Mardi Gras Time!

Submitted by Christi

It’s official – the Mardi Gras or Carnival season has begun here in New Orleans. As Cindy said in the earlier post, the Mardi Gras season officially kicks off with Twelfth Night or the Epiphany. All of the Christmas decorations are now put away and it is time to start the celebrations leading up to Mardi Gras.

At our house, we started with decorating and then having and Epiphany brunch with our church and our friends. Let’s take a look at the decorations.

Here is the front porch all decked out and ready to become the seasonal header for A Southern Life.

Read more…

Mardi Gras is on the Way

Submitted by Cindy

January 6 to most people is Epiphany, but in New Orleans it is Twelfth Night, the beginning of the Carnival season.  We are going to be talking a lot about Mardi Gras in the next couple of weeks, so I wanted to give you some background.

Although they are often used interchangeably, Carnival is a season culminating on Mardi Gras day.  The dates are determined by the church calendar – Mardi Gras is always the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  (Ash Wednesday is 40 days before Easter excluding Sundays.)  Since the date of Easter varies according to moon phases, the possible dates for Mardi Gras also vary, from as early as February 3 to as late as March 9.  It falls on the early side this year, February 12.

“Mardi gras” is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the last day of eating rich foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.  In New Orleans we take this concept to the exponential, having a blow out period of celebration before retreating to a more subdued pace.  The most public aspect of the Carnival season is the parades, which generally start two weekends before Mardi Gras.  (We are hosting the Superbowl this year, which falls on a parade weekend, so the schedule is a little different.)  But a lot is going on in the background, with many organizations hosting carnival balls and other events.  We’ll give you a peek into some of these.

Enough background – let the party begin!  Read more…

Cabbage…lots of it!

Submitted by Cindy

Every fall I plant broccoli.  It does quite well in pots on my patio – container gardening is a trade off in the city for a nicely landscaped yard.  In New Orleans transplants are generally available in early October, with harvest right around Thanksgiving.  I was a bit surprised to find transplants at a big box garden center in early September.  I decided to gamble on an early planting, perhaps getting a long season of side shoots if they could make it through our hot weather.

The transplants thrived, with lush, healthy green leaves.  In fact, they seemed a lot fuller than usual.  I was puzzled that no heads had emerged by mid November.  Had the hot weather caused some problems?  The leaves grew smaller and tighter, then one day I felt something hard in the middle.  It then dawned on me…I wasn’t growing broccoli but cabbage!

I have nine heads of cabbage just in time for the New Year.  Luckily they store well, to give me a chance to find some interesting and different ways to cook this humble vegetable.  In the meantime, here is a tried and true favorite.


Georgie’s Cabbage Rolls 

  • 8 large cabbage leaves
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 14-1/2 ounces can Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • Cook cabbage in boiling water for 5 minutes or until tender; drain.
  • In a large saucepan, saute 1 cup onion in butter until tender. Add the tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar and seasonings. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • In a large bowl, combine the rice, remaining onion, beef, Worcestershire sauce, and ¼ cup tomato mixture.  Mix well.
  • Remove thick vein from cabbage leaves for easier rolling. Place about 1/2 cup meat mixture on each leaf; fold in sides. Starting at an unfolded edge, roll up leaf to completely enclose filling. Place seam side down in a skillet. Top with the sauce.
  • Cover and cook over medium-low heat for approximately 1 hour.

     Yield: 4 servings


Happy New Year

Submitted by Christi


Hope everyone is having a wonderful time on this first day of 2013. I am looking forward to all that 2013 will bring. As most of the country is winding down from the holidays, New Orleans is just taking a bit of a breather to gear up for the upcoming Mardi Gras season.

This coming Sunday is Twelfth Night or the Epiphany. This is the time in which the church celebrates the visit of the Christ Child by the magi. In New Orleans, it also marks the beginning of Carnival Season that will end on Mardi Gras. I am hosting an Epiphany brunch this Sunday and I’ll certainly have pictures of that and of all the upcoming fun.

Of course, the Superbowl will also be held in New Orleans this year so that brings yet another level of excitement. In fact, the city is splitting up the 2 weeks of Mardi Gras parades to accomodate the Superbowl on the weekend of February 3rd.

I hope you will join us here at A Southern Life to enjoy life in New Orleans and that everyone will have a wonderful and prosperous new year!