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Mayhaw Man

eG FoodBlog: Mayhaw Man - I eat more than Okra

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One of our local DC boys has been poking around your neck of the woods (bayou?) and come up with an article that raises the question of whether all this chatter about crawfish -- which even we Yankees have at least heard of and probably eaten -- just a cynical ploy to distract us from the existence of Ponchatoula strawberries, and keep local prices low?

"the product of one of those exquisite unions of botany and geography that have made famous the Vidalia onions of Georgia, the Hanover tomatoes of Virginia and the wine grapes of Burgundy:"

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I mailed my dad your article on deep-frying the turkey - thank you for making us both cry with laughter. and the blog is sensational - all those crawfish did not die in vain! thank you.

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I only have two words to add about this blog so far.

I'm hungry.

:biggrin:

word!

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word!

I have to say that I'm totally confused when people say this. I realize I don't watch much TV so I must be missing something but I have no clue what you're trying to say by this. :shock:

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word!

I have to say that I'm totally confused when people say this. I realize I don't watch much TV so I must be missing something but I have no clue what you're trying to say by this. :shock:

For the tragically unhip... :biggrin: "word" is a shortened version of the underground 80's phrase "word up" (Made popular in a 1988 hit song by Cameo), which meant "I know what you mean" or "I understand". Example: "It sure is hot today." "Word."

It can also be used as a question, as in "word?" It translates to "I can't believe I'm hearing this." or "Are you serious?" Example: "I'm going to make an alligator cheesecake." "Word?"

roughly.


Edited by FistFullaRoux (log)

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Brooks, your food is of a consistently excellent level that everyone is envious of your productions. You have a sufficiently deep background and the means to explore it. Keep on promoting 'damn good groceries', for a lot of folks don't have heritage, ingredients, and /or time to put a feed on like you do. Five Stars, and fireworks on the side!!

Your boys will realize how lucky they are, believe it! My three daughters are growed-up professionals, but they remember the kitchen time with a widowed mom who had to stretch her imagination to keep exciting food on the table--as well as the fishing and hunting trips to properly stock the larder, as well as every step of gardens. Time spent on kids is the wisest investment we can make! :smile:

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word!

I have to say that I'm totally confused when people say this. I realize I don't watch much TV so I must be missing something but I have no clue what you're trying to say by this. :shock:

For the tragically unhip... :biggrin: "word" is a shortened version of the underground 80's phrase "word up" (Made popular in a 1988 hit song by Cameo), which meant "I know what you mean" or "I understand". Example: "It sure is hot today." "Word."

It can also be used as a question, as in "word?" It translates to "I can't believe I'm hearing this." or "Are you serious?" Example: "I'm going to make an alligator cheesecake." "Word?"

roughly.

Ok I think I got it. Like in "you're gonna do what???" in a shocked voice if it's word with a question mark, but "oh I getcha" if it's word alone.

Thank you for bringing me up to date or rather, back to date updated. :wacko:

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word!

I have to say that I'm totally confused when people say this. I realize I don't watch much TV so I must be missing something but I have no clue what you're trying to say by this. :shock:

For the tragically unhip... :biggrin: "word" is a shortened version of the underground 80's phrase "word up" (Made popular in a 1988 hit song by Cameo), which meant "I know what you mean" or "I understand". Example: "It sure is hot today." "Word."

It can also be used as a question, as in "word?" It translates to "I can't believe I'm hearing this." or "Are you serious?" Example: "I'm going to make an alligator cheesecake." "Word?"

roughly.

Ok I think I got it. Like in "you're gonna do what???" in a shocked voice if it's word with a question mark, but "oh I getcha" if it's word alone.

Thank you for bringing me up to date or rather, back to date updated. :wacko:

Word.

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What a great blog & pictures! You can hold your head up high after your blog is done. I feel like I should be sipping bourbon or sweet tea and snacking on either some shrimp or a barbecued pork product while perusing these pages.

While okra and I have never seen eye to eye, I still look forward to your "Gumbo Manana" (which would make a great old Satchmo song title if ever I heard one).

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Here in cold, rainy Germany (I think Sarah has been passing off her weather system on us! :laugh: ), my husband and I are really enjoying this blog.

I'm pulling for cakewench to be tagged.

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Hey Brooks,

Is there a compilation somewhere of your writings? I've been to the paper's website, but I'd love to be able to read them at will.

When I read your stuff, I am reminded of E.B White's "Point's of My Compass".

Only funnier.

Anyway, when will we see the "best of Brooks" in bookstores?

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This is gonna be kind of a long post so those of you with crummy internet connections may want to think about broadband before you tie up your life with the minutia of my life. :laugh:

I did not have to work today, but I did have to churn out a thousand word column on a local business association and tie it in with some Yugoslavian Folk Dancing event that they are sponsoring. Trust me, journalism is not all that it is cracked up to be and somebody has to cover the schoolboard and folk dancing. Just don't look for it on the next Pulitzer list. It won't be there. :laugh:

After that onerous chore I took myself to the Covington, LA farmers market. It had rained a bit overnight and this morning (gentle, slow, warm rain-just right for my tomatoes and whatever else is left of my garden after the invasion of the giant killer rabbits that occurred this weekend while I slept peacefully. They were out there enjoying a salad bar of baby lettuce and some okra sprouts with a side of pepper sprouts (who knew, even rabbits in LA like it hot).

Mr. Pfhraumberg was selling some of his fine lettuces and I picked up a head or two for tonight's salad to accompany a little gumbo that I am constructing this afternoon. The tent that he is in is typical of the farmers market and there will be upwards of 50 of them on a good day-shrimp, lots of homemade baked stuff, hippie salads (made by my friend Norma Jean-founder of the Abita Cafe and a great dancer), milk from Mauthe's Dairy (check them ot of Slowfood, their web site is down for some reason but they sell real milk at real prices. Creamline whole, skim, 2%-none of it homogenized-they also make fabulous cream cheese and I am currently trying to get them interested in rediculously expesive ice cream (more on that as news breaks :wink: )). All of the people selling there are really growing the stuff they sell so the personalities range from hippies to housewives to the Snopes family out trying to sell their delicious collards and mustards.

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Mr Pfhramburg and his luminescent veggies

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How about them lettuces! $1.50 a head. Such a deal!

On the way home I stopped into Rauch's Grocery and picked up some coffee and some gossip from a couple of the retired guys who populate the tables there. I really need to take some interior shots of the place. For those of you that don't have a clue what a rural grocery looked like in 1945 this is your big chance. I will do it this afternoon when I go pick up the boys from school.

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Built in 1913 the bar next to Rauch's has been in continuous operation ever since (including during that rediculous period when the Volstead amendment was in force, down here if ya got it somebody is gonna drink it and the sherriff just wanted his cut-so it worked out for everybody. Things haven't changed much) and the place has a beautiful back bar. Really wonderful woodwork. The breweries used to supply them if you gave them an exclusive and the best ones around were from the long defunct Regal Brewing Co-if you have ever been to Carrollton Station in New Orleans they have one similar to it, but not as long.

I then walked across the street (all of these photos are basically taken within 100 yards of each other-you can see all of the buildings from THE stoplight :shock::laugh: ) and hit up the nice folks at our veg stand for some strawberries and some garlic. They carry all kinds of stuff and sell what they can get locally plus alot of stuff during the winter that they can't get here. It's great having them handy. I can walk there in 5 minutes.

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Here are the fabulous strawberries that are peaking out. Google on Ponchatoula Strawberries and you can learn much more. The things are wonderful and price to move. Check em out-

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The current going price here is $12USD a flat, but I found them in Hammond on the side of the road for $10USD. You can't beat that with a stick. :raz:

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MMMMMMMMM :wub:

My next stop was an oyster po boy at the Abita Cafe. This place has been the same since it was started over 15 years ago, although it has changed hands a couple of times but has remained dependable. Great, above average quality lunches (not you usual stuff-kind of upscale meat and three with a few daily specials) and awesome breakfasts. On the weekend the place will be surrounded on Saturday and Sunday morning by the healthy set who have driven their bikes down from Mandeville or Covington on the St Tammany Trace.

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The snoball stand next door is open at three. It is kind of an every afternoon thing for my kids and many other (and older kids like me-currently my favorite is almond creme, but I change my mind alot). The guy who owns it only employees high school kids he knows and has managed to put three kids through college on the income from that place. That's all he did with the money from it for the first 7 years he had it. There's good money in ice and sugar.

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This is the brewpub. When it was still Abita Beer (before we moved) I spent a ton of hours of my life toiling to make that fine beverage. ANd no-I don't miss it. It was fun but everybody has to grow up. :wink: The foods good though and the beer is better and they do a good trade. When we still had the brewery we kept some chickens around and they used to nest and lay in that big live oak out in front. We had all of these chicks running around out front every Spring. Quite the photo op for the tourists.

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Check the oil, tires, filler up! This is our only gas station. Been in business since 1922. Outrageously priced full serve gas. They have the old lady trade cornered (or anybody else willing to pay a 15 cent markup to stay in the car and not pump it yourself. Nice people though.

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Dinner tonight. Excepting spices and a bunch of garlic I forgot to throw in to the photo this is where the gumbo, salad and dessert are coming from. More on that later.

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If you are wondering where the line between food enthusiast and food nerd is, I think that I just found it. I actually took a picture of a pot. BUT THIS IS NOT JUST ANY POT! This is my grandmothers pot. It is a Drip Drop Baster (patented 1913, according to the stamp on the bottom of the pot). This thing came to me with the roll of a pair of dice and that was one lucky hit. All of the grandchildren rolled dice for all of the stuff in my Grandmother's house that my mom and her sisters didn't want or need. It sounds weird, but it was really fun and I think all of us will remember that afternoon for the rest of our lives. I scored lots of stuff (including a table with these really ornate lions feet that was hauled in a wagon by my great, great grandfather from Georgia to East Texas in the 1840's) but the pot was the best. It has an insert for roasting and is of carbon steel construction (it is kind of a pain to keep shiny as you can tell from the photo, but it has a very thick bottom and cooks like a dream. The lid fits tight and the fact that I am cooking in a pot that my Grandmother cooked out of right after she got married and my Mom and her sisters ate out of when they were kids is just too much come times. I love that pot. I got some awesome tin cookie cutters that are God knows how old-they are shaped like barn animals-I love those things. You know you're eating good when you are eating sugar cookies shaped like chickens, cows, ducks, and mules. :laugh:

Gumbo Pages coming tonight (I am working an overnight shift tonight for the first time in two years due to some computer work being done on my office. I am not looking forward to it.

I hope you still have some memory left after all of this bandwidth hogging.

Brooks

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Nice looking town and great pics. Gotta love the Crystal Hot sauce on the table with the lettuce - do you pour it straight on or make a dressing with it.

I am so damn grateful that my blog preceded Mayhaw Man - this would be waaaay too much to live up to!

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It's a tiny little place. Oddly populated by a serious rainbow of folks. Pretty heavy on old hippies and back to nature folks who moved over here in the seventies and never left. Now their children are living here and it makes for a pretty cool population mix when you throw in the old New Orleanian (and now aging fast) working class that moved over here afer WW2.

And as far as following me goes, I was so jealous of that coffee bar you have I started working on scheme to convince my wife I needed a thousand bucks for a coffee set up (hell, we used to spend more than that drinking some months), but no dice. She might let me have one of those vacuum rigs though-how did the coffee come out?

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For some reason, I thought okra was an essential ingredient for gumbo. I didn't see any in the picture.

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Chicken and Sausage Gumbo tonight. No Okra.

Fear not. Dinner on Friday night will include God's pod three ways! We're having some people over(just to give me an excuse to make something interesting for the sake of this project-anything for yogurt is my mantra :wink: ). If I can find any decent shrimp we are going to have a big batch of creole made with some of those awesome tomatoes that I showed earlier in this rediculously long project (I over do everything-always have-it's a miracle I am still alive :shock: ).

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BUT THIS IS NOT JUST ANY POT! This is my grandmothers pot.

I am blessed by having and using many of my paternal grandmother's kitchen things, including her boiling water bath canner and all her bread pans. (The woman never bought a loaf of bread in her 96 year life!)

I am glad to see someone as appreciative of this sort of thing as I am. My cousins wanted none of her things! (Imbeciles!)

Thanks for the tour of your town! :cool:

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Great blog! Maybe I will have to check out the Isleton Crawfish Festival here in California this year ...

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I spent the afternoon making gumbo and learning how poor my photography skills are and how when you make a mess of your cool 50 year old stove you should clean it up before you take photos. Nothing shows a mess like white porcelain and chrome. :shock:

All that aside things turned out o.k. Here is what I did:

I went to the meat market this morning and bought 3 lbs of chicken thighs. These are not Tyson's Plastic, but real chicken cut by real butchers. They are very good. I got 2 lbs of Richard's Pork Sausage and made a couple of stops to fill my vegetable needs.

I partially skinned the thighs (I like to leave a little fat, adds to the flavor when browning). They were dusted with spiced flour (2 cups of flour had a tbls. salt, tsp paprika, tbls. cayenne, tsp. black pepper). I then browned them in peanut oil. I like peanut oil as it can take a pretty good beating, adds a nice nutty taste, and you can get it very hot without burning.

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Chicken thighs browning in peanut oil. These were turned once and hardly moved while they were browning.

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Chicken thighs after turning at the done point. After removing from grease they were placed on paper towels, set aside and drained.

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Great Sausage from Richard's-looks like cased ham! This stuff is just awesome. If you can get it I highly reccomend it. They make (imho) the best commercial pork products in the US.

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Sausage Browning. I like to get it a little toasty. It adds both flavor and texture to the dish.

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Light Roux. This consists of 1/3 cup AP flour and 1/3 cup peanut oil. The pan has been drained, but not scraped after the browning of the sausage and chicken. It is placed over very high heat (wide open on a normal burner) and stirred constantly. Scraping the remainder of the meat as you go. Scrape hard and get it all loose or it will all burn and you will have to start over.

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Medium Roux. At this point I have been stirring about 5 minutes. It is getting very hot. WARNING-This method of making Roux was popularized during Paul Prudhomme's stay as Head Chef at Commander's Palace in New Orleans. The kitchen staff came to call this type of roux "cajun napalm". If you splash and get it on you it will stick to you and burn you badly (if you try to wipe it off while it is hot the burn will just spread) so BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL.

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Dark Roux. Now we've gotten there. At this point (maybe 10 minutes in) the oil is just starting to smoke a little bit and I am ready to stop the process.

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Onion, celery, bell pepper and Garlic in. This stops the browning process with the flour and the oil. Stand back as you dump-it can be a pretty lively thing. You are, after all, pouring hot water into oil.

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Veg in mixed with roux/spice blends are added here. At this point I have just mixed the veg and the roux evenly. The bottom was carefully scraped, as were the sides, and I will turn the heat to medium low and slowly simmer with the top on. At this point I added some spice. 1 tbls. dried basil, 1 tbls. dried oregano, 2 tsp cayenne, 2 tsp. black fine crushed black pepper, 1 tbls salt. By adding now these spices will incorporate nicely with the veg mix and basically melt into the mix.

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Veg is getting there. This has been tightly covered, stirring and scraping a couple of times, for about 15 minutes.

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Veg is done. The veg has cooked down to a nice smooth consistency and all of the veg is soft and transluscent. I taste at this point and adjust spicing. (some like it hot, some not. I find that with this type of gumbo I do not prefer it so spicy. The veg, sausage, and especially the chicken all stand out on their own and don't need to be bammed to heavily with spice-but as always it is a matter of personal choice)

I then add 6-8 cups of stock, the chicken, and the sausage. In this case I used some pork stock that I had in the freezer, but normally I would use chicken or turkey (because I have more of it and it is less valuable to my larder). It is all stirred well and brought to a boil while uncovered. Once it hits a boil, let boil for 5 min or so on low boil, cut the heat back down to medium low and simmer for one and a half hours with the lid on. Skim fat occasionally if you wish. There will not be much grease if you did the first two steps right and bought quality sausage.

About ten minutes before finish of simmer time, add 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsely and 6 or 8 chopped green onions (tops and bottoms).

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This It is ready to plate. Yessir Buddy! That's the stuff I was looking for (I wouldn't have showed it if I had screwed it up). It is a very nice color, thick but not too, and has a nice spicy tang to it while not being overpowering. You can taste the veg, chicken, and sausage nicely and the three really are working together the way that they are supposed to.

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Fit for Royalty. A bargain at any price.

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Enjoy with a biscuit and an assertive red wine. Big Cabs work with this pretty well.

That's what I did today. The boys scarfed it up (they love the stuff) and I caught one of them while I was typing this digging chicken out of the pot. That's a compliment, but I yelled at him anyway. No use letting them think that they can eat me out of house and home. :laugh:

I have to work all night tonight and well into Thursday morning (if things go bad with the nerds coming to work on our servers I will be there til noon) so I will be on board tonight late, but I hope that I will be snoozing by lunch tommorrow. Incidentally-tommorrow night is going to be BBQ'd redfish (if I can get some, has been kind of scarce unless I make it to the fish house first thing in the morning). If I can't get fish it might be Lucky Charms for the lot.

Make some of this stuff for yourself. The more you so it, the better it gets. The stuff freezes great. We usually divide it up into servings for two and reheat in a covered double boiler and it is as good, if not better, than it was when it was first brought off of the stove. Bon Appetit.

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Man...I'm enjoying reading this! :smile:

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Nope-It is a flat edged wooden stirrer that is made for the purpose. I have them in several different sizes. I think that I bought most of them in a market in Tecate. They were so cheap I sort of bought a lifetime supply. I have various wooden implements in a box upstairs that have never been used (but they will be).

It is great for getting all the way into the edges of a pot, which is hugely important when you are trying to keep from burining roux.

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Am starving after looking at reading this blog and I just had breakfast not long ago. Wonderful loooking gumbo - I can just about taste it from looking at those pictures.

What do you mean by a flat of strawberries?


Edited by Shiewie (log)

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