In Louisiana Spring Means Crawfish Boil Season Is Here

Spring in Louisiana means what it does to our neighbors to the north, east and west of the boot.

Beautiful blooms packing a powerful blast of in season colors.

Outdoor living at its finest.

Backyard cookouts and patio entertaining.

Know what else it means? Spring means crawfish boil season is here. Louisianians love to boil, peel and eat these freshwater crustaceans in quantity and quality.  We do love our seafood here in the boot, and from March to June we set the tables, plan the menus, and prepare the seafood dishes around crawfish boil season.

Boiled-Crawfish-on-plate

Crawfish taste almost like lobster, with the differences between the two basically amounting to cost, size and seasoning.  Crawfish are native to the swamps and marshes of south Louisiana and farmed crawfish ponds of the Gulf Coast region.  Louisiana produces approximately 150 million pounds of crawfish annually, and also ranks as the nations number one provider of shrimp, oysters, crabs and alligator.  Boiled to seasoned perfection, the crawfish boil is a weekend backyard gathering, festival or fais do-do in the making.

crawfish-stuff-app

Those in the best price for crawfish in your area know you need an app for that.  The Crawfish App is a free app available on iTunes.  The app uses your device’s location or an entered address to list crawfish vendors in the area. You have the ability to view by price, reviews, or distance.

crawfish boil supplies

It’s amazing how a crustacean can create culinary excitement throughout the cities and parishes.  We love to host a crawfish boil or two or ten during the season for friends, neighbors, coworkers and family.  Fire up the pot and bring on the onions, garlic, celery, potatoes, lemons, crab boil and culinary imagination.  I’ve been to crawfish boils where the host chef adds smoked or andouille sausage, okra, carrots, cabbage and fresh mushrooms to the seasoned boil.  The flavor and the taste can be summed up in three words.

C’est. Si. Bon!

Food is the language of Louisiana, and ours is a flavored speak.

Zatarains shrimp crab boil

Zatarain’s Shrimp & Crab Boil

Here’s a tip from the Places In The Home test kitchen~ add a drop of Zatarain’s liquid shrimp & crab boil to potato soup.

Delicious.

LouisianaCrawfishBoilrecipeImage

Zatarain’s® Crawfish Boil

Ingredients

3 pounds yellow onions

6 heads garlic

6 lemons, halved

1 package (73 ounces) ZATARAIN’S® Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil – Complete

4 pounds small red potatoes

1 sack (35 to 40 pounds) live crawfish, cleaned

1 bunch celery, cut in bite-size pieces

¼ cup ZATARAIN’S® Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil

1 box ZATARAIN’S® Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil – In a Bag

12 frozen half ears corn on the cob

Directions

Fill an 80-quart crawfish boiling pot with a basket 1/3 to ½ with water. Place pot on a jet-style propane burner on high heat. Add onions, garlic and lemon halves.  (You can use a small laundry bag for lemons and garlic. Or just leave the onions in the mesh bag they come in from the grocery with tags removed.)

Bring to full rolling boil. Stir in Crab Boil Complete.  Add potatoes (in their mesh bag from the grocery or a laundry bag).  Reduce heat to medium-low. Boil 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Remove potatoes.

Return water to full rolling boil on high heat.  Add crawfish, celery, liquid Crab Boil and Crab Boil bag.  Return water to full rolling boil on high heat. Start checking doneness just before water returns to full rolling boil.  As soon as small gaps start to appear between the head and the tail on the largest crawfish, they are done.  Turn off heat.  Add frozen corn and cooked potatoes.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Remove corn and potatoes. Let crawfish stand for a minimum of 30 minutes, but 45 minutes is better. Serves: 20

To clean crawfish: Pour live crawfish into a washtub or ice chest; cover with water.  Drain.  Repeat 3 to 4 times until crawfish are clean.  Drain. Discard any dead crawfish and debris.

~Zatarain’s

Turn up the heat, the music and the good times with a crawfish boil.

cest-si-bon

An Afternoon Drive: Houses of The Historic Garden District

George Clooney’s character in the movie Michael Clayton works for a prominent law firm in the capacity of janitor, a lean, mean cleaner of situations gone askew. Have you ever Googled the word askew?  This page alone proves the gang over at Google has quite a sense of humor.  Getting back to the George Clooney reference.  I am the Michael Clayton here at Places In The Home.  Keeping these home fires burning, running smooth and in balance comes with a certain amount of stress.  Being stressed is not good.  Stressed is desserts spelled backwards, but my backwards is big enough, if you know what I mean.  Enter a fat-free, stress-free and well, free Rx for the mind, body and soul.  An afternoon drive viewing houses of the historic Garden District clears away the cobwebs and reminds me how much I love what I do.

houses of the historic Garden DistrictCorinthian Columns

“Architecture mirrors eternal harmony….music echoes it.”  

Otto Van Simpon

Smooth jazz provides the background music while arches, and columns, and pillars (oh, my!) provide architectural eye candy.  A self-guided tour along brick-lined streets and Louisiana bayous sets a serene scene.

bungalow

My Louisiana Parade of Homes series was a labor of love, and today’s post featuring local residential properties near and dear to my architectural and historical home loving heart is no different.

cold-front-cloud

A cold front rolling across the area is to blame for the dark lighting in some of the images.

ES-garden-districtSpanish Colonial

Spanish-garden-district

A-line-roof

Colonial Revival. Craftsman. Bungalow.

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Italianate. Palladian. Georgian. Just to name a few architectural styles of the houses of the historic Garden District.

magnolia-tree

Modern architectural elements stand out among the grounds of these stately homes and manicured gardens.   The blooms of spring will make a grand statement and give me yet another reason to visit the Garden District.

Queen-Anne

One of several antique horse head hitching posts in the neighborhood.

brick-single

The curb appeal allure is first found in the brick-lined street fronting the detailed brickwork of this single family stunner.

stack

Have a wonderful weekend!

Love your style!

Louisiana Parade Of Homes

Part II of our Louisiana Parade of Homes features local residential properties reminiscent of Louisiana history and culture.

bayou-shot

Bayous and stately homes line the brick streets of the historic Garden District.

French-architecture

Louisiana history is a melange of varied cultures and influences. The accent mark is well placed over the French and Spanish influence that frames our architectural elements, Créole and Cajun cuisine and the law of the Louisiana land. Louisiana law is different from the other 49 states.

cp-concrete

Our state Civil Code is adopted from the Napoleonic Code. Originally based on ancient Roman law, the Napoleonic Code deals in civil law with French and Spanish codes.  What is known as counties in the other 49 are known as parishes here in Louisiana.  You say antiquated, I say unique.  History and tradition holds a court of a different kind here in Louisiana.

DFH

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  

  Charles Caleb Colton

CP-creole

Neighborhoods are replete with Acadian, Southern Colonial, Spanish, Créole and French Louisiana architectural styles.

CP-stately

CP-acadian

Southern opulence, historical influence and phenomenal curb appeal brings it all home.

Love your style!

An Admired Treasure Comes Forth From The Myrtles Plantation Mystery Tour

The door has opened on Part III of  The Myrtles Plantation Mystery Tour : Inspiration, History and Mystery.  The final portion of our story involves history, haunts and Houston.   Here we go!

myrtles-plantationThe Myrtles Plantation ~ Tara Marie Photography

The furnishings inside The Myrtles Plantation include four-poster tester beds, crystal chandeliers, ornamental frieze work, and ornate English, French and Italian architectural attributes. Most impressive to me was the backstory, explanations, insights, legends and lessons of lifestyles, customs and ceremony of the period.  Miss Hester told of how etiquette and ceremony were heavily emphasized.  It was considered in poor taste and bad manners to broach the subject of how long guests would be staying at The Myrtles. When the owners decided the time had come for their guests to be moving on, the center bed finial would be removed while the guests were out of the room.  An immediate departure was expected.  Another story of interest revolved around the main staircase.

antique spindles and newel

A mortgage button (decorative plug) in the newel post of the foyer staircase proudly signified the mansion mortgage was completely paid off. It is believed the property note would then be rolled up, placed in the hollow post, and capped with a decorative plug.  Some historians totally debunk this theory. There are others who say the practice of the time would have been to burn the  property note, therefore, placing the ashes in the hollow post.  Of myth and mystery comes tales that may not be long on historical accuracy,  but make for interesting and intriguing parts of the evening.  The history of The Myrtles and its legend of murder, mystery and sightings is detailed in this short video from The Travel Channel.

I was really into the spirited vibe of the evening for the sake of  the adventure. Far be it from me to discount the tales of tugs and ghostly reflections that others claim to have felt or seen. Miss Hester took me to the side and told me that the children like to show themselves to other children.  She told me of the pull described in the video, and that our son could be visited during the tour.  Dave was freaking out, our son was prepared for paranormal activity with a ghostbuster attitude, and I was dead up (pardon the pun) in the middle of all the mystery and mischief. Could this be what was in store for us this evening?

MyrtlesPlantationGhostvia

Everyone on the Mystery Tour was hanging on Miss Hester’s every word, braced and ready for impact. Between the ghosts and the thrill of what could happen I almost forgot I was on silver lazy susan lookout. When we entered the dining room I immediately saw the lazy susan prominently displayed in the center of the dining table.

Myrtles Interior Dining Room

Even though we immensely enjoyed every moment of the Mystery Tour, I’m sorry to report that  no sightings, tugs, pulls or sounds emerged from the house or the grounds.  We gave it our all trying to get that ghostly feeling, but it was a no-go.  We met a couple from Baton Rouge who were staying in the General David Bradford Suite on the first floor of the main house.  We stood on the back porch comparing our Mystery Tour notes. They invited us to join them for a post mystery tour spirit.  We all got to laughing at the very animated Dave the Builder.  Dave mustered up a shot or two of liquid courage, and in doing so was quite determined to wake the dead.  I reminded him it was probably best to let sleeping spirits lie.

Of course my brother could not wait to find out how we liked St. Francisville, New Roads, and The Myrtles. The conversation began with two to the point questions.  “Did you see the lazy susan?”  Yes.  “Can you find me one?”  Yes I can.  I filed his request away for a future antiquing trip.  Three months after our Myrtles excursion my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and another road trip of a very different kind was the plan.  We moved to Houston, Texas for six weeks for my mother to receive cancer treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  My mother successfully completed her treatment, and thankfully remains cancer-free.

Antique Center of Texas

One afternoon while my parents were resting, Dave and I set out to explore the Westheimer and Buffalo Speedway area of Houston. We lunched at La Madeleine in Highland Village (now closed) and did an abbreviated version of a shop crawl beginning at Pottery Barn.  I called to check in on the parents,  who informed me they were rested and heading out to have dinner with a dear Houstonian friend of ours.  That’s a go for more shopping.  Three guesses what king of shopping I wanted to do!  Oh, boy, is this great!

Flounder

Carolyn Thompson’s Antique Center of Texas was hopping, and the finds and deals got my attention. I was thrilled to find a Pheasant mount, a black and brown English riding derby, and a large copper bowl.  I was shocked when I flipped over the price tag on the bowl to see a super responsible price.  The reason for the great price?  The entire center of the bowl was covered with a poorly done free handed inscription.  Where one person sees a problem another sees a solution. I simply hung the bowl with the center facing the wall. It is one of many items still packed in storage from the move, but as soon as I locate that bad boy I will post a picture.  On our way to the check out Dave happened to spot a booth brimming over with vintage silver pieces. Well, well, well, what do we have here?  We simultaneously spot the silver lazy susan and make a beeline for it.  The dealer approached us with a smile and a dealing mood. I put my best broker face on and played the will you take $$$ game for right under one hour.  Now comes the dance.  I call my brother with the price, he would counter, Dave would pace, I would shop some more, Dave would continue to pace, the dealer would counter- it all goes with the territory.  A fair and final figure was agreed on by all,  and everyone came away a happy camper.  That’s the true definition of a good deal.

silver lazy susan

I hope you have enjoyed the tale of  how an admired treasure came forth from The Myrtles Plantation Mystery Tour.  All roads leading to the lazy susan hold a special meaning to me. In the middle of the fun, the fright and the fight stood family.  Speaking of family, can a brother get some silver polish?

images via Southern Living,  Flickr

 

Tour de Mystery: The Myrtles Mystery Tour

Moving on to the second part of our The Myrtles: Inspiration, History and Mystery adventure, we pick up with our party of three filling the afternoon hours taking in local points of interest while counting down the time to The Myrtles Mystery Tour portion of our trip to St. Francisville, Louisiana.  Our story takes place fifteen years ago, right around the time I opened Hopefully Classic Antiques and Interiors.   Antique shopping was high on the list of things to do, see, and buy.

the-shanty-too

The Shanty Too – Visit St. Francisville

We trekked the streets and shops of downtown St. Francisville until we could trek no more, and now we are on to New Roads, Louisiana.

Miss EmilyMiss Emily – photo by Darrell Chitty

In a glowing review of highlights and attractions of this quaint area the not  story of Miss Emily is a must tell.  Miss Emily was a local woman who worked the queue of vehicles waiting to board the ferry on the St. Francisville side of the Mississippi River selling snacks, homemade pralines and cold drinks.

Sitting in line waiting to drive onto the ferry goes better with an ice cold Coke, salty peanuts and a homemade praline.  We continued our afternoon nosh aboard the ferry as we crossed the Mississippi River. This unique mode of transportation is now closed.  In the name of progress and moving on up, the ferry has been replaced by the  John James Audubon Bridge.  I’m glad we got the chance take a ride on it before it did.

John James AudubonJohn James Audubon Bridge

New Roads did not disappoint. I didn’t know what I was expecting in return from this small town, but it delivered lagniappe in a big way.  We found our way to the main part of town and hit up several antique shops.  The first shop (sorry, I can’t remember the name of any of the shops) specialized in clocks and vintage walking sticks.  Dave the Builder was in his height of glory.   As we entered the shop, we were welcomed by the owner, an older gentleman well versed in the art of antiques and Southern charm, and a lovely older lady whose greeting came in the form of my kind of question, “champagne or fruit punch?”

peach-sunrise-fizz

Our son put in his request for the fruit punch.  I guess she could tell I was a little apprehensive about their comfort level with him in the shop with a goblet full of bright red fruit punch.  I knew this kid was raised in and around the biz and the dos and don’ts in shops and showrooms,  but I also knew she was not privy to this pertinent piece of information.  This lovely and wise woman handled the situation with such grace and tact.  She invited our son to follow her to the butler’s pantry to help fix the drinks and to slip him a chocolate chip cookie or two.  She realized right quick she had made a new friend.

Gosh, what a great memory!

We sipped, shopped and scored two of the most unique antique walking sticks.  I wish I had them both today, but I sold them to a client the following week.

Oh well, the memory is more valuable to me than the walking sticks could ever be.

new-roads

We found a couple of other shops and enjoyed the local fare before heading back via ferry to St. Francisville.  The timing was just right as it was barking up on sunset and coffee time.

Magnolia-cafe

Visit St. Francisville

We crossed another suggested stop off our list by visiting The Magnolia Cafe.   This place is an unpretentious do drop inn heavy on casual fun, food, and drink.

History & Haunting of the Myrtles Plantation

History & Haunting of the Myrtles Plantation

It was about that time to head out for the Myrtles Mystery Tour.  We drove up the winding driveway of The Myrtles, and the setting and timing could not have been better to set the mood and the tone for a mystery tour.  The above image says it better than I can.

Myrtles-Mystery-Tour

Welcome to the Myrtles Mystery Tour

We claimed three of the large rocking chairs on the veranda and pondered what was to come.  While the crowd and the anticipation built, certain imaginations showed signs of running away with the night.  Miss Hester, our tour guide for the evening, casually opened the front door at precisely 7:00 pm and invited the crowd of about twenty to come right on in.

Talk about playing to an attentive and crowded room!

We all gathered together in the foyer with wide eyes and listening ears.  This is where things begin to get interesting.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Regional Favorite With A Kick: Hoppin’ John Grits

Mardi Gras is always on a Louisianian’s mind, especially when it comes to regional cuisine. We like a little kick in our Mardi Gras festivities, and a lot of kick in our food. Hoppin’ John is a Southern favorite recipe of black eyed peas, ham and the Cajun trinity- chopped onion, bell pepper and celery. Although traditionally served with rice, another southern favorite adds a culinary twist and turn.  Grits are about as Southern as you can get,and another house favorite of the Places In The Home gang. This recipe for Hoppin’ John Grits resulted in an unanimous chorus of C’est si  bon, cher!

hoppin'-john-grits

Hoppin’ John Grits

Ingredients

1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups ham hocks

1 cup dry black eyed peas, soaked overnight or quick boiled

3 cups water

1 can chicken broth

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

2  teaspoons parsley flakes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 bay leaves

green onions for garnish, optional

Directions

Quick boil for black eyed peas.

black eyed peas

Bring 3 cups of water and 1 cup black eyed peas to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Pour off all water.

sliced ham

Heat olive oil in pan. Sear ham on both sides.  Before adding to the water, I prefer to saute the Cajun trinity in ½ Tablespoon olive oil and an additional ¼ teaspoon pepper (the kick).  This step is totally optional.

cajun trinity

Add water, chicken broth, peas, chopped onion, bell pepper and celery.  Stir well, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add remaining ingredients. Cook for 1 ½ -2 hours or until peas or tender.  If liquid cooks down too much add additional water or broth.

Hoppin' John black eyed peas

Grits

Ingredients

4 cups water

1 cup grits

½ teaspoon salt

6 teaspoons butter or margarine

milk or half and half to taste

Directions

Bring water to a brisk boil.  Add grits and salt into boiling water.  Whisk together, reducing heat to medium-low and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened. Whisk occasionally during cooking to avoid lumps.  Add 1 teaspoon butter or margarine per serving and desired amount of milk or half and half , stirring to blend.  Serves 6.  Plate grits and top with Hoppin’ John. Green onions may be added as garnish.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

enjoy