the boundaries of Louisiana. There was born my desire to conduct a thorough, ongoing investigation into Louisiana's cultural gifts.
I have also been a lifelong participant in and admirer of the culinary arts.
Due to reasons far too complicated to get into here, I had a very complex, not very happy relationship with my mother. She died when I was 18, resulting in an even more complicated, past-tense relationship.
However, I do have a few memories of her that can make me smile. Among them is her cooking. She was patently horrible in the kitchen; this resulted in my starting to cook out of self defense when I was about 6. But that, too, is another story, one with the end result of my nagging tirelessly at my 15-year old daughter, Cecilia, to observe closely and learn to cook at least a handful of dishes. The horrible cook gene skipped a generation, leaving me unscathed, but it may have picked up again in my daughter. I am uncertain; she has 0 interest in learning to cook anything beyond store-bought cookie mix so I have no idea whether or not the potential for a respectable etouffee lurks within her.
The weekend after next my family will be entering a Quack Pack in the 3rd Annual Rubber Duck Derby. For the event 15,000 rubber ducks will be dropped into Bayou St. John for a race to the finish line where four lucky ducks will win fantastic prizes:
1st Place – Choice of a Chevy Sonic or Ford Fiesta courtesy of Banner Ford and Chevrolet 2nd Place - $1,000 Rouses gift card 3rd Place – Dinner for 10 at Zea Rotisserie & Grill 4th Place – Luxury suite for 20 at a New Orleans Zephyrs game
The great race takes place Sunday, May 20, during the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo Festival. Ducks will be dropped in Bayou St. John near Orleans Avenue and N. Jefferson Davis Parkway at 4:30 pm
Scholars and Chefs to Discuss Cultural, Historical Significance of Pralines
Dr. Jessica B. Harris On June 8 from 6 – 8 p.m. , the Historic New Orleans Collection will host an opening reception for Creole Sweet, a forum on pralines and their spinoffs,featuring culinary historian Dr. Jessica Harris of Dillard University’s Ray Charles Program and Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures. The day-long forum will feature talks and panel discussions on the vending, production and consumption of the quintessential Louisiana candy and its cousins. The culinary journey will wend its way from Mexico to Jamaica, from Puerto Rico to Louisiana, and into praline-loving households worldwide.