Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras Fun

Madeline helped to put up some Mardi Gras decorations
Mardi Gras Centerpiece
Special Overnight Delivery From New Orleans!
I grew up in a family that LOVES food.  We are all about celebrating events with a good meal.  The majority of our traditional meals, however, revolve around the major holidays yet, any large family gathering is good enough excuse to strap on the feed bag.  Yep, we are "foodies" and if you are my Facebook friend, you have noticed my numerous status updates detailing what creations I am making in my kitchen.  I embrace these traditions and are always open to creating more.

David's "Mardi Gras Tie"
The day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, is recognized most often by the names "Fat Tuesday" or "Mardi Gras".  In my Polish family, we often referred to it as Pączki Day.  Pączki are donuts and were traditionally made on this day in order to use up all the lard, sugar and eggs and in the house prior to the start of Lent because they were forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent. (wikipedia).  My maternal grandmother used to make pączki (from scratch) and hand deliver them to us every year.  Although my mom never made pączki herself, she would always make a trip out to the local Polish bakery and buy a bunch every Fat Tuesday.  In fact, just like her mom did, my mom was known to make a special trip to my house to hand deliver the pączki.  Although I always appreciated the gesture from both my grandma and my mom, I was never a huge fan of the pączki.  Maybe because it is a denser donut than what one is used to.  As a result, I never embraced this tradition as wholeheartedly as my mom had.

Madeline created this Mardi Gras mask out of construction paper
Drank Virgin - Dangerous when spiked!!
Since our very good friend, Jon, lives in New Orleans and we have visited New Orleans on numerous occasion and also spent many an evening on Bourbon Street, David and I have decided to embrace the Mardi Gras celebration.  Last year, we began our annual Mardi Gras tradition quite spontaneously.  However, we enjoyed the uniqueness of us, native northerners, celebrating with such a southern flair.  And today, for Mardi Gras, I had fun putting together our celebration.  Even David got into the action by choosing a tie for work that showcased purple and green, two of the three Mardi Gras colors.

Red beans & rice with andouille sausage
I must say, I didn't live up to *everything* that I wanted to do for Mardi Gras.  Initially I envisioned myself awaking early and making fresh beignets and Cafe du Monde chicory coffee to send David off to work.  Well, I guess the bed was a little too comfy this morning for me to actually  get out of it extra early.  Instead, David had to be satisfied with my plans for dinner.

King cake
In late morning, I rinsed out the kidney beans that I soaked overnight, got out my crock pot and the package of ham hocks.  From noon on, the red beans and rice recipe was in the works.  Mid-afternoon, I was about to make a king cake from a mix that we purchased while in New Orleans.  Just then, the doorbell rang.  It was the UPS man with an overnight delivery, direct from New Orleans, of a Randazzo's King Cake!!  Thanks Jon for sending some Mardi Gras fun!!

I wasn't feeling like getting out decorations, however, Madeline had remembered from last year that we put up some Mardi Gras bling.  With Madeline excited about Mardi Gras decorations, I had to get my butt into the basement to pull out my Mardi Gras gear.  Madeline was so excited about helping me decorate.  In fact, on her own, Madeline decided to create Mardi Gras masks for Mama, Papa and herself.  With decorations up, necklaces on, and Hurricane drinks poured (mine was virgin with a splash of imitation rum flavoring - one of those "pregnancy modifications"), we were ready to enjoy our red beans and rice with andouille sausage and toasted French bread. For dessert, the king cake was pretty much to die for!  Thank God Madeline found the baby in her helping as I am pretty sure she would've continued eating that cake until the baby was found.

Madeline found the baby!
Polish Pączki
Despite our new New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition, I felt the need to purchase some pączki while I was out this morning.  Just a tribute to my mom and my grandma, I guess.  I suppose I needed to remain true to my roots.  Despite the fact that I was never a big pączki fan, it totally hit the spot with a cup of tea.  Could it be because I am pregnant that my taste buds changed?  Could it be that it took me 40 years to acquire the taste?  Or maybe, it was the guilt of switching up tradition.  Regardless......yummy!!  I suppose that it is fair to say I had a multi-cultural Mardi Gras.  What it was....FAT Tuesday (emphasis on FAT) is a perfect description of today!  A gut bustin' dinner and way too many treats.  I have never been so grateful for Lent to begin.  Time to turn around and behave again.


Marty said...

Looks like you had a great time. Your red beans and rice looks delicious. Vicky made that and king cake, too. Yours looks different from hers. She made hers in a bundt pan. Frosted with a thin glaze. She also made florettes out of shaved almonds and dried papaya. Really pretty cake. I brought it to work. Gone in a flash!

Amy said...

Sounds yummy! It's fun to embrace these different celebrations!

Craig and Phyllis said...

I'm intrigued by the paczki. I'll have to look into those.