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Upon picking the big kids up from school

  • Me: Did you guys watch the inauguration?
  • Joshua: Yep. Listening to Barack Obama almost made me cry. Tears were, like, coming into my eyes.

While listening to the news on the drive home

  • Me: President Barack Obama! Sounds good, doesn’t it?
  • Sarah: Sarah watch ‘rack Obama Miss Sheryl house. I want watch ‘rack Obama again!

Singing songs at bedtime

  • All: I feel better, so much better, since I lay my burdens down
  • Sarah: (points to her eye) Sarah go doctor, eye feel better (in reference to a doctor visit to check for pink eye)
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Observing the different collaborative projects out in blogland is endlessly fascinating to me. Whether it is seeing the variety that can come from a common raw material or word or seeing the simpatico of people from across many miles. It is all so inspiring and highlights the amazing community that has formed in the creative blog world.

Just a few examples:

Someday I would love to be part of a project like these.  The process, accountability and inspiration may be just the thing I need.  Either that or a swift kick in the behind.

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Although I don’t generally pay any attention to horoscopes and the like, I admit I have a soft spot for the Chinese zodiac. The other day I was wondering which animal’s year it would be this year. Brad grabbed a calendar we’d gotten from our favorite Chinese restaurant and announced that it is the year of the Ox. He proceeded to read each of our animals descriptions.

Ox (me) – Bright, inspiring and easy going. You make an outstanding parent.
HA! I beg to differ!

Dog (Brad and Sarah) – Honest and loyal. Generous but stubborn.
Sounds about right.

Dragon (Lizzie) – Excitable with complex life. Stubborn on outside – soft hearted inside.
Hit the nail on the head.

Horse (Joshua) – Cheerful and popular, but impatient.
Holy crow, have they met Joshua??

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Just before Christmas, I was listening to MPR and heard a snippet about a cookbook called Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. I was immediately intrigued. Apparently, I was not the only one because the book was out of stock everywhere I looked. It wasn’t even available from the publisher. After Christmas, I finally found a lone Amazon seller who had a copy and I pounced.

It arrived in the mail today and I have never been so hungry in my life. As far as cookbooks go these days, it is fairly lo-fi. No glossy photos, no detailed techniques. It’s more like a treasure trove of recipes from your grandma. If your grandma is from Louisiana, that is.

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I grew up in Tennessee, but have a deep and abiding love for the food that comes from Cajun country. My grandmother, of Cajun lineage, was born in Louisiana and grew up in SE Texas. I really cannot think of my grandma without thinking of food. She embodied home cooking. Smothered potatoes, chicken fried steak, creamed corn, pie, pie and pie. But it is her gumbo recipe that has been passed down like an heirloom.

Gumbo is one of the only things my Daddy cooks (gumbo and Saturday morning pancakes). He learned from his mom and she learned from hers. It all starts with the roux. Not the light, butter-based roux of French cuisine. This is dark roux, cooked over medium heat for half an hour. Roux the color of chocolate. Roux is the heart and soul of gumbo. If you don’t cook it long enough, the gumbo ends up weak and flavorless. If you cook it too long, it is bitter and worthless. Get it just right and it is the taste of home (my home, at least).

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This is actually a shade or two lighter than it was by the end of cooking.

If you manage to track down a copy of Cooking Up a Storm, you should try the “Turkey Bone Gumbo” (p. 74). It’s pretty close to my family’s recipe. It won’t be as good as mine, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it almost as much. 😉

Meanwhile, I’ll be busy trying out beignets, grillades and grits, red beans and rice, Mr. B’s crawfish risotto, praline cookies, and at least a couple of the 6 different bread pudding recipes.

Laissez les bon temps roulez! Let the good times roll! (I may be rolling too after all this good food!)

P.S. In case you were wondering, now you have an idea of where the blog name came from.

My children seem to have an inordinate attachment to their blankets. Not just a Linus-like attachment to one. All of the blankets they have been given since birth are piled on the beds each night. Each children knows which blanket belongs to whom and who gave it to them. Layers of crib-sized blankets are topped with more appropriately sized blankets and comforters. This is not necessarily a bad thing given our location, but it does make bed-making more complex.

The other night, as I lay down in the girls’ bed to sing bedtime songs to Sarah, I noticed the different layers and started to think of the many different hands that made them. A small tied quilt and a knit blanket made for Lizzie by my mother-in-law. A blanket crocheted by a church member for Sarah and delivered to the hospital by the pastor right after she was born. A quilt I pieced and hand quilted for Lizzie. A blanket crocheted by a friend for Sarah. On top of all of these layers, there is a full-sized scrap quilt that my great-grandmother made.

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It’s hard to feel bad about tucking them in under so many layers made by hand with so much love.