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Everything posted by nola2chi

  1. For 9 yrs or so I worked for a Jeep dealer south of N.O. Every now and then we'd have a real horror show come in after someone had left 30 lbs. of shrimp in the back of a cherokee or grand. The smell would get into the evaporator and stink up the air system. Also had someone who's son was supposed to go bait the crab traps, he loaded his gear plus a large bin of fish heads then got distracted by a friend and went to do something else. Those fish heads rotted in that vehicle for 3 days in the hot sun. eeeeeeek. The auto supply stores sell a product called Fridg-a-Fresh, I may not be spelling that right, but the stuff is out there. Works when absolutely nothing else will. It's for getting the nasty mildew odor out of a/c systems in cars that have taken on water or other calamities that cause extreme stink. Good Luck!
  2. Sorry for going totally off topic here but...... The New Year offers some challenges. I've been making a vegan, strange application of a home staple for the cellebration. A very small cabbage roll, stuffed with black eyed peas and brown rice, etc.; for my northern friends to have on New Years Day. I just couldn't stand the idea that they may not have good luck and wealth in the new year due to my negligence. So some of them actually take it like a pill, to appease me. Well.....what can I say? It floats my boat, and probably does them no harm.
  3. What a surprise! I'm just figuring out how to use some of the features here and this is my first 'new topic notification'. Having been born in Mississippi, I was moved with my mother and her best friend, a black woman named Margarette, who I called Geet, then Geetsie, at the age of one to New Orleans. My mom was a single mother supporting 2 homes, one in Laurel where my grandmother and older sister lived and Geetsie and I in N.O. At first we lived with my aunt who had already relocated there. At the time I had no idea we were dirt poor. In my home my mother was the father figure, she worked hard to earn a living and take care of those she felt responsible for. Geetsie was my mother figure and I could not have loved or respected her more. The move to New Orleans was in 1957. By then my mom was one of the first three women in the country to hold a management position at an automobile dealership. Small package, huge content. Yep, a tough cookie. As a toddler I would ride the bus with Geetsie. The walk to the back of the bus was for me a very proud moment. After all, if that was the area reserved for Geet, it must be for royalty only. I'd stick my nose in the air and walk past all the less fortunate people to take my seat next to the woman I still consider to be one of the best people to have ever lived. Words simply cannot describe the warmth of heart or generosity of spirit this woman possessed and shared. Sometimes after work mom would take Geetsie and I for a beverage. They could not go inside together, so we went to a place with a window for service and sat in the big old round Buick in a shell parking lot, talking, telling stories and laughing a lot. Geet would go to the window and get beers for mom and herself and either a grape or orange soda for me. It is difficult for me now to imagine how difficult and stressful life must have been for them. They never shared that part with me. Chicago has been my home for the last 10 years. It's taken a long time to learn to find the ingredients that I took for granted in New Orleans. Head on shrimp and live blue crab are not on every corner. There is a favorite thrift store that I frequently check. I've picked up quite a few pieces of Le Creuset, never paying more than $12.50. And lots of great deals on Pyrex, Correlle, Corning Ware, wine glasses, etc. Oh, and fantastic cook books! Last Thursday I was checking out the book section and found a couple of great cook books. At the checkout instant panic kicked in. I'd been pick pocketed. I'm not careless. This was a team of pros. So, the police report and so on. I'd saved so much on previous purchases there that the $60-70 cash simply didn't matter. And yes, the replacement of I.D. and all the other stuff is a pain in the ass for sure. But what really sacked me was the fact that the wallet itself, an emerald green eel skin, had been given to me by my mother. She died 5 months before Katrina. The house where she'd made drapes, upholstered furniture, refinished furniture, hung wallpaper.......her friends said they always felt like they were walking into the pages of a magazine when visiting her, was on the market when the hurricane hit. She'd had the same gardner for 43 years. The yard was botanic garden. Digging the earth is a spiritual activity. After the storm all I could offer to assist loved ones was home. The landscape took a beating but the house was untouched. Not a broken window, not a drop of water. In that kitchen I'd watched Geetsie prepare many a meal. And I helped a lot too. We regularly had salmon croquettes. Mom always used a recipe, and she was an excellent cook. Geetsie never used a recipe, and was the one I learned the croquettes from, and I didn't even know it! So after the very unexpected trauma of the pick pocketing I was shocked at how much emotional effect it had on me. After all, it was nothing compared to what many face daily. But, I was seeking a way to get over it. The next day I went back to the thrift store with a defiant attitude that they could take my wallet, but I would give them no more than that. The things I enjoy doing must continue. Still I felt so hurt. I suppose loosing one more bit of my mother struck deep. This was a time I really needed comfort food. Friday night I took out a can of salmon and made Geetsie's croquettes. Panko updated the crushed cracker coating, but they were otherwise just the same as I remembered. I've not ever made them without Geet. It has been 40+ yrs. since I had them. For me, they aren't just comfort food, they were a cure. She always made them in a kind of football shape with three sides. The result was just as I recall from memory. Others that I served were quite impressed. My husband of 25 yrs. had never had them. He's cajun and works for a 'fine dining establishment'. He enjoyed them more than the $45 appetizers served at the restaurant. It is unusual for me to share some of these details, not sure why. The timing of the subject seemed to call for it. The experiences of my past provide me with a wonderful perspective. Food is love. Just when I needed it most, Geetsie hugged me with a croquette.
  4. Coming to Chicago from New Orleans 10yrs. ago I noticed a lot of adjustments I needed to make. Making fudge and divinity is a family thing from my mom to me. It's always been important to notice the weather, mainly humidity, making candy. For me the thermometers weren't as reliable as the drop in cold water method. My first batch of divinity here I believed to be a complete flop. After a day and a half it was perfect. Not grainy at all and beautiful presentation. Damn I'm glad I didn't throw it out! Even when I think I've done it all exactly the same way there are variable results. And sometimes the boo boos are better than the intended result.
  5. I don't get the corn syrup thing either, if you're ok with the cup of sugar then a half cup of corn syrup shouldn't be so frightening. I'd never try to substitute for it in say, divinity.......mmm.......divinity.....mmm Oh, pardon me! It was my intention to make a suggestion or 2 about the peanuts. Trader Joe's has a product they call 'blister peanuts'. They're roasted, no skin, and come salted or not. They have great snap and clean flavor. Something I often do to make boiled peanuts from raw peanuts in the shell is buy them from a feed store. Seems they put the better ones aside for the non-humans. (We have a large bird who is fond of his peanuts.) There is something in the fridge called gypsy bacon that is new to me and I may try it on the brittle and beat ya to it!!! It's all fun, and some is yum
  6. nola2chi

    Water Caltrops

    Wow!!! I have ONE in my kitchen right now and was hoping to find out something about them! When I got it I asked the lady ringing me up if it was animal, plant or mineral. She spoke english well enough to be amused but wasn't able to offer any preparation tips. So, should I do what I do to boil peanuts? How do you know if they are good ones? How do you um, open them? Often I'll nibble on unfamiliar produce to get an idea of what to do with it but really had no idea how go approach this one . Any info would be appreciated. eGullet is amazing!
  7. nola2chi

    I need your help.

    In Chicago there is a decidedly gimmicky place called Hot Dougs (hotdougs.com). He changes his specials daily. Being from New Orleans I am particularly fond of his alligator sausage dog. I check his daily specials for inspiration. And back home there was a guy who had shrimp tamales every Friday, ta die fa. Good Luck!
  8. Russel Stover dark chocolate covered rasberry creams!!!!! Now I can't wait for the easter bunny to stock the stores with those things.
  9. The TJ's here in Chicago, on N. Lincoln was a welcome opening for me as all others were a road trip. Anyone willing to pay the Whole Food prices probably won't be impressed. Though not very willing, I do shop at Whole Paycheck for certain things. Back to TJ's, I have a standing list that includes Triple Ginger Snaps, made with fresh, crystallized and ground ginger, w/ no trans fats. I've tried to keep them on hand for a cheat to thicken gravy but have never done so. Between the husband, kids, dog AND amazon parrot there are never any around even though I buy 3 boxes at a time. Other staples include nonparrel capers, dijon mustard, hot & sweet mustard, whole grain mustard, some spices, pastas, extra dry sherry, unsalted blister peanuts (great snap), Snapea Crisps, a couple of their hot sauces, La Boca and Yellow Tail wines (very cheap but good), juices (the just cranberry is a fraction of the price at other markets), olive oils, vinegars (the white balsamic is great), cracked green olives, sometimes some good cheeses, blue, fontina, ex sh cheddar, mozz, occasionally pizza dough (.99/lb. cheap cheat for quick), anchovies, peanut and cashew butters, tahini, and dare I admit? canned artichoke hearts. (I thought their frozen ones were awful.) They HAD a really good jarred pasta sauce, Arribiata, no longer carried. You can never be sure when you should stock up on an item. In agreement with many, there hasn't been anything in produce to attract me, or frozen either. Frugal is important, with 10 people in the house I shudder to think what the increase in grocery expense would be if I had to buy all these things at WF, or other chain. But if the quality was not there I would not be either.
  10. nola2chi

    Beans & Grains

    It may be one of those, "I was raised on..." things, but I just couldn't get along without Camellia Brand peas and beans. They come in a snug bag that keeps them from getting pounded to a powder in handling. I've never found any other that has such lovely product with very little to sort out, often nothing. When I'm back in N.O. I get them at Zuppardo's on Vets and Transcontinental in Metairie. Haven't been back post-K, but have had wonderful results ordering from source for beans, The Cajun Connection. They are in Pearl River, La. Ph: 504-914-8371. They also carry lots of desirable stuff like crab boil, Crystal hot sauce, and many other's on the wish lists of those of us who know what it means....... Hope this helps.
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