Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake
Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Party Time in South Louisiana

I raised my children in north Louisiana but, due to working at the state level in the Sierra club and going on lots of trips down there, made lots of friends in South Louisiana.  Currently, I'm visiting my dear friend, Hulin who lives in Hammond, Louisiana.  I had had to postpone my visit by a day because Natalie and I had invited the neighbor to supper on Monday before Natalie remembered she had another engagement.  I had already agreed to cook for it so I had to tell Hulin I was detained to cook.

I barely got my greeting hug in before Hulin informed me I was cooking for six on Sunday.  (When he edited this, he said his words were "We're putting on a party." ) So a few days ago, I started planning the food and making lists of what we needed and scheduling everything so, hopefully,  it would all come out together. We did our shopping before we went paddling Saturday.  That evening,  I made the broccoli slaw - there are NO bags of broccoli slaw in Hammond. I also marinated the pork loin in a mix of honey, Dijon mustard, and apricot preserves and baked the sweet potatoes and a rum cake. Early Sunday. morning I made the glaze for the rum cake, (with only a few licks of the brush when I was basting the cake) made a batch of chipotle sweet potatoes then made sweet potato biscuits to take to a friend of Hulin'a  who had invited us for a late  breakfast to enjoy orange jucie that, moments earlier, had been in oranges hanging on a tree.

Marila and her home  were both  truly wonderful surprises..  I found Maria was a kindred soul who lives in the blue house I most covet in Hammond.  She is also the author of the book Hulin gave me for Christmas. For years I've schemed to sneak in and look at her beautiful wooded property. Inside she had a kitchen painted dark red, another favorite,  and a HUGE back porch type room the size of a ballroom.  But wait, there's more! We took our eggs, juice, biscuits and Mayhaw jelly (the finest kind) to a patio by an old pool she has converted into a little swamp. This was surrounded by all kinds of flowers in pots. She lets water hyacinths grow there and then feeds whole plants to her chickens who love them. She is a landscaper by trade and a gardener by heart and has a wonderful collection of interesting plants on her five acres. She also has paths to other places on her property, where she is developing their different personalities.   I could have spent the day there, and now have a standing invitation to come stay with her any time and garden to my heart's desire. Hulin was getting worried because I wasn't working on dinner so we sent him homebefore Maria and I went off to the LSU Experimental gardens.  We decided to provide data on how some of their camellias last as cut flowers. I brought some back and decorated the table with holly, walnuts, pine cones, and the camellias, much to Hulin's chagrin. I told him it was my charge for cooking.
The table with guests in background
 After a few more hours of chopping and cooking, dinner was finished, our guests, including Maria, were here, and the party was underway. I think this may have been my first time when everything was ready on time and there were no catastrophes. I had a wonderful time with old and new friends. Hulin is at his best in company and quoted a lovely poem on love to us. And the best part was that Daryl and Martina washed all the dishes so our kitchen is nice and clean. And we even have leftovers to use in wraps for lunch tomorrow. Monday evening, Maria is going to bring me an onion and then stay for sweet potato soup.  So I DID learn from my Thanksgiving mistake - ALWAYS cook a bigger  batch of sweet potatoes than you immediately need. . I cooked seven large ones and have used 4 cups to make biscuits and will make a big batch of sweet potato soup.
Martina washed the dishes and Daryl dried.
 I meant to take pictures of all the food but I got so interested in the conversation, I forgot. But we had broccoli slaw salad, green beans with shallots and mushrooms,  pork loin, sweet potato biscuits, and rum cake.

The rum cake
By the way, notice anything about these pictures?  I took all of them in natural light and Hulin's kitchen is very dim. Santa just sent me a Cannon SX40 is.  I was pretty amazed by these pictures. Can't wait to try it on landscapes, flowers, birds, and butterflies.