February 2, 2017
Tomorrow is my birthday; it's also the 15-year anniversary of the day Chef Jimmy Banos helped me quit smoking! He owns Heaven on Seven in Chicago; my sister ate there often when she lived in the area, and gave me a copy of his cookbook for Christmas that year. I picked the most labor-intensive recipe in the book to keep my hands busy that first day I wasn't smoking; I think it had about 20 kinds of minced peppers in it. Voodoo Chicken.
It also was Super Bowl Sunday, so I minced onions, peppers, and garlic and watched the Super Bowl, all while NOT SMOKING. Those first few weeks and months were tough, but I gritted it out and stuck to it. I joined an online support group where I met fellow determined quitters, and made some of my very best friends in the process. Quitting is hard, but you can do it; I'm happy to answer any questions about how I did it, and pass along the tips and advice I received and learned along the way.
So imagine my delight last year when I saw that Chef Bannos had ordered the entire set of back issues of my magazine, along with a subscription! I sat down and wrote him a letter to go in the package, and he called me a few days later to laugh about it. You never know when something you do that you love is going to have a positive, if completely unanticipated, result on a complete stranger's life.
The recipes I've linked below are great selections for any Super Bowl party you may host or attend; we've also got an extensive list of Louisiana favorites to take to a tailgate/potluck football party here.
The following weekend, I'm judging the United Way of Southeast Louisiana's 17th Annual Got Gumbo? Cookoff. If you like gumbo, you'll want to put this one on your calendar. It's February 10th at the Royal Sonesta in New Orleans. Tasty. I learned many years ago, no matter how good the gumbo, taste and move on, because there are many more bowls coming.
Enjoy this week's recipes, share them with family and friends, and, as always, let me know what's on your mind. Also, keep in mind that food banks struggle this time of year; consider making a donation if at all possible.
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It's time to start making your plans for Mardi Gras parades around the state; we've started compiling a list. If you know of a parade that we don't have listed yet, email the details you have to Jim and we'lll get it updated.
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