Here I am.
With Susan no longer at Louisiana Cookin', it was clear that it was time for me to move on as well.
“Let’s focus on growing Kitchen and Culture (our new media,consultancy firm)!” we chirped at one another. We started K&C two summers ago with the intention of exploring, through various media platforms and outreach, the ties between the world’s cuisines and the cultures that birthed them. The obvious place to start was Louisiana. This is also the only place we can start: New businesses are slow going and they require gobs of money, a resource that’s in pitifully limited supply right about now. Europe and its tempting cultural environs will simply have to wait, but we'll get there.
So, this past weekend we set our sights on the Red Stick Farmer’s Market(photos) in Baton Rouge with the plan to detour into Laplace on an andouille sausage run on our way back to New Orleans. Thanksgiving, indisputably the year’s high point for these two passionate home cooks, is just weeks away and we knew it was time to begin foraging and planning. On the way out the door to pick up Susan I grabbed Bonzo, my daughter's flatulent, slobbering Catahoula hound puppy. Young and ridiculous, the Bonz is an excellent source of comic relief and, I figured, gas is expensive and Bonzo’s hearty emissions (enough to pretty much clear a city block with a single blast) should be more than adequate to propel us to the state capital and back, especially if we stoked his fire with bits of andouille (his favorite) along the way. In theory, we could just hold his rear end near the gas tank when the fuel ran low.
It was a glorious autumn day and the Red Stick Market was celebrating its 15th anniversary. Clutching Bloody Marys we strolled, shopped, and encountered friends and fellow cooks in abundance. Culinary activist and “Louisiana Eats!” radio host Poppy Tooker, and Lieutenant Governor Jay Darden (the state’s most vocal champion for the preservation and enhancement of cultural tourism) were judging a tailgating cooking competition. Wanda Barros was selling her ethereal, kick-ass national award-winning goat cheese, someone was selling homemade smoked sausage for the incredible price of 3 pounds for 10 bucks, and an organic farmer was selling the most compelling bunches of mixed greens that were the perfect starter for a pot of Gumbo Z’Herbs.
Our budgets thusly strained, we stopped in Laplace to gather additional autumn provisions from both Jacob’s and Wayne Jacob’s smokehouses. Jacob’s andouille has the ultra smoky flavor and meaty texture I favor for use in gumbos while Wayne Jacob’s sausage is a bit milder and works well served straight up grilled with mustard for the simplest of hors d’oeuvres. A bonus for Bonzo: Wayne Jacob’s repurposes the dried, smoked tips of andouille castings as Smokehouse Dog Treats for a thrifty $1.50. I grabbed several bags. With five (I know, I know) dogs it’s hard to go wrong.
This year both my family and Susan’s are headed to the home of our friends Kevin and Tiffany Eyer for a huge Thanksgiving dinner. In my world nothing exceeds like excess so I am planning a large contribution. That I will make my father’s Creole Oyster Dressing is certain and Andrew (my husband) and Kevin are planning to inject and fry several turkeys in the yard. It’s the desserts that have me stuck: Brown Butter Sponge Cake with Apple Compote, Gateau de Sirop, Idiot Proof Citrus Pie, Three-Step Pumpkin Pie or all of them?