Thursday, 20 April 2006

Louisiana Typified: The Crawfish Boil

A picture of Louisiana.

You know, were I to write a dissertation on Louisiana for some reason, I think that would be my title.  I'd get to eat crawfish across the state, which would be a pretty sweet benefit, as well.

We were lucky enough to make it to Natchitoches, Louisiana (home of large chunks of the Husbear's family) for Easter this year.  As part of the Easter festivities, Husbear's aunt and uncle, Jod-I and Keiff, organized and threw a raucous crawfish boil. 

Realizing that this would probably be our last crawfish boil for a couple of years, we had to bring our little camera and do some documenting!

Live crawfish contemplating their doom

There's a fair amount of preparation that goes into creating a good crawfish boil.  The crawfish have to be bought alive, for one thing - in giant mesh sacks holding 35-40 pounds each, usually. They have to be kept alive until it's time to cook them, or they're nasty - hence, the saying "don't eat the dead ones" as you pick through your pile of cooked crawfish trying to decide which ones to munch on.  (It's easy to tell which ones were dead before they were cooked - they're the ones with the straight tails.)

The crawfish have to be purged in a succession of salty and fresh water - skip this step, and you're eating lots of mud and crawfish innards. I know that sounds delicious but it's not as good as you'd think.

Then, fill your enormous boiling pot with water (of course!), margarine or butter, throw in a heap of Zatarain's crawfish boil seasoning along with various proprietary herbs and spices and get to it!  Zatarain's even publishes their tips on creating a great crawfish boil on their website. (No they're not paying us.  Yet.  Although any Zatarain's rep can easily and conveniently reach us through our on-site email.  Get in early while we still work cheap.)

Now, Husbear, being a vegetarian, likes to gussy things up a little.

Boiling Veggies

Potatoes, corn, onions, and lemon are normally included to represent the vegetable spectrum; each time Husbear and I get to a boil, he likes to add a few different vegetables - partly for experimentation, partly for sustenance.  This time, he broke out a lively medley of asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and artichokes to add to the pot.

Speaking of pots, Keiff just got a new one, which is ginormous! Brandog helped him out by filling it up.

Filling the giant pot

He used it to supplement Old Reliable Crawfish Pot (in the hood the ORCP).

So - veggies cut, crawfish purged, time to cook!

The ORCP showed the new pot the ropes.

The New & Old School Methods

People circulated into and out of the house, checking on crawfish and grabbing beers from the ice chest.  (Husbear took this time to whip up dippin' sauces - a basil aioli and lemon butter.  A nice addition to the requisite and delicious horseradishy cocktail sauce.)

The crawfish, they are finished.

Soon enough, the crawfish and veg were done.  They all went into an ice chest to keep them warm.  Some people take the opportunity at this juncture to sprinkle some more of the spicy crawfish boil mix over the cooked critters, just to up the heat level.

Get everyone gathered around tables/plywood on sawhorses covered in newspaper, make sure everyone has a cold drink, and dump!

Pile of crawfish on newspapers

Make sure you get some veggies in there, too, while you're at it.

The table

Now, eat.  There's a bit of a trick to getting the tail meat out, but once you go through a few pounds or five practicing and eating, it's pretty easy.  And be sure to suck the heads, like you're a real cajun!  That's where all the fat and flavor are!  (I say this like I participate in that part of the ritual.  I usually don't, but I remember at my first boil at Jod-I and Keiff's during college, Tiffany totally took to it like an old pro.)

GQ goes to town

If you're having trouble, just ask GQ - he'll walk you through it! 

Soon, you'll end up with a pile of little crawfish carcasses in front of you, like a tiny trophy hunter.

Picking through the pile

After an hour, or two, stagger backwards from the table - and you're done.  Of course, there's still cleaning to do - but the best way to take care of that is with a large garbage bag.  This is why crawfish boils are really an outside only sort of affair.  (Unless you're a sissy -L. Pants)

Cleaning up afterwards

The carnage can be quite extensive, depending on who you're eating with.  This little guy tried to make a break for it, but forgot that it's difficult to dash away once you've been boiled.

The ultimate indignity

Since this was not only an Easter crawfish boil, but also a birthday crawfish boil (happy birthday to... lots of people!) there was also Jod-I's wonderful apple cake for dessert.  Oh, was this GOOD.

Apple Cake

And there you are - you can totally say you've been to a crawfish boil now - you're a seasoned old hand at this.

Thank you of course to Jod-I and Keiff for their hospitality - and for the great birthday bag they got Husbear for our upcoming travels - and for the spiffy arm band and case for my new iPod!

Oh - did I not mention my new iPod?  (Like how I worked that in?) I have joined the ranks of the cool and suave, thanks to Husbear's folks!  I am now the proud mama of a black iPod nano - which is something I thought I would never be slick enough to own.  Unfortunately, now I have to get a whole new wardrobe to live up to the coolness of my new toy.  Oh, is it sweet!

That's all you'll hear about the iPod - for now!


Thursday, 29 December 2005

Christmas, en el stilo de famiglia Husbear

Ah, Christmas.  I know everyone has their different traditions (it's really the same way for Thanksgiving), and each family does things their own way.  Since I'm Jewish, and my family didn't do Christmas (apparently that suprises a lot of people, that Jews don't do Christmas?), I don't really have a lot of expectation built up.

That being said, I really, really love spending Christmas with the Husbear's family!

There's lots of food:

Ribollita and toppins

(Ribollita, traditional Tuscan stew, with all the toppins);

Christmas tryptich o' eats

Various tasty casseroles, including the best broccoli-rice EVER, and rolls;

Turkey, panade and casseroles

Cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, sweet potatoes with gingersnap topping, fried turkey, roast turkey (gotta have two kinds!) and panade (bread, onions, cheese, salt water);

Turdilli and Blueberry biscuits

Turdilli, Italian fried cookies, and blueberry biscuits;

And of course, lots of other wonderful food that we don't have pictures of.

There's also lots of family!

Triangle of Family

Hi, everyone!

And a cute little nephlet (already 17 and a half months!) named Rayne!

Rayne Pyramid

(If you click on any of these pictures, it will take you to the Flickr photo page - then click on "all sizes" right above the picture to see it larger.)

Rayne really wanted in on all of the action!  This is my favorite picture:


They say he's got the Husbear's ears!  Woo!

And then, of course - the traditional Christmas nap.

Christmas napping

He stole back the bear we gave Rayne for Christmas!

And now, back to the napping...