Crawfish Monica

A friend of ours posted a Crawfish Monica recipe a few days ago on our town's Forum. Since Peggy is a Celiac (allergic to stuff made from wheat flour) and this is a pasta dish, I haven't thought of it in years. Crawfish Monica first appeared at New Orleans Jazz Festival back in the very early 80's and it is now so popular that the line at the Kajun Kettle booth where it is served at the yearly festival is always the longest. This dish is responsible for the seafood pasta dishes found in many restaurants today. Although it is a "secret" recipe dish, most every one agrees that this is the basic recipe:

Crawfish Monica

1 lb of pasta cooked, rinsed, and drained

1/2 cup butter

1 medium onion chopped fine

3-6 garlic toes minced

1lb of crawfish tails with fat

Cajun seasoning to taste (try a Tablespoon of Tony Chachere's)

1 pint of half and half

Cook, drain and rinse the pasta. ( Most any noodle will do...I often use shells 'cause its seafoody cute, but anything works. Restaurants use fettucini so often that the dish is known widely as crawfish fettucini. While the pasta drains, melt the butter in a sauce pan and saute` the onion and garlic for a few minutes 'til they begin to soften. Add the crawfish and Cajun seasoning and saute` a few more minutes. Add the half and half, bring to a simmer, and simmer a few minnutes 'til it thickens slightly. Add the cooked pasta, stir and let rest on "low" for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to evenly coat pasta, serve immediately makes 4 good servings.

This simple elegant dish is endlessy adaptable. I always add dried parsley when I add the pasta. Shrimp, or crab meat or oysters or any combination works. Lots of folks add mushrooms, green onions and a number of other ingredients. Try this wonderful dish for your family and give them a little taste of Jazz Fest. Let us know what version you made and what adaptations you used, and feel free to ask for suggestions or questions.
A historical note: created in 1982 by Chef Pierie Hilzin and named after his wife, you guessed it...Monica

A Memorial Day

We decided to celebrate our Memorial day at home alone, just us and da dawgs. It's been a very busy time for us and we really needed some quiet time. Around noon I fired up da pit, put da Blues on da outdoor speakers and opened me a beer. While Peggy made her bbq beans and macaroni salad. I smothered down a pan of onions and some appetizer weiners.
Threw a lil seedless melon in da ice chest to keep da beers company, and sat back and enjoyed da patio.This beautiful pink flower is one of a string of gladiola blossoms. I accidentally brushed it off of it's stalk earlier and hated to leave it on the ground, so I brought it under the patio with us.Our canna lillies are beginning to bloom.
While I was minding the pit I gathered some fresh spearmint from the yard and fixed Peggy a Mojito. Sweet, limey, minty just right for a warm day.
If ya look around our patio, there is lots of little surprises lurking around in the shadows. Every where ya look another lil surprise is there.
Might say it's as much fun as a barrel of monkeys.
The chicken and burgers were soon done.
We settled down to a great meal and really enjoyed our treasured time together. Remembering to thank God and the men and women who gave their lives so we would have the freedom to enjoy a day like today. Now with a belly full it's nap time:-)


Details, Details

As yall know from earlier posts, we had our fancy ceiling tiles installed, and all but 1 small strip in the den is done. We are still missing the crown molding and some painting, but this project is nearing completion. One thing we noticed right off is that our bright white a/c vents and recessed lights were gonna stick out somethin' awful. A quick dash to Lowes and we started yet another project: Paint da accessories. I spray painted the vents and lights and Peggy "antiqued" them with some black paint. They came out pretty good, I think.

This also provides a better view of the ceiling for those who have been askin'. It's really starting to look like a "cappy's den" now, don't ya think?

All Work And No Play? NOT HARDLY!

Our good friend Sam stopped by the other day and brought me a magnetic thermometer to stick on my BBQ pit. You can see it in the first picture on top o da pit by the smoke pipe. As yall know, we have been very busy doing home projects and I thought it was high time we fired up da pit, so me and Marky, our happy, chubby pup minded the Pit while Sparky helped Peggy in the house. I smoked up some chicken and sausages, with a pan of potatoes. Our neighbor, Monica, stopped by with 4 ears of sweet corn and I threw them on the pit, too for roasting. Always remember; no matter how busy ya get, to take a break every once in a while, enjoy life and pause to revel in the life ya have. It's precious and just like this Gladiola gracing our front door, gone too quickly.


The Great Attic Cleanout

One of the big things on my "honey do list" this hitch was clean out the attic. This is a chore that has to be done before Summer, 'cause our attic aint no place to be in da South Louisiana heat. Yesterday dawned clear and breezy, and it was only in the low 70's. I called my young nephew Ren, offered him a few bucks to help me do da deed. Being a full time LSU college boy, he readily accepted the offer and came right over. We began by taking everything outa da attic and strewing it all over da yard. One of our neighbors came by and could not believe; "... all dat stuff came from ya lil attic????" Well, anyways we organized da mess into piles: 1 by da road for the garbage guys to take away, 1 in da back of our SUV to carry to Goodwill, and 1 to be sorted through and replaced in the attic. Peggy donated lots of her material and sewing stuff to Ren's mom's Home Ec. Department. We are now putting the finishing touches on sorting through stuff, and when the attic cools off this evening we will put back all da keepers. For those fo yall wonderin das what we been up to the last 2 days.
While Cappy went to fetch himself something to drink, I've usurped the blog reigns. While Cappy was out on the boat, he had me make a long precise 'to do' list, in detailed outline form. "Put a Roman numeral I, then a small 'a', then under that a regular '1' ", and so on, and so on. Here at home I was running at full tilt trying to get things done in anticipation of his coming home, plus having to deal with the organization of plumber, electrician, cabinetmaker, floor tile guy, carpenter for the tin ceiling, granite countertop guy and seems like somebody else, but it all had to be choreographed timewise and a few of them were holding everything else's progress, much to my...uh...let's say 'dismay'. I'd get overwhelmed at times, but consoled myself with the thought that when Cappy got home, I'd be able to take a break and get a little rest out of the deal. His 'to do' list had a lot to do with Ren helping him clean out the shed, getting the boat ready to go fishing...going fishing...a lot of easy-going stuff, which sounded just fine with me. He said I could sleep in while he quietly worked on his 'honey-do' aka 'to do' list. Well, that sounded really good to me. This list then consumed his every thought and he had a lot of pent-up energy out there, waiting and chomping at the bit until he could get home and start working on it. Well, he 'hit the bank' in high gear, getting up early at 5:30 a.m. saying, "Time to get UP!" then bounced the bed, yelling, "Bouncy Bouncy!! Time to get up...we can always take a nap later!" ....whaaaa???? Well, we ran and ran, bought out Lowe's home store, plus other running around I can't remember. I was draggggging. Finally, Monday the cabinetmakers came to hammer and pound the morning away with electrical saws and screwdrivers and all kinds of loud 'men work'. I stayed in bed and blissfully slept, totally oblivious to all the commotion going on just outside my bedroom door...and the door was open the whole time.

Yesterday Cappy told me that he and Ren were going to bring down the boxes from the attic out to the patio where I could go through them at my leisure in the shade. HAH! I don't know what happened, but everything was strung out all along the driveway from the back where the shady patio is, to out by the road, for all the world to see, but worse...for all the neighbors to see. In the hot sun! Cars slowed down and I was aware of 'full frontal gawking'. Sonia hurridly came over to see what was wrong. I kind of giggled to myself thinking she probably thought we'd gotten into a big fight and one of us was getting tossed out on their butt. Naw, she took one look and knew what was afoot. As usual, she lent me moral support, "Just bite the bullet; it'll be ok"...I guess I looked kinda frazzled. Her words helped me as I began carrying, pushing, and dragging boxes under the shady patio roof. When the boxes first started coming down out of the attic, my attitude was one of ambivilance...what did that mean to me anyhow? This attic job hadn't even been on the 'to do' list. I serenely puttered around inside the house until Cappy said, "Now...you've got a lotta LOTTA work to do sorting out all these boxes, Pegody". WHAAAA???? Just GREAT.

Well, that was yesterday. This is today. The boxes are all sorted. The SUV is crammed full of stuff that's going 'somewhere', Ren drove home with his truck full of stuff, one of our Forum friends, Stephen came by and took a lot of stuff off our hands, the garbage truck arrived at 5:30 a.m. this morning (I heard them) and they drove off with their truck loaded down. It's wonder all of this fit in our tiny attic and that the interior roof hadn't collapsed. How had this happened? How had we accumulated so much stuff over the years? It doesn't matter. We now have a dozen or so neatly packaged boxes of important stuff in the attic, tomorrow the electrician comes and drags his stuff to the attic and he'd better be neat about it! >:-/


This Year's Gardening

I noticed that, unlike earlier years, we haven't posted anything about our garden yet. That may be in part, due to the fact that we planted very late, and so far aint had nuffin ta brag about. We were so busy with the holidays and company, and remodeling the house, that our garden sat unplanted 'til late April. On my last day home last hitch I managed to finally harvest all of the carrots and beets from the winter garden, and work the soil some before I left for work. Somewhere towards the end of the month, Peggy got some pearlite and plant food and re-worked and planted our lil square foot garden and herb patch. This year we planted yellow squash on one end, cucumbers on the other end and okra in the middle. Our little 4'x4' herb garden got peppers, parsley, horseradish, green onions, a salad patch and peggy's beloved oregano. Those of you who follow our post may notice the missing giant rosemary bush that threatened to take over our lil 4 foot garden. It now resides off in another corner of the yard with room to get as big and unruly as it wants. Since the soil was so warm by the time we planted, in a short few days the stuff was sprouting. Even the usually late okra can be seen sticking its little heads outa the middle of our garden. Today being May 18th the garden hasn't been planted a month yet and already is well on its way. the squash on the far end already have a couple flowerbuds, the cucumbers are beginning to reach for the netting, and the okra are beginning to reach for the sky. I am entertaining the thought of putting in some bush beans for ground cover as the okra get tall; we will see. The peppers are blooming in the herb garden and We will soon be eating salad from the patch of greens. The soil for the herb garden came from our compost pile and the garden seems to be sprouting a few "volunteers"; time will tell. We may be off to a late start but we have plenty good friends and neighbors and already are recieving bags of veggies from them. Yesterday Sam and Louise gave us a bag full of juicy cucumbers and one full of new red potatoes; both of which Peggy immediately used for her Yankee potato salad. If past years are any indication, our little garden will soon be doing its share of producing too. As always we will keep yall posted.:-)


The Little Red Light House

In the last post I told of the ole brick lighthouse in Buras, Louisiana, that got destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. So while in the lighthouse frame of mind, I thought I'd tell yall a survivor's story about the little Red lighthouse. The 125 foot "Southwest Reef Lighthouse" was completed in 1859. Made of iron and standing on screw-type pylons, it was designed to survive hurricanes and warn mariners of the dangerous reefs of the Atchafalaya Bay. It's red light operated for only 2 years 'til the Confederate Army disabled it by removing the light lens and windows from the lighthouse, making it dificult for the Yankees to navigate the bay. The Union troops recaptured the light equipment, and the lighthouse resumed operations in 1865 and worked non-stop until 1916, when dredging operations had removed the shoal and made the little red lighthouse unnecessary. It sat in the bay, forgotten, for around 70 years and endured many storms, until the town of Berwick brought it to their city park and restored it. There it sits today, a true survivor, with a happy ending, which is rare in the case of lighthouse stories.

The Buras Lighthouse

For years the little brick lighthouse at the entrance to the Buras boat harbor stood watch over the fishing/shrimping fleet moored there. In my travels I passed it many times, but the only picture I could find in my files of the lil red and white lighthouse is this one I took several years ago one foggy morning. I guess I fell guilty of complacency and kinda took the lil lighthouse for granted. That is, until Katrina. The town of Buras is a lil fishing/oilfield town on the west bank of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans. You probally never heard of it on acounta it wasn't deemed news worthy in comparison with New Orleans, when the Storm hit. The town of Buras was completely wiped out; folks left not just homeless but "townless". The devastation was complete and nothing was left undamaged. When I got down there a couple months after the storm (it took that long to clear the waterways of wreckage to allow River traffic.) I literally cried at the sight of the Buras boat harbor. The harbor looked like a child had emptied a bowlful of toy boats out onto the floor. Boats lay all askew and partially sunk in the shallow waters of the bay. The efforts for the protection of the harbor had been no match for Katrina's fury. There were boats scattered upside-down, on their sides, or in any manner of disarray all along the levee. The majority of boats lay sunken on the bottom of the bay, with either their tops, a few bows, etc. or even bottoms seen partially sticking out of the water. That started my tears flowing, but what made me sob aloud was the sight of what was left of the little Buras lighthouse, which was like seeing an old faithful friend, who had often helped me, and had saved many a life in it's existance. Now there was just a pile of bricks strewn along the point where is had rested for all those years, with no evidence of it's existance but a little red and white showing in the midst of the jumble to tell me that it was the tower. The reason you most likely hadn't heard about the destruction of Buras is because, simply put, most folks are unaware of the many little towns along the Gulf coast that were completely wiped from the land and became like a blank slate. The honest hard-working folks of these li'l fishing villages did what their families have been doing for generations: They picked themselves up, went back home and went to work quietly rebuilding. You didn't see the mayor of Buras 'begging and blaming' on national tv. Today, when ya pass the Buras boat harbor, a new lighthouse keeps watch over a lively fishing community. It is modern and sturdy, and air can pass through it so as to better stand the next "Big One". It lacks some of the charm of the old brick structure and aint got the ole lighthouse's class, but it's a new light for a new harbor of new boats, with new life and dreams, and fears. They are all back up and running, with hardly a sign of the horror that passed. But if ya look close and ya know fishermen, ya can tell that it was bad not too long ago. When I brought these pictures back to show Peggy she was moved by the last one and said it was kinda ironic with the lighthouse sitting next to the shipping containers which are from the "Posidon " shipping line.


Happy Mother's Day to all of you. I say this to everyone who has a nurturing spirit. There are people I know who have no children of their own, but who have given so much love to people whose mothers couldn't or wouldn't give them the love that they needed. In that way, I believe with my whole heart, that they have inspired or "birthed" people, who are today, what they'd never have become without that special love and caring. My daughter and Aunt Gussie come to mind right away. These two have 'parented' and 'nursed' many broken hearts and in that way, those they have nurtured have then become their loved ones, whom they couldn't love any more than if they were their own children. Women like this need to be honored today as well.
As for me, I'm sitting here in a chocolate stupor, smelling like a rose...several of them as a matter of fact. Most of you regular readers know my son, Dan by now. He's the (now) oldest. He and his family sent me these beautiful roses. I love the fact that they remembered to include some orange ones, which tie into my strange ORANGE hall :-) It's funny, but lately any time I introduce Dan to anyone, the person blurts out, "You look like your Mom!" At which point we both look at one another, Dan and I, kind of bemused and don't know what to think...or especially what to say about it. We kinda stammer "Oh...good...thank you". Nice lookin' kid, wouldn't cha say? ;-P

Thom is next in line. He lives in Alfred Station, NY, where I went to college. He always sends me my mostest favoritest honey-sweetened assorted chocolates. As you can see in the picture above, next to the roses, the poor, mangled box of chocolates; the "Ooops Guy" delivered them, but then I've been like a vulture pickin' at them for several days now...I just couldn't wait for Mother's Day. (sometimes I'm just like a little kid myself.)

Next in line is my only daughter, Jennifer, whom, since her brother, Dan, married a girl also named Jennifer, has let me go back to calling her by her knick-name, "Sookie". As I said earlier, although she has no children, she has 'mothered' many...even me. She spoils me. (She spoils her cats rotten, tho'...LOL)
Here's a picture of 'the baby', Joe with Cappy, taken last December. We all had a great time. Speaking of knick names, take another look at the Mother's Day card in the top picture. The frog one, with the yellow flower in it's mouth. Inside it says, "Motherhood...it's not for the squeamish! From you little 'Froggy', Love, Joe". (Also a gift card from Best Buy, cuz now he considers me a kinda/sorta geek, seein' as how I can get online...giggling here.) Joe's knick name was "Froggy" because when he was a baby, just learning to creep, his legs were behind him, and when he squatted down, he looked like a frog. The tradition lives on. Here's a picture of his daughter, Ashley, at Christmas time. She looks like she could just up and leap across the room. So cute. But as for Joe, looking like a little froggy didn't stop there; when he was about nine months old he could slowly crawl up to flies and pick them up. We watched him do it several times. This one particular time he crawled up to this fly who was stupid enough to just sit there and let him do it. Joe slowly reached out and picked him up, then...GAH! squished him in his fingers, but then he started to put it up to his mouth, at which time we all leaped out of our chairs, shreiking, which made the poor little 'froggy' about jump out of his skin. He's still my little "Froggy" today, who has his own little bunch of 'tad poles', who in the picture way at the top of the page again, with the roses, seem to be laughing at the froggy Mother's Day card. And the sweet ending to this post today is a picture Joe sent of his youngest little polliwog, Kaitlyn. And now my story has been toad.