Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

Posted on 11/22/2010. Filed under: Life |

I’m blogging at work!  Woo, I’m bending the rules!  Suck it, Big Brother.  Anyway, so yeah I’m sorry y’all, once again, for not posting.  Shit’s been crazy.  Mom came down with a nasty batch of spinal stenosis which landed her in the hospital for four days in October, then returned two weeks later with a blood clot in her left leg.  I haven’t had much of a chance to do any exciting, daring cooking lately because it’s just been A MAD HOUSE!  (I can’t help but think of Charlton Heston every time I say “It’s a MAD HOUSE!” Rest in peace, Chuck.)

So this summer was exciting.  We had a fantastic time in New Orleans and got to know some church peeps really well and we had a blast. We laughed a lot and sweated more. Seriously if you have never been to the Deep South in July, I don’t recommend it.  It’s like breathing warm bath water, and you begin to sweat simply walking from inside out to the car.  I grew up in the Deep South, but I’d gotten so used to being in Virginia that my body acclimated to Mid-Atlantic weather.  I planned meals very well for everyone, cooked as much as I ever had in my life (time at Whole Foods included), and received the best compliments on my cooking.  The first night, as a teenager was shoving mouthfuls of Chocolate Stuff in, he mumbled, “Dude, you need to open a restaurant.”  Thanks, kiddo! 

My sous chefs (Mom and a lovely woman named Lola who we made laugh so hard I wouldn’t be surprised if she peed her pants) and I fell into a routine of waking at 6 am and starting breakfasts of scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, cut fruit.  We’d pack lunches at night, which were sandwiches with meat (turkey or roast beef) and cheese, mini Gladware thingies of pasta or potato salad, more fruit.  The key was to keep everyone hydrated while they built houses for Katrina victims.  Once everyone had left for the day, the ladies and I would sit down and plan the grocery list for the day and what time to start cooking and who was doing what.  The kind people at the Slidell Wal-Mart got to know us very well by Day 2.  But it was the dinners that were the main attractions.  The first dinner I made was blackened burgers (seasoned with Magic Red Fish seasoning) that I’d stuffed half with a mild blue cheese and half without (because blue cheese is definitely either a love it or hate it food), grilled veggies, a Mediterranean pasta salad (rotini pasta, sliced black olives, chopped up artichokes, feta cheese, chopped fresh spinach, dill, S&P, and a simple red wine vinaigrette), more fruit and chips. 

The second night was The Gumbo Throwdown.  One of the guys on the trip’s best friend lives in New Orleans and the friend said he’d make us a pot of gumbo.  The gentleman arrived with another friend, Jerome, who is a former linebacker for LSU (which I overlooked because I love a large man that brings me food).  Jerome came in carrying his 78-year-old daddy’s gumbo. Y’all, this man is a native.  I took one whiff of this gumbo, threw my hands in the air and said, “I concede!” Oh mah Gawd it was HEAVEN.  The crab was still in its shelled legs, the chicken wings still on the bone, other unknown but tasty meats and simply wonderful.  Jerome also brought us his daddy’s potato salad which was deeee-vine.  It was like a deviled egg stuffing with potatoes and cayenne and green bell peppers.  Even now, in November, I’m still trying to figure out what was in that delicious potato salad. And bread! They brought us a beautiful loaf of crusty French bread from a local bakery, which Jerome told me to slice and toast slightly in the oven.  After dinner, I followed the men out to the truck for a beer and a Thank You.  I could have kissed Jerome for all the wonderful food, despite his football allegiances.

The third night was our day off exploring New Orleans.  I dearly love this city.  The sights, the smells, the food, the culture, the people, the music, everything.  I bought pralines galore, local art, gifts for friends.  Mom and I went off on our own and got blindingly drunk off of Hand Grenades (a frozen melon drink that will knock you off your ass in a flash) and Hurricanes (from Pat O’Briens, naturally).  Since we hadn’t heard from anyone much during the day, we had dinner at Margaritaville.  The crawfish etouffee was delicious, hot and tasty with plump, fresh crawfish tails.  Really, not bad for what is considered a chain restaurant (although I think they only serve the etouffee at their New Orleans location). 

The fourth night was my crowning glory, the meal that is still talked about.  Jambalaya.  It was the same recipe I’d posted here a while back, and everyone raved about it.  There’s talk of mission trip fundraisers being held by selling MY Jambalaya.  I’ll never forget going to the seafood store to get shrimp, either.  Of course, the damn oil spill this summer in the Gulf was still happening while we were there (and was plugged while we were there too, a joke that our church started: “We send our group to rebuild Katrina houses and they stopped the oil leak!”), and merchants were driving up prices of seafood.  So I go into Kenney Seafood and I ask the man for four pounds of shrimp (beheaded, please).  “That’s gonna be pricey. It’ll be $26.”  For FOUR POUNDS?!  THAT’S ALL??!  Four pounds of these big-ass shrimp would have cost me at least $50 in Virginia, so I was happy as a clam (or shrimp?). 

The best part of the trip was knowing that I managed to feed 16 people for a total of 12 meals (and buying cases and cases and cases of bottled water) for $1300 UNDER my food budget.  Now that is some damn fine planning!  AND I made almost all of them gain weight with my cooking.  I have since been named the official cook for all mission trips for my church. 

Then came August…nothing much happened there except I got another job.  I worked for a national wireless company’s call center, and I hated it.  It was a constant argument with customers and it was never ending, like the post office.  I knew before going to New Orleans that I’d have a difficult time with work when I got back, so I started applying for jobs before I left.  I had a phone interview with another company (not a wireless company, but a call center job nonetheless), and when I returned I got the job.  I went into the Hell Job on what I knew was my last day, sent an email to my boss and my boss’s boss saying I was resigning effective immediately and left.  They’re lucky I didn’t pull a Scarface on them.  I began the new job and I really like it.  The customers are infinitely nicer and I like my boss a hell of a lot more.

Labor Day weekend arrived, and with it, our annual Jimmy Buffett concert.  My best friend in the world came up for the concert and brought my boyfriend John with him.  We had a great time tailgating and breaking the men’s Buffett show virginities.  During the concert, John and I were talking about our relationship during “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (And Screw),” and he proposed.  I agreed to marry him as Jimmy Buffett serenaded us with “Honey, why don’t we get drunk and screeeeewwww? I just bought a waterbed, it’s filled up for me and yooooouuuuu!”  We’re thinking of April 2012 for our wedding.

Things calmed down for a while and then came October with Mom’s back issues.  John was spinning his wheels in Florida and I was having a hard time taking care of Mom, the house, the cat and going to work, so I asked him to move up to Virginia now, rather than what we originally planned of him moving up in May.  It’s been an adjustment, and he got here November 3, right after I turned 29 for the third time.

Well, that’s about it.  We’re preparing for Thanksgiving, and we’ll be preparing dishes we’ve made before (Cajun-fried turkey, candied yams, green bean casserole), and some I haven’t made before (Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake and Butterfinger Cake for Dan’s birthday).  Schmoopie and his boyfriend are driving up from Florida, so Mom and I will have a house of men at our table.  I will be sure to let y’all know how the desserts turn out, since once again, I am not a baker.  Fortunately the Butterfinger Cake is a Paula Deen recipe that involves a boxed cake mix (thank GOD), so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Bon appétit, y’all!

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