Category Archives: cooking

New Orleans Rises

Actually, New Orleans is still about the same height it always was from everything I remember, but downtown and the French Quarter never did flood, even during the worst of Katrina. Anyway, just got back from a few days there where I had a great time, but pretty much walked my legs right off. Yep, that’s right, I’m walking around on nubs now.

They had Katrina tours you could take, right from the hotel where we stayed, downtown, across the street from Harrah’s. I didn’t take one because I sorta felt like it was battening on somebody else’s misery. Maybe it’s not, but I felt that way. And after the four hours of walking we did on Saturday, I was afraid any tour might involve more of that, and I wanted to know exactly how much walking I was going to do and where I was going.

The St. Charles Street streetcar is back in operation, but it only goes out to Napoleon Street, about half as far as its normal route. I didn’t think the Garden District was under water, which is mostly past Napoleon, but maybe it did get wet. The route out to Napoleon Street had just recently reopened, but Copeland’s, a restaurant on that corner we really liked, was all boarded up and didn’t look like anybody had any intentions of re-opening it. We did ride the streetcar, if you couldn’t tell. Didn’t take my camera out that day, though, and when I did, the streetcars were rather elusive.

The hotel where we stayed was maybe half a mile from the French Quarter. It took us about ten minutes to walk down to the Cafe du Monde on Sunday morning. There was a line waiting to get in at the Cafe du Monde, however, and no line at the little Cafe Beignet across the street, so we–the fella, me and one of his co-workers–crossed the street and had our beignets and coffee there. Except I was the only one who had beignets (the fella being allergic to wheat), and I had milk with mine. The pregnant lady had decaf caffe latte, and the fella had ham and eggs. Which you can’t get at Cafe du Monde, so really, the alternate was a better choice for us.

I had beignets every morning we were in New Orleans. Frankly, I pigged out the whole time we were there, though pigging out on fish isn’t quite as piggy as pigging out on…well, pigs. Or cows. The hotel backed up to the riverfront mall, and there was a little Cafe du Monde branch office on the first floor of the mall, that opened up an hour before the rest of the mall did. So Monday and Tuesday, I walked over to the mall and had my beignets there. Sat outside and watched the river. (That was the view–the cruise ship wasn’t always there leaving port, but that’s the bridge over to Algiers…)

The rest of this might as well be a list of what I ate too. Saturday night, we took the college folks to dinner at Carmelo’s–corner of Toulouse and Decatur, a couple of blocks from Jackson Square. Italian-style fish. The fella and I shared some calamari (the kind with squiggles included), then had redfish with a fresh tomato-caper sauce, and I had my very first cannelloni, believe it or not. Deelish.

Sunday night, we had dinner with an old friend from the fella’s doctoral class who’s a bigwig in Kentucky now. Went to Ralph and Kakoo’s on Toulouse Street, and–after some fried crawdad tails (aka Cajun popcorn) (our friend got his first taste of crawfish) I dined upon the Shrimp Henry, which the Chef Henry apparently made up that night. It was grilled shrimp stuffed with cheesy spinach stuffing over angel hair pasta with Rockefeller sauce on top. Very yummy.

Then Monday night, we went out with the college folks again, to a place called Tommy’s in the warehouse district. On Tchoupitoulas (I may have left a few vowels out of that streetname, or moved them around in the wrong places, but that looks really close…) Street. Tommy’s had Italian overtones, but wasn’t too, too Italian. At Tommy’s, I had a Caesar salad, then had Veal Sorrentina, with eggplant and cheese and Marsala mushroom sauce on top. (I can get fish & shrimp here, but veal is harder to come by.) It came with these really neat matchstick sweet potatoes cooked almost dry–really good, and different. Then the pregnant lady and I each had creme brulee and the other lady in the group had strawberries with homemade ice cream.

This doesn’t count the fudge I bought that I snacked on way too much. They had it in New Orleans praline flavor, and it tastes JUST like pralines. I told the fella that the chocolate fudge was for me and the praline was for him…but I’m eating too much of the praline flavor too. There are a couple of candy shops downtown here…good thing I don’t go downtown too often, huh?

I did finish my Christmas shopping…”best of the best” Louisiana cookbooks and specialty measuring spoons. And I wandered the French Quarter and took lots of pictures at the perfect time of day to get some good shadows and shots.

I also got a little writing done. Not much, but a few pages. Still working on the SF story, though I need to switch to the WWII story long enough to get my pages done for the month. Don’t know if the brain is working that way though. I’m writing stuff, but may have to slash the whole of it. Oh well.

Have one more week before the daughter, s-i-l and grandboy come for the holidays. She’s supposed to be bringing the tamale recipe. Need to buy a pork roast to cook for the filling…or maybe brisket. Brisket makes good tamales too… but you GOT to have tamales for Christmas Eve, or it’s just not Christmas…

Cold front supposed to be moving in today. It’s been hot. Hot in New Orleans (okay, it was mostly just humid, but that made ME hot) and hot at home. I’m ready for that cold front to get here.

Not Goofing Off

At least, not entirely. I didn’t make it in last week to blog–partly because my internet service was down for two days (no clue why, just couldn’t get anything) which threw everything off, and partly because I was working hard to get some pages written, which kinda distracted me from–well, pretty much everything. I didn’t even get out to the beach but twice. (There was lightning on Monday, so I didn’t go out.) (Here’s a picture of the beach where I usually walk, looking past one of the jetties toward the fishing pier–the blurry spots are due to water spots on the lens–sigh.)

I did get a pretty good set of pages written, though I didn’t make 30 because I blew it off on Friday. The boy and his dog and his girlfriend were coming down for a visit and I wanted to finish the cleaning I usually do in the afternoons after I write. Since our visitors were arriving around noon, I wanted to have a clean bathroom before they got here. (I generally clean only when I can’t stand it any more (and I have a much higher tolerance for dirt/clutter than the fella) or when company’s expected.)

They arrived, we got my car out of the gate, locked the dog in the yard, and went out for shrimp po’boys, and then to buy the boy shoes and sandals. He’d worn out/ripped apart the old ones (the dog did not eat them–I saw them. No tooth marks). Then we came home and ate boiled shrimp (I got unsorted medium to large ones right off the boat–they’d had enough time to de-head them (I hate de-heading shrimp–I always get stabbed) and sort out all the little gumbo-sized shrimps, but not sort the great big ones from the not-so-big ones, so I got some really huge shrimp in my mix for a good price.) and learned that the girlfriend had never in her life peeled a shrimp. This was shocking, because she lives not too very far from us, and the good seafood is very available… So we taught her how to peel the suckers. They were very good. And I made my mushroom/onion/parmesan risotto casserole (you don’t have to stand over the stove stirring, but stick it in the oven to bake) to go with, and it was wonderful. :) (The picture is of the house from the yard–which is actually on the side of the house–so you can get an idea of how big the yard is. And my big fabulous deck.) We had ice cream on the deck, and didn’t get too many mosquitos.

I have some more pictures of my island I was going to share, but I have to go iron my shirt and put on makeup, so I’ll go ahead and post this. I’ll try to get back in the next day or so and put up those other pictures. :)

The Books Are Arriving

Commenters have commented here that they have received their books. (Thank you very much. It was good to know folks are getting them.)

I have now received my copies. Yes, they are beautiful. I might even read it. I read my very first two books when I got them. (They were short.) I read Compass Rose. I only got about halfway through Barbed Rose. So–given how many times I read Eternal Rose through the revision and re-revision and paring-down-to-size process, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get all the way through it. I might go back and re-read Barbed Rose again.

I have found that when I create characters and a story that I like, I still like them when I go back and look at them again, even if it’s just a fragment I came up with ages ago that has no business even thinking about publication. I usually pick apart the prose when I read back over the story, but I still like the characters and the story. Or at least the intent of the story. What I wanted the story to be…I might realize how the story ought to be better told.

This is kind of what I’m doing now with Thunder. I came up with the idea so, so long ago–but I still like the idea and the characters and the story. I just know more about story-telling now, so maybe I can do them all justice. I hope. I’ve done more research, and I’m having a little trouble reconciling the emotional numbing symptoms of a PTSD sufferer with my character’s need to locate her family…but an overprotectiveness of loved ones is also a symptom, so maybe I can balance it that way. There’s apparently a wide variation in behavior–and given that my character is not so very “post,” I think I can make it work. It’s some of the hardest writing I’ve ever done, though.

Oh, there’s a nice review of The Eternal Rose if you’re interested, and in response to the comment about the bit that left the reviewer scratching her head, let me just say: It’s a fantasy. And leave it at that. :)

Nice slow week this week. Not much experimenting in the kitchen (I made Mediterranean Salmon with white beans last week…pretty good, even if salmon isn’t a Mediterranean fish–is it?). The steaks were awesome though, and we had leftovers. Then I found some sweet corn in the fridge to have with the leftovers, so they were awesome twice.

No beach visits so far this week–my walks have been around the neighborhood–and I’m going to have to get up earlier and get out the door earlier to beat the heat. But if nothing else gets planned–and if it doesn’t rain–I think I want to at least go to the beach to swim for my birthday Saturday. (Dang, but I’m getting old.)

They did call me to interview for the part-time job I applied for, but that’s two weeks away. I think it will be an interesting job, and still leave me time to write. Which I need to get busy and do. I need to earn my charm for September. August turned out to be just impossible. I’m probably 6 pages up right now, but that leaves me with 18 to go. I’m having to do as much thinking and researching as writing though… Have a research book I need to go buy.
Better run…

Good food and good books

Because the fella is on this gluten-free diet, I get all excited when I find new stuff that he can eat that’s really good. I have probably a year’s worth of Southern Living magazines in the house–I read them, and then set them aside to go back through later and pull the good stuff out–and sometimes (most of the time) it takes me a while to go back through. I think this particular magazine was around a year old. Don’t think it was more. (I hope.) Anyway, the recipe was sort of Italian-Southern-Southwestern, because it was browned polenta slices topped with black-eyed peas heavily laced with fresh cilantro and tomato. Basically, you slice up one of those pre-packaged tubes of polenta, brown it in olive oil (they call for a non-stick skillet and cooking spray, but since I don’t have a non-stick skillet…). Then you cook a can of black-eyed peas and chopped onion, and a little salt and cayenne, till the liquid’s almost gone, add in some cilantro and tomato and top the polenta slices with it. Very simple. Very good stuff. I don’t know that anyone but a Southerner would have thought to put black-eyed peas with polenta–but hey, fried polenta is just a fancy name for a round, flat hushpuppy! Maybe it’s Texas cuisine, since it’s peas plus cilantro and tomato, which has a lot in common with “Texas caviar.” Anyway–good stuff.

I’ve been reading some good books lately too. Picked up DARK MOON DEFENDER by Sharon Shinn. I liked it better than THIRTEENTH HOUSE–which I liked, just not as much as DMD. This one takes place in the same universe, and is Justin’s story, about how he comes into his own, and falls in love. There are TWO happy endings in this story. Very good read, IMO.

I need to make maps for Eternal Rose. I have paper and everything, just haven’t done it yet. Going to Galveston and the beach for a day or two beginning tomorrow…don’t know as I’ll take the paper with me. I wonder if I need to use the legal-sized paper for the maps… I’ll ask. Also need to write a short bio. I hate writing bios. I want to sound cute and clever, and just can’t seem to do it. At least I don’t sound clever to myself. Maybe it sounds better to other people. I’d post two bios here and let y’all vote on which one sounds best–but that would require that I WRITE two bios. I don’t even want to write one. But I will do it! I am brave.

Okay–have to share this with you. When the boy was still at home and studying WWI history, they were doing some kind of project looking up the early efforts at propaganda, and he stumbled across a cache of French WWI war posters online, the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” sort. One of these posters showed a chicken sitting atop a pile of eggs and said in large print: “Je suis une brave poule de guerre!” Which translated means: “I am a brave war chicken!”

And now, every time I think “I am brave,” I also think “I am a brave war chicken!” Je suis une brave poule de guerre!

So there. :)

Quick Monday Post

Running in quick while dinner is cooking (probably ought to go start the rice in a minute) to get something up here. It’s been a…well, a sorta busy week. I did a lot of sitting around and reading. I re-read a lot of stuff. Re-read Eileen Wilks’ Blood Lines, re-read the 2nd and 3rd “Kitty” books, Kitty Goes To Washington and Kitty Takes a Holiday. I like them better than the 1st book, though I like it okay. But I also had a lot to keep me busy.

Sunday, we had folks over for Sunday dinner, and I cooked on Saturday. Cooked WAY too much roast beef spaghetti…but that’s okay, because it freezes real nice. I need to tear up the last roast and stick it in the freezer. Jan left a pie for us to eat. Fortunately, it’s a kind that the fella can eat, if he doesn’t eat the crust.

Oh, and I tried a new recipe that anyone who likes Southwestern cuisine ought to like. It’s polenta topped with black-eyed peas flavored with cilantro and tomato. I really liked it, and it was easy to make, since I bought packaged polenta. (Had to buy it in “the big city” but it was available there.) Kinda hushpuppy/tamale-ish, and since I like both hushpuppies and tamales, I liked the polenta.

There’s a college music department concert tomorrow night. The community choir got invited to sing along, so I’ve been going to the noon choir rehearsals, and tonight is the dress rehearsal (though we don’t have to dress, just show up and work out all the glitches). There are some fun songs. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge. Wish us luck. It should actually be a good concert. It’s sounding good in practice.

And today I printed out the 1st 3 chapters of New Blood to start revising tomorrow. I won’t be going to town tomorrow, so I ought to be able to get quite a bit done. I hope. I have my notes. Just need to keep hold of all the threads.