Moms, dads and grads
Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.
May is a beautiful, celebratory month. There are so many occasions that bring families together, including graduations, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Like the transition of lovely spring into hot summer, graduations mark live-changing transitions. In our household, we will celebrate our second high school graduation in two years. We have been blessed with what many call “Irish Twins,” or two children born very close together, in our case 11½ months. This second graduation will mark a larger transition for our family, as we will now be without kids at home – “empty nesters.”
Looking back, so many celebrations come to mind, and the meals shared are a large part of those memories. After all, we originally hail from Louisiana, so when it comes to eating and celebrating, we arrived in Houston as semi-professionals in that regard.
When I think of our son moving on to college, I consider what meals he will miss most. During busy weeks, a tried-and-true family favorite has been Louisiana-style red beans and rice with sausage. When our daughter was home from college over the holidays, she was delighted when I served it. Red beans and rice with sausage is a Louisiana staple – traditionally served on Mondays.
My favorite iteration of this recipe, is Mrs. Isabella Chester’s Red Beans and Smoked Sausage in Talk about Good!, Le Livre de la Cuisine de Lafayette, the cookbook of the Junior League of Lafayette, Louisiana. Mondays have always been easier to handle in our home, knowing a warm bowl of this delicious comfort food was waiting on the dinner table.
Another favorite with some Louisiana roots is Creamy Crawfish Tortellini from the Junior League of Houston’s Stop and Smell the Rosemary. I was a newly married transfer member to the Junior League of Houston when Stop and Smell the Rosemary was being planned. I was delighted to see that the Houston League had just as many flavorful recipes as my Louisiana home. In fact, I submitted a recipe of my mother’s that is strikingly similar to the league recipe we have since adopted. Rich, spicy and decadent, this pasta dish has been a favorite in our house for many special occasions.
As my children grew, we spent many weekends in Galveston. Post-graduation parties, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and end-of-season team celebrations are always fun when celebrated by the water. A crowd-pleasing meal for any festive occasion is the Basic Beef Tenderloin from Stop and Smell the Rosemary. It can be served with any of the three suggested sauces or plain. With the short prep and cook times, it is ideal for a quick meal following a day on the bay or at the beach.
A good accompaniment is the hearty and filling Roasted Garlic and Green Chile Mashed Potatoes from Stop and Smell the Rosemary. I like to finish everything off with Blackberry Shortbread Bars from Peace Meals. Any dessert that mixes a cobbler and a cookie is a winner in my book. Kids love the gooey filling, and it has a sophisticated presentation that impresses an adult crowd as well.
After all of the chaos of activity through the years – baseball seasons, horse shows, piano and dance recitals, Halloween parties, and general comings and goings of our kids and their great friends – my husband and I will have the house to ourselves now. Honestly, we both keep looking at each other wondering what that will be like. For 19½ years, our home’s rhythm has been defined by our kids and their interests and commitments. We would not have had it any other way. It has been a wild ride, and we are excited for the next stage – for them, and for us.
I wish you the best as you celebrate your moms, dads and grads over the coming weeks. One last tip: Whatever the meal, a fabulous treat is the Chocolate Martini from Peace Meals. When one just cannot choose between a cocktail and dessert, one should not have to do so.
Editor’s note: To buy a cookbook, see www.jlh.org or call 713-871-6608.
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