Tag Archives: Louisiana

Our Favorite Music Festival

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Last Saturday and Sunday, Chet and I grabbed our Tom Bihn‘s and a couple of camp chairs and headed out into the sunshine for a healthy dose of Cajun music (and food). Festivals Acadiens is a music, food, and craft festival held each year at Girard Park in Lafayette, and celebrates the rich culture of south Louisiana. It is our favorite festival by far.

There are several stages scattered throughout the park, each featuring a different stomp-your-feet-along-with-the-music Cajun band, and even a jam tent for those musicians flying solo who still want to get in on the fun. Bonus? Admission to the festival is completely free. And better yet? Even the food and (flowing) booze aren’t too high-priced. And can we talk about the food! I mean, HELLO! Crawfish etouffee stuffed potatoes, boudin sliders, beignets, spicy sausage po-boys…the list goes on and on.

As we drooled over our latest food selection and musicians crooned en francais in the background, Chet confessed, “I want to come to this festival every single year for the rest of our lives. We can be one those old couples who wears bucket hats with collectors pins from each year pinned on the side!” Me too, Mr. Breaux. Me too.

While our collectors pin count now only stands at 2…I’m sure it’ll be time to invest in a bucket hat soon enough!

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Above: The afore-mentioned Tom Bihn backpacks. (Perfect for any adventure.)

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Above: The afore-mentioned crawfish potato. (Which I manage to have for my birthday even when we aren’t in Louisiana.)

Below: The afore-mentioned foot-stomping, Cajun music. (We LOVE Lost Bayou Ramblers and included a few of their tunes on our wedding reception play-list!)

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P.S. Check out our 2014 Festivals Acadiens experience HERE.

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Photos From the Edge of the World — Pointe-aux-Chenes, LA

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Part of our trip to Louisiana included a 2.5 hour drive to the boot tip of the state. Chet is working on a project (involving coastal erosion and drones and all sorts of fascinating things!) that required some footage to be gathered from the area. It seriously felt like we were on the edge of world. If you check out this marina on Google maps you can see our route through Pointe-aux-Chenes down to the water. Basically a road with a little strip of land, and water on both sides. On your own two feet (or buzzing down the road in a car) you would never guess how very little land there is in this area. The drone footage Chet shot seriously put this area into perspective. The fact that folks manage to live and work and play on these tiny, slowly eroding peninsulas boggles my mind.

The landscape is breathtaking. And I took about a million pictures.

Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area: Grand Bayou Wetland

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Pointe-aux-Chenes Marina

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Delightful New Orleans Wedding

My dear friends Carrie and Ganer got married in New Orleans on Saturday and had such a thoughtful, dynamic wedding. I was beyond grateful to be present for the magical few days they lovingly created for their friends and family. The entire trip was fantastic. I laughed until my belly ached until the wee hours each day. I cried fat, happy tears when the bride and groom exchanged vows. The whole experience, piling a bunch of lovely friends into a house for a few days and capping off the stay with a wedding ceremony out on the front lawn, reminded me of Ernest Hemingway’s words, “We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” It seemed so fitting that as they became husband and wife, the word HOME glowed brightly just behind them. Because that’s what Ganer and Carrie create wherever they go.

Here are a few highlights from the trip…

Roadtrippin.

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Chet and I split up the drive from Miami to NOLA (and back again). We aren’t gluttons for punishment and…he did all the driving (#blessed, #copilot). We stopped in beautiful St. Pete both ways to enjoy some sister time at Starbucks. I LOVE that my lil sis is so much closer now. She agreed to take care of her nephew-kitty while we were away and it was so nice knowing he was in good hands. We also enjoyed our stopover in Gainesville, which supplied us with a delicious dinner of Japanese food and 4 hours of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Bless you hotel cable. In the car we listened to a ton of NPR, many episodes of the podcast Criminal (highly recommend), and Hotline Bling on repeat. On our journey home we stopped at one of those quintessential-Florida “Citrus Centers” to cash in on a free cup of fresh squeezed OJ and a tank full of baby gators on full view.

The Mansion. 

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We rolled up to this house and our jaws dropped. I can’t believe we got to stay in such a beautiful mansion. Massive Southern porch, grand dining room, landscaped grounds, billiards room, gorgeous kitchen, cozy basement den. It had everything and MORE. And it served as the perfect backdrop for Carrie and Ganer’s nuptials.

Louisiana touches. 

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More than just an amazing wedding, this trip felt like a real New Orleans vacation. I was scarfing down a catfish poboy pretty much as soon as I arrived! We enjoyed the night life on Frenchmen Street on Thursday. Friday, Chet and I explored the shops and sites on Magazine Street. Ganer’s mom made a massive pot of delicious gumbo for the rehearsal dinner and after the wedding I cut myself a big ol’ square of bread pudding. Suffice it to say my Cajun (and slightly home-sick) fiancee was in heaven…while I just enjoyed the awesome excuse for a vacation!

Sweet friends. 

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I spent our time in NOLA relishing in the presence of so many sweet friends. I told Chet as we drove away from the city that I had felt so blissfully unplugged during our whole stay. I wasn’t on my laptop once, my phone remained tucked away in our bedroom for hours at a time, social media was an afterthought. This means my digital coverage of our adventures was pretty lacking but the sweet memories definitely outweigh. (Plus, there was a super talented photographer staying with us and I can’t wait to see everything she captured!) I loved having so many of my favorite people in one place! After moving all the way down to the tip of the U.S., I do not take this occurrence for granted. Our social interactions have been lacking this Fall but now my love tank feels so full.

Lovely love. 

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I’ve long admired and found inspiration from Carrie and Ganer’s relationship. Seeing them showcase their love for each other in such a meaningful and grand way was so special. Their vows, and the ceremony itself, embodied the passionate, warm, giving and creative human beings these two are. I also enjoyed listening to our friend Ben officiate, the readings fit for a truly forensics wedding (Black books! Spliced!), and all the lovely toasts spoken in the couple’s honor. All the little details of the day and all the thoughtful words shared amongst loved ones made me so excited for my own wedding!!! Eeps! Time to get plannin’!

A wild and wonderful party. 

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Dancing and laughing with your friends never gets old. I remember dancing and laughing with friends when Ganer first showed up in Bowling Green. He ended up at a little house party in my very first apartment and immediately started making eyes at Carrie. I remember dancing and laughing with friends the night Ganer introduced me to Chet at a local dive bar. How thankful I am for those nights, and now this one too.

When you’ve got such a delightful crew by your side, so many wild nights lead to wonderful consequences.

Congratulations Carrie & Ganer!!! Thanks for letting me be a part of your magical wedding. I’ll never forget it. Chet and I love you to the moon and back! 

P.S. Want a behind the scenes look? Check out Chet’s vlogs. The Trip and Wedding Celebration Part 1 are up now…and more to come!

 

Recipe: Chicken and Sausage

Emotional ties to food have long been of interest to me. The way Chet talked about this dish; pining for it before he cooked it, savoring it while he gobbled it up, and re-hashing it’s glory long after the last drop was gone; I knew I wanted to share it with y’all. So that those who would like to can recreate it, yes, but also to share a small piece of what shaped him into the person he is. For him, the memories and comfort tied to this dish are just as important as ingredient ratios. This dinner may not be your jam but it’s creation is universal….a person, longing for a taste of home, steps into the kitchen…


 

Rice and gravy has been a staple of Cajuns since we started farming rice after arriving in Louisiana in the 1700s. It’s something I ate at least once a week growing up, and it’s a popular dish because of its simplicity and affordability. The method and cook time of the dish is good for turning otherwise tough or less desirable cuts of meat into an amazing meal that can feed a whole family This is a good Sunday meal because of the cook time involved, though the prep is simple.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large chicken thighs with bones and skin removed
  • 1 lb of smoked sausage
  • 1 Large onion, diced
  • 1 Large bell pepper
  • Cajun/Creole seasoning (Tony’s or any similar brand should work fine, but you can also make your own by combining salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper)
  • 2 TBSP Oil of your choice
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1 Cup of rice

Bring oil to medium high In a large pot (preferably cast iron). Add chicken and brown thoroughly. I usually do this for around a half hour. Keep moving the meat around and it won’t burn. If the meat is sticking to the pot too much, add a little water.

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After the chicken is browned, remove it and add veggies. Let the veggies cook down for about another thirty minutes. If they start to stick, add a little more water. Around 15 minutes in, your kitchen should be smelling really, really good. You should also begin to notice a nice yellow broth forming in the pot. That’s your signal to add the sausage.

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Keep cooking down the mixture and adding water as needed. Once your veggies are soft and you have a fair amount of that yellow juice, return your chicken to the pot, add enough water to cover the meat, and reduce heat to low (if you’re using a cast iron pot, you could even set your range to warm).

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Let it cook on low for a good 5-6 hours, stirring one every half hour. It’s going to reduce quite a bit, and that’s fine. Just add water as needed and let the meat cook down. Season to taste about halfway through.

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It will be significantly darker when it’s finished, and there should be some oil accumulating on top. Skim off what you can and then serve over rice.

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This dish is traditionally served with corn, and most folks like to toss it right in with the gravy. Enjoy!

Nostalgia aside this dinner was DELICIOUS. While I consider this dish pretty quintessential Cajun, there are similar meals and methods in many cultures. Do you prepare something like this? What dishes call up memories of home for you? What meals will you continue to pass down and keep cooking for years to come? Share below! 

Postcards from Louisiana

Hello loves! If I could send each and every one of you a personalized postcard from down here in Cajun Country, these are the images I’d want included on the front–drooping Spanish moss soaked in sunshine, boats painted and faded into my favorite hues, cheeky lizards, and the spoils of exploring tucked away gems of this culturally rich city. On the back, I’d tell you about stuffing myself with hole-in-the wall plate lunches and the thirty-some mosquito bites I’m newly sporting from hiking through the forested wetland. Hope you all are well!

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