Monday, April 30, 2012

Lovely Louisiana

Photo credit

From Today is Louisiana Day. The Pelican State became the 18th U.S. state on this date in 1812. The U.S. had made the Louisiana Purchase on the same date in 1803.

I have a lot of wonderful memories of Lousiana.  I spent four years in Shreveport--all four of my high school years.  My father's family has quite a bit of  history in Louisiana.  My dad was born in Pelican, Louisiana, near Mansfield, and many of his relatives still live in that area.

I would really love to visit there again.

Source: via Vickie on Pinterest

Anyway, in honor of Louisiana Day, I'm re-posting something I wrote  after Hurricane Katrina.

From 9/6/05: Reminiscing about New Orleans

When I heard New Orleans' deputy police chief say "this city is destroyed" on national television, I couldn't help but feel profound sadness.

Yes, I know there was probably enough wickedness in the city to more than rival the toxic cesspool of water now flowing through the streets. But what city can say "We are without sin...we don't deserve judgment"?

There was also plenty of beauty and innocent joie de vivre in that city. I always wanted to take my husband there, because I'll never forget a vacation I took there with my parents when I was a teen-ager, circa mid-1970's.

Jackson Square, New Orleans
Photo credit

I was charmed by the distinctive architecture, the honey-rich drawl of the N'awlins natives, by jazz notes floating out of a bar in the middle of the day. I remember my mom getting her portrait done by a hippie artist on Jackson Square. She still has that portrait, and it actually begins to capture something of her unique beauty.

Source: via Bambi on Pinterest

I remember visiting a Civil War museum and renting bikes to ride through Audubon Park. (Is Audubon Park ok? What about the D-Day museum--my daughter has always wanted to go there; is it destroyed?)

Audubon Park
photo credit

I'll never forget our first day of touring the city. My dad parked our car, we got out, and one of us spotted a wad of dollar bills on the sidewalk. No one any where nearby--no way to find out to whom it belonged. It wasn't a big amount, but we accepted it as a gift from above--a lovely little benediction to send us off on our day.

And don't even get me started on the food. We had muffaletta sandwiches from a deli my aunt had told us about. They were amazing. Delectable beignets from the Cafe du Monde. We had lunch at Antoine's. We had incredibly delicious gumbo and jambalaya at a nondescript-looking but awesome little restaurant on Bayou Gauche.

Houston Chronicle writer Alison Cook writes a requiem for the tastes of New Orleans. Cook has her own memories of the Cafe du Monde: "Chicory coffee au lait — was there a more magical brew to be had anywhere? — exerted its lure from the porch of the CafĂ© du Monde, where I would sit under churning ceiling fans, watching waiters pour with a fine flourish as I devoured an absurd number of fried-dough beignets. The more powdered sugar ended up on my clothes, the better life seemed."--end of archived post

Still recovering

Thankfully, since I wrote that post, Louisiana has undergone much rebuilding and renovation.  But don't forget that some places are still rebuilding, even these several years past Katrina.

My friend Don Elbourne pastors Lakeshore Baptist Church in Lakeshore, MS.  The church facility was destroyed by the hurricane, and faced an arduous rebuilding process.  Church teams from all over the US have come to help at various times, and as I understand from the website Rebuild Lakeshore, the process is still ongoing.

The facility was destroyed by Katrina, but the church thrives!  Pastor Don Elbourne is the bearded guy on the front row

You can go to the Rebuild Lakeshore site to find out how you and/or your church group can help.

A lagniappe for you!

Lagniappe: An unexpected gift or benefit (chiefly Southern Louisiana and Mississippi)
My lagniappe for you today is Pastor Don Elbourne's recipe for Chicken and Andouille Gumbo.  I have made it, and believe me it is delicious!

Don Elbourne's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

1 Chicken
2 lbs. Andouille Sausage
4 Onions
2 Green Bell Peppers
7 Stalks Celery
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 10 oz cans of Rotel Diced tomatoes and Green Chilies
2 13 oz cans of sliced mushrooms
4 lbs. cut Okra
1 bunch of Green Onions
2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups flour
4 Tablespoons Tabasco Sauce
Creole Seasonings (I use Zatarain's)

Boil chicken with Creole seasonings. De-bone the chicken and set aside the meat and the chicken stock.

The Roux: In a 12 quart pot, heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat and stir in the flour. Stir with flat wooden spoon continually for about 30 minutes, never allowing the roux to sit for longer than a few seconds at a time. Cook until dark brown, but not black! If black specks begin to appear, discard and start over.

Add the chopped onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic to the roux. Stir, allowing the roux to adhere to the vegetables. Allow the roux and the vegetables to get to know each other for a few minutes as you stir. Stir in the rotel tomatoes and the mushrooms. Allow the vegetables to cook down a bit. Add the chicken stock and bring to a low boil. Add the chicken, sausage, okra, hot sauce and about 1/8 cup Creole seasonings. Let simmer at a low rolling boil for about 2 hours. Add water as needed. About 20 minutes before serving add another 2 lbs of cut okra and finely chopped green onions.

Serve in deep bowls over steamed white rice. serve with potato salad.

If you have pleasant thoughts and/or memories of Louisiana, please share them in my comments section!

Happy Louisiana Day!


Ashley said...

I lived in north Louisiana for 33 years of my life, minus a few spent in Hawaii and Virginia when my dad (US Navy) was stationed there. (Unfortunately I was too young to remember all that...)

Louisiana is a beautiful, unique place with a wonderful culture and the best food ever! While I'm now living in TX for the unforeseeable future - and I love it! - I'll still always be a Louisiana girl at heart. :)

Kathy said...

Cindy, I loved your blog on Louisiana and we do have so much family history there. I have been spending alot of time, picking up where Mom left off, on The lines through the DeSoto's going back to Spain, France, and Canada. Mom would have loved this site!!

Lea also known as "CiCi" said...

Good grief, I have not even stopped long enough today to realize it was Louisiana Day. I do think I heard something about it on the news earlier though.

A lovely post!

Gracie O'Tripp said...

lovely post. N'Awlins is one of my families favorite cities. We spent a wonderful Christmas there a few years ago. Thanks for posting about this beautiful old city.

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