Working late on New Year’s Eve is not something that we want to make a habit of…. But, this year, …
Back to Blogging, Carolyn Wright Lafayette, Charlie Shunick, Food Blogger in Lafayette, Food Blogger Louisiana, Food in Lafayette, Food in South Louisiana, I praise of Lafayette Community, Life after Tragedy, Louisiana Food blogger, Mickey Shunick
I have been pretty absent from my Blog since the Kidnapping of Mickey Shunick. She, as well as her sister, Charlie, are close friends with my daughter, Meredith. Since May 19th, I just found myself unable to write about something as “trivial” as food…when a beautiful young woman had been taken by some horrible stranger as she was just riding home, where she lived with her parents.
This whole tragedy has shaken our family, as well as the entire Lafayette Community…to the core. Our Community came together in a spirit of unity, determination and with so much love – that I knew existed here, but had never seen it in action. From day one, family, friends and strangers from all over showed up to Help Find Mickey. Hundreds of thorough foot searches in heavy wooded fields, swamps, coulees and bayous were conducted all throughout Acadiana. Hundreds of volunteers came forward to make flyers, pass out flyers, tape up flyers, coordinated fund-raisers, candlelight vigils, making t-shirts, bracelets, yard signs and bumper stickers! Children would come to the Headquarters to color butterflies for Mickey. Anything that you could think to do…got done, quickly and usually through donations from our generous community. There was a calendar set up to bring food to the Shunick Family that was very well-coordinated, so that they would not have to worry or even think about meals…they simply showed up!
And the family…Nancy, Tom, Charlie and Zach…They have to be the most genuine, gentle and loving people who I have ever had to honor to meet. This is what “True Grit” is, my friends…”Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway”. This family “saddled up” and rode through the saddest days of their lives with the courage of saints, with grace and dignity that I truly thought no longer existed. I will always look to them as my role model on how to cope with tragedies when they come along in my life.
And then there is “Mighty Mickey”…after waiting and searching for 3 months to Find Mickey, we finally know what happened on that tragic night. We know how hard she fought to stay alive. As her mother Nancy has said, “It took a truck, a knife and a gun to bring Mickey down”. “She fought for the life she loved, and she DID love everything about her life!” Mickey has been able to lock away a Rapist, a Kidnapper and a Murderer for the rest of his life. He will never be able to hurt anyone (or their families and friends) again. I believe that Mickey is now “walking through rainbows”, touching stars and looking out for all of those wonderful people in her life that loved her so dearly. There is not a doubt in my mind that she is in perpetual peace with her Lord where we will all meet up again!
So, as I am trying to close this chapter, I remember Charlie being so excited about some of my blogs…expecially the post on Sylvain’s in New Orleans…(She worked there and was with us when we went!!) So, Charlie…in your honor, I am committing to getting back to business with this Blog, “When Food Works”.
I really want to encourage everyone to have fun with food – make your kitchen a warm gathering place for family and friends. Try new foods, go to new restaurants, go to your old faithful places too….but mostly make memories! Life is short and then there are memories…
This post is being written with a heavy heart, but a heart that knows that we need to continue doing those things that make ourselves and others happy. We all need to love our lives, at least a fraction of how much Mickey loved hers!
Food Works when people are in pain, Food Works when people are happy….my best guess is that Food Just Works!
God Bless Mickey and God Bless her family and friends. She will never be forgotten.
I guess it was in the peak of our “little drought” in June, when the tomatoes were at their peak…I was trying my best to keep the plants from frying in the sun and at the same time – trying to find (and invent) ways to use them all! That is when you are “up to your ears” in wonderful Heirloom Tomatoes of all colors – and if you have your own plants (and, of course, I always get carried away in early spring when it is time to plant!) you are finding every sunny windowsill lined and baskets on the countertops full of these juicy summer miracles.
After you have gotten over the thrill of another year of ripe tomato sandwiches (made with real – not light mayo on fresh slices of Evangeline Maid white bread) with a touch of salt and pepper, tomato salads, stuffed tomatoes, tomatoes in everything you cook, you might even decide to put some up in canning jars – just to ensure that you can enjoy them longer! Yes, I did put up a whole pot of creole tomatoes and plan on making them last as long as I can!!
It was at the end of one of those long hot days, when I just had to have a cold soup…one that I could make and keep in the fridge for the week – to bring along to work for a cool light lunch (Maybe with one of those decadent tomato sandwiches!). With all of the tomatoes sitting on my counter and something had to be done with them!…a Gazpacho was the first and most logical soup that popped into my mind….
I use the recipe that I picked up at The Hub City Farmer’s Market from “Linda Jo”, from Youngsville, La, who makes homemade salsa. It is so easy and comes out perfect every time! Now, of course, not everyone will be fortunate enough to have a pantry full of Linda Jo’s Salsa….so just use your favorite or make your own!
1 cucumber seeded and chopped, but not peeled
1 red pepper and 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 ripe tomatoes – chopped
3 cups tomato juice
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 16 ounce jar of Linda Jo’s Salsa (or your favorite brand)
small bunch of cilantro – chopped finely
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well and chill before serving…best if chilled overnight!
Will keep well in fridge for a week.
This cold soup is a favorite in my family…so I can promise that it would work for yours!! Enjoy….
“Party Food”! Who doesn’t like party food? Everyone I know (almost!) loves to graze on dips and hors d’oeuvres for hours!! Not realizing that those little finger sandwiches (that you just pop in your mouth) are really 1/4th of a whole sandwich…who hasn’t eaten their share of those wonderful little bites – only to realize, later, that they probably ate the equivalent of 3 whole sandwiches! Same thing with those darn little meatballs or meatpies…or God forbid those little wieners drenched in barbeque sauce!! Why don’t we just stick to the beautiful little veggie tray – we all hit it (out of self-respect)…but, not many of us can (or should, in my opinion) turn down real party food~
Whenever I have any type of party, I always go overboard on the food…go figure! But, there is one dip that I always have and no one can resist…good ole Corn Dip. If you don’t have this recipe and have never tasted this addictive dip, then you need to copy this recipe for your next party – your friends and family will love you for it!
2 cans of whole kernel corn
1 8 oz container of sour cream
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 bunch of green onions – chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper – seeds removed and chopped finely
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 cup of salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 bunch cilantro (fresh – chopped finely) or 1 tsp dried
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and let sit in fridge at least 4 hours or longer…
That’s it!!! Quick and easy…but a favorite – I promise!
Now, for a party food that I don’t make every time I have a party, but is one of my favorites – from years gone by…Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes. You can really stuff the cherry tomatoes with any kind of soft herb cheese, shrimp or crab salad – anything you can think of…but my favorite is always with guacamole.
GUACAMOLE STUFFED CHERRY TOMATOES:
2 dozen large “round” cherry tomatoes
3 ripe avocados
2 tbsp minced onion
1 lemon – juice only
2 ripe tomatoes – finely chopped or use the “scooped out” portion of the cherry tomatoes
1 tsp chili power
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Clean the Tomatoes:
With a very sharp paring knife – cut out the stem of each cherry tomato. Then, cut a little hole into the middle – removing most of the center of the tomato. Use a very small spoon, if necessary. Reserve the “scooped out” tomato pieces and juice for the guacamole.
Place each tomato upside down on paper towels to drain.
Make the Guacamole:
Peel and remove the seed of each avocado
With a fork, mash the avocado well
Add tomatoes, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion and lemon juice and blend well with mashed avocados
Stuff the Tomatoes:
Using a very small spoon or piping bag – fill each tomato with the guacamole.
Top each tomato with a sprinkle of chili powder.
Put on a pretty party tray and watch them disappear!!!
Party Food that works…kind of makes me start thinking about our next little event – both of these will be there, for sure!!!!
Baked Tomatoes, Carolyn Wright Lafayette, Coconut Cake, Easter Menu, Food Blogger in Lafayette, Food Blogger Louisiana, Food in Acadiana, Food in South Louisiana, Fruit Salad, Grillades and Grits, Keller's Bakery Downton Lafayette, Louisiana Food blogger
Over the years, I have tried many different holiday menus on my “patient” family (you name it – I’ve cooked it!)…always ending with Mama’s Coconut Cake! But, that Coconut Cake…most of the time, the poor thing just leaned in one direction and some years, I just told the kids that the Easter Bunny knocked it over when he was filling their baskets! So, when it doesn’t “lean” or “fall”…I am thrilled
About 5 years ago, as we sat down for an Easter Brunch of Grillades and Grits, Baked Tomatoes, Cheese Biscuits and Fruit Salad…everyone was sooo happy – that it was agreed (loudly) that it should be a tradition! And, my children know that they don’t have to ask twice…it was a done deal! Now that I am really thinking about it…maybe it is the “Brunch” idea that they really like – meaning that I feed them earlier than normal – sort of!
My Grillades recipe has been worked out through the years and is now set in stone…in my house….(You can use beef, veal or pork, but I always choose beef sirloin – sliced about 1/2 thick.)
1 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
Mix all seasonings together in a small bowl.
4 lbs top sirloin or round steak (no thicker than 1/2 inch) – cut into pieces (about 4 inches X 4 inches)
8-10 cups beef consomme’ or beef broth (canned in fine!)
3 medium onions – chopped finely
4 stalks celery – chopped finely
1 bell pepper – chopped finely
4 cloves of garlic – minced
1 large can of tomato paste
1/2 cup of canola oil
All purpose flour – enough to coat meat
1/2 cup green onions – chopped
2 bay leaves
Season meat with 1/2 of the seasoning mix and coat with flour
Heat oil in a large heavy pot
Brown meat well, on all sides, scraping the bottom of the pot often (cook in 2 batches if necessary…only brown one layer of meat at a time)
Remove meat from pot and set aside in a platter or half sheet pan
Scrape bottom of pot to loosen the drippings or “debris”
Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic to pot and cook until soft – continue to scrape bottom of pot to make sure that all of the drippings consolidate with the onion mix;
Add tomato paste and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes – stir constantly
Slowly add beef consomme’ or broth to pot, blending well in between the additions
Return browned meat to pot
Add the other 1/2 of the seasoning mix and bay leaves
Cook on a medium heat, stirring often, until the meat is “falling apart” tender – about 3 hours.
Sprinkle with green onions and serve over creamy grits…
Pair with baked yellow and red tomatoes…
Savory Cheese Biscuits…
And, a bright fresh fruit salad…
Now, this is a meal that works!
Getting back to that Coconut Cake…not a “slider” and not a “Leaning Tower of Pisa” – It became a combination Easter/Birthday cake for my son-in-law!
It’s my mama’s filling that really wins you over!
Just for lagniappe – It would be considered a venial sin if any holiday would come around and I would not go by Keller’s Bakery, in Downtown Lafayette, for a box of our favorite cookies! Everyone, in my family, expects to see them…but more importantly – it gives me “the warm fuzzies” to just look at them on a pretty platter…
Who could resist?!!!
A note about Keller’s Bakery and these cookies…When I was growing up, every Sunday night (after 6:00 pm mass) our parents would take my brother and I Downtown to get some Folse’s Hot Tamales and Keller’s cookies. These Sand Tarts with Chocolate Centers and the White Iced Brownies were the ones that we always picked out…Many a Sunday night – as we watched the Ed Sullivan Show, my brother and I would wipe out an ungodly amount of these delicious little things (Almost to the point where we thought that we would get sick!). We never grew tired of them and still today, they are our favorites…If that isn’t something that “works” then I don’t know what else would!!!
I love days like today – good ole “new” days that bring back old memories and traditions helping us to create some of the best memories that we can imagine for the kids and that wonderful “next generation”…If you think that they aren’t paying attention – you’re not watching ….they don’t miss a thing, always watching!. I guess if you are making good food and bringing your family together – the good new memories just happen – I promise…
Grillades and Grits for an Easter Sunday Brunch or any special occasion…Wonderful!!