Report from the Rex Den

Submitted by Cindy

The central command post for the Rex parade is housed in a nondescript industrial building.  For most of the year it just serves as a workshop for float construction, but really comes alive with activity as Mardi Gras day approaches.  I recently attended “Ladies Day at the Den”, and wanted to share some photos with you.

The theme for this year is “All Creatures Great and Small”, a line taken from an 1848 poem by Cecil Alexander.   I can’t show you the floats for this year, but they always beautifully and artistically develop the chosen theme.  Since they are built on the chassis of old cotton wagons, they shimmy down the street, adding to the magic of the presentation.  Tractors now replace the mules that originally pulled the floats.

Read more…

Christmas Scenes on the Avenue (St. Charles, that is)

Submitted by Cindy

I was walking the dog yesterday when I came across Santa Claus lying in the middle of St. Charles Avenue.  This wasn’t a mall Santa with too many toddies after a stressful day of wishes, but a twenty foot tall fiberglass guy!  He was accompanied by workers from a company that produces Mardi Gras parades and extravaganzas.  A small crowd watched in fascination as a large crane hoisted Santa over the iron fence, skillfully dodging overhanging oak branches.  How I wish I’d had the camera with me!  But I went back to capture him welcoming passersby in front of his beautiful temporary home.

Loyola and Tulane Universities are several blocks away.  The nativity scene in Loyola’s quadrangle facing the avenue has been a Christmas fixture since I was a child.  It was very serene this morning compared to last week when the school brought in 20 tons of ice for the enjoyment of neighborhood children.  As you might imagine, snow is a rarity in New Orleans and it was packed.  I managed to get a few shots before some snowballs to the face told me it was time to go.

This morning was the annual carol service at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, a much anticipated event.  The choir accompanied by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra performed Hodie, a Christmas cantata by Ralph Vaughan Williams.  It was a soothing hour, especially in light of the country’s recent tragedy.  (Wish I could share it with you, but we have a no electronics policy during services.)  There was another attraction for the kids and kids at heart – my friend Geoff set up his model train set in the fellowship hall.  You can watch his trains in motion circling through their Christmas Village.  How many Saints trains (I’m talking football rather than pious types) have you seen?

All this happening within a couple of blocks – it’s why we love New Orleans!

Click pictures to enlarge

Autumn Salad

Submitted by Christi

Oh, it is good to be back. Can’t tell you all how much I have missed blog-land while our business has been soooo busy. It is really good to have a busy business, but I really like it when we are busy and I still have time to spend with my blog friends!

One of our friends and neighbors recently passed away. I’ll tell you more about he and his wife soon. Anyway, as you know, in the South, the requirement when someone dies is to BRING FOOD!!!

Somehow, there is great comfort in the rituals of celebration, whether they be birth, wedding or funeral. It’s good to fall back on tradition to get through all of these times. I know our neighbor’s wife will have some tough times ahead, please keep her in your prayers.

In the meantime, my contribution to the celebration of life was an Autumn Fruit Salad.

Autumn Fruit Salad

To make the salad, I took a few liberties with the recipe that I found at All Recipes. Here is my recipe:

* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/2 cup flour
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 1/2 cups apple cider
* 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 6 cups cubed unpeeled apples
* 2 cups halved seedless red grapes
*1 small can mandarin orange slices
* 1 cup walnut halves


1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and flour. Stir in water; bring to a boil. Cook and boil until mixture thickens. Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, combine apples, grapes, orange slices and walnuts. Add the dressing and toss gently. Refrigerate until serving.

Keep an eye on that dressing. It thickens quickly. I would have added raisins if I had them. Of course, you can add whatever (3 or more) fruits you like. See the original recipe in today’s lagniappe.

What is your tradition to get you through life’s rough patches?

Today’s Lagniappe: Autumn Salad (the original recipe)

* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 6 cups cubed unpeeled apples
* 2 cups halved seedless red grapes
* 1 cup diced celery
* 1 cup walnut halves


1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and flour. Stir in water; bring to a boil. Cook and boil until mixture thickens. Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, combine apples, grapes, celery and walnuts. Add the dressing and toss gently. Refrigerate until serving.


Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday

Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

The Gypsy’s Corner’s Three or More

Southern Sunday

Submitted by Christi

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD!
Psalm 33:12

So glad to be an American and for all of our shortcomings, I love this nation! From May 25th of this year for Sunday Favorites and Spiritual Sunday:

Southern Patriotism

As you know, we walk every morning in our neighborhood. Took the camera along this week and took pictures of the Stars and Strips flying in the neighborhood. I love the colors of the flag with the early morning sun shining through. Because it is the week before Memorial Day, I thought this would be a great time to post these pictures!

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

Today’s Lagniappe: Strawberry Shortcake

Add some blueberries to make this a patriotic red, white and blue recipe!

* 1 quart strawberries, rinsed, hulled, sliced
* 1/3 cup sugar

* 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
* 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 cup shortening
* 1/3 cup butter
* 1 cup milk
* melted butter
* whipped cream, sweetened with a little sugar if desired

Place strawberries in a large bowl; sprinkle with 1/3 cup of sugar. Let stand, covered, for at least 1 hour before serving.

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Cut in shortening and butter until mixture is fine. Add milk; stir with a fork until all flour is moist. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently for 20 seconds. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Gently roll out or pat each portion to fit a 9-inch round cake pan. Place each portion into a lightly buttered pan; press edges to form a slight ridge. Brush with melted butter. Bake at 450° for 12 to 15 minutes. Brush each layer with butter. Spoon sweetened strawberries and juice between layers and on the top. Serve warm, cut in wedges, with whipped cream.

join Chari at Happy to Design for Sunday favorites and Charlotte and Ginger at Blogger Spirit for Spiritual Sunday and enjoy your Sunday!



Southern Mardi Gras Memory

Submitted by Christi

Last year, we had a fabulous Mardi Gras party. That was back before I started participating in the wonderful Tablescape Thursday, hosted by the always gracious Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.

with Between Naps on the Porch

with Between Naps on the Porch

I only posted one picture from the party last years, so today, I thought I would share some pics from the party with the fun tables that we created. You’ll kind of have to look around the people in the pics to see the tables, but they are decked out as well.

The main table was spread with a gold toned spread and the centerpiece is a glass hurricane that is filled with green and gold ornaments and then draped with Mardi Gras beads. As you can see, pretty much everything was draped with beads!

The main table

The main table

Please excuse the hand with the drink in the pic below 🙂 Just wanted to show you the purple, green and gold napkins. The traditional Mardi Gras colors. There is also a tray of glasses just waiting to be filled with a delicious drink.

More of the main table.

More of the main table.

Lots of great food on the table.

Good food and good fun.

Good food and good fun.

There was another table in another area with a punch bowl full of mint julep punch. YUMMY!

The Mint Julep Punch

The Mint Julep Punch

In the kitchen, we draped the kitchen bar with another gold cloth and created a little platform for the King Cake. You can see the pretty blue pitcher on the end is even draped with beads. Oh, and yes, that is a gaudy, lit up coconut tree in the background. There was another one on the front porch so everyone would know where the party was.

Kitchen Bar

Kitchen Bar

Serving the King Cake.

King Cake

King Cake

There was also another drink table set up on the kitchen island. Didn’t get a picture of that. On the stove we had a pot of gumbo and a pot of jambalaya.

There were beads for everyone!

Lots of beads.

Lots of beads.

Add some blues/jazz/zydeco music and some fun people and it made for a really good time for all.

Today’s Lagniappe:  Crawfish Pie
Yes, you have to have a little Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie and File Gumbo!

3/4 medium chopped bell pepper
1 large onion chopped
2 ribs celery chopped
3/4 cup butter
6 tbsp crawfish fat (optional)
1 1/2 pound crawfish tails
1/2 cup each minced parsley and green onions
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
cornstarch to thicken
Dough for double crust (pie crust)

In a medium saucepan, saute bell pepper, onion and celery in butter until tender; add crawfish fat and simmer 10 minutes. Add crawfish tails, green onions, parsley and seasonings. Thicken if necessary, with a little cornstarch; let it cook long enough to thicken gravy.

Place half of the pie crust dough in a nine-inch pie pan. Fill with cooled filling. Place top crust on pie, moisten edges and seal edges. Cut two or three one-inch-long slits in the top crust.
Individual tart/pies can be made and baked using muffins in pan with large cups. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees; lower oven to 375 degrees and cook for 35 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown.

Southern Mimosa

Submitted by Christi
It's Foodie Friday with Designs by Gollum

It's Foodie Friday with Designs by Gollum

After all the great breakfast recipe lagniappes this week, I thought we needed to have something to drink with it. On special occasions, a Mimosa is the special touch to a wonderful brunch.


My husband tells me about Sundays as a kid, his father, Dr. Joe B. Wharton, would sometimes take him on rounds at the hospital and then they would attend St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in El Dorado, Arkansas. My husband’s god-mother lived across the street from the church. Often, after church they would go to his god-mother’s home, and they would have Mimosas and Brandy-Milk Punches (the adults, not the kids!). The kids would all run around and play and have a great time.

I grew up in a Baptist home where we had a Sunday lunch after church. No mimosas at our house! I love the line in the book “Being Dead is No Excuse” by Gaydon Metcalf where she explains that Methodists are Baptists that want to be Episcopalians.

Anyway, we really enjoy a brunch Mimosa on special occasions. Here is how I make them.

Pour a little Gran Marnier in a saucer. Pour a little sugar in another saucer. Dip the rim of a champagne glass in the Gran Marnier and then the suger. Pour the glass half full of brut champagne (or sparkling wine) and then finish with orange juice. You  can add a splash of Gran Marnier, if you like. Personally, it makes it a little too sweet for me.

What a relaxing and wonderful drink to have with a fabulous breakfast. Check out the earlier posts this week for the rest of the breakfast recipes including Linda’s Spicy Egg Casserole, Buttermilk biscuits, strawberry freezer jam and a delicious blueberry coffee cake.

Let’s see, what is the next special occasion? Labor Day? Oh, wait my older sister’s birthday is this weekend! Happy Birthday Tammy. Here’s to you!

Today’s Lagniappe: Garlic Cheese Grits
It’s a flashback to last March when I first added this recipe to the Lagniappe lineup. What better to have with the perfect breakfast?

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grits
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 16 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • cayenne pepper to taste

Bring water and salt to a rolling boil; gradually stir in grits with fork. Cook, stirring constantly, until all water is absorbed. Stir in butter a tablespoon at a time; stir in the beaten eggs, working quickly so eggs will not cook before thoroughly blended into the grits, then stir in the shredded cheese, garlic and a little cayenne pepper. Put into a greased 2 1/2-quart casserole. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes.
Serves 8.

Southern Garden

Submitted by Christi



The time to plant seeds indoors to get a jump on the season will be here before you know it. Many seeds should be planted 4-8 weeks before the last frost inside and then transplanted outside when danger of frost has passed. If you don’t know your last frost date, check your state’s extension service. You may have to search around a little bit, depending on your state.

I also like to plant according to moon phases. You can check the moon phases here or check planting dates with the Farmer’s Almanac here. My grandmother was good about telling the weather by looking at the sky or the trees or the sun. She grew up on a farm and they didn’t have the methods we have now. I learned that she was usually right and it gives me a sense of peace to watch nature to see what it is trying to tell us.

Anyway, if you plan to plant anything from seed the time to order is now, if you haven’t already. If you haven’t ever grown anything from seed, try it. It is very special to put a seed in soil and watch it sprout into a full grown plant and then  into something that actually bears fruit. It happens in gardens and fields all over the world every year, but to me it is always a miracle.

Gardening can really be a great source of therapy. Watching the cycles of nature. Nurturing plants and seeing them grow. It’s downright addictive.

Today’s Lagniappe: A Pepper Tidbit

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.  Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.  It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

Southern Prohibition

Submitted by Christi

men with still

Today marks the anniversary of Prohibition in United States. Prohibition was the period in United States history in which the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors was outlawed. It was a time characterized by speakeasies, glamour, and gangsters and a period of time in which even the average citizen broke the law.

Starting in the late 1870’s the prohibition or temperance movements began to slowly seep into the South, town by town or county by county. By the 1890’s the movement was gaining strength nationally, a fact that aided moonshiners tremendously. If a town outlawed the legal sale of liquor, the demand for moonshiners and their product became even greater. Prohibition reached much of the South on a state-wide level in the early twentieth century.

Prohibition also helped lower the standards of many moonshiners, the emphasis became quantity of liquor that could be produced with the quality taking a backseat.

Now you know. See, reading this blog is very educational!

Ecclesiastes 8:15 – Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

pousse-cafe-glassToday’s Lagniappe: Southern Belle Cocktail

1/2 oz. brandy
1/2 oz. white cream de cacao
1/2 oz. benedictine herbal liqueur

Pour the brandy into a pousse cafe glass. Tilt the glass to a 45-degree angle and slowly pour the creme de cacao down the side of the glass so that it floats on the brandy. Repeat this precedure with the Benedictine.

Southern New Year’s Eve

Submitted by Christi

New Year’s Eve . . . and a toast to the New Year. I was introduced to my favorite champagne by Sergio, a wonderful waiter at Brennan’s in New Orleans. Sergio was great and we miss him since he retired. He suggested Perrier Joet with breakfast and it was a match made in heaven. I have also found a much (and I mean, much much) less expensive champagne (actually sparkling wine) that is really good. It is Castillo Perelada Brut Reserva from Spain. It is just over $10 a bottle and is really good for the price. It makes excellent mimosas for New Year’s morning as well.

We will be having a quiet dinner at home tonight and then a traditional New Year’s dinner tomorrow. I like to leave the Christmas decorations up through New Year’s Day and then take them down and start new. I always love starting the new year. It is like a clean slate to write on.

Happy New Year’s everyone. I would love to hear what you are doing to bring in the new year.

Southern New Year’s Traditions

Submitted by Christi

Black -eyed peas for luck and greens for prosperity. When I was a kid I didn’t like black-eyed peas but my parents made sure that I ate at least one on New Year’s Day for luck in the new year. They weren’t superstitious but it was a tradition that they had always followed and so I would too. I still do. I also have the greens for prosperity. To tell the truth, I haven’t ever become a millionaire with this method but I’m afraid of what would happen if I didn’t have the black-eyed peas and greens. It’s too scary to contemplate so I just don’t tempt fate.

Actually, I like black-eyed peas now. I rarely make them anymore but I never miss making them for New Year’s Day.

Southern Black-Eyed Peas

I have left-over ham to use in this recipe. A ham bone or ham hock could be used as well.

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas, rinsed, sorted and soaked overnight in water
1 tablespoon, bacon grease, ham drippings or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped ham
1 cup chopped yellow onion
5 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves

Brown the ham in the bacon grease, drippings or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic, cayenne, salt and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the black-eyed peas are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with greens and cornbread.