It’s been busy lately, so I’m giving a quick update on the recent events at the Casa de Rurale.
Hi, Again, Dear Readers:
It’s October already, and that means that 2020 will be ending soon. You’ve got a great reason to celebrate.
I just realized that it’s been too long since my last post, and I’m delinquent in getting back to it. There isn’t an SEO keyword for this blog, it’s just an update.
Since it’s October, that means my birthday is coming up. I need to gather up supplies for the cake–chocolate, butter, eggs, and maybe a bag of Swerve or two. I have erythritol but might pop for the Swerve since it’s already powdered.
We haven’t heard from our newlywed friend Justin, but we have the little picture book for the next time we see him, and possibly Bronte.
But this is still 2020, and odd things are still happening. Just the other day, we had some renegade bulls hanging out in the road:
No kidding, they were acting like kids skipping school. Except they are a lot bigger. Makes you think about something along these lines:
Well, it’s an option. We haven’t tried it yet, but hang on, it’s October now. December 31st is coming. We might start sipping it one of these days.
Last Of The Summer Veg
I know, I know, the “victory garden of 2020” was a disaster. But that doesn’t mean I quit growing anything. I still have pots.
First, the Meyer lemon and key lime tree that came with me from Houston are still going strong. We keep saying we’ll plant it, but we haven’t decided where yet. I have several key limes growing now, and three Meyer lemons that will be ready to pick in December.
Some time ago, I put several avocado seeds in a bucket to see what would happen. Now, something is growing out of it, and I believe it’s avocado. I haven’t dug down to look at the source, but I did see a picture of it on Facebook in a homesteading group. A lady put the seed in her composting bin, and the darn thing sprouted. Looks just like mine, and it’s huge right now. So I’m hoping for the best, and looking for another planting spot so I can have avocados all the time.
BF is not particularly thrilled with the prospect of an avocado tree growing on his property, but he doesn’t have to eat them. They’re all for me, anyway.
Second, amazingly, the four basil plants, one flat-leaf parsley, and one Texas tarragon plant are thriving despite being surrounded by weeds. There is still a watermelon vine growing out there, but no melons. I need to dig them up and pot them but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I recently made two batches of pesto. Good thing–when I found myself feeling ill from the breathing problems and then the Prednisone, Pea & Pesto Soup was made frequently.
I recently bought a grape tomato plant, some romaine lettuce, and a “sweet snacking pepper” plant at the local Tractor Supply. Well, the peppers got as big as my thumb, but they sure are tasty. I’ve been eating the tomatoes as they ripen, and when the lettuce got high enough, I made a little salad:
I topped it with a mix of a little EVOO, some flavored vinegar, and a pinch of pink sea salt. Delicious.
Finally–Trader Joe’s Coming To Mandeville
After years of prayers, emails, hopes, and wishes, a new Trader Joe’s is being built in Mandeville, somewhere in the vicinity of the current Whole Foods store, right across Highway 22. ETA: no idea.
Although it’s not on the website yet, our district leader OR knows someone who is familiar with the situation. The store’s facade and inside are being built out as we speak. There are also some threads on Facebook regarding Northshore affairs, and they have confirmed that it’s happening. I’m sure it will be announced when the opening date is close.
Of course, BF still says the same thing: “It’s just a grocery store.”
Now, for me, this TJ’s is still close to an hour away. But I’m more likely to be in the Mandeville/Covington area than Baton Rouge, so this is great news. Once we get back to having in-person SGI meetings, I’ll be heading there more often. But Baton Rouge has been on my travel itinerary recently.
New Baskets In Winn-Dixie
Our local Winn-Dixie has finally refreshed their baskets and now we have not only cup holders in the baskets like HEB, Whole Foods, Publix, and Kroger, but we’ve got those smaller ones like Central Market. I call them “urban baskets,” because they seem to be the forte of big city grocery stores:
These have a couple of spots for holding drinks and things:
The irony, of course, is that if you bring a cup of coffee or other beverage into the grocery store with you, drinking it is out of the question. You have to wear a mask, no matter where you go here.
Keto Ice Cream!
Found this in Rouse’s a couple of weeks ago:
I get the irony of the brownie mix, but there is a reason for it. First, darn it, I wanted some ice cream, and these were just waiting for me. Yes, they are delicious and smooth, with no sugar added and no gluten either. Highly recommended if you come across it. Yes, Aunt Kathy and Aunt Ruth, you too. Rich, high-quality stuff that’s hard as a rock when completely frozen.
I’ll be getting more one of these days.
The other thing is that for the period of a week in October, we had company for dinner at the Casa de Rurale. No, we did not host a) “ultimate man,” TV host Mike Rowe, b), any member of the British Royal Family, c) anyone from any political class at any level, or d) friends visiting from Houston or New Orleans. No, I was cooking for CAR GUYS!
One of BF’s younger coworkers asked him for help getting his silvery-blue Chevrolet Silverado back in running condition. The thing was here for a week, parked in the garage, and The Boy came every night to work on it. BF helped, supervised, and allowed him to use his Snap-On Tools, but The Boy did most of it himself. He bought not only the right parts but good parts, not just cheap ones. He also joined us for dinner every night. One evening, he had a friend who helped him with some of the repair work who also had dinner with us.
On most of these occasions, a high-school chum of BF’s came by, who lives just a couple of miles up the road. TT lives alone with his dog, no girlfriend, and likes to “drop by” for dinner on occasion, especially after he discovered I can cook. Well, this man needs a friend, too, and BF just happens to be close. He doesn’t cook for himself, we think, and maybe needs more help we can give him. Knowing we had company, he invited himself for dinner a few times.
Every night for a week I was in the kitchen cooking for guests. I used the Instant Pot two or three times for soup, for chili, and one or two other things that went over well. They kept coming back for more.
To clarify, BF is always my “ultimate man.” Mike Rowe is second in line on that one.
Requests And Desserts
So I made brownies for dessert one night. Oatmeal snacking cake on another. I forget what else I made, but it was well-loved by everyone. And I think BF brought home something else like the frozen pie thing another time. But I didn’t share my Keto ice cream.
BF insisted on mashed potatoes and gravy one night, but not just any gravy–and no packets either. He wanted the gravy from a Barefoot Contessa book that I should never have made that first Thanksgiving. Because now, he wants it all the time. (I don’t eat it.) The recipe worked fine, just like the last time. BF and The Boy loved it, although I fussed at The Boy for attempting to put ketchup on meatloaf. He tried the meatloaf and decided that it didn’t really need ketchup anyway.
Then TT came by and demolished the remainder of the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy on that “visit,” and said it was one of the “best meals he’d ever had.” He must have been quite hungry at that point. We wondered if maybe hadn’t eaten for a day or so.
We breathed a sigh of relief when we had our first dinner alone. The Boy now complains that he is missing the gourmet dinners.
I’ve Been Ill
For the last 18 months (or more), I’ve been suffering from horrific allergies. I’ve mentioned it a few times before. It just started up one day for no apparent reason. Sneezing, coughing, and an endless need for a tissue. Despite trying multiple treatments, the problem continued to worsen. Then one day, right after the Southern Oaks wedding, I literally couldn’t breathe anymore. I couldn’t open up my breathing passages with anything–they were sealed shut and kept me from sleeping at night.
It was time to step up my game. I needed a doctor.
I tried finding an allergy specialist six months ago, but of course, this isn’t Texas, much less Houston, so I didn’t have good luck with that. There’s one doctor’s office right in Hammond that one of our district members goes to. When I called and asked questions, the response from the female answering the phone didn’t give me a good feeling. She acted like a snob answering my questions, and I figured if the person answering the phone treated me like that, the doctor could do the same thing. Been there, done that, no thank you.
I’ve also tried:
- Bee pollen
- An air purifier
- Super-duper HVAC air filters that we have to order online
- Homeopathic allergy remedies
- Essential oils, including peppermint and eucalyptus
- Sudafed, regular and PE
- Other OTC allergy pills
- Various nasal sprays
I was still sick–and getting worse. Trying to sleep while breathing through your mouth doesn’t work well.
Oh, and just because you can’t breathe doesn’t mean you go bare-faced here–you must wear a mask.
BF’s very intelligent sister began taking their father to doctors in Baton Rouge this year, about an hour southwest from us. They visited an ophthalmologist, a gerontologist (similar to a pediatrician, specializes in geriatric patients), and a cardiologist for starters. Locally available medical care wasn’t giving him what he really needed, and she wanted to make sure he was getting the best care they could find. So off they went at her insistence and much to his chagrin.
That gave me an idea–look for a doc in Baton Rouge. That’s where LSU Medical School is. I did, and I thanked her for it later.
Finding The Right Doctor For Me
I really needed help, fast, so I figured I’d start looking for and calling ENTs who treat allergies at the suggestion of a nice lady on Facebook, WM. After researching the Mandeville/Covington/Slidell area, I looked to Baton Rouge. It’s about the same distance, and shopping is better.
Remember that in Houston, driving 100 miles or more in a day is not uncommon, and you may not even leave the city. Trips to Woodlands Wellness & Cosmetic Center to see Dr. Davis were at least 100 miles round trip, especially if I did some shopping in The Woodlands. This wasn’t a big deal for me, although I was pretty tired when I got home. The same thing happened after the trips to Baton Rouge, even if the city is smaller.
Here’s the thing–is it better to just go to someone nearby, or find the right doctor for your needs and drive farther? Do you have to go to the closest doctor, even if he or she isn’t what you need? I found that out in Houston, and if it’s worth the drive, then go.
I did some research on a few places that came up on my search engine results page (SERP) and made some phone calls. The second one I called answered all my questions without any attitude. They were so nice! I made a couple of calls to them after reading their patient reviews and got an appointment on the following Tuesday. I was in bad shape at that point.
Tuesday couldn’t come fast enough.
Baton Rouge General Hospital
I didn’t realize that this clinic is located in the hospital itself. I’d never been there before. Thanks to Google Maps, I got there on time safely.
My appointment was with Dr. Hall of Sinus & Nasal Specialists of Louisiana, and he took care of me right away. Using a scope, he saw right away what was going on. (First words: “Oh my GAWD!”) He prescribed the well-known steroid Prednisone to take care of the swelling. While I didn’t like the idea of taking it, the stuff worked wonders. It was a short-term, quick-and-dirty solution that did the job he intended. I did feel ill while taking it, but that’s worn off.
I’m breathing better now, and he said I didn’t need anything else–no prescriptions, no surgery, etc., just a twice-daily sinus rinse and two shots of Flonase right afterward. If I do need help again, call back. I will. Dr. Hall knew what to do and took care of me. That’s greatly appreciated. Five-star ratings on Google and a couple of other places.
Of course, the GER couldn’t leave it alone. He let me know that Prednisone was going to turn me into, um, a much larger version of myself. That hasn’t happened, thank heavens, and I’m done with it anyway.
I also found this recipe on their blog, and I hope to make it soon. I love poblano peppers, and this looks pretty tasty. Especially now that I can smell the peppers roasting. Well, BF won’t be happy when I make it, but Miss Alice might enjoy them.
More Delicious Findings
So on that same trip to Rouse’s, I found something I’d long forgot about: blueberry sausage.
Obviously, this is locally made. (How far is Hattiesburg from here?) But I used to go to Central Market’s meat department and buy a half-dozen of their blueberry sausages, sold individually, and by the pound. Buy one, buy three, buy a dozen, however many you want. It’s been a long time since I was even there, and when I saw it in Rouse’s, got it. I couldn’t wait to have it.
BF did not share my sentiments. So it was mine, all mine. I had it over a couple of days with whatever else was in the fridge for lunch.
This is what BF prefers. You would never put blueberry sausage in it unless you wanted to get your butt kicked:
It’s good, but I do tend to get heartburn after eating it. This is readily available locally, along with a number of other rice mixes.
TJ’s In Baton Rouge
Now back to Trader Joe’s: I saw this culinary delight the other day. But when I texted a picture to BF, he said no:
But he was happy when I brought home some of these:
Also saw these adorable things:
No picture, but I also found some Halloumi cheese, the grillable kind. BF was not happy to see that. It went into the big freezer. One day he won’t be home and I can enjoy it by myself.
And look what else I found:
Can’t wait to cook these up. They really are delicious.
A Word Of Advice
I want to pass on a bit of wisdom because I feel it’s necessary.
Always, always, remember to say “thank you,” whether it’s the grocery store stocker working extra hours to make sure supplies are on the shelf, the person who fills up your water glass in the restaurant, and even the garbage people, as we do when we catch them. Say it and mean it.
This I learned from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda many years ago, and I’ve tried to remember to say “thanks” whenever it is warranted. I thanked Dr. Hall as well as his wonderful staff when I was there. If it weren’t for them answering my questions on the phone, I would have kept looking.
This weekend I was reminded that although I did say it to a particular individual in our “circle,” I believe I didn’t say it enough. I did mention it to Aunt Ruth, and I will continue to tell others the same thing. But in this case, I wish I’d said “thank you” just one more time. I can’t say more, so I’ll leave it at that.
I periodically tell BF, “thank you for everything.” It’s why I bring him the little treats when I go to Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mandeville/Covington, or even Hammond. It’s my way of thanking him for letting me be me, and not minding when I go out for an SGI activity, or anywhere else. He doesn’t mind when I head out, and I always tell him where I’m going (primarily for safety reasons.) No reason for him to think I’m sneaking around because I’m really not.
I also try to remember to thank him when he comes home with an occasional surprise, like when someone gives them fresh veg or other things at work. I always ask if he remembered to thank the person who gave it to him. “Just say thank you,” I tell him.
I try to remember to thank people whether I’m in the local shops and restaurants, or on the phone with someone in another city or state. Why? It’s necessary and goes a long way.
Until Next Time
For a handful of reasons, October is my favorite time of the year. So I guess I’m trying to enjoy it at the same time.
I’m still planning the blog on the Instant Pot because it’s a big one. But because it’s a bigger article, it’s taking some time. Maybe by the time I publish, I’ll be in love with it like everyone else. It did perform admirably when I needed it to, but I used recipes I knew would work well.
Thank you to each of you who generously take the time to read my silly little blog, and keep coming back for more. I’ll be back again soon.
We went to a wedding in New Orleans at Southern Oaks Plantation, but no, it wasn’t ours.
Find me on Bloglovin’
I know–it’s been a while. I hope everyone is all right after 2020 decided to ramp up even more. We’re fine after the two recent visitors (Marco and Laura) and were never in danger from a direct hit. We did, however, engage in some “panic buying” of essentials, such as milk and soft drinks. Oh, wait–that was for him, wasn’t it?
I did manage to get some Hatch chiles and roast them, much to BF’s chagrin. Rouse’s only had them for a short time, and I don’t think they did any roasting this year. The cashiers seemed to forget what Hatch chiles were and kept trying to charge both me and BF for other types of peppers. Maybe next year I can make a pilgrimage to HEB and get a lot more to bring home.
The area of the property formerly known as “the garden” is now. . .gone. Don’t ask.
Friends Of The Groom
So the wedding was one of BF’s car-guy friends who has been to the Casa de Rurale many times. BF built a motor for him, and they’ve known each other for a long time. His new wife is a financial advisor, and is selling her house in Metairie (a New Orleans suburb) to move into their new place in this area. They will actually be just a few miles from us at the Casa de Rurale. We’ve never met her or her young daughter, but chances are we will at some point.
We were a bit surprised to receive a wedding invitation and greatly appreciated it. Didn’t relish the drive TO New Orleans, but it was fine. Other than two people getting legally married, we didn’t know what to expect.
I’ll cut to the chase: everything was just lovely, and a Southern Oaks wedding is known for that. It’s pretty much everything you’d expect at a wedding. But of course, there’s food involved, so you know I need to tell you all about it.
Because the world has been turned upside down in 2020, the couple had to postpone their wedding from May to August. I’m sure there was a considerable amount of nailbiting going on in the days before since there were *two* hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico at one time (Marco fizzled out quickly.)
Rescheduled to Friday, August 28th, there was still some remnant activity from Laura that flowed in from the western side of the state. We’re actually on the east side, closer to Mississippi, so all my Texas peeps were asking me how we were doing. We had some rain here and even went through a couple of heavy rainstorms on the way to Southern Oaks. In fact, right after the wedding part was completed, we started feeling tiny drops, so the reception moved inside.
Southern Oaks Plantation is located in New Orleans East and is in a house that was built in the 1960’s as a private residence. (Note: It’s not *that* kind of plantation, the term refers to the architectural style of the structure.)
Owner Bobby Asaro and his wife decided to create this venue in 1987, turning an abandoned building into a first-class full-service wedding place. They have done untold numbers of weddings since their first. The result is an elegant place to have a wedding at any time of year, inside or outside.
Remember that we were guests of the groom, so if there is a place upstairs for the couple, or if the family lives up there, well, we didn’t venture anywhere we weren’t supposed to go. There are a number of businesses in the New Orleans area where the owner and/or family lives next door, upstairs, or behind the business itself.
A brick building behind the house is, we hypothesized, the place where they keep the 1956 Silver Cloud Bentley that the bride arrived in from behind the house for the ceremony. We forgot to ask while we were inside.
I don’t think anyone went to the outside patio behind the house, where there is, in fact, a small swimming pool. I was hoping nobody was thrown in!
The Southern Oaks Wedding
Originally slated for a church in the Uptown area, they eventually decided to have the wedding itself at the venue as well. As a veteran of driving and public transit in both New Orleans and the entire city of Houston, I’m glad they did–it made things a lot easier on everyone. Driving to NO East on a Friday evening would have been a logistical nightmare, even if they did take a limo ride from the church.
The chairs were, indeed, set up on the front lawn, just like the pictures, and as required, socially distanced. Everything went as planned, I suppose. We didn’t notice anything that went “wrong.” Everyone seemed pretty happy as they walked up the sidewalk to the front of the house, where they held the wedding ceremony.
One would think that the bride might throw her bouquet from this lovely balcony, but that’s not what happened.
Once she disembarked from the wedding car, her father took her arm for the walk.
After the wedding, she walked with the groom to the gate for the fireworks. Then they walked back.
I didn’t take pictures of the fireworks, but afterwards, they did come back up the walkway where we all went into the house, directed by staff.
As the website describes, each Southern Oaks wedding has a set menu with two carving stations and passed appetizers. The same food is served at every wedding–that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It keeps things simple for both the couple and for the venue, and, well, let’s just say I sampled more than I’d like to admit to. (I’m back doing keto, mostly, of course.)
Let me be clear: the food was outstanding. Makes me wish we could go have lunch there sometime.
First off there was a carving station with brisket and ham.
OK, first–both were very good. The brisket was tasty, but not Texas-style, and I didn’t expect it to be. The Honey Ham was equally tasty (no, not that commercially available place), and we enjoyed both.
Now about the appetizers–y’all, I was trying to be good an eat somewhat sensibly, but it didn’t work too well. I lost track of how many they were toting between tables. There must have been twenty or thirty wait staff involved, all nimble-footed food carriers.
Waiters tiptoed around with little trays of deliciously decorated foods that smelled incredible. The first thing we enjoyed was a classic, Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp. However, these aren’t the standard ones, these are bacon-wrapped shrimp, scallop & oysters. Apologies for not taking a picture of the innards, because it looked like the shrimp was stuffed with the other two fish (finely chopped) before the bacon was wrapped on it and cooked.
OMG–those were delicious! No, it’s like nothing else you’ve tasted.
A Few At A Time
The appetizers were sequenced. They brought out three or four types at first, then followed with three or four more types, and so on, until later, when they seemed to stop bringing around appetizers.
Later offerings included this tuna with soy sauce on a wonton:
Ever seen Philly cheesesteak sandwiches made like this–on a croissant?
Burgers and fries, right up BF’s alley.
Steak and sweet potato bites, right up MY alley.
I think this was Shrimp & Grits–I passed, much as I like shrimp.
Now, I could have been completely happy with a tray of these and another one of Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp. They could have just left me these and the shrimp and I would have left everything else alone.
This crab salad in cucumber was cool and very tasty. I got as many as I could before the waiters disappeared with them. BF, as always, turned his nose up at such fancy fare, but I see that as “more for me.”
Even dessert was in appetizer form, including a chocolate mousse tart in a pastry cup, and this artistic beauty on a skewer:
Many of the appetizers, both savory and sweet, were in little pastry cups and were big enough for one or two bites. It’s a great idea because not only is it fancy, it makes preparation easier. You just add the filling and go with it. Chocolate mousse with a little piped whipped cream? Thank you! There was also cheesecake in the little pastry cups. With the music and masks, it was difficult to hear every explanation for appetizers, but they all knew what they were doing.
I passed on beignets. I identify as a naturalized Texan, so it’s just not my thing anymore.
There was also gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and I think red beans & rice in those small bowls as well, which BF had but I passed on. I was too busy trying to snag more crab salad on cucumber tapas.
The entire listing of Southern Oaks’ wedding menu is available here.
A Towering Wedding Cake
No Southern Oaks wedding would be complete without a fantastic cake, and this was no exception.
Here’s a closeup of the texture, understated and clean, allowing the flowers to really stand out:
The requisite cake pulls for the bridesmaids:
Disclosure: when I got married in 1996 (not here), I had these in my cake as well. Didn’t realize it’s primarily a Louisiana thing until I went looking for explanations for the charms–just now. I also couldn’t get anyone to make a cake with the icing looking like that–nobody could imagine such a cake without too much over-the-top frilly piping. I even had pictures of one, but nobody wanted to do it.
Honestly, I thought cake pull charms was a thing throughout the US, but it isn’t. I found this article by someone in New Orleans, using New Orleans themed charms, and this from Southern Living with non-New Orleans charms. I can’t tell you what my three bridesmaids pulled out of my cake, I just remember that the cake was the best.
We were there when they pulled the charms from the cake:
Cut a small piece out of the big cake:
Then drank a toast:
But for the pictures, they only cut a small piece out of the back for the couple to eat for pictures. (I didn’t take a picture of the cut.) We left before they actually served this cake, which, from what we saw, was a white cake with raspberry or strawberry filling.
That may have been the only layer of actual cake–who knows?
The Groom’s Cake
There was also a groom’s cake, in a salute to his car guy nature:
This is the cake they actually served to guests–at first. We don’t know if they served the bigger wedding cake later.
When we caught him, we asked the groom what kind of cake was underneath the silver fondant icing. He said it had been so long since they planned it, he’d completely forgotten what it was! It was actually a three-layer white cake with buttercream filling and multicolored sprinkles baked into the three cake layers.
Because I’m picky I would have preferred the actual wedding cake with the fruity-looking filling, but that’s just ME. I’m sure it was even tastier than the groom’s cake.
If you want to see the car itself, this is Chevy’s site for Corvettes.
All drinks were served at the bar:
I did have one glass of this champagne, and it was quite good:
I made sure BF didn’t mind beforehand, because he literally does not drink, ever. They served it in a simple, elegant glass flute, and I enjoyed every drop. I wasn’t planning to drive home. Had the situation called for it, I was perfectly OK for driving. I had the champagne about 7:15 or so, and after sampling way too many nibbles and drinking plenty of water, it was long out of my system, like at least 9:00 pm.
If I had to leverage a “complaint,” I guess that would be: no coffee!
No kidding–there wasn’t any coffee, not that I saw or smelled. I’m probably the only wedding guest who wanted some. But I didn’t complain about it–I’m just one of those people who enjoys coffee, that’s all.
Should they change it for me? Nah! Wouldn’t change my review one bit. If I were having a wedding there, I might ask about it. Maybe the couple didn’t want any, so they didn’t have it.
I could have got a coffee somewhere else, no problem. But we went straight home, not even stopping once we got back on the I-610 split (not the loop in Houston) and onto I-12. We went home coffee-free, but a good time was had by all throughout the event.
The Ladies Room
After one glass of champagne and a lot of water, I went to the powder room. I was greeted by this interesting decor.
I didn’t actually go outside to see this little feature, and it was quite humid that day after all that rain. But maybe someone who needed a smoke break might go out there for a few minutes (if it’s allowed.) Lovely as it is, let me say that it’s not “traditional New Orleans.” That’s OK with me–I thought it was quite an interesting patio area.
This is the rest of the inside.
A nice little rock garden, or is it a water feature? I didn’t look too close, I just didn’t want to fall over it. You have to walk around it to get to the. . .facility. Also, I’m not used to wearing stiletto heels anymore.
A Picture Of Us
So I took this selfie:
And we sort of look halfway decent, too. He’s all nice and shaved, and I sprayed a considerable amount of Aquanet on my hair to keep it in place. I’ve already ordered an 8×10 enlargement from Shutterfly, and we bought a nice frame that’s all ready for it. Our pictures of the wedding will be in one of those lovely 6×6 books they have every month in their app. I have the pictures in place, I just need to edit them.
I’d planned to make something fancier to wear: this jumpsuit (the short version) and from this pattern, the fascinator (D) at the top right, both in Navy with a white flower on the hat. But it would have been too dressy, as it turned out, since we were told “casual.” Wouldn’t be the first time. He might have told me before I bought all that Navy crepe-back satin.
What I actually wore was this dress from MimiG Style, in the colorful fabric you see in the picture. Someone actually gave me the fabric, and I was holding onto it for “the right pattern.” As it turned out, this now-out-of-print pattern from MimiG Style, Simplicity 8084, was just right for the fabric as well as the wedding.
I made the shorter version, but I would like to make the longer one eventually. (Note: this is just a screengrab from Etsy–I don’t wear clothes that big.)
We did have a wonderful time at the wedding, and many thanks to Justin (the groom) for inviting us.
Also many thanks to Bobby Asara and his wonderful staff for a great time and some very delicious and irresistable food..
Although BF and I have been together four years, we’re not planning one for ourselves. When Bronte’ (the bride) tossed her bouquet to the single women dance floor, I made sure to stand clear. I was glad I did when I saw the flower petals flying all over the place.
If you or someone you know is planning a wedding, I highly recommend considering a Southern Oaks wedding. They’re big on planning everything and making sure it all works. There are multiple five-star Yelp reviews as well.
Congratulations to Justin and Bronte!
Corn–picked fresh–is a summer favorite. We picked some.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
I had something else planned for this blog post, but don’t worry, it’s coming soon. I already told Aunt Ruth, and she’s going to be looking at the screen funny when she reads this. Besides, just about everyone knows what corn is, right?
We had to pick some of our corn today, but we should have picked it earlier.
The Garden Massacre
When Tropical Storm Cristobol knocked over a stalk of corn, we didn’t think much of it.
About two weeks later, a very bad storm system passed through. We had about three days of very heavy rain, including lightning. One strike was VERY close to us, but we don’t know where it landed. Our neighbor doesn’t, either, but it scared all of us.
A day or so later, we noticed that there were more stalks knocked over, and this morning, it was worse:
Two of BF’s car-guy friends were here this morning borrowing tools. The elder man said, “Looks like the ‘coons found a place to eat.”
Raccoons. On TV, they’re cute and cuddly, but don’t let that fool you. They’re destructive little buzzards that pull over the stalks, then nibble on the corn. They don’t eat the whole thing, mind you, just pull back some of the husk and nibble on what they see. Then they move onto the next cob, leaving most of it to waste.
Nevermind what I was calling them this morning when I was pulling the yellowed stalks out of the ground. It wasn’t nice.
So that means we started picking the remaining corn. We should have picked it before, but BF remembers how his Dad grew corn. . .and we lost some. But we got 11 ears that were in pretty good condition.
What We Got
BF began pulling the husks and the silk off the corn right outside. I don’t know why he did, but you shouldn’t do that.
Ideally, pick them right when you’re ready to cook them, or at least, leave the husks on until you cook them. By the time I got to cook them in the evening, they were starting to dry out a little, but they were OK.
In the evening, I had to get out the biggest pot I had, which isn’t a heavy-bottomed pot from The Martha Stewart Collection At Macy’s. No, this big tin pot was given to us, and it’s the biggest one around. It doesn’t even have a lid, and it sits atop the fridge most of the time. I filled it with water, salted it, and waited forever for it to boil, even though I put the universal pot lid on it.
Of course, it’s been many years since I did this, so I had to look it up. But BF, ever so helpful, offered, “I think you just boil it.” So that’s what I did.
After I looked it up.
Help Me, Martha!
Years ago I made corn on the cob for my then-fiance and used a recipe out of Martha Stewart’s big green cookbook. We boiled the corn with a touch of sugar in the water and made a butter-lime combo to coat it. It was unusual but very delicious. I don’t believe I’ve made it since, even for the GER.
A quick search today on Martha Stewart’s website gathered 203 recipes, all for corn on the cob, and I skimmed through a few of them until I found what I wanted.
I followed the directions for boiling them, and they came out fine.
But when I saw the article on “upgrades,” I was intrigued. The one that caught my eye, of course, was the basil-mint pesto. I have plenty of basil and mint, and decided to go for it.
This is the mint after I cut it. Those stalks are over a foot high:
I only needed a quarter-cup of basil, but I need to make more pesto soon:
I thought I had too much, but it turns out I had cut exactly enough. I’m getting good at this:
After pulling leaves and measuring them out, I washed them:
Then started the process.
Now Make It
You add the 3/4 cup of olive oil into the blender with two cloves of garlic and blend.
Leave the mixer running:
Then start adding the mint and basil leaves:
To avoid a possible big mess, I just used the removable cap in the lid and added them in there, a little at a time. Let it blend for another minute.
There are no nuts, just herbs, oil, and garlic. Next, I poured it out into one of the many containers I have for regular pesto:
I felt like it needed salt added at this point, so I did, just a shake, then mixed it.
Pesto On Corn
The corn was still hot, so I had to try it out. Brush it right on like melted butter.
I made sure to add plenty:
It was at this point that I discovered the pesto needed some salt, so I added some directly onto the corn before adding a shake to the pesto.
I didn’t wait for BF. I had mine right away.
It’s worth the trouble, honest.
The Fourth Of July
It’s this weekend. If you’re making corn on the cob. . .you’re welcome. Pick some, buy some, go to the farmer’s market if you have access to one. If not, your usual grocery store will have some too. Try out the basil-mint pesto if you’ve got herbs, or try out one of the compound butter recipes, like this chive butter. (One day soon!)
I also offered to make this delicious looking dish for us, Ree Drummond’s Fresh Corn Casserole. I hate that word, but it’s simple and uses fresh corn. From Facebook, I sent him the link and asked if he’d like me to make half the recipe so I could use the small oven.
His response: “I know you’re trying to enlighten me. You’re trying to drag a caveman out of his cave.”
I followed this comment with several amusing caveman GIFs.
Don’t forget about using your:
To make things easier this weekend if you’re entertaining or meeting up with family and friends.
Terry Boyd’s Blue Kitchen blog today sent an email that offers 15 recipes for your July 4th holiday menu. He always has some good food to share, and he publishes more than me, too. He and his wife have been busy and not blogging as much lately, but that’s OK.
You’re also welcome to check out the recipes page here, of course. Looking for a blog on a particular subject? Use the search function on the right-hand side of the page if you’re looking for something specific–I may have written about it previously. If you’re looking for something related to the slow cooker (aka Crock Pot), that’s the best way to find it.
The *next* blog will be about another delicious garden-based topic, and probably something you’ve never heard of.
Have a great holiday weekend.
Finally some news, including Hatch chiles, sort of.
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
Well, it’s summer again, and you know what happened. I’ve been writing, cooking, washing, and cleaning, and generally not blogging. For three weeks, the blog was actually broken. Finally, I created a service ticket for my hosting service, and they fixed it quickly.
After finishing the post on the John Walton Celebration of Life, a little catching up is in order.
My new copywriting website is still not finished. It’s one of those big, hairy things I don’t want to deal with, but I have to, eventually.
The good news is that my Upwork Job Success Score (JSS) just went back up to 100%.
I also finally finished two certifications from Digital Marketer: one for SEO (Search Market Mastery), the other for Content Marketing. The SEO course is the one that I’d been fiddling with for over a year, and Content Marketing was the other one I wanted.
These will be added to the new website. . .eventually.
Because Digital Marketer had a hard-stop ending on the free access on April 15th, I had to finish them ASAP. Nothing like a deadline to make you complete something, right? Well, I almost didn’t get the SEO finished because there was a bug on their website that gave me an error message when I went to take the test. Finally, it was fixed, and I was able to finish the certification. I did the content marketing course in two days, and I have notes and handouts and downloads to refer to.
World Gone Mad
I’ve got to be careful about how I phrase this next section. My hosting company sent out an email in March that included a comment on how they were removing *those* disease-related search terms from their domain search tool so that nobody could set up a website to take advantage of the situation, including alleged and likely fake “cures.” So, here goes.
Last time I wrote a blog post that bug was just affecting some folks on a cruise ship overseas. Now it’s a worldwide thing that has seen all manner of disasters, including economic. While people are starting to emerge from their homes, many because they can’t stand it anymore, the powers that be are continuing to scramble to try and find the right answers.
Part of our preparations included some panic shopping at Walmart for “essentials.” However, what he considers “essential” and what I consider “essential” are frequently not the same. But we were able to get some foodstuffs to pack up under the counter. They’re packed in boxes along with some other foodstuffs that were given to us from BF’s Dad’s house when his sister cleared out some things in favor of “low-sodium” for their Dad to help lower his blood pressure.
Everyone needs cans of chili with beans, right? (Don’t forget the Gas-X!) I added some cans of salmon, which BF wouldn’t touch. For a while, we couldn’t get canned tuna or salmon at all. There were also nationwide shortages of things like yeast, flour, cleaning supplies, and those were evident here. BF was concerned about not being able to get bread, so I bought an extra bag of flour. . .but there was no yeast. I have some in the pantry that I brought from Houston, but that was it. Might be good, might not be, but I haven’t tried proofing it yet. When I found some, I bought it.
We’ve kept ahead of the game on the most coveted item, toilet paper.
Managing The Pandemic
Louisiana has been one of the states with higher rates of cases, but as of this writing, the fatality rate is about 6%, and the recovery rate is high. (I did the math, so be proud of me.) We are fortunate to be in one of the outlying parishes that’s close to the Mississippi border. Our parish has seen a total of 58 presumptive cases, and one fatality due to the bug.
Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Tammany have seen the greatest numbers of cases and deaths, with all 64 parishes now reporting infections. The New Orleans Advocate has a page that’s updated daily with the latest numbers, and the Houston Chronicle also has regular updates for Houston and for Texas.
The most awesome Dr. Sakina Davis at Woodlands Wellness recently had a Zoom call with some of us interested folks to talk about not only what it was, but how to defend yourself against *it* with supplements, healthy eating, and of course, getting some sun as well as supplementing with Vitamin D. I greatly appreciated that. I had to get some Vit C from them, and got a couple of bottles of their very posh-smelling hand sanitizer as well. (I have the most incredible hand sanitizer for miles around!) Another thing: turn off the TV and don’t have a steady diet of “news.”
And if that isn’t enough, it’s now hurricane season. Tropical Storm Cristobal was the first storm to come this way. We just had some rain, nothing serious.
It’s Jumanjij Level 6!
We’re starting to come out on the other side of the pandemic, and slowly, places are reopening around the US. We’ve been to our local Tex-Mex place, La Carreta, once, and have bought curbside takeout from them twice. They’ve reopened with masks on servers. We’ve not been to any of the other local places, which have since reopened, including BF’s favorite Cracker Barrel in Hammond. Yet. But eventually, we all hope to get back to some kind of normalcy.
Trending Egg Bites: Starbucks Leads
Once again the Big Green Coffee Company of Seattle leads the way in trends. First, it was the much-lauded (and maligned) Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL, complete with 50 grams of sugar). Now, they’re leading with their famed egg bites.
I’ve done egg bites in the Instant Pot, but they’re a bit of trouble and I’ve not made them in a while. (I even bought two of those silicone egg molds to do make them in.)
Egg bites are quite popular for a lot of reasons, and it’s probably the one thing I buy the most when I visit Starbucks, other than coffee.
They’re now considered an “emerging food trend,” meaning that everyone is getting on the bandwagon after Starbucks started it. Finally, you’ll soon be able to get egg bites in your grocers’ freezer case. Organic Valley will begin shipping frozen egg bites to stores in late July with an MSRP of $3.99 a pack. Nestle and Valley Fine Foods will soon follow with their own brands.
NOTE: Starbucks has begun to re-open their stores, but our Hammond store has a drive-thru curbside service, Although the store is actually open, there is no seating. You can just go to the counter and pick up your order or hit the powder room (I think.) They aren’t allowing seating outside under the patio, either.
Understand that when I first got here, the center of my universe in Hammond was the Starbucks on St. Thomas. I was very surprised to see a PJ’s in our town, right by Winn-Dixie, and that was a small comfort. It still is, and both have free WiFi.
Admittedly, I only visit Starbucks sporadically, usually, when I’m going to Hammond anyway, or if I’m headed to New Orleans. If there are extra points to be had or some other kind of “special” reason to go, I might make a trip and hit Target at the same time. I’ve utilized the mobile app ordering, and it worked fine.
Mostly, though, I’ve been going to our local PJ’s Coffee on Fridays, ordering their $1-any-size hot coffees through the drive-through and adding a bigger tip or the folks working there.
The cafe just re-opened a couple of weeks ago. But I was doing what was asked, helping out by going through the drive-thru to keep them in business throughout the shutdowns.
BF and I went through one day and I got him a delicious breakfast croissant. A couple of times, I bought BF a double-chocolate muffin, including one for his birthday. He was happy with that. We also bought a gift card to help keep our PJ’s in business, and I’ve just started using the money on it. Their drive-thru has been quite busy so I guess it worked.
Like a lot of fast-food places, PJ’s has been following the guidelines set out by the CDC and the State of Louisiana. They just re-opened the local cafe a couple of weeks ago, with limited indoor seating and the same abbreviated hours. There is also a bigger PJ’s in Hammond, but not near Starbucks, although I haven’t been to that one in a while. Situated next to military recruiting offices, they have a second-floor seating area, and also offer lunch items. They too have abbreviated hours, but chances are, the same as ours.
PJ’s also offers discounts to military personnel and veterans, at least here. That’s a plus for BF, except that he doesn’t drink coffee.
But guess what? PJ’s is, through expansion and franchising, moving into other states, including Texas! I couldn’t believe how many PJ’s there are now around the US. California? Maryland? Georgia? Arkansas? Alabama? I had no idea. There is one “coming soon” to Katy, TX, and I notified longtime Boeing brother RR to be on the lookout. There is also a location in Pearland, which is kind of near Miss Alice, but also might be somewhere in the path of the GER. I let him know about it, and that it is a great alternative to Starbucks (his least favorite place.)
Could PJ’s become the new go-to place for coffee and topple the reigning coffee empire? It’s possible. You could find a PJ’s in your neighborhood one day soon.
The HeatCageKitchen Garden, 2020
Partly in response to the worldwide crisis, BF decided we needed to step up our homesteading game at the Casa de Rurale. I just say it’s about time.
After gardening in buckets, small patches of land, and getting some “toilet-tank tomatoes” two summers ago, we now have a more formal garden. I’ve already made two batches of fresh pesto for the freezer, which he is, as always, unhappy about.
The plant on the right has already been cut for both pesto and for cloning. I’ve got to plant those rootlings soon and get them out of the window. I’ll fill the chest freezer with pesto for the winter, or I’ll end up giving some away. Now to figure out what to do with the burgeoning tarragon. I’ll start with a compound butter for chicken.
Our neighbor across the street, Mr. JD, brought over his tractor and dug up some land for us in front of the shop, and we’ve been planting and planting again. Some things don’t work but we keep trying. We’ve planted a number of things, some of which are actually doing quite well. Right now we have actively growing:
- Potatoes, including some from the grocery store we let bud
- Green beans
- Yellow teardrop
- Chocolate cherry, from seeds I saved in 2015 in Houston (no tomatoes yet)
- Mexican Oregano
- Purple bell peppers
- Shishito peppers (a small, sweet pepper from Japan)
- “Coolapenos,” a variety of jalapenos without the heat
- Anaheim chili peppers, aka, Hatch
Between the plants and the seeds, there have been some that were successful, and some disappointments. We just keep planting stuff and hope it works.
The agreement with Mr. JD was that we would share the harvest, and that’s fine. But when I picked the first of the bounty, three French breakfast radishes, he never stopped by for them. So I washed them and ate them:
Note: eat radishes right after picking. I’ve planted more, and they’re coming up quickly. I’ve got both French Breakfast radishes and some older seeds of some other type, and both are growing.
The Anaheim, or Hatch, Chili Pepper Plant
Remember a couple of years ago I did some reading into Hatch chiles? Well, I am finally getting some from the garden, after three years of trying to grow the darn things from saved seeds from Hatch seasons past. They’re not exactly Hatch chiles, but they’re pretty much the same thing.
I’m convinced this was a mistake, but our local Tractor Supply had Anaheim “Hatch” chili pepper plants about two months ago, and I got the last one. I keep going back to see if they’ve received any more, but nothing yet.
At the moment, there are four small peppers in various stages of growth, and I’ve got four in the fridge. I’m planning to roast them soon, and save the seeds. I used the first two peppers to try and plant more–get a load of these:
Miss Raylina, who works at our local Tractor Supply and puts up with my harassment about “setting up the coffee bar,” told me how to plant any pepper. It’s simple: cut it in half lengthwise and fill the cavity–seeds and all–with soil. Then bury the dirt-filled pepper in your garden. The seeds will germinate and feed off the flesh of the pepper while growing. Simple, right?
I really want more of these peppers this summer, so I’m willing to sacrifice the first two for the greater good of the garden (and give me more “Hatch” peppers, darn it.) But nothing yet. I’ll be saving the seeds out of these during the summer to try and grow Hatch chiles again next year.
But so far, nothing yet. At least we have New Mexico’s harvest in August, at which time I will be able to harvest more of the Hatch chile seeds for next year.
More Garden Pictures
Of course, Anaheim “Hatch” chili peppers aren’t the only thing we’ve got going on. BF insisted on growing corn and potatoes because that’s what his Dad always grew when they were kids. Mind you, BF just turned 50, has been married twice, owned a house once, but has never had a garden of his own. So far, the corn is doing well, with just one stalk knocked over a bit when Cristobal passed through:
How can we incorporate Hatch chiles in with corn? Well, for starters, do it when BF isn’t around.
Because the little yellow teardrop plant didn’t seem to be doing well, I went ahead and moved it. I figured if it was going to die anyway, I might as well try and give it a fighting chance. Not exactly a bumper crop, but it’s a start:
Earlier this year I found three bell pepper plants called Tequila. They turn purple when ripe, not red. I thought it was interesting so I bought a flat of three. Well, one plant didn’t make it, one is still in the shadow of the bigger one and needs moving, even though it’s got one pepper growing on it. But the big plant has three purple peppers, in various stages of ripeness.
Interesting, yes? And then there are the Shishito peppers:
I only saw Ina Garten make these on her show recently, and apparently it’s also in her last book. (Giada de Laurentiis also has a recipe for them.) When I saw the plants at Tractor Supply, I bought two. One is doing better than the other, so I’ll be trying them out when they get bigger. Surprise! One of them is going to be HOT.
Have you ever heard of someone being overrun with zucchini? That hasn’t happened to us yet, we’ve only gotten two off this plant.
And because the leaves are so big, I may have to move the oregano–again.
BF doesn’t eat them, so of course, I’ll be happily feasting on them soon. Zucchini noodles, and preserved zucchini are right on my list.
We’ve also had blackberries growing wild, but BF has never told me how to cultivate them. (Mr. JD said they were “dewberries,” but whatever–they’re delicious.) I gathered berries every day during the brief season, and I have about two quarts in the freezer. That’s the berries left from when I go out berry-picking with the now 80-pound pit bull. We eat berries together. He loves them, right off the vine. I also drop them into his huge, muscular mouth for him to enjoy.
Salad Greens And Other Ingredients
I love salads, and I have long wished to be able to walk outside, pick my salad, walk back inside, wash everything, cut and toss everything into a bowl. I’ve sort of done that twice so far, but there were no cucumbers yet, and I bought some grape tomatoes at Winn-Dixie:
I think I may have dipped into the remaining stash I have of Meyer Lemon EVOO and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar from Oil & Vinegar in The Woodlands. Just this once, it was a special occasion. But this salad didn’t need much. Those bottles have been at the top corner of the pantry behind everything. BF has strict orders to never touch it, but he probably won’t anyway.
I miss that place. I wonder if they ship.
I tried to grow Romaine lettuce in Houston but was always unsuccessful. The GER told me once that lettuce is a “winter crop,” which put me right off trying again. One day I had a nice big leaf growing, and an hour later, a slug took it out.
Then I moved. Here, we’ve grown some “gourmet” lettuce as well as what doesn’t really look much like iceberg lettuce, but is quite tasty.
The seed for the iceberg lettuce moved when it rained or I watered, so it’s in an odd place. I might try to move it again soon, or move both lettuces away from the outer part of the garden plot so they’ll grow better. There’s a reason for that.
See, I did sprout some Romaine and some celery in the kitchen recently, but they disappeared after I planted them outside. Not died–disappeared. BF said it looked like either deer, possums, raccoons or some other nocturnal creatures came to feast and dug them out of the ground. Without one of those outdoor cams, we have no way of knowing. I’m not 100% sure I want to know what’s going on outside with Mother Nature, anyway.
We also planted cucumbers, which, along with watermelon, are threatening to take over the lawn.
You’ve got to check those cucumbers regularly–if they turn yellow, they’re awful. I know this because the GER grew cucumbers once, and we missed one. He found the yellow “ripe” one, and of course, I had to try it. NOPE! So I’m on them daily for the ones that are ready to pick. If I see some yellow, they get harvested.
No watermelons yet, but we’ll be enjoying those hopefully later in the summer.
I do keep watering and pulling ever-present indigenous weeds out of the plot. There’s some over-grown grass to be removed as well, and I take out some every morning when I water. At some point, I hope to do a mass removal of everything and get some of that black fabric to put over the ground to keep the weeds from getting sun. Fingers crossed.
Books, Books, And More Books
Callisto Press has blessed me with oodles of books since last July. The variety of topics include:
- Weight lifting
- Wine, spirits, and cocktails
- Professional poker
- Aromatherapy (three books, but I’m not allowed to do that in the house)
- Spells for new witches (I kid you not, it was interesting)
- The Law Of Attraction
- Weight training/fitness
- Cannabis edibles (not legal here)
- Successful aging and retirement
- Fung shui
- Essential oils
- Multiple cookbooks, including:
- Italian cooking
- French cooking and baking
- Scandanavian baking
- Baking, including cakes and donuts
- Barbecue and grilling, including sauces
- “Five-Ingredient” cookbooks
- “For two” cookbooks
- Quick-cooking, 30 minutes or less, including “healthy”
- Instant Pot cooking
- Air Fryer cooking
- Slow cooking
- Gardening (including urban gardening)
- Convection oven cooking
- Dehydrator recipes
- Cooking for your dog (absolute truth, including recipes for “doggie date nights” for you and the pup)
- Psychology in different forms, including three “couples” books and one on “willpower”
- Sleeping (and how much sleep have I lost reading them? None.)
- Cookbooks for pecific diets, including:
- Keto (including vegetarian)
- Thyroid disorders
- Intermittent fasting
- Mediterranean (I have three, including one for Keto)
And that’s just the ones I’ve been able to put my hands on just now.
Amazingly, we’ve found a few new “winners” for me to make again, with two thumbs up from BF. This includes one called Roasted Calabrian Chicken, which I made last week. It was really just chicken and diced potatoes with some dried oregano, fresh rosemary, and (don’t tell him!) a squeeze of lemon juice, on a sheet pan in the countertop oven. Needed to cook the potatoes longer, though. Next one is an air fryer recipe with. . .chicken and diced potatoes. The potatoes go into the bottom, and the chicken goes on top on a little rack. Maybe next week.
How Many Books?
Honest, I have no idea. I haven’t counted or organized them yet. They’ve been coming hot and heavy since last July, and until they started limiting people to four books, I got as many as seven at once. I have given a couple of them away as Christmas gifts, and some may be donated to the library eventually.
I need a new bookshelf now, and I’ll have to organize them accordingly. That means BF will be moving some of his boxes of ju. . .I mean, things, for me to put the bookshelf up. I plan to put a nice china cabinet up next to the bookshelf one day, preferably from IKEA, but that’s going to be a while yet.
I wondered if I would need more bookcases. And then one day, it became e-books. I’m guessing it’s because of the expense, but the reason Callisto gave was because of the delivery times. So now it’s about reviewing e-books, and they offer a very short time window for it, too.
I’ve sent one or two of these e-books to Miss Alice in Houston since she’s now vegetarian, a gift from Hurricane Harvey.
I do appreciate all the physical books they’ve sent me (and now, some of my writer friends) to read and review, and will keep them in their own bookcase. LOTS of delicious food in these books as well as really good info, which I hope to digest before my 90th birthday.
I missed two books out of the last batch of physical books that I really wanted, so I’ve got them on my Amazon wish list. I’ll try to fit them in my next Amazon order (whenever that is.) One was a 3-ingredient cocktail book, the other another “for two” kind of thing. Oh, well–they’re not expensive.
I’m a good six months late on this, but I think the next post will be about the cheesecakes. KJ is impatiently waiting for me to write it up, and I need to blog a little more regularly anyway. Plus I’ve got to tell you about the air fryer and the Instant Pot that’s taking up way too much room on the countertop. At least when I use it I can “let R2D2 handle dinner.”
Please take care of yourself, wash your hands, take necessary precautions, and stay far and away from trouble. It’s everywhere, lurking around corners. I’ll be back soon with more delicious recipes to share.
My very late report on the Celebration of Life for John Walton of the long-running Walton & Johnson Show.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
I know, it’s been months since my last update. My apologies. I’m writing and reading and taking care of the house and helping with BF’s Dad these days. So much for New Year’s Resolutions.
I’ve been trying to finish this post since the day after the event. June 3rd, two days ago, marked a year since the last show with the late John Walton. I can’t believe it’s been that long, but it has. So it’s time for me to finish this blog post, darnit. I also have procrastinated so that I might do justice to the subject at hand, and give him the respect he deserves.
We’re talking about this man, a radio legend since the early 1980’s.
So, finally, here’s my report on our visit to New Orleans last July to celebrate the life of an incredible radio veteran.
The Walton & Johnson Show
If you’re not familiar with one of the longest-running morning radio shows in the US, here’s a brief intro. You can read the updated bio here on their website. That picture of two sharp-dressed men at the top is of Steve Johnson and Ken Webster, taken last year.
The video at the bottom of the page was made in the last few years, I’m guessing, and runs about five minutes. (It was also shown at the activity.)
John Walton and Steve Johnson began their joint radio career in Beaumont, TX, about 1981 or 1982. Somewhere in there, they were approached by a man named Phil Shaw from NOLA station WQUE to begin doing morning drive. He intended to hire someone else, but ended up hiring these two. John Walton once said on the air that someone took him to lunch in New Orleans, and he had the best food he’d ever tasted in his life, so he stayed for 20 years. And that was that.
I actually was listening to them that first day back in 1982, and it was just a “talk show” chatting kind of thing, where Shaw welcomed them to New Orleans, they discussed a few topics politely, and they were saying “thank you, we’re really glad to be here.” They were warned ahead of time that New Orlenians didn’t take kindly to Texans (tell me about it), but over time, well. . .I’m getting ahead of myself.
The next day, the full force of Walton & Johnson was released in the city of New Orleans. Funny. Silly. Rude. Raunchy. Topical. Irreverent. Satirical. Sarcastic. Naughty. Lots of hilarious and topical parody songs about current events. And always interesting and controversial.
It didn’t take long for these two “shock jocks” to bowl over listeners with their back-and-forth banter with the others on the air, at the expense of a competitive morning drive show called Scoot In The Morning. “Scoot,” (real name: Scott Paisant.) ruled NOLA morning radio for many years, until these two Texans blew into town with their different ways of doing things. W&J quickly gained a very faithful following in the metro New Orleans area and held on tight. (He’s on in NOLA now in the afternoons, but quite a bit different from Walton and Johnson, it seems.)
W&J worked at nearly every radio station in New Orleans and were booted off the air more than once for different reasons. According to one story Steve Johnson told on the air, they made a comment about then-president George H.W. Bush. The next day, two Secret Service gentlemen showed up for a “visit.” The radio station’s receptionist was used to greeting people that “wanted to have a word with them,” and she didn’t even flinch. Without missing a beat, she just called out, “Walton and Johnson, you have company!”
This story was also told, both on the air by Nathan Ailes, a former radio sales guy and longtime W&J ally, and at the activity. When they first started, it wasn’t long before the radio station’s salespeople began to revolt. “We can’t sell this show, it’s too nonstandard,” or something like it. Many threatened to quit. Radio station management just said, “sorry to see you go!” Most got on board and successfully sold the show’s advertising.
Taking The Show On The Road
Walton & Johnson started out in top 40 radio, and later migrated into what’s now called “classic rock radio.” A few years ago, the show moved into conservative talk radio. More on that later.
On a few of those “hiatus” periods when they were off the air in New Orleans, they left the city. They attempted to “set up shop” in Dallas, New York, and one or two other places. Dallas lasted a month, New York, not much longer. Ultimately, it was always back to New Orleans where their biggest and most loyal fan base lived.
Despite their popularity, you could only hear them in the NOLA area as long as they were on the air. But that was long before the Internet changed nearly everything in life. Again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
On Their Own
Somewhere around 1993, the guys split up for a while and worked with other people. They were successful but realized that they were better together–but on their own terms. They created the Walton & Johnson Radio Network. Instead of being employees of the radio station, W&J would be self-employed, and the radio station would be their client. It was rather revolutionary at the time, especially in NOLA, but it put them on par with national radio figures like Howard Stern (who they always beat in ratings.) It’s similar to how I work now as a freelancer.
Suddenly, the show could be heard outside of the metro NOLA area, and outside Louisiana on any radio station that wanted to have W&J grace their airwaves. Today they are on 15 southern US radio stations between Midland in West Texas and northern Georgia, as well as worldwide on iHeartRadio, streaming from the flagship station in Houston, KPRC 950 AM. I stream it from KPRC because I can’t stand the godawful local radio station that hosts it.
The Houston Migration
One of the things I did miss about leaving Louisiana in 1998 was Walton & Johnson. I did try streaming it online a few times using RealPlayer, but it just didn’t work well on dial-up, the standard for home Internet service at the time. I once heard a weird discussion of dinosaurs, and people kept calling in about it. A bit clunky, so I abandoned the idea.
Then one day in 2001, I was getting ready for work, and I got a phone call from my brother. He lived on the north side of Houston at the time. “Turn on your radio to KLOL,” he said. That was a longtime classic rock radio station that later became one of multiple Latino stations in Houston. I did, and there they were. WALTON AND JOHNSON!!!
I couldn’t believe it–they were in Houston! After 20 years in New Orleans, they decided to do their show in the Houston area, where they were both born and raised. Because they didn’t work at one radio station, there wouldn’t be any interruption–they would just be broadcasting from a flagship station in Houston, and would still be on all the regional affiliate stations.
This didn’t sit well with the New Orleans listeners initially, who were shocked that they would leave. One gent who called in to express his displeasure said to them, “but we’re gonna miss you here.” Walton explained that they would still be on the air in NOLA, and visit for personal appearances from time to time, but the show would now be based elsewhere. “It’s not like we come to your house for dinner,” Walton countered. Listeners were undeterred in expressing their disappointment over the move to Texas, but they still listened and called in as before. (You can always tell when it’s someone from this side of the Sabine even before they tell you where they’re calling from. Trust me.)
More To Talk About
Suddenly W&J discussed a much wider range of topics that weren’t all New Orleans-centric, and some that wouldn’t mean anything to listeners outside the Houston area. That wasn’t all of what they discussed, and still isn’t. I knew there would be listeners in Houston wondering about these two. But the Texas listeners caught on quick, and it wasn’t long before the top morning drive radio show in Houston was Walton & Johnson, too.
As was the case in New Orleans, they changed stations a few times in Houston. The mainstream press avoided talking much about them and their top-tier status on the radio. At one point, they were on the air on all their stations but Houston, making online streaming a necessity. Eventually, they found a home at KPRC 950, an AM talk station that is conservative- and libertarian-leaning. But in other places, the show is found on FM stations, like WRNO (also a talk radio station) in New Orleans and Classic Rock 92.1 in Lake Charles. (I still prefer the stream from KPRC, or listening from their iPhone app.)
The Listener’s Perspective
Granted, there were many times when I laughed hard at what I heard. But if I had to pick one thing about John Walton that I remember well, it was the day I was driving to work at Rice University (I wasn’t there long and laid off after 4 months). This was in the early part of 2001. There I was on the freeway feeder road (now called I-69), in the left lane, coming up on the Weslayan exit.
Walton was talking about the awful “music” that was popular at the time, namely, two grunge-style bands called Creed and Pearl Jam. They all sounded alike. The lead singers had a style that was hard to describe, a sort of growling moan. Walton had a name for it: “sick on seafood.”
I was laughing so hard I nearly crashed my car the wall on the overpass. Thankfully I kept control of my car, but only just. Anytime I heard him say “sick on seafood,” it made me laugh.
Another cold morning, I was on the Bay Area Park & Ride headed downtown for work and was listening on a small radio I bought just for this purpose. This was the period from 2013 through early 2014. I wish I’d bought my iPhone sooner, too, because I could have been streaming it live every morning on the bus and finishing listening on the 90-minute-plus ride home at night.
Well, this particular winter day, the discussion turned to a story about Dwayne Chapman, aka, Dog, The Bounty Hunter, with his big blonde mullet. (I will admit that I only know who he is through news stories, like where his wife passed away last year.) There was a picture in the Houston Chronicle of Mr. Chapman, and Walton asked, “Is that Outlaw Dave?”
Outlaw Dave is the “afternoon guy” from their days at KLOL, and now has show on KPRC in the evenings. They’ve worked together for a long time. He used to have a LOT more hair.
Suddenly I had a vision: an older couple, maybe mid-to-late 60’s, sitting at their little kitchen table by the window, somewhere in the New Orleans area, listening and having their coffee. They’re obviously enjoying what they’re hearing until they hear the comment about Outlaw Dave. The man stops with a puzzled look on his face and asks his wife, “Who’s Outlaw Dave?” The wife shrugs her shoulders and says, “I dunno.”
Dear Readers, those two were walking around Generations Hall that day. In spades.
There were so many other instances of John Walton’s incredibly fast, sharp wit that stopped people in their tracks. Naturally, not everyone was a fan, and they have been the target of derision many times.
This man rarely, if ever, took a sick day. That’s how dedicated he was to the show, and to the listeners who enjoyed it. It was, quite literally, his life’s work, even though he had other things going on, like owning a radio station in Beaumont.
Earlier in the year, he began to have a number of health problems. I don’t recall him talking about them on the air, although, admittedly, I don’t listen as often as I’d like. I keep up with the show on Facebook and listen sometimes with the app on my iPhone. But I still consider myself a “ten percenter” as well as a Texan.
Then one day I started to see people on Facebook asking about why Ken Webster was on the air instead. Mr. Walton was off the air receiving medical treatment, was doing ratherwell, and would be out for a little while. He was out for a couple of weeks, and Ken went from producer to fill-in host, with Steve doing what he normally does. It was the same great show, only slightly different with Ken’s voice from the other chair.
Mr. Walton was expected back on the air on Monday, July 8th. But about a week or so before, on a Friday, he decided to stop receiving treatment and go home for the rest of his days. He’d had enough, apparently, and passed away at his home in Fulshear, Texas, on July 1, 2019, with his wife and family at his side. It was a shock to everyone, including longtime radio partner Steve Johnson. When the news broke, fans were stunned, including me and BF.
Radio lost a true legend that day.
Future State: The “New” Walton & Johnson Show
Ken Webster is great about keeping listeners in the loop on the show’s social media channels, including using video. He also hosts his own show in the afternoons called The Pursuit Of Happiness Radio. It’s on the same station, and he also does it live on Facebook, as well as podcasts.
Ken did a video on Facebook that Tuesday, July 2nd, with updates, which included:
- They would be on the air the next day, July 3, at the normal time, as usual, but would be taking calls from friends of the show as well as listeners, and talking about the show’s past as well as future.
- The show will continue, as Steve Johnson is in great health and is ready and willing to keep going.
- The show will continue as long as listeners want it (and we do.)
- The name of the show will not change, out of respect for Mr. Walton, who founded the show and shared responsibility for its success and longevity.
- Listeners can expect more of the same, just with Ken in the other chair. (After 7 years of being in the producer’s chair, I think he’s got a general idea.)
- There would be a public memorial both in Houston and in New Orleans, where John Walton enjoyed living and visiting when he moved back to Houston. Details would be announced as soon as they had them.
Since this was just the day after Mr. Walton’s passing, everything was raw and understandably, nobody was quite sure what to do next.
I played the FB video on my TV, running the HDMI cord from my laptop to the TV (I do that a lot.) We sat on the futon and watched Ken’s video and talked about it a little more.
We both listened to that first show from the 5:30 am beginning, and I listened through 9:00 am. they started out as they did every day at 5:30 sharp with Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Little Wing. BF listened until he got to work. I streamed it online and put it on the big speaker I have in front of my TV, listening until 9, and catching up on the final hour of the show later on the app. There were a lot of stories told about the 30+ years of the show.
One of their favorite things W&J enjoyed was going out to lunch. As Steve Johnson put it, “nobody did lunch better than Walton & Johnson.” He then told many stories about how they “did lunch,” frequently on the radio station’s expense account, and more importantly, getting away with it! But you’d have to hear Steve tell those stories, I wouldn’t be able to.
After that first show, they began the process of moving forward without him, but keeping the John Walton legacy alive. They’ve since taken some new promo photos as well, and they’re quite good.
The Celebration Of Life
When the show announced the New Orleans Celebration of Life activity, BF surprised me when he said, “I want to go to that.” So we made plans with The E-Man to go to New Orleans. We picked him up early and he was our navigator to the venue. Finally, BF met one of my oldest friends, The E-Man.
John Walton always told people that when he left the earth, he wanted a big New Orleans-style going-away, complete with a second line and all that. Because of all the connections that W&J made over the years, they were able to arrange it, as Steve Johnson said, “with just a few phone calls.” Everything came together fairly quickly, although it had to be postponed by two weeks because of Hurricane Barry. The New Orleans activity finally happened on July 28th.
Generations Hall is a place I’d never heard of or visited myself, but I have to say it’s quite a nice venue for whatever kind of activity you’re having. I haven’t done corporate event planning for a long time, but if I were asked to set up something in NOLA, I would definitely consider it.
Also in attendance was a classic rock band called Superchargers, and they were quite good.
A number of us thought they would play the show’s opening tune, Little Wing, but they didn’t. They just stuck to what they know and did it very well.
Meeting Webster And Johnson
Although I have met W&J once or twice before, it’s been many, many years. But thankfully, the guys were meeting the fans, and we greatly appreciated the opportunity:
Because I follow them on Facebook, I’m also friended with Morgan Webster, aka Mrs. Ken Webster, who’s as absolutely drop-dead gorgeous in person as she is on FB when she’s out with Ken. I talked her into a fangirl selfie, and she is ever so nice:
Honestly, Kenny and Morgan look so cute together! But at this event, they weren’t “together” much, because they were talking to literally everybody and mingling throughout the activity. But on social media, they are quite regularly together and post pictures of their Texas adventures. I didn’t get to talk to Christine Johnson, either, who is otherwise nearly always with Steve.
We stood in line for however long to talk to them for a couple of minutes and get an autograph on the little banners they handed us for the second line later. I told them about my “John Walton memory” of “sick on seafood.”
I’m sure they were all exhausted when it was all over.
Also in attendance was John Walton’s wife, Lainie:
This was the best pic I could get from the floor, I tried my best to get a good one. I also tried to get to talk to Mrs. Walton, but she wasn’t on the floor very much. I was only going to say Hi, and offer our condolences, but let’s face it–there were at least 1,000 people in there. She was hanging out in the VIP area, and under the circumstances, I was not about to crash it.
John Walton’s Car
The first thing we saw when we arrived was his gorgeous car, a 1966 (I think) Ford Galaxie:
I don’t have a picture of it here, but people were laughing about the Texas inspection sticker that’s on the lower part of the windshield on the driver’s side. The expiration date is 4/20, which is a thing for smokers of. . .non-tobacco cigarettes.
I know I’m showing my age when I say, “kids today don’t know what it means to ‘roll down the window.'”
Thankfully, it wasn’t raining. But it sure was hot that day. And BF did enjoy seeing the car up close.
It wouldn’t be W&J without some pictures and things:
And a canvas that people could sign, that I believe went to Mrs. Walton:
I signed it, but I think BF didn’t:
Hanging With The “Ten Percenters”
Listeners to the show are called this for one reason: they are the ten percent of the listening audience that actually *gets* the show and the exclusive, unique humor. This is true in any city that they broadcast in, but especially in New Orleans.
During their time in the Crescent City, W&J developed a few “catch-phrases” or “keyword phrases” that are unique to the show and the listeners. For instance, many years ago, Walton made the comment that Ten Percenters should have their own recognizable greeting, like “Green Beans” or “Ungawa.” It stuck. They were also called the “Radio Gawds,” in a nod to the New Orleans accent, markedly similar to a New York/Brooklyn accent.
It was a friendly, albeit raucous, crowd, and everyone had a story to tell about their connection to W&J. Many shared pictures. And then there was the man who had a little handwritten sign that said something like:
In 1991, I won the tickets to the Saints game on the 50-yard line.
He walked around with it, holding up as you would see someone on the side of the road.
Another man and his wife had strung green beans around their necks.
Lots of folks had Mardi Gras beads on, or clothes with purple, green, and gold. A couple of male attendees wore kilts.
Throughout the event, we had conversations with many folks who were fans and occasionally interacted with them in one way or another, either at events like this one, personal appearances, or the many benefit motorcycle rides they participated in over the years. Both did motorcycle rides anytime they could, and were avid riders.
Of Course, There Was Food
If you want to have a successful activity in New Orleans, you must have food, and this event had some interesting and delicious dishes.
In the courtyard, a local restaurant named Dragos was serving little shrimp sliders out of a food truck, but I didn’t get pictures of it, darnit. BF enjoyed that one first.
Of course, there was the requisite po-boy, a staple of New Orleans food, with fried shrimp:
I caught a shot of them making one up:
That’s a huge loaf of French bread, bigger than you get in the grocery store, even in this part of the US:
BF said there were slices of honeydew melon on the po-boy. It’s not traditional–shredded lettuce and tomato are, but this was a special event, so they jazzed it up. Shrimp pasta was also on the menu:
The classic “Dirty Rice,” with beef and spices.
There was also hummus, and an interesting way to serve it, alongside quinoa:
This not being exactly traditional New Orleans food, many folks weren’t sure what to make of it! (I thought it was tasty myself.) And then there was this very interesting version of sandwiches:
There was a specific and fancy name for these, but I didn’t write it down and I don’t recall what it was. They were similar to quesadillas but using pita bread, the round kind with pockets. Again, not traditional New Orleans food, so many people were a bit unsure and asked questions. But you know me, no complaints here.
It was also a free bar (it’s NOLA, what did you expect?), and BF and I stuck to the non-alcoholic imbibements. The E-Man had a beer or two, I think, but others were, shall we say, quite happy about the open bar kind of thing.
Kudos to all the vendors involved, because they all did an outstanding job for John Walton’s legion of fans.
The Show’s Other Members
Ken and Steve are the “chief protagonists,” but there are others who are on the air with them every day.
Mr. Kenneth, a professional hairdresser, celebrity expert, and fashionista of the Walton & Johnson show, was so much fun. He became connected to the show when he gave both of them George Michael haircuts back in the day. He loved my outfit, but said I shouldn’t wear so much red because it clashes with my hair. He said the background blue of my top works really well, but I was overwhelmed by the poppies. As a professional hairdresser, he knows that there’s nothing like red hair.
Billy Ed Hatfield, the show’s engineer from Clute, Texas, easily bonded with BF over cars and engines and other “guy things.” However, BF put him in his place when he started talking about “the hot redhead with the glasses,” because he realized Billy Ed was making comments about me. That didn’t sit too well with BF, who took offense, and he figured Billy Ed would be flirting next. There was no fighting, but BF politely let him know who I was with. Billy Ed apologized profusely and complimented him on his taste in women. Then he sheepishly went on to talk to someone else.
Mr. Eaux, from “the ‘hood,” was also sporting his best bling with his black zoot suit for the occasion. He didn’t want to admit he was sweating and insisted on leaving his jacket on. He, too, was a little flirty with all the women, but he was very polite to me. Maybe he saw how BF politely stood down Billy Ed. I also noticed Mr. Eaux steered clear of Morgan, as well, since Ken is a big guy, over six feet. He’s nice, but Kenny wouldn’t put up with Mr. Eaux or Billy Ed messing with her.
Then It Was Over
The second line brought Mr. Walton outside, where people paid tribute to the man, including a guy on bagpipes. People waved the little cloths around (except me, I don’t do that), and said goodbye.
Everyone went home, happy to have taken part in a momentous occasion. We all had a great time, everyone enjoyed the day. That’s what happens when Ten Percenters come together. I don’t know if the great staff of Generations Hall knew what to expect, but they did a fantastic job of keeping everything together and running well.
Ken and Steve also talked about having an annual John Walton activity, a benefit for charity, but not in July. Maybe in October, when it’s not so hot.
As they say, “the show will go on,” and both Steve and Ken have kept their promise to continue as long as fans are interested. We are. They were on the air on that Monday, but stayed in New Orleans and broadcast from, I guess, WRNO for a day or two.
The W&J app has a section of “The Best Of John Walton,” where you can also hear the five parts of the July 3rd show, including the 9:00 am hour where John’s wife, Lainie Walton, was the last person to call in.
Of course, there will never be another John Walton–everyone knows that. He “raised” Ken to be a great successor, even if he didn’t intend to when they hired him. But of course, John Walton will not be forgotten, ever, either by listeners, by his family, and of course, by Steve Johnson and Ken Webster.
Thank you for the memories, Mr. Walton. We appreciate the time we had with you and will never forget you.
And as they say at 9:59 every day on the Walton & Johnson Show:
Don’t forget, boys and girls, to eat it every day!