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eG Foodblog: PopsicleToze (2011) - Honeysuckles and Huckleberries... F


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First of all, I am very excited to be blogging – a little nervous, but excited. I have a lot of things planned, but I am sure I won't get to all of them. Most of all, I hope to have a lot of fun blogging this week and introducing you to some of the food that is not the typical things people hear about – which is all about the Creole food from New Orleans and Cajun food from southwest Louisiana. There's more... there's good old country food that most of us grew up eating.

How did I come up with the name of Honeysuckles and Huckleberries? It's the name of a cookbook I put together for our family. What the name means to me is country living and home. Growing up I remember Mama loved the sweet, sensational smell of honeysuckles. It was her favorite flower. They grew wild on the fences around our property. They were always pretty and fragrant, and I would pull the stem from them until it came out of the bottom of the flower all for one drop of juice, which tasted out of this world. One of my dreams then was to have one whole glass of honeysuckle juice! :rolleyes:

We also had a pond that had turtles, fish, snakes and everything else that intrigues children. There were also wild blackberry bushes. In the summertime, we would take our buckets and pick blackberries all afternoon. We were told not to eat the berries until they were washed, and our blackberry-stained tongues would tell Mom, “No, ma'am. We didn't eat any.” :raz: After a little lecture, and after the berries were washed, we would smash the berries in a bowl and add cream and sugar and eat them with a spoon. Then, she would make us a blackberry cobbler for dessert that night! So... blackberries aren't huckleberries, but they're close enough, and they remind me of Huckleberry Finn and little boys having adventures growing up on the Mississippi River.

Brett, my brother, had his own adventures growing up in the country. He hunted, fished, skipped school to go horseback riding all day, etc. Whenever he would catch a fish, he would excitedly run into the house and say, "Cook this for me, Mama!"

brett fishing 1978.jpg

It was a wonderful place to grow up, and while we were a family of very modest means, we always ate well – just like most of the people around here.

What I hope to do in this blog is introduce you to a little bit of Louisiana country living. There will be a few field trips to some interesting places. Food will be cooked, of course, but I am going to do my best to stay away from the standard fare that everyone hears so much about (except jambalaya – there will be jambalaya) and cook old time country favorites, and by the end of this week I would hope that you would feel like a welcome guest in our home.

uncle jessee and tommy ray cooking jambalaya.png

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Let me show you where home is located. Here is a regional map of Louisiana. It was published in the Official Louisiana Tour Guide 2010, and I am displaying it here with express permission from the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association (LTPA). People are so very helpful here. I just called the Dept of Tourism and told them what I wanted and why I wanted it. The lady said, “We produced that guide with the LTPA; let me give you their phone number.” Within 10 minutes, the map was in my in-box!

Oh – one more thing – when Natalie, the sweet lady at LTPA who helped us, heard why I wanted the map, she asked me if I was familiar with www.LouisianaCulinaryTravels.com. (Nope.) It's a fairly new site dedicated to the promotion of Louisiana restaurants with videos of people visiting them. She said she thought it may be of interest to our group and asked me if I would mention it in my blog. (Yep!)

LOUMap.jpg

Legend

Green - Sportsman's Paradise

Blue - Crossroads

Red - Cajun Country

Yellow - Plantation Country

Purple - Greater New Orleans

Look at the bottom right and you will see New Orleans. Look up – that's the Northshore area. Many people live on the Northshore and commute to New Orleans daily. Now, look to the left of the Northshore, and you will see I-12. I live in Livingston Parish – Walker, to be exact, and we are halfway between Hammond and the capital city of Baton Rouge. (A parish here is the equivalent of a county in other states.)

But, now look at this map of the Louisiana Purchase (used with permission from the Louisiana Dept of Tourism):

louisiana purchase map, territory of louisiana 1762-1800.jpg

Louisiana Purchase Map, Territory of Louisiana 1762-1800

Look down around New Orleans and see the Northshore and surrounding area. We're not even in the Louisiana Purchase! :shock: That's because we are part of what are known as the Florida Parishes, i.e., West Feliciana Parish along with East Feliciana, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena, St. Tammany and Washington parishes. It's land that is located between the Pearl and Mississippi rivers and above Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain. We are definitely part of Louisiana today, but we were originally Spanish Florida, and we are STILL referred to as the Florida Parishes to this day. Louisiana has a loooong memory! :laugh:

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Scraaaape (sound of chair being pulled up). Hi, Rhonda. I'm looking forward to this.

PopsicleToze - isn't that the secret, little-known sugar present in popsicles ? Like maltose or dextrose. PopsicleToze. Nothing to do with body parts, which are spelled differently, anyhow.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Scraaaape (sound of chair being pulled up). Hi, Rhonda. I'm looking forward to this.

PopsicleToze - isn't that the secret, little-known sugar present in popsicles ? Like maltose or dextrose. PopsicleToze. Nothing to do with body parts, which are spelled differently, anyhow.

Thank you, Blether! :biggrin:

Edited by PopsicleToze (log)
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Looking forward to a great week. Thank you for the maps and explanations. That is a serious pot of food on the outdoor cooking rig above. Eager to learn what foods you cook outdoors and in what kinds of set ups.

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All right, you two, scoot over. I'm in, too.

Looking forward to it, Rhonda. Living just a couple of hours north of the Louisiana line, I'm some kind of fond of Cajun/Creole cookery. Been through Hammond a time or two, best I recall; I'll wave next time I'm headed to the Big Easy!

Oh. And can we have crawfish pies? Please?

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Okay. So, now we're ready for the first field trip. My father has alzheimers, and while that's not a great thing to have, the way I look at it is that he has been such a great father and, no matter what the circumstances, we are fortunate to have him with us. Being a fulltime caretaker, however, (Mom) has it difficult. I try to stay with him as much as possible, but what gives her the most relaxation is when I take him places. Sounds easy, right! You would be sooooo wrong! :laugh: He doesn't want to go anywhere, and that is typical with his particular illness.

Okay, he doesn't want to go anywhere, and Mom wants to be in her house *alone* just for a little while... so, I started taking Daddy on field trips. Sometimes trickery is involved (but it is for a higher purpose). The first field trip we took, I asked him if he wanted some boudin. (Check!) Then, after about a half hour on the road, he asked me, "Where exactly are we going?"

In my most innocent voice ever, "Daddy, you always taught me that if we wanted Cajun food that we had to go to Cajun Country. We're going to Lafayette. Isn't that where we can get the best boudin?"

Well, he looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but he said, "Yeah. That's where we need to go." :wink:

My goal on these trips is to keep him out of the house for about 4 hours. Then, when we come home, he naps, so that's another couple of hours. Once we're out of the house, Daddy enjoys it. At first, it's tough conversation, but I keep asking him questions about the past and growing up, and he relaxes and begins to enjoy the trip.

So, here is last week's field trip! I have 3 things on the to do list:

1) Spend time with Daddy;

2) Mom wants strawberries; and

3) I want turtle meat to make you turtle soup! (Don't wince -- it's delicious!)

First up -- G&J's Drive In. We're headed east, and this place is on the way. Daddy loves shakes, and this place does a great job with thim. Just think Richie Cunningham days! If you eat here and close your eyes, you might just catch Fonzie walking by and slapping the juke box! It really is a wonderful place. You can order outside by the window or inside.

GJs Drive Inn.JPG

Outdoor.JPG

Lunch Menu.JPG

G&J's has been a staple in the community for 48 years! When we were growing up, and when Walker played Doyle in high school football, we would ride the team bus to Livingston for the game. Then, after the game, the whole school bus dropped by this place for hamburgers before we went home. It brings back wonderful memories, and the food there is good there, too!

Today, we want a shake. Daddy asked for a strawberry shake. When I ordered it, the lady behind the counter asked me if I wanted it with a strawberry sweetener or with real strawberries. You know I ordered the real strawberries, and here it is. It was soooooo good. They even have 2 size straws there -- one for drinks and the other one has a larger circumference and is for shakes because they are so thick. It was really good.

Strawberry Shake.JPG

Then, while I'm waiting for the shake I start talking to the nicest woman anyone would ever want to meet. Her name is Paula. The lady beside me learns of our blog, and she says, "You should mention in your blog that Paula is the nicest person anyone could ever meet, and she is one of the reasons why people enjoy coming here."

Paula.JPG

Paula is that nice! We start a conversation, and she tells me that she has been working at G&Js since she was 14 -- she even married the owners' son. Years later, after a divorce, her former brother in law called her and asked her to come back to manage the day shift, which she did. I have to tell you -- she is great. If I owned the place, I'd ask her back, too! :biggrin:

She tells me that they make all of their food fresh daily -- from roasting the beef to making the gravy for roast beef po-boys, they do it all from scratch. I tell her that I remember the homemade onion rings and ask if they still make them from scratch. Yes, they do! So, you know I had to order them...

Onion Rings.JPG

They're great! And this entire place is great! I recommend it highly if you are ever travelling the highways of our great state. And if you do drop by, please tell Miss Paula I said hello! She will take you in and treat you like family. Order the hamburger and be sure to get some onion rings with that. Put some coins in the juke box, and you never know, Fonzie just may stop by! THUMBS UP AND BIG GRIN HERE! :cool:

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I could do a meal with the fresh berry shake and those rings. They are battered versus breaded? Looking forward to the trip. Sounds like you are handling your Dad's illness in a loving and thoughtful way.

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*edging in between Blether, Shelby, robirdstx and KayB*....

WOW ! This is going to be a GREAT week, Rhonda. I am so looking forward to this. Now we'll see how a *pro* does Louisianna food, not some wanna be California Girl. :wink::cool:

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Looking forward to a great week. Thank you for the maps and explanations. That is a serious pot of food on the outdoor cooking rig above. Eager to learn what foods you cook outdoors and in what kinds of set ups.

Thanks! What is cooking in the big black is jambalaya, but we cook lots of things outdoors. Usually the men do the cooking outside, well, they think they're doing it all, but when things are cooked outdoors, it's usually just the main dish. The women still do all of the sides and the dessert, and we still do the dishes. (Yeah, I know. :rolleyes: There is still a double standard around these parts, but I wouldn't have it any other way!)

Other than jambalaya, there are outdoor fish frys; there are crawfish/crab/shrimp boils, barbecues, and sometimes a whole pig is roasted outdoors! It's called a cochon de lait, but it's not really that. A cochon de lait traditionally is a cooked suckling pig. These days, an outdoor pig roast is called a cochon de lait. They're either cooked over a pit, or, and more traditionally, you dig a hole in the yard and cook the pig in it. :raz:

Rhonda

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I'm excited! I want outdoor cooking, horseback riding and other assorted fresh air adventures! Do you ever go camping?

I wish I could say yeah, and I have been camping, but I'm just not that kindof girl! :laugh: I would like to be, and I used to try, but it doesn't work for me. Now, I have been camping, and I have been on a trail ride with horses. Lots of people get together to ride horses ALL DAY -- and then they camp out and cook by a fire at night. Sounds fun, right? Well, it would be fun IF I liked riding horses.

We always had horses growing up. Our barn was (no kidding) bigger than our house, and at least the horses had their swimming pool. :wink: Our horses were race horses -- American Quarterhorses to be exact. Quarterhorses are raised to run a short distance VERY FAST - as opposed to the kings of racehorses -- thoroughbreds. They are raised to run a long distance. They are very high spirited, and they can be intimidating to a little girl.

The horses scared me, and I didn't have much to do with them. I love them, but I have a very healthy respect for them. I *always* knew that it would only take ONE kick well placed in the back of my head... :cool: Sometimes I would go to the horseraces just to watch, but I didn't ride. Paula and Brett, my brother and sister, however, loved the horses. We also had non-race horses to ride, and they would ride them all of the time. Me? Never! Mom has pictures holding me when I was a baby beside my sister who was sitting on a pony. Pony pictures were *in* then, and you would just put your child on the pony to pose for a picture. Even as a baby... nope!

Rhonda

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Looking forward to reading your blog, PopsicleToze. But an early aside: why Popsicle Toze?

It was a bad call (a song), but now I'm stuck with it. We'll just pretend that it doesn't exist. :laugh: The only nickname I really have is NaNa. The kids call me that. When my sister was a little girl (we're only 11 months apart), she couldn't say Rhonda, so she called me NaNa. It went away until my nieces and nephews were born, but ever since then, they call me that.

Rhonda

Edited by PopsicleToze (log)
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So, now we're on the way to Pontchatoula for strawberries. On the way I see a sign for Tickfaw State Park. Now, I've never been there, but why not? On the way there, I spot a sign for smoked meats. It's intriguing. And the shop is a converted garage with the owner sitting in a rocking chair near his front lawn. I know I need to stop, but the park is just a mile away. Well, the park was temporarily closed (they were getting ready for an arts and crafts festival that just took place this past weekend).

So, I went back and stopped at Mr. Lloyd's. He was sooooo great! When I was placing my order, I asked him if I could take a few pictures. Of course! Then, he said, "If you want pictures, why don't you open the back door there and see what's inside?" He didn't have to ask me twice!

sign.JPG

front yard.JPG

Mr Lloyd.JPG

breakfast sausage.JPG

backroom 1.JPG

backroom 2.JPG

backroom 3.JPG

Now, I thought it would be good, and I wish you could just smell this place. There's just an aroma to an authentic smokehouse that is so good. This place had it, and I knew it would be good. I bought the headcheese for Daddy because he loves it (and I bought sausage and a few pkgs of bacon -- we'll see those later). He pours a little bit of vinegar on it and eats it plain. Okay. I like it on plain saltine crackers with a little bit of Crystal hot sauce.

When we got back to the house, that was the first thing I opened, and Mom was out of saltines, but she had Ritz crackers, so that would have to do...

head cheese.JPG

OMG -- this is hands-down the *best* hogshead cheese I have ever tasted!

From now on, Lloyd's will definitely be on my hit-list of places to go. It's not that far out of the way when I'm going to New Orleans anyway. This is a great find! :wub:

Rhonda

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Now, we need strawberries. I'm in Springfield, Louisiana, and Ponchatoula is right next door. This is a very special place for strawberries. They're just soooo good and taste nothing like the tasteless strawberries that can be found in most grocery stores. And strawberry farmers do not have an easy life. The season is unpredictable -- just before they ripen, there can always be one last freeze or there is bad weather. However, our farmers know what they are doing, and I am so thankful to them every single time I taste our Louisiana strawberries -- they're out of this world. If you want to read a little history of Ponchatoula strawberries, click here

Here are strawberries I found at the farmers market. They're not what we want.

farmers market.JPG

Here's the strawberry farm.

farm.JPG

And here are baskets where customers can help themselves. I'm wearing sandals, so I'll have to pass on this experience, but if you have children, they love this!

baskets.JPG

Here is the field. Note the strawberries in the middle of the rows. We had storms last week, and these strawberries are ruined. :sad:

field.JPG

Now, these are the strawberries we want! They taste, well, like strawberries. They are red, ripened and full of flavor and taste like the sun just kissed them! :wub: We'll take them!

strawberries.JPG

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Oh my- that smokehouse is a treasure. The head cheese looks really finely minced and rich. I normally do not choose it but that looks delectable. Strawberries surely do span a range from chewy blah to just almost too ripe sweet perfumed goodness as it appears you found. We have the same range here in Southern California and I am lucky to have good farmers markets and a farm stand with locally grown and picked that morning. Did you get any other smoked products from that shop?

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So excited to see what you have to share with us this week! Thanks for the quick history lesson too!

Thank you, Genkinaonna! History is fun here. That will be the longest history post; I'm going to try to not talk too much and, instead, cook and see places. We'll see. It's 8:30pm here, and we still haven't had dinner!

Rhonda

(edited for typo)

Edited by PopsicleToze (log)
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All right, you two, scoot over. I'm in, too.

Looking forward to it, Rhonda. Living just a couple of hours north of the Louisiana line, I'm some kind of fond of Cajun/Creole cookery. Been through Hammond a time or two, best I recall; I'll wave next time I'm headed to the Big Easy!

Oh. And can we have crawfish pies? Please?

Kay, next time drop a dime and I'll go to New Orleans with you! :biggrin:

Crawfish Pie??? I know the song, but it's not something we ever ate. In fact, I don't think I've ever eaten it. However, in my cookbook, my Aunt Bobbie submitted a recipe for it. Here is her recipe, and I'll see what I can do about cooking it this week for you. :biggrin:

crawfish pie recipe.jpg

Rhonda

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