I will admit that my recipe headline is a bit redundant. When I think of Pralines I only think of New Orleans. I can imagine no other city evoked by these confections. It may, of course, be my own bias, having grown up in New Orleans, and having passed Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop in the French Quarter countless times.
A few weeks ago, Caitlin and some of her fellow bridesmaids hosted a bridal shower. The bride-to-be was one of Caitlin’s childhood friends and the groom-to-be was another New Orleans boy (we make such good husbands). With that in mind, the food and drinks for the evening were to have a Maryland (for her) and New Orleans (for him) theme.
Among other items, I volunteered to make pralines for our guests. At first, we had thought about ordering the pralines, but that seemed expensive, not to mention the threat of breakage. So we transitioned to the plan that had me making several dozen pralines.
And several dozen I made. My first batch was a complete and total failure. I Continue reading
The march of progress often seems inexorable, with each passing step of time yielding new ground in our scientific and technical fields.
The digital age is the embodiment of this phenomenon. With the advent of computers, we’ve watched our lives become longer, our automobiles become safer, and our world become closer.
In the world of photography, the digital age has made film obsolete and our cameras smaller and faster. We’ve gone from the Polaroid to the point and shoot, and from carrying buckets of film to squeezing thousands of images onto a single photo card, no larger than the size of a half-dollar. We’ve traded film development for image software; our darkroom for a computer.
All of which makes the technical and artistic expertise of an Ansel Adams that much more compelling. Continue reading
I didn’t make it back to New Orleans this Thanksgiving. But I still wanted a piece of the city at the table. To that end, I settled on a piece of pecan pie, inspired by the Pecan Pie served at The Camellia Grill.
The Camellia Grill is a local landmark, its Greek columns set right off the streetcar line and the river-bend, and sandwiched between the Uptown and Carrollton neighborhoods. Its patrons run the gamut, with partied-out college freshmen seated elbow-to-elbow with local luminaries, with everyone in between still waiting to be seated.
Two well-worn green couches sit on opposite ends of the Grill, and serve as the designated waiting area. A series of one-legged stools, bolted to the ground, snakes around the counter, Continue reading
When Caitlin and I were working on our Grim Peeper Panorama, her candied pecans fueled our creative endeavors.
This recipe also encourages creativity, as you can vary both the spices and the type of nut, if desired. Candied pecans make a great snack on their own. They can also be added to mashed sweet potatoes, or used to add a little extra punch Continue reading
Sweet potatoes are probably the first thing I ever put in the oven.
I can’t quite remember how old I was, but I can remember the early fascination with the magic of baking. I tore off a sheet of foil, set the oven to 420 degrees, and placed a hard, unattractive object into the oven. There was no cutting, no slicing, no mixing, no peeling. There was no other ingredient, and no other steps. And yet, after ninety minutes, a sweet smell enveloped the kitchen and much of the house, beckoning me downstairs. I grabbed the pot-holders, cut a tablespoon of butter, and sat down to dig into the soft, sweet flesh of a baked sweet potato.
I couldn’t have been older than twelve or thirteen, Continue reading