> I had it all planned out. Six weeks ago I scoured the internet (pickyourown.org) to find out if there were any “pick your own” type of farms in the area, as I had never been out on a berry farm to pluck the delicious treasures straight from the vine. Success! The Landry-Poche family farm was just an hour north of here, near Ponchatoula, located outside the small town of Springfield, LA. Ponchatoula is the self-proclaimed “Strawberry Capital of the World” and fittingly, touts a Strawberry Festival each spring. This year’s festival was last week, but Alex and I wanted to wait until this weekend for Landry-Poche farm’s “pick your own” 1 day event.
I can’t recommend the folks at Landry-Poche enough. They were kind and generous, and didn’t mind chatting with me about their farm, which has been in the family since the 1920s. Glad to hear that they are all making a living at it, selling their product mainly to Whole Foods in New Orleans. Although, the woman I spoke with was quick to say that the price of berries stays constant, while their costs regretfully continue to go up each year. Finding labor is also an issue, as they hire migrant workers from Mexico. Everything must be done by hand, no machines here.
Here are some great pictures captured at the farm:
In all, we spent about an hour and picked a mere 3.15 pounds. However, we were not going for speed but for quality, choosing the sweetest berries for our jam.
Back at the house, I preceded to get 9 quilted jelly jars ready for this big moment. Then, I hulled and crushed 6 cups of those perfect berries (kind of broke my heart) and mixed them with 5 cups of sugar. At this point, I had a feeling that this would not be low-sugar, diabetes-friendly stuff:
To conclude, it was a worthwhile adventure. What a joy to follow our berries from field to homemade jam. It was a great success, although there are definitely a couple things we know now that we didn’t know before (such as, remember to skim off the foam of the cooked jam before filling the jars). Other than that, I am happy with the finished product – we taste-tested a small leftover amount, warm on toast last night. Super sweet, but the flavor is bright and fresh!
Now if only I had Mimi’s homemade bread to go with this jam, it would be almost like sitting in her kitchen, having an everyday breakfast on the farm…
> Here are some recent pictures from the adventures in the Crescent City. If the current weather persists, we are looking at Springtime already! After the coldest nights this weekend (I think we did get below freezing), the air has turned warm and fresh, letting us all know that long days and perfect nights are on the way.
With time on my hands, I am trying to better myself and learn new things, such as cooking & eating more healthily, reducing the toxicity and waste in the house, and taking care of the pets in the best ways possible (fresh air, healthy food, and exercise for them, too). Also, I am starting to read up on growing my own produce and perhaps keeping a couple of chickens someday. I have planted a small seed potato in a bushel baskets filled with compost from local, small business (Jefferson Feed in Jefferson, LA and Harold’s Plants, close to my house off St. Claude). There has never been a better time for me to learn about improving for myself and the planet, albeit in small ways. Hoping to have access to a surplus of local peppers and fruits this summer so I can try my luck at canning fruit & pepper jellies!
In other news, I have been checking the on-line sources for upcoming concerts, festivals, and activities around the city. Seems like the Spring IS the most happening time here in NOLA – with plenty of activities outside to enjoy the beautiful weather (before it turns into a hot mess of a swamp in July).
Looking forward to coming back home to Kansas for Easter weekend!
Enjoy yourself & be well,
Been quite a while, but we have been busy hosting many guests and enjoying the festivities this Mardi Gras (and Superbowl) season!
While over Christmas and New Year’s Alex was visiting friends and family back in Kansas, my good friend Iwona came from Poland via Chicago to visit New Orleans for the first time. I had not seen her for many years and was excited (in the least) to share my most recent adventure with her. The best things we did were eating at The Joint for her first meal here, as well as indulging in Sunday brunch at my old employer, Apolline. Other than that, we moseyed around the Quarter, Marigny, and Bywater. Iwona took many wonderful photographs which I would love to share, however they are currently locked in my old laptop, unable to be freed from Electronic’s Hades. Hopefully, where there is a will there is a way and I will get to post some here eventually.
Soon after Iwona’s departure and Alex’s return, my parents came down from Overland Park. This was Mom’s second visit to New Orleans (the first was only a couple days with me last June) and Dad’s first time. Neither had been to our neighborhood, and it truly was a great experience for them to stay at the Elysian Fields Inn. Always a blast to show them around town, both by car and by foot, as there is no other place like New Orleans – especially in the architecture and people-watching department.
Next, Alex and I hosted his brother and sister-in-law, Jacob and Crystal, who flew down from Lincoln, NE. Simultaneously, Dylan, the African drum guru extraordinaire, stayed with us, coming from Lawrence, KS. Luckily, the trio came for the most exciting – and first of the season – Mardi Gras Parade: Krewe du Vieux. A highly raunchy and satirical parade, we watched with glee on Frenchman Street and tried to get as close as we could to the fascinating floats. Check out the website for more information about this local, seasonal treasure. I also hope to get access to some of Crystal photographs of the parade, as she got right in the action, jumping in front of the floats fearlessly with her snazzy camera and skills.
So things I do have pictures of….
Superbowl concerts by the great Mississippi River
Puttering around the house…
If you go to New Orleans, you got to see the Mardi Gras
Originally, we went out walking dressed normally, but quickly found that we had better dress up in order to avoid strange looks. And yes the men are wearing girl’s clothes, and loving it.
Some jazz giants killin’ it. First time seeing these guys, and I left very very happy.
Last weekend was the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival in Armstrong Park, to celebrate the bicentennial of the Treme neighborhood (1812-2012) and its delicious culture. I went on Saturday afternoon and saw the Hot 8 Brass Band, Soul Rebels Brass Band, and of course – my favorite – the Dirty Dozen Brass Band:
Gregory Davis doin’ double on the horns.
This past Sunday, after both Alex and me got off work, we were lucky enough to head over to Uptown for the Oak Street Po’boy Festival. We sampled many different items, including a crabmeat and shrimp po’boy from Ms. Linda Green. Also, we had “shrimp corn dogs” aka deep-friend, cornmeal-battered shrimp on a stick with a side of crawfish mac-and-cheese (from Palate). The strangest thing we tried was a savory cheesecake from Jacques-Imo’s – parmesan crust, alligator sausage, and shrimp sauce. I did not love it… but I did not hate it. It was intriguing.
Saved the best for last – Chucho Valdez and his quintet blew Alex and me away on Monday. I heard about this show and knew that I had to be there. Luckily, I was available and Alex met up with me after work. Chucho (piano), Yaroldy Abreu Robles (congas), Dreiser Durruty Bambole (bata drums), Rodney Barreto (drum set), and Gaston Joya (bass) played for nearly two hours, delivering more than I ever could have imagined. With three percussionists, a bass player, and Chucho on piano, the night was non-stop polyrhythm, poignantly intoxicating, always danceable. They blended African religious roots, Cuban syncretism, funky grooves, and jazz styles in an explosion of mysteriously fresh creativity – while simultaneously honoring their ancestral cultures.
In other “news,” getting ready for Thanksgiving here. Baking up a storm here with my little helper, Bruiser (a co-worker’s dog who is staying with me for a few days). Here’s a picture of our time together already. By the way, Dot is very interested in him.
8 Trying to spend time outside – from attending free concerts in Armstrong Park and Lafayette Square, to soaking up the sun in the courtyard!
Hope you enjoy some of my pictures. A couple of weeks ago, Alex and I got to go see Antibalas perform at the historical venue, Tipitina’s (dedicated to the memory of Professor Longhair, the great New Orleans piano party man). Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos, but I danced all night long in the front row! They really blew me away with their immense talents, mesmerizing polyrhythms, and entertaining visual show.
More shows coming up this week, hopefully I can stay awake after work and make it out for some good grooving…
7 Greetings from the Big Easy!
In case you may not know, the Foree/Parker family welcomed a new member on Tuesday, September 18th. Alison and Garrett are now the proud and tired parents of a little man, Andrew Robert Parker. He came a week early and dropped to planet earth (from the stork’s basket, of course) on his parents two-year wedding anniversary – what a special day. Needless to say, I am quite aflutter to be a first-time aunt. Glad that both mother and baby are doing well, healthy as can be.
In other news…
Things are back to “normal” here on Marais St. Good friends Carl, Eric, and Gus from Kansas spent last week with us. We were sorry to see them go early Sunday morning and are hoping that they return soon. I think everyone had a fulfilling trip, and got to see/do what they wanted.
I was pretty busy with substituting kindergarten, going to class, doing my school volunteering, and hostessing at Apolline – but Alex got to spend sufficient time entertaining our guests. When I wasn’t busy, I joined them on adventures to St. James Cheese Company and Butcher. At St. James, Eric had a wonderful time discussing cheeses with the cheese girl, as he is a former cheese boy himself. Although, in my opinion, once you are a cheese boy you simply grow up into a cheese man. Butcher was also amazing! I had the best turkey sandwich I can ever recall. If you ever come to NOLA and want a fancy sandwich or need some meat – make a trip to Butcher. If you want cheese, make it St. James.
Alex and his amigos also made it to the fresh seafood market in Wamego. We concocted many delicious meals together, which may have been the highlight of everyone’s time together:
Alex and I also took Gus and Carl (before Eric arrived by plane Thursday) to Lafayette Cemetery:
All that excitement may have been too much for them:
We were also excited to show them the St. Roch Tavern next door, on Thursday nights, for J.D. Hill and the Jammers – a blues open jam:
And of course, we did more eating. This time giant ribeye steaks (meat from Alex’s parents), parmesan and dill mashed potatoes, and a cranberry-tomato-cucumber-spinach northern Italian salad. Eric provided a delicious sweet and smoky adobo pepper sauce for the steaks…. yum:
The gentleman made ample use of our outdoor courtyard, of which all credit due must be given to the wonderful Ann. We were lucky enough to have a couple of days of cooler weather (unfortunately, the heat HAS returned in full force). The outdoor space, complete with small pool and chickens, truly is a luxury. And no one is sadder to see the guys go than Miss Dot herself, who absolutely loved the extra attention.
Last night, Alex, our neighbor and friend James, and I attended the free Dr. John and the Lower 911 concert at Lafayette Square. It was part of a concert series taking place every Wednesday night (5 to 7:30) for a few weeks this fall, titled Harvest the Music. The series is to raise money for the Greater New Orleans Food Bank to provide food for those than are in need. Due to the sponsors and wonderful food/beverage vendors, the shows are free to the public. I was very excited as Dr. John is one of my all-time favorite artists and I had never seen him before; in fact, moving to New Orleans may have been in part inspired by the desire to see some of these older funksters (that don’t seem to make it to Lawrence, KS) in their hometown. He and his band were out-of-this-world-funky and I enjoyed grooving close to the stage. I cannot believe Dr. John is real – he always seemed like a mythical musical voodoo priest sent from deep in the swampy Atlantis – but alas he is real, flesh-and-blood. His show consisted of both old goodies (“I Been Hoodooed”, “Life”, “Such a Night”, “Food for Thot”) and new hits from his album Locked Down. I am hoping that he stops in for the Thursday night jam at the Tavern, as he is known to do when in town.
I felt that the trombonist had a stellar show – she was phenomenal.
I just can’t believe this amazing show was free and neither can James nor Alex:
Laissez les bonz temps rouler! (still working on the pronunciation…)
6 Been back almost a week from our week-long exodus to Kansas, after tropical-storm-turned-hurricane Isaac threatened our new city. I know I enjoyed seeing everyone so soon, and I can bet that Alex did, too. We are looking forward to hosting Alex’s friends Gus and Carl, who I believe will be visiting us next weekend.
In other news, I am also getting excited for my first nephew to arrive. Hope Alison and her feet are not suffering too much under the last couple weeks of pregnancy. Holla for baby Delmar/Andrew Robert!
Alex and I have not been getting to too many shows lately (trying to save some $$$), but there are some good ones coming up in the next weeks and months ahead… so stay tuned. Instead, been focused on food.. cooking, eating, and of course, doing dishes. Here are some pictures of our simple, yet delicious creations:
(Sorry it is so shiny, had to use my camera’s flash. It was fun to make sauce from scratch for the first time.)
Finally got to fire up the fancy grill in the courtyard for the burgers, “it sure works well” says my belly, or maybe Alex is just grill master.
Also, Alex has been delivering amazing authentic Mexican food for Brandito’s Burritos in the St. Roch Tavern next door. He is proud to deliver a product he can believe in I think he has plans to try out for a cover band next week… not unlike Michael Beers Band of KC. Good luck to him (or break a leg?)!
I have resumed work as a hostess at Apolline, a fancy-pants restaurant on Magazine St. At brunch yesterday I was lucky enough to get to sample some of the food. Great job perk. (Unfortunately, all of the candles you see on their website that create the mysterious atmosphere were broken by me a couple weeks ago. Management isn’t too upset, and replacements are on the way.)
Had my first class on Tuesday which I enjoyed. Of course, I am also enjoying doing my homework – reading my education book and contemplating “my personal educational philosophy.” Rest assured, it is one of a kind.
Other than eating and thinking about eating, Alex and I have both been biking some, as well as listening to the record player and WWOZ 90.7 to get funked up.
George is also good and producing her own “creations” if you know what I mean (…not so edible).