almonds
OK, OK, I don't actually have nuts to trade. But I do have some design skills. And this awesome farm outside of Dallas, Texas, has some amazing nuts. So there you go, nuts for design.

Actually they really do have amazing nuts. Barking Cat Farm is two women who left corporate America to start an organic farm. A really cool farm that grows specialty flowers, herbs and produce and, now, is working on some amazing cottage foods. Foods like raw sprouted dehydrated almonds and crispy dark chocolate almonds.

And I'm using my design nuts to help them with some packaging for their cool new products.

So a little about raw sprouted dehydrated almonds. Germinated, or sprouted, raw nuts are super awesome for you. The raw nuts contain all sorts of good stuff like digestive enzymes and then the sprouting process makes it easier for the body to absorb vitamins as well as digest the nuts. (It's a bit more complicated then this, but that's the gist).

And these living (raw) foods also help with heart health, weight control and diabetes. And then nuts themselves are full of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamin E, protein and antioxidants.

Then dehydrating rather than roasting the nuts makes them crispy while maintaining the enzyme and nutritional benefits of the sprouted nuts.

Whew . . . the process is kind of labor intensive (AKA, kind of a pain in the butt) . . . . though doable . . . but I much prefer designing (something I ❤) and then getting handed a big bag of nuts. :)

Hopefully this farm will sell online at some point, but until then, you can get raw sprouted dehydrated almonds and other nuts and seeds from a variety of places online . . .I like Blue Mountain Organics.

*thanks to my friend Kimber who reminded me that I have a blog and should probably write about good nuts

tx_heartWEST TAWAKONI

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broccoli2So I've always liked broccoli in a, I-like-you-but-never-noticed-you kind of way. But can I say a big "HELLO" to fresh, I-just-got-plucked-from-the-ground broccoli??

Recently I've gotten several heads of fresh broccoli from the new farmer I'm trying to keep secret until he tells me I can talk about him (hint, hint . . . ready when you are!). And I've discovered that I not only like this cruciferous veggie, I LOVE it. I've found myself wanting to toss in some raw broccoli into our regular green salads. And that's a first. Normally I find raw broccoli has a strong sulfur-y flavor and smell. But the flavor of fresh is so much more subtle than after it's been picked in a faraway place, trucked in for days and then left to sit in a grocery store produce section.

The drawback to only eating this super healthy vegetable when you can get it locally is that it's not a year-round crop like grocery stores would lead you to believe. The growing season isn't long . . .basically the cooler months in the fall and spring. But that's OK. Now that I've tasted the difference, I'll eat it in season and relish this former old standby.

And in honor of this amazing vegetable that helps with everything from arthritis to cancer, here's one of my favorite cooked broccoli recipes — though when you get it fresh, it's a shame not to eat it raw.

Broccoli Quiche
Serves 8
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pie crust (so easy to make . . . )
  2. 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  3. 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  4. 1 cup grated Swiss cheese (like the awesome wheel my grandfather sends every year)
  5. 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 2/3 cup vegetable broth
  8. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/4 tsp Tabasco
Instructions
  1. Place pastry in pie dish. Prick bottom and corners and bake at 425F for 5 min.
  2. Remove and sprinkle with 2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese. Layer 1/2 broccoli, 1/2 Swiss cheese and 1/2 scallions. Repeat layering.
  3. Beat together eggs, broth, cream, salt and Tabasco. Mix well. Pour over broccoli mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake 10 minutes at 425F. Reduce heat to 325F and continue baking until knife comes out clean (20-25 minutes).
  5. Let stand 5-10 minutes.
Finding Fresh http://finding-fresh.com/wordpress/
houma_la_heartHOUMA

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king_cakeI'm guilty. Guilty of not writing for more than a month, guilty of forgetting most everyone's name, and guilty of letting my kids eat King Cake for breakfast. . . like every morning this past week. . . .

I'm only kind of ashamed. I mean, my 9 year old gets himself up and can fix that kind of breakfast while I listen from bed for a few extra minutes. . . . I keep saying it's just in the spirit of the Mardi Gras season and Ash Wednesday will mark the return to fruit, grain and protein. . . 

Anyway, I do love King Cake . . not so much to eat all the time, but just how pretty they all are. And I've been on the hunt for the great ones. That one over there is from Rouses and is good and convenient. But I do love Weeping Willow's version. So while I'm still taste testing, check out this list of best places to get King Cake from New Orleans Eater. . . and I totally agree with their No. 1 — the beautiful, almost iridescent cake from Sucré. I just sent one to a friend in Tennessee and am waiting to hear if they ship well too.

tomatoesSo yes, I'm guilty and half-heartedly sorry about the King-Cake-for-breakfast thing. BUT, I also feed my kids things like these beautiful tomatoes from Skinner Farm in Bayou Blue that just started delivering to the St. Francis Vegetable Garden on Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. So I'm thinking that's a draw, right?

houma_la_heartTHIBODAUX

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2 Comments

csaI'm so excited I just have to give a little tease about a new, organic CSA in the works nearby . . . I mean, for those of us in the Thibodaux area, local organic produce is hard to come by. We've either had to drive to Baton Rouge or New Orleans or grow our own — kind of a pain when you have jobs and children and . . . 

Anyway, I'm not allowed to say much right now, but that picture over there is the beautiful organic radishes, broccoli, oranges, spinach and lettuce in a box I picked up today from this local farmer. 

Right now he is just selling boxes of the extra produce that is more than his family can eat. He says, "I just hate seeing it go to waste." Um, ME TOO! And I most certainly will keep it from going to waste — I'm eating raw broccoli right now, actually. And he says he should be big enough to start offering regular CSA boxes in the spring.

I'm just so thankful that I can get the benefit of his organic farming and the prospect of not having to drive more than an hour to Baton Rouge to get a box. And, I really like it that he is just a local guy, doing some local farming, and feeding his community.

So stay tuned! I'll let you know when he's up and running.

houma_la_heartNEAR US

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1 Comment

wwiiOK, so the headline may be a bit presumptuous . . . And, it's a little off topic for my blog, but history is something I passionately love. And the National WWII Museum's International Conference on WWII in New Orleans was the absolute best conference I've ever been to.

To kinda start at the beginning, my dad is a huge military history buff. As I've mentioned, I'm an Air Force brat — actually a second generation Air Force brat. My grandfather was a B-52 bomber pilot and helped develop the SR-71 . . . and my dad was a flight surgeon. I'm really not a military history fanatic — for example I'm NOT making my kids walk through modern neighborhoods to see where our Civil War ancestors fought (I'm looking at YOU dad) — but I'll take history any way I can get it.

So last year my dad went to the annual conference and loved it. But he wanted company. So he bought an extra ticket and tried to convince someone to go with him. I needed no convincing! 

The conferences mark the 70th anniversary of each year. So this year's conference, which was December 4-6, focused on 1944. If you know anything about World War II, that year is pretty significant because it was the year of the D-Day invasion. The conference included renowned World War II scholars, authors and participants. . . . participants like a ranger who stormed Omaha Beach during D-Day. Like a woman in the French Resistance (Colette Marin-Catherine is pictured above). Like a British marine who was on a landing craft on D-Day.

Like seriously. It. Was. Awesome.

I met fellow conference goers from all over — California, Oregon, England, Maine, Vermont, Michigan . . . . And so many had never been to New Orleans. It was kinda funny to watch their faces as they tried the Zapp's Voodoo flavored chips in their box lunches . . . "What flavor is this?" 

So why do I mention this little gem of history education on a food blog? Because. Because it's a really important piece of history that New Orleans has decided to honor and tell. And they are doing an amazing job.

The museum is opening the Road to Berlin exhibit tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 13 . . . Go. We got a sneak peak during the conference and I'm bringing my boys. Bring your kids and see the power of history. The power and importance of where we came from and what shaped us. . . . all right here in The Big Easy.

nola_la_heartNEW ORLEANS

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appleMy ultimate sweet weakness is a good caramel apple. I love them. I have a will of iron when it comes to pretty much everything else . . . . but something about the perfect balance of sweet and salty and sour and . . . yummmmmm.

I mean, they were the only culinary highlight of Disney. . . possibly my favorite part of the whole trip. My mom knows how much I love them and sends me some every year from Mrs. Prindable's, a fancy caramel apple place in Illinois.

So last summer when I read about a local gourmet caramel apple company called Le Posh Pomme from Baton Rouge . . . I've naturally been hunting them down ever since.

I finally got my act together this last week and ordered one . . OK, two. And can I just say, they are not only seriously beautiful, but they are seriously amazing. I just asked Christina, the creator of these beauties, to send me her best seller. And usually I'm a purest . . green apple, caramel and peanuts. Not all the extras. But my boys and I just devoured one with caramel and pecans and then drizzled with milk and white chocolates . . . and it was fabulous. I now don't have to eat for a week.

Ours came with super cute bows with an apple charm (I really have no idea what to call that doo-dad on the bow — a button, a charm??), but she does all kinds of decorations for holidays and even personalizes them. How cute for a teacher . . . I think they might actually eat this apple!

So how and where do you get these? You can place an order by emailing leposhpomme@eatel.net or calling (225) 921-2677. She ships and can arrange pickups in Baton Rouge. And you can find her at different events around Baton Rouge . . . check out her Facebook page.

But seriously, this is the best and cutest caramel apple . . . better than Mrs. Prindable's (and I thought those could never be topped). . . and not just because it's local. The local, handmade-by-a-Louisianan just makes it that much sweeter! :)

br_la_heartBATON ROUGE

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cane_syrupMy mom is Canadian. So I grew up with Maple syrup — over pancakes, on oatmeal, poured over snow and in sugar candy. South Louisianans have cane syrup.

I was first introduced to cane syrup by one of my students. Her family makes cane syrup the old fashioned way . . . cutting it by hand, grinding it, boiling it down and bottling it in small batches in Gray.

She also taught me about how Cajuns use cane syrup in everything from pecan pie, to cakes and cookies and even savory dishes — anything that needs a little sweet. And theirs, Baudoin Creations' Sweet Memories Old-Fashioned Cane Syrup, is super smooth and light . . . and local and lacking the chemicals of mass production.

sweet_memoriesThe Thibodaux-based Donner-Peltier Distillers uses Sweet Memories in their products and you can find it in drinks at several New Orleans' restaurants and bars. Or you can buy your own at the Laurel Valley Plantation Store.

I personally just like it over biscuits . . . like my mother-in-law taught me . . . like she learned from her French grandfather from Port Allen. She said she'll crave biscuits with cane syrup, just like he would always eat — I think it's the taste . . . but mostly I think it's a way to connect to someone she loves that is long gone.

Sweet memories.

gray_la_heartGRAY

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chicken2So I really am mostly a vegetarian . . . but if I'm going to eat meat, it'll be chicken and it'll be good, happy chicken — not those scraggily ones you see piled on top of each other in little cages on the stinky chicken trucks screaming down the interstate.

Those actually make me really sad and barf a little in my mouth.

But moving on to something exciting . . . Today I picked up my first order from Mossy Ridge Farm, a happy, pasture-raised chicken farm in Houma.

It's new and small and the couple that raises the chickens have a great vision — supply our area with local, happy, healthy chicken. And at a great price . . . . can you see the price in the picture?? I bought two packages of tenders and a package of breasts for $11.08. The last time I bought organic chicken at the grocery store it was about $13 for two breasts. And, let's be honest, while getting to use the label USDA certified organic does mean something, I really have no idea where that chicken came from.

Ordering is also super easy. You can go to their website and order. And for Thibodaux people, ask to pick up at the Saint Francis Vegetable Garden at their weekly drop on Thursdays evenings from 5-6. Or you can find them at Anela's in Houma, Verdun's Meat Market in Raceland or at the Lafourche Central Market on Saturdays from 8-noon.

Right now the farm is just doing chickens, but they are looking to expand and offer mushrooms, artichokes and rabbit.

And I can't say there's anything better than getting to pick up my food from the people who raised it while our kids pick green beans and zucchini together in the Saint Francis Vegetable Garden. Theirs was the super cute little girl that my 3-year-old was trying to impress. . . . hope they'll still sell me chicken . . .

houma_la_heartHOUMA

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red_gravyOk, so I was just going to be lazy and post this picture to Finding Fresh's social media accounts* . . . I mean, I try so many different local products and sometimes they aren't good or just mediocre at best.

But this "Red Gravy" from Tony Mandina's in Gretna that I picked up on a whim today at Rouses in Thibodaux was a really great surprise. I mean,

I think this is the best store bought pasta sauce I've ever had . . . 

I actually enjoyed it a lot. And I'm a slow-cook-your-homemade-sauce-all-day girl. But this is a great option for a lazy or crazy busy day . . . 

Well done. Worth the $8. And, I saw that you can even buy it at nolacajun.com if you can't make it this far south.

*so take note . . . just because I'm too lazy [insert too busy] to post to the actual blog sometimes . . . I'm always posting pictures to my social media . . . so follow me over there ->

nola_la_heartGRETNA

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