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Mayhaw Man

eG FoodBlog: Mayhaw Man - I eat more than Okra

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Jensen contacted me earlier in the week and asked if I would take over the Foodblog for the coming week. I agreed with the caveat that I would not start until Sunday night. I am still standing by that, but I thought I would go ahead and do some kind of intro as I am at work and have nothing better to do :hmmm::wink: .

This blog is going to begin and end with crawfish boils (kind of a compare and contrast thing). It is that time of year down here and everyone with a hundred bucks and an 80 qt pot is having a crawfish party sometime in the next two weeks. They are really fun social events and take absolutely no prep other than getting out all of the cooking gear, cleaning up the yard and the patio/deck/barn/dock, going to the seafood market, and going to the grocery store. All of the action (cooking and eating) occurs outside so you don't even have to spend a day shoving all of your junk into closets and under beds in order to fool your friends (who know better anyway) that you live a "Martha Life". :laugh:

Tommorrow's boil will take place in the backyard of my old next door neighbor (she moved, I stayed) and friend Robin. She has a beautiful house by Lake Pontchatrain in Mandeville and her swell new husband is a great cook (as are many men in Louisiana-it is very common here for men to be the primary food preparers in a household-always has been). This will be a small operation (150 lbs. of bugs or so) and about thirty people. Lots of beer, soft drinks, and laughter. Simple and easy and everyone will help with the set up and the cleanup so the hosts don't have to kill themselves and besides, that's half the fun of this type of entertaining.

Next Sunday's boil (end of blog) will be a giant deal. It is my company party and there will be a huge trailer set up to boil TONS of crawfish. There will be a couple of hundred people there along with a band, tents, kid games, and the rest of the trappings of company parties. An entirely different vibe than a party in someone's back yard. Still prety fun, though.

In between I will keep you up to date on the daily food doings in the Mayhaw Household. I will be roasting a turkey in a very unusual manner early in the week (so that we can eat it for the rest of the week in various disguises) and then I will take the carcass and make a little gumbo out of it. I will also be making some shrimp ettouffee one night, chicken creole another, and at some point I will be doing a little bbq'd redfish (it depends on when I get the fish). If I take a day off during the week and have the time I will probably do some kind of real BBQ on my open brick pit (that thing is da bomb :laugh: ) over pecan wood. Probably brisket.

I will also throw in some baked goods (I bake alot, much to my wife's and my waistline's dismay) and this week, for the sake of the blog, I think that I will just do the Southern thing-chess pie, pecan pie, peach pound cake, and probably some yeast rolls one night. I would imagine that you will see a fair amount of vegetable sides as the market down the street (awesome veg. stand 2 blocks from my house) is starting to fill up with spring veggies. Fear not- we will have some okra.

You won't be seeing much about breakfast food or lunch except on the weekend, as I am not home when the boys eat it (I leave for work at 6 a.m.) and none of us are there for lunch (which is usually, for both my wife and I, a brown bag affair consisting of leftovers) and both of the boys take their lunch to school as well (even though they are both in private schools, the food is uniformly uninteresting and generally awful and they won't touch it).

Incidentally-I have been married to my wife Mrs. Mayhaw (Robin) for 20 years and have two boys, Miles (14) and Graham (11). My children are unusual in that they will eat damn near anything (except blue cheese and one of them, inexpicably, does not like okra in any form-and they don't eat escargot-it's a long story) so they are very easy to feed. Frankly, I am not sure that he is mine and have been considering a DNA test to prove paternity :raz: ).

I will do my best to provide regular photographs but I am not promising anything-even though I make my living using all of the new technology, photo gullet is still something of a mystery to me and I may be pm'ing some expert or another for a little help.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the week and I hope that you enjoy it.

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An ambitious offering! I look forward to every minute of it.

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Woohoo! This is gonna be fun. Thanks for taking it on, Brooks. I'm really looking forward to your version of gumbo. I just happen to have a couple of turkey carcasses in the freezer that I've been meaning to turn in to stock. Might do it this weekend. And then I, too, can cook along with Brooks.

Chad

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Bugs, turkey, and okra.

Great. Just great.

:wink:

I like how you're framing this. And some pictures would be lovely.

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I like how you're framing this. And some pictures would be lovely.

A lovely frame often adds positive value to the art (although my photographic skills probably could not be improved with 100 kilos of gold leaf :shock: )

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Looking forward to your blog -- especially the gumbo. Something I love, have eaten down south, but never made. :smile:

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A lovely frame often adds positive value to the art (although my photographic skills probably could not be improved with 100 kilos of gold leaf :shock: )

Plane tickets are cheap. Need a photographer, general factotum, food taster and pot-watcher?

Chad

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I will do my best to provide regular photographs but I am not promising anything-even though I make my living using all of the new technology, photo gullet is still something of a mystery to me and I may be pm'ing some expert or another for a little help.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the week and I hope that you enjoy it.

If I can figure it out, you can :wink:

Mmmmmm, a week of mudbugs. Sure, make the rest of use feel bad that we don't live down there. :biggrin:

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I know almost nothing about Southern American cuisine (and that only what I've learned on eG) so this will be fun.

I've seen frozen crayfish here in Ottawa. Are they much like langoustines?

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A lttle bit, but the crawfish tails that you are seeing in Ottawa are probably of Chinese origin. The chinese crawfish are nicely sized but they are steamed unspiced and packed in very little fat (hugely important to the flavor profile of frozen tails). Louisiana Crawfish (the commercially packed ones) are steamed over spicy water and packed in copius amounts of spice and packed in their own fat (mmmmm).

As an aside there is also a business in Baton Rouge that buys very large select crawfish and steams them in salt and dill. They are then packed with a sprig of dill and put through a cryovac tunnel -then they are shipped to Sweden. Apparently this is a big product in Sweden. Yumpin Yiminy! Who knew! :wacko::laugh:

As far as Southern Food goes as a general thing probably the way I learned how to cook and what I eat now are still directly related. I learned to cook from my mother, grandmother, and various cooks who worked for them and the food that they prepared was the food of the Mississippi Delta region with much seafood and fish thrown in. Certainly there was the usual array of fried stuff and lots of vegetables out of the garden (more or less year round-mainly greens of various sorts in the dead of winter). My first real job was as a line cook in the largest seafood restaurant in Louisiana and I learned a hell of a lot . I eventually became a line manager and then a general manager of the place and got a grip on mass food preparation on a huge scale. The main thing that I took away from there was the way to indentify, prepare, and serve really fresh (sometimes out of the water less than twelve hours) seafood. I especially learned how to fry (it is a skill that apparently escapes many) and boil crustaceans (shrimp, crabs, crawfish). I also spent some time as a seafood buyer for the same place and that was quite a learning experience as well. We bought HUGE amounts of fresh seafood and also quite alot of crabmeat (lump, backfin, and clawmeat-blue crabs only) and crawfish tails in season to freeze for the rest of the year. I don't know if any of you have ever seen a million dollars worth of crabmeat in a freezer, but it impressed the hell out of me.

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I hope you'll be including some basic instructions for your etouffee, etc. I can make a mean gumbo, but my etouffee sucks. We're boiling crawfish on Sunday. Got to take advantage of the season!!!!

A million dollars worth of crab is my idea of heaven!!!

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Brooks;

I'll just add my "me too" two cents. Thanks for taking this on, and during such a special time. I grew up "next door" (Texas), and love Louisiana cuisine. Please include recipes or preparation tips when you can. Really looking forward to this blog.

THW

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Ditto to everything others have said. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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Ditto to everything others have said. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Lie zays les bawns temps roolaer!

Just poking fun at myself.......

Seriously, though, I can't wait for the gumbo and all the other good southern things that are in store for us!

Viva la Okra!!

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Aw, man... You are killing me. We're still in mourning over what has become unofficially known as "The Great Crawfish Massacre" and you're going to have it twice in a week.

I like Birmingham, I love my wife, but I am too damn far from home during crawfish season. :hmmm:

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This is wonderful because I just spent last week with "Cuisine de Louisiane - Histoire et recettes" by Jaqueline Denusiere and Charles Henri Brandt. I am really looking forward to your upcoming blog!

When I was a teenager, my mother and I on a road trip and driving through Louisiana and stopped in a small town called Crowley where a hand written sign in a store front said "Crawfish Tonight". Being a teenager, I whined about stopping there. I was silenced just as soon as our hot steaming platter with 5 lbs of crawfish and butter to dip it in came to the table. We ate another platter after that and took yet another order back to the hotel with us. I took pictures of the crawfish. I still have the photo somewhere. :smile:

-Lucy

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This is the front of my old, rediculously large, house (circa 1895). It is all cypress construction and was built by a guy for his daughter who lived here with her family for 75 years or so. There is a twin of it down the road that was built for her sister.

There are some very old roses of various sorts out front and over the concrete trellis over the the gate. That spirit house that you can kinda see was hauled back from Indonesia by our sometimes roomate Frank (my cousin-one of a dying breed-he is an American Merchant Marine-there aren't many left) who brings me all kinds of stuff.

I am just posting the pic to see if I have got this imagegullet thing figured out. Let's see if this works:

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The front of my house on a nice Spring morning in South Louisiana

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WooHoo! Watch out world! I have reached another plateau in eGullet skills!!

Food Peauxrn on the way!

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Mazel Tov!!!!

Your house is absolutely beautiful. I love the history behind it. Do you know the people who live in it's twin?

Alright, now that I am absolutely craving good crawfish (which I don't think I have ever had) I want pictures. Show us northerners what we are missing.

BTW, how did your sone do with the lemonade stand?

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Mazel Tov!!!!

Your house is absolutely beautiful.  I love the history behind it.  Do you know the people who live in it's  twin?

Alright, now that I am absolutely craving good crawfish (which I don't think I have ever had) I want pictures.  Show us northerners what we are missing.

BTW, how did your sone do with the lemonade stand?

I met the lady's daughters when they showed up at my front door one day wanting to look at the house. They told me all about all of those cool concrete trellis that are all around (they are really neat-poured concrete made from molds the guy built in the yard-the reinforcing material is what ever he had lying around-mainly old fencing and barbed wire) and showed me where the phone was built into the wall in the hall. They also showed me where the outside kitchen was and where the outhouse stood (there are roses there now-a major improvement over an outhouse :laugh: ).

The boys did ok with the sale of the drinks. They really cleaned up selling their junk, though. People will buy anything that is not nailed down from little kids. There were four 14 year olds and two 11 year olds and they made a little less than 600 bucks selling crap.

Crawfish later. My 11 year old is down there helping them set up (for an 11 year old this consists of playing with tubs full of live crawfish and not much else- but it makes him feel good so who cares?).

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That photo of your home gives an amazingly beautiful sense of place, Mayhaw. It makes me nostalgic for my childhood in the south.... which I never even had! :smile:

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Another Sunday afternoon in Louisiana. Crawfish and beer consumed. Kids playing underfoot (although we are all reaching the age where the children are likely to be grandchildren for some of my friends just a few years older than I-which is kind of weird for all of us aging Southern hipsters :wacko: ).

There was lots of other food including some crawfish cornbread that was, seriously, as good as anything I ever put in my mouth. And yes. I got the recipe. It will be in recipe gullet before I go to bed. It is too good to keep to myself. Unbelievable. Life changing. Stunning. Tasty. There were also crawfish pies made by a local judge, various kinds of herb salads made by old hippies, and lots of wine and beer. All in all a pretty good menu. For many of you it would have been a once in a lifetime, hell I'm gonna move, kind of experience. It was a GOOOOD party.

I am going to post a few photos of the boil, I took many more but they are going to go into an egci project on Seafood Boils that I am working on. This blog is a catalyst to get going on that, as I generally require wither panic or a big kick in the ass to get moving on stuff that doesn't pay very well (although I do appreciate the yogurt-thanks buddy :laugh: ).

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This is a photo of the boil masters getting the water ready to go. They have already added lemons, garlic, salt, and water. In this photo they are adding Zatarain's Brand Dry Mix Crab Boil (they already have added a measure of the liquid). This will be allowed to come to a good hard boil and potatoes will be added first, as they take longer to cook than anything else involved.

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A little more garlic being added, as Russ, the boilmaster at today's event, deemed it short on the pungent pod.

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A bad day for these bugs. We cooked 200 lbs. this afternoon (fed about 40 people) in batches of 40 pounds each. They will be brought to a covered, rolling boil.

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Crawfish just into the pot. They don't scream much :raz:

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Crawfish just at the boiling point. Corn, big button mushrooms, a couple of artichokes, and some really cool looking sweet peppers are added at this point (you can see 'em on top). They are going to be boiled for just a couple of minutes at "full steam ahead" and then the heat will be turned off and the crawfish will be allowed to soak for a while. The longer they soak, the spicier they are. We like em pretty zippy. The corn picks up the spice like a sponge as do the mushrooms. The peppers kind of lose their skin and become very tasty. The artichokes and asparagus cook perfectly and the artichoke heart becomes a fiery chunk of heaven. I have seen people come to blows over those hearts.

Part two coming up. I left some stuff out of image gullet and must go repair. I am afraid to jump around on the computer as I might lose this if I get too happy with the technology. Back in a minute. :biggrin:

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Lookin' goooooooood! The closest thing we have to that up here is a good old New England Clam Bake. That isn't too shabby, either :wink:

I hope you got some nice close-ups of those bugs :cool:

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Part 2

As we move along the crawfish have been soaking and now comes the fun part (actually it's all pretty fun).

i5025.jpg

Our host, Michael, and his able assistant heave out the first basket of the day. There were 5 or 6 more to come. This is one picture that is hard to screw up. It never turns out bad, those bugs just look so good coming out of that basket onto the newpaper. :wink:

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Pigs at the trough. Here are the rules-Don't push-don't grab anyone elses beer-no fighting over the goodies-be nice-there's more coming!

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Mrs Mayhaw at the head of the table. She is a true trencherman when it comes to crawfish. She is also rude and will eat the last mushroom without asking anyone else :wink:

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Those are my boys chowing down. They are not timid at all (they take after their Mom :laugh: ) and will elbow in with anybody. Incidentally there were four of these tables going simultaneously in a beautiful backyard.

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Everyone enjoys a good party in their own way. John is taking a light nap in a really cool Gazebo being serenaded by the stereo and the frogs. He's always the life of the party.

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Me and the other host, Robin. I resorted to well timed crude humor to get her to laugh in this photo :raz::laugh:

This was a great time and everybody enjoyed it. Wish you coulda been there.

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I wish I coulda been there too! Awesome. I still want to see some close-ups of the bugs, though.

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