Friday, January 02, 2009

Shrimp and Grits

This isn't a traditional New Orleans dish, but I always enjoy it. I tried Paula Deen's recipe, and liked it. It has a lemony flavor. Next time, I'll try a South Carolina recipe.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 begins and with it, new interests

Today we bought some new cookware. It strikes me as a good start to a new year, and I think I will write about it in the coming months.

Yes, it is mundane. Banal even? But of great importance to me.

We live in one of the most diverse and pleasing culinary environments in the world, New Orleans. Here in the kitchen of our rented shotgun, we've created many wonderful meals. But there's never a shortage of places to go or call for equally fine food; for a long while, with my teaching and C's work, we've turned to that option far too often. In 2008, with its leaner times, I started once again to cook more frequently at home. It's been satisfying, and along the way, I've extended my repertoire. Sometime in the past few months, I started to really hanker for a Le Creusset pan, maybe two. I wanted to experience the enamel-coated surface; I love cast iron, but sometimes am dissatisfied with the taste and color it can impart to food. This was an idle wish; at $250 a pot on average, I could not justify the expense.

Last night, we enjoyed a good etouffe prepared by our friend LB, and while helping her do dishes afterwards, I was taken aback by the big, red, enamel pot on the stove. Wow! You got Le Creusset for Christmas! But no, not at all. It turns out Martha Stewart has taken on the French cookware giant and produced a challenger, a fine example of heavy-weight, well-made enameled cookware priced for the reality of this economy, made available to lower-middle-class me. Oh boy. And it's on sale, to boot. Oh wow.

C and I discussed it and I hightailed it to Macy's today, returning with three pieces: a 7-qt. round casserole, a 5.5 round casserole, and a little 1.5 qt. stone bakeware pot, all for about $135.

Tonight I made blackeyed peas and cabbage with bacon in the two big pots. It was a fine way to start the year. I found quickly that I have to use a low fire; the heat circulates beautifully, and efficiently. The mirapois for the blackeyed peas came out perfectly, and while it has no bearing on the flavor, looked pretty against the creamy enamel coating.

I plan to explore the possibilities of these new additions to my kitchen over the coming months. If good things come out of this, I'll include them here, with pictures (don't know why I didn't do that tonight, but there you go. This is free-form, not a regimen.)

Note to myself: Happy New Year. Make it count.