Monthly Archives: January 2011

Thankful

Standard

I started a post about how I was thankful for a wonderful weekend at the Royal Falcon Baha’i School in Pensacola. And I am, so very thankful for the school itself, and hope to write more about it. I’m also thankful for being alive to give thanks. We had some car trouble on the way home yesterday.

We left New Orleans knowing that our car was not in peak condition, but with assurances from the mechanic that it would be okay until a replacement part came in this week. It sounded a little off on the way to Pensacola, but on the way back started sounding and feeling more and more unstable and unsafe, so we got off I-10 in Theodore, Alabama, right outside of Mobile. We had to do some mental (and I guess a little emotional) gymnastics to figure out the steps of dealing with the car and getting the five of us and all of our stuff back to New Orleans. Called our manufacturer’s roadside assistance, got our car towed from the truck stop to the Mobile dealer, called a taxi, ate at the Wendy’s at the truck stop while we were waiting, loaded all of us and our stuff into the taxi, rode the eight or so miles to the airport which had the only open Enterprise in the Mobile area, unloaded our stuff, rented a car, loaded our stuff, drove through the rain, drove past a ten-car accident, got home about four hours after intended.

Lucky parts:

  • We got off at the best possible exit – facilities for us to sit and, more importantly, not too far from the only open Enterprise on a Sunday afternoon. Had we driven any further, it would have been more of an ordeal.
  • Nice people all around. No one gave us a hard time about all our stuff piled into the Wendy’s. And one of the guys working at the truck stop offered that, if we were still waiting when he got off work, he’d drive us to the airport to rent a car. The taxi driver was friendly and explained how to get back from the airport to the interstate.
  • We’re still under warranty. For two more weeks. This includes paying for a rental car while we wait for our car to be repaired.
  • Our car was filled with risk-averse adults, who were in agreement that we should get off the highway. These same four adults have jobs, that make enough money to remove most of the monetary stresses associated with the decisions we made to get the car fixed and still get ourselves back home.
  • MrMan slept through most of the car ride. And through the night.
  • We all kept it together through what was a somewhat stressful afternoon.

Funny part: Our taxi driver jokingly said he could drive us to New Orleans, following that with the fact he does indeed sometimes drive train workers from Mobile to New Orleans, between train lines. While we were in the car with him, he got a call for such a fare. As we told him goodbye, we all wondered who would make it to New Orleans first. Two hours later, as we were in stop-and-go traffic, passing an extensive accident on the High Rise over the Industrial Canal (in New Orleans East), he drove past us in the next lane. We recognized his taxi, and had his phone number on my cell, so my mom called him. Just to say hi, and welcome to New Orleans.

Not-so-funny part: Turns out that some work done on our car last week wasn’t completed. In that, they didn’t tighten our lug nuts. I don’t know much about cars, but from what I know, the lug nuts are pretty useful for keeping our tires on. Since the car was making an increasingly louder noise, and started vibrating, I’m guessing the lug nuts were about to give up on their job. As we were traveling at a high speed. When I think about what could have happened….

Thankful.

Easy vegan risotto

Standard

I don’t know if it’s a side effect of MrMan getting older, but I’ve recently been revisiting some of the foods I made more of before he was born. They’re not always foods he loves, but he’ll usually eat enough to call dinner done.

Last night, I made a risotto. As I look in my archives, I see it’s not that different from something I made a lifetime (MrMan’s plus some) ago. But I was much more  haphazard in concocting last night, and it turned out pretty yummy. Forgive the lack of measurements; apparently that was reserved for life before children.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz (is that what one of those containers is?) of mushrooms, sliced
  • Tablespoon or so of olive oil
  • Small onion, chopped
  • Arborio rice
  • Broth – I used Better than Bouillon, mixed into water
  • Frozen kale, about 2/3 of (1 lb?) package
  • Pumpkin puree, about half a can
  • Walnuts

Steps:

  • Heat water in a large pot. It shouldn’t be to boiling, just hot.
  • Meantime, wash and slice mushrooms. Saute (but not technically, since no fat is involved – what do you call that?) in pan. We have one that we love – Sam calls it our paella pan – sort of like a big soup pot, with 2/3 of its height missing. Once mushrooms are browned and juicy, put aside in bowl.
  • While mushrooms are cooking, chop onion. After you’ve emptied the pan of mushrooms, add a bit of olive oil and then saute the onions.
  • Do whatever you’re going to do to turn the hot water into broth. Keep it hot on the stove.
  • Once onions are glistening, add arborio rice. Stir. Heat until all of the grains are coated and glistening. Add a few ladles of broth. Gently stir. Keep heat around medium-low, a gentle simmer.
  • Fold a few pieces of clothing from dryer.
  • Once broth is absorbed, stir in a few more ladles of broth. Add random herbs.
  • Alternate between clothes-folding and broth-adding (once last few ladles have been absorbed). Feel like a domestic goddess.
  • Defrost frozen kale in microwave.
  • Test rice for doneness – not too mushy, not too crunchy. Overall aim is creamy, but with individual grains. Stir in mushrooms and kale along with what you anticipate to be last batch of broth.
  • Mix in pumpkin puree.
  • Add walnuts, and pepper to taste.

Woooooohhh, it’s Carnival Time….!

Standard

I’ve been counting down the days until today: Epiphany! And, more importantly (to me): king cake! Yes, I saw the blasphemous king cake display in the store last week. And my mouth watered. But one of the special things about king cake is that you don’t eat it before Epiphany or after the city’s rule reverts back to the Mayor at midnight at the end of Mardi Gras.

As a New Orleans girl,  this is the start of one of my favorite times of year. And, God help me and my waistline, this year, the season is especially long – two months between now and Mardi Gras on March 8. I must pace myself or my pants will suffer.

Last year, I had what can only be described as a stroke of genius. I don’t know why it took me more than three decades to come up with this. Has everyone else been doing this, and just never told me about it?

Every year, I want to eat a multitude of king cakes. I’ve yet to come across one made for a family of five, much less a family of three. (I guess La Boulangerie’s french style one would be the exception.) So I either have to force myself to eat way more than my stomach needs (or even, to be honest, than my mouth wants), or it goes to waste. Or should that be waist?

But last year, I had my stroke of genius: king cake bread pudding! With each king cake, once we’d had our fill, I put the remainder in the freezer, with the plan to combine all the leftovers in the future. My first thought was to make it into bread pudding for Ayyam-i-Ha. But it didn’t quite seem to fit together in my mind. And I’m seeing this year that it’s a good thing it didn’t, since Mardi Gras is so late that Ayyam-i-Ha falls into carnival season. But then I realized that Easter would be a great time to have the bread pudding – not so far that the cake is freezer-burned, but not so close that you’re still full from the king cake. And being married to a Catholic, I’m always trying to make sure I honor his religion, in a way that I feel comfortable.

So, my friends, tuck away your leftover king cake (if you’re lucky enough to have such) and come Easter, combine the bits and pieces with the custard and bake. Since the king cake is so yummy and sweet and spiced, you don’t really have to add anything else.