the Home Cooking issue





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letter from the FAMILY

On the Cover Macaroni & Cheese on page 36 Cover Photo by Romney Caruso • • • HERE WE GROW AGAIN This is a very exciting time for our company and our customers. We’re opening four new stores before the end of the year. SULPHUR, LA Opens this September 800 Carlyss Boulevard at the southeast corner of Ruth Street and Carlyss Drive COVINGTON, LA Opens this September 13330 Highway 1085 in the Copperstill Marketplace 636 Arlington Creek Center Boulevard in the Arlington Marketplace at the intersection of Lee and Burbank drives MOSS BLUFF, LA Opens this October 1351 Sam Houston Jones Parkway WE DELIVER Shop www.rouses.com/shop for fresh meat, seafood and produce, and the best of the Gulf Coast. Professional shoppers will deliver to your home or office in as little as one hour. BATON ROUGE, LA Opens this October

Donny Rouse’s Essentials for Home Cooking These days, people are cooking less than they did in the past; they simply don’t have the time that they used to. And, certainly, not cooking for yourself is becoming easier and easier with all of the fresh prepared food in our stores. Though less of us cook every day, two-thirds of us still prepare dinner at home at least four nights a week. I personally love to cook. I make dinner every night. Now, I may use a rotisserie chicken from our deli department instead of roasting the bird myself to cut down on the prep time. And I may use a Rouses ready-to-cook meal kit because it’s convenient, or I want to try a new recipe. But I’m still cooking every day. Here are a few of my essentials for home cooking. Anyone raised on the Gulf Coast knows rice is essential, whether for gumbo or jambalaya. I’ve noticed that when I cook, I always come back to the dishes I grew up with. I eat quite a bit of rice and gravy. You can make a delicious gravy with the pan juices from almost any kind of meat or poultry. I’ve always referred to onion, celery and bell pepper as the Holy Trinity (when garlic is included, it is referred to as “the Pope”). I only recently learned that Chef Paul Prudhomme was the one who popularized — and possibly invented, according to John Folse — the term in the early 1980s. Check out our reusable bags — the Trinity is featured on them. Flour and oil are all you need to make a roux, which acts as both a seasoning and a thickener for gumbo, smothered chicken and beef stew. The longer you cook a roux, the darker and more flavorful it becomes.On weekends, I don’t like to use any shortcuts because I truly enjoy spending the whole day in the kitchen, but on weeknights I’ll use our Rouses Roux in a Jar. My cast-iron skillets hang by my stove and get used almost every day. Cast iron holds heat extremely well, so anytime you want to sear something or cook with intense heat, this should be your pan of choice. In the end, home cooking is as much about people as it is about the ingredients that go into it or the cookware you use. Food is always better when eaten together. Invite friends and family over to enjoy the meal. Donny Rouse CEO, 3 rd Generation



table of contents SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2018





FEATURES 16 My Grandmother’s Table by Pableaux Johnson 22 In a League ofTheir Own by Sarah Baird 44 Paradise by the Oven Light by Sarah Baird 52 Joe’s Spaghetti Pot by Pableaux Johnson 58 Home Cooking in the Hindu Kush by David W. Brown 66 The Recipe Box by Pableaux Johnson PROFILES 26 Talk About Good by Sarah Baird 39 Rocky & Carlo’s by Helen Freund 40 IrmaThomas: Time Is

48 Blue Cheese Meat Loaf Roll 48 Italian Meat Loaf 49 Turkey & Sausage Meat Loaf 49 Fluffy Mashed Potatoes 54 Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs 67 Mamma’s Homemade Mayonnaise 69 Blackened Seasoning 69 Creole Seasoning IN EVERY ISSUE 3 Letter from the Family 8 Contributors 9 Letter from the Editor 10 In Our Stores 12 Eat Right with Rouses by Esther Ellis, MS, RD, LDN

47 All Coming Back to Me Now by Alison Fensterstock BOOK EXCERPT 30 The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg RESTAURANTS 55 Like Mama Makes by David W. Brown 62 Hummus Is Where the Heart Is by Sarah Baird HOME COOKING 18 Rice &Gravy by Pableaux Johnson 19 Perfect Pot Roast by Marcelle Bienvenu 27 Pear Pressure by Sarah Baird 36 Mac & Cheese by Liz Thorpe

48 Marcelle’s Meat Loaf by Marcelle Bienvenu 49 From Rouses Test Kitchen 68 Spicy Gulf Coast Seasonings Basics by Kit Wohl 72 100 Ways to Improve Your Cooking by Judy Walker 76 The (un)Joy of Cooking by Ali Rouse Royster 77 Salt to Taste by Tim Acosta RECIPES 19 Pot Roast 25 Crawfish Étouffée 25 Spinach Madeline 26 Chicken Spaghetti 33 Fried Okra 33 Sweet Corn 33 Fried Green Tomatoes

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the Home Cooking issue


PATTI STALLARD is a freelance copy editor, proofreader and copywriter with decades of editorial experience in both the marketing and publishing arenas. A native New Orleanian and a culinary devotee, she was part of many creative teams that crafted ADDY award-winning campaigns for a variety of clients, including tourism, professional sports and higher education. LIZ THORPE is a world-class cheese expert. A Yale graduate, she a “normal” job in 2002 to work the counter at New York’s famed Murray’s Cheese. She is the founder of The People’s Cheese, author of the Book of Cheese: The Essential Guide to Discovering Cheeses You’ll Love and The Cheese Chronicles , and coauthor of The Murray’s Cheese Handbook . Her work and interviews with her have been in everything from The New York Times to Men’s Journal to The Oprah Magazine and NPR and The Today Show .

SARAH BAIRD is the author of the books New Orleans Cocktails and Short Stack Edition: Summer Squash . Her work appears regularly in/on Saveur , Eater , GQ , First We Feast , PUNCH and Food & Wine , where she covers everything from the siren song of the Flora-Bama Lounge in Orange Beach to the legendary fig trees of Baton Rouge. She was the longtime food editor and restaurant critic for the New Orleans alt-weekly, Gambit Weekly , and won Critic of the Year in 2015 for her dining reviews.

MARCELLE BIENVENU is a cookbook author, food writer and chef/instructor at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. A native of St. Martinville, in the heart of Cajun country, Bienvenu wrote Who’s Your Mama , Are You Catholic and Can You Make a Roux? and Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine with Eula Mae Dora , and other books and cookbooks. She also co-authored five cookbooks with Emeril Lagasse. Cradle: New Orleans Music Since World War II , his music history, was published in 1986. An expanded new edition, updated with the history of the music scene in the late ’80s, was released in 2009. He received a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship for research on jazz funerals. Baton Rouge native DAVID W. BROWN is an author and regular contributor to The Atlantic , The Week and Mental Floss . His work also appears in Vox , The New York Times , Writer’s Digest and Foreign Policy magazine. He is a regular commentator for television and radio. Mandeville resident ROMNEY CARUSO has been a professional photographer for over 25 years. He has styled and photographed food for hundreds of local and national publications, and for several cookbooks. His portrait series of chefs and bartenders, titled “Shakers, Knives & Irons,” was recently displayed in New Orleans and Los Angeles. JASON BERRY is an author and documentary film director. Up from the

ALISON FENSTERSTOCK writes about culture and the arts for publications including Rolling Stone , NPR Music, MOJO and Pitchfork. She has served as music critic for both the daily Times-Picayune and the alt- weekly Gambit in New Orleans, and she DJs for the community radio station WWOZ. She also writes a regular column for the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities exploring the state’s esoteric, eccentric and unusual history, and is the keeper of a fluffy, New Orleans- born Siberian husky who seems to be a lot more interested in Gulf Coast beach sand than snow. Journalist HELEN FREUND is an award- winning food and travel writer and the dining editor and restaurant critic at Gambit Weekly . She is a regular contributor to The NewOrleans Advocate and Reuters , and her work has appeared in the New York Post , Seattle Magazine , Resource Magazine , Eater , Cosmopolitan and VICE , among others. She holds a culinary degree from Paris’ Le Cordon Bleu. In 2017 food and travel writer and photographer PABLEAUX JOHNSON was named one of Epicurious ’ 100 Greatest Home Cooks of All Time . A native of New Iberia, Louisiana, Johnson is the author of three books. He is a contributor to The New York Times , Saveur , Food & Wine , Garden & Gun and Bon Appétit .

KITWOHL is an award-winning writer, photographer and artist. A lifelong food and wine enthusiast, she was set on a culinary path after a chance visit with the legendary James Beard. Since 2005, she has authored 15 cookbooks including The James Beard Foundation’s Best of the Best: A 25th Anniversary Celebration of America’s Outstanding Chefs — a bit of pure serendipity, she says. Her latest book is NewOrleans Icons: Iron Lace .




letter from the EDITOR


Introducing the Home Cooking Issue C lara, the woman who took care of me from the time I was very young, was a fabulous cook. My sisters and I spent countless hours in the kitchen with her, watching TV or doing homework while she cooked. Occasionally she’d let one of us lick the bowl in exchange for mashing the potatoes. Everything she cooked was utterly delicious — meat loaf, fried pork chops and white beans, macaroni and cheese, stewed chicken. My dad even argued that her chopped liver with schmaltz (chicken fat) was better than his Jewish mother’s. She never wrote down recipes and she never measured ingredients; she had a cook’s hand. I wish I’d stood alongside her when she cooked instead of just mashing the potatoes; I can barely make a proper roux.

Clara and Marcy

My strongest memories of her take place in the kitchen. I particularly loved eating lunch with her. No matter what we were having, even a sandwich, there was always a side of Bunny bread, stacked high. Clara was more than a nanny for me. She was a second mother. She always made me feel special, which wasn’t easy in a large family. For her, food was love. She cooked fried chicken, mashed potatoes and peas — my favorite — the day before I left for summer camp, and again as a “welcome back” two months later. She knew from my letters that I’d been homesick for her and her food. I haven’t eaten Clara’s fried chicken in over 20 years, but I can still taste it. My mother was a good cook, too. She just didn’t do it often. She had her hands full with four daughters and a full-time job. Mom had every plastic-bound Junior League cookbook, from Jambalaya to Talk About Good! and River Road Recipes — and boxfuls of handwritten family recipes on index cards. Her Polish-born aunt and uncle ran a catering business out of their home kitchen in Alexandria in the 1960s.They became quite well-known for their baked goods, including a layer cake that was similar to doberge. My aunt Susan (“Noonie”) has promised to find us the recipe, so I can share it with you in a future issue. My mother died of cancer way too young — I was 20. Clara died not two years later. It was like losing my head after losing my heart. I never fully recovered. But I recently reconnected with three of her grandchildren, and it’s been fun reminiscing. I have such happy memories. And such funny ones. Like many women in New Orleans, Clara liked to keep her money on her. She taught me to store mine in my bra, the way she did — a habit a cashier at Rouses thankfully helped me break later on. Every time I see a customer pull money or a credit card out of her bra, I am reminded of Clara. This issue is a tribute to all of the home cooks, like Clara, who share their love through food. Thank you . Marcy Nathan Rouses Creative Director



the Home Cooking issue

DEPARTMENTS, PRODUCTS & SERVICES We invite you to visit any Rouses Market on the Gulf Coast. While each store is unique, they all feature our trademark blend of quality, service and low prices. HELPING THE GULF COAST GROW Our local produce roots run more than 90 years deep. J.P. Rouse founded the City Produce Company in 1923, bringing fruits and vegetables from local, independent farms to the rest of the state and eventually stores around the region. When his son, Anthony J. Rouse, Sr., opened his first grocery store in 1960, he made support- ing his farmer neighbors a priority. He bought all of the produce from the farmers in the area, whether he needed it or not, because he said it was important for the community. Generations later we are more committed than ever to our local farm- ers and to bringing you the very best this region has to offer.

Mississippi, thank you for voting us best grocery store! —Sun Herald, 2018 People’s Choice Awards


Leland Rodrigue was the butcher at our first store, which was known for having the very best meat selection in Houma. We still have full-service butcher shops in our stores, and trusted butchers available to answer your questions about cuts, grades and cooking techniques. Every steak is still cut by hand, the way Leland did things. Choose from steakhouse quality USDA Prime beef and USDA Choice beef, or more affordable options. Most of our stores also have a dry-aged beef locker, in which the beef is aged at least 25 days.

JOIN OUR TEAM Our team members share a strong work ethic and dedication to providing our customers the best

quality and service. If you’re looking for a career you’ll love, apply online at www.rouses.com or email human.resources@rouses.com . VOTED ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO WORK

RESPONSIBLY SOURCED SEAFOOD Fishing has been a unique way of life for people here on the Gulf Coast for generations. As the Gulf Coast’s grocer, and avid fishers ourselves, we feel a particular commitment to preserve and protect our seafood industry, which plays such an important role in our culture and economy. Most of our seafood comes from local fishermen with whom we have close personal and professional relationships. But our commitment doesn’t end at our coast. We’re mindful of how all of our seafood is caught and farmed. AUTHENTIC CAJUN SPECIALTIES We’reproudtocontinuetheSouthLouisianatraditionofcraftingourownCajunspecialties and real Cajun food. Our authentic boudin, spicy andouille, sausages, hogshead cheese and stuffed meats are made with Rouse Family Recipes that go back three generations. Cooking and heating instructions are available at www.rouses.com.

Contact Us! www.rouses.com Tweet Us! @RousesMarkets Like Rouses? We like you too! Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/rousesmarkets Share Photos! @rousesmarkets SIGN UP FOR EMAILS Hungry for more?

Sign up at www.rouses.com to receive our weekly specials and cooking tips, recipes and special offers in our emails and newsletters.





SOUP & SALAD BARS Our make-your-own salad bars feature an ever-changing selection of prepared salads and fresh-cut vegetables and fruits. Our hot soup menu changes daily, though you’ll always find our famous gumbo — it’s a favorite year-round.

ROUSES PRIVATE LABEL If Rouses Markets is on the label, you know it’s good. Every Rouses Markets private label food item has been personally tasted by the Rouse Family and is guaranteed to deliver the best quality at the best price. FRESH SUSHI You’ve probably seen our professional in-store sushi chefs handcrafting sashimi and sushi rolls. We also have a variety of sampler platters, and sides like edamame and seaweed salad. Special orders and sushi platters are available.

PREPARED FOODS You’ll always find something hot and delicious on our line. Depending on your location, you might find barbecue, pizzas, burritos or a Mongolian Grill. All of our stores feature grab-and-go meals, including $5 daily deals, fresh sandwiches and salads, and heat-and-eat dinners. Don’t miss our Limited Time Only fried chicken, chicken tenders and rotisserie chicken flavors. WINE, SPIRITS & BEER We offer wines and spirits at every price point and have experts on the floor to answer questions and offer pairing suggestions. Our craft beer selection includes cans, bottles and kegs from all over the Gulf Coast. FLOWER SHOP Our licensed floral directors are as picky about the flowers we sell as our chefs are about the ingredients that go into the foods we make. Visit www.rouses.com/in-store/floral- services/ to order flowers for delivery within specified areas. CAKES & DESSERTS There are as many reasons to order our cakes and cupcakes as there are ways to customize them. If you’d like to place a special order for a cake or dessert, stop by or call your neighborhood Rouses Market. For locations visit www.rouses.com/locations/.

CHEESE & CHARCUTERIE Our cheesemonger is an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional, a title that requires passing a master exam covering everything from dairy regions to cheese making, ripening, storage and serving. We love to share what we do and what we know with our customers. Get his tips about cheese and how to build the perfect cheeseboard at www.rouses.com/our-food/cheese/.



the Home Cooking issue

Eat Right with Rouses By Esther Ellis, MS, RD, LDN M any of my fondest child- hood memories involve the kitchen table.Every night my family would gather there to and seeds. Always choose lean meats, and incorporate more plant protein sources when possible from foods like quinoa, beans, lentils or soy. Next time you sit down to eat a home-cooked meal, try to identify each food group.


eat the creations my mother conjured up. I vividly remember sitting on a stool at the countertop after school; my mother would turn on Wheel of Fortune and start gathering her ingredients. She was no James Beard award-winning chef (sorry, Mom), but the efforts of the Arkansas transplant to make Louisiana favorites for her family were much appreciated. Sure, some nights were filled with the tension and angst of two growing daughters, but others were filled with laughter to the point of spitting Sprite in my father’s face (sorry, Dad). Today, I hardly remember the food that filled the plate, but I’ll never forget the quality time my parents gave to my family over dinner — that’s what home cooking means to me. I’m often approached by parents who want to cook for their families but feel overwhelmed by the high expectations to make the perfect meal in both flavor and nutrient quality. I’m here to tell you that it’s not just the food, but the mere act of

LOOK FOR THE LOGO Our Rouses registered dietitian has handpicked more than 500 grocery items that have lower sodium and saturated fat, healthier fats, more fiber and less sugar. Just look for the easy- to-spot Eat Right logo on the shelf tag or package. New! GOOD-TO-GO Food that’s good for you and tastes good too! Our Eat Right with Rouses meals, side dishes and snacks are created by our in-house chefs and registered dietitian. They’re sensi- bly sized, made with better-for-you ingredients, and suited to specific dietary goals or restrictions. Options include high protein, low sodium, low calorie, dairy free and no added sugar. Available in Rouses Deli. GROCERY STORE TOURS Complimentary tours designed to teach you how to effectively shop your local Rouses are available by appointment. To schedule a tour, email eatright@rouses.com. EAT RIGHT HEALTH FAIRS Our Eat Right health fairs are fun and educational and a great way to learn how healthy can taste good, too. Visit www.rouses.com to see what Eat Right events are going on in your neighborhood. ​ Our monthly Eat Right emails include health and nutrition information, plus easy recipes from our registered dieti- tian, Esther. Sign up at www.rouses.com to get our Eat Right emails, food finds and recipes, as well as weekly specials delivered right to your inbox. SIGN UP FOR OUR E-NEWSLETTERS

If you struggle to find something your child will like, incorporate them into the process. Many times, children are more likely to try a food if they played a role in choosing or cooking the item. Find simple and safe tasks that your child can do to help you cook and shop. Remember not to force children to eat more than they want to at dinner time. However, don’t cater to them either, and let them know that they can eat what the rest of the family is eating as well. Lastly, do not underestimate the importance of a plan! Being prepared and having a plan is half the battle in home cooking. Always try to plan your meals for the week, and ask your family for input to keep everyone involved and engaged in the process. By planning simple recipes and purchasing ingredients ahead of time, you reduce the stress that comes with a busy week as well as the temptation to visit the drive-thru.

cooking and eating as a family, that can greatly impact your child’s health. Research has shown that family meals have a positive influence on the health and well-being of the entire family, and often result in children having higher self- esteem, better grades in school and healthier eating habits. A simple trick to help ensure you’re serving a healthy, well- balance meal for your family is to aim to incorporate all food groups in a meal when possible — fruits, vegetables, grains, fat, protein and dairy. Fruits and vegetables in any variety can

Note to the reader: Bring your picky eater with you the next time you shop at Rouses, and let them pick out some items they would like to try. Children are more likely to try new foods if they’re involved in the decision-making process

be a healthy addition to a meal, including canned, frozen or fresh. Choose whole grains to reap the benefits of fiber, and select sources of unsaturated fat, which can include olive oil, avocado, fish, and nuts





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the Home Cooking issue My Grandmother’s Table One family’s workaday center of the universe words and photo by Pableaux Johnson I t probably happens a couple of times a month.I’mputtering around the house on a Tuesday morning, wiping off my tabletop from the previous night’s red bean dinner, and I’ll spot a circular purple wine stain on the woodgrain surface. My friends consider the oversized colonial- style oval to be “Pableaux’s table,” but to me and most of my extended family, it’ll always be “Lorelle’s kitchen table” and one of the truly magical places in the world.

rapid-fire conversation heavy on family stories, her concerns for all involved and a little something to eat, of course. Never content for people to sit around and not eat, she’d always steer visitors to a seat at the table and rummage around in the fridge with her constant refrain, “ Let me see what I have in here...” Minutes later, she’d have a per- fect little something set up in front of you both. Leftover bis- cuits with fig preserves in the late morning, perhaps an impro- vised meat-and-three (roast, rice, gravy, petit pois peas, smothered summer squash) if you couldn’t stay till supper. And if relatives

In its previous life, the table lived in my grandmother’s kitchen near the University Lakes in Baton Rouge, and acted as the undeniable heart of my mother’s far-flung extended family. My mother was born the second oldest of eight kids — six girls, two boys — in a family that maintained a tight emotional orbit around their parents and childhood home, no matter their geographical distance. The house on Morning Glory Avenue was the family’s touchstone, with Lorelle’s kitchen table its spiritual center. The kitchen — spacious, windows on three sides, linoleumfloors,“newly renovated”in the late 1950s — was the default family gathering spot with its defining feature, the nine-foot, colonial-style table, a most welcome high- traffic zone. As a kid, to me the kitchen seemed like a Great Hall of Feasting, with the stovetop just steps away and the chance to learn about food and family always there (if you were paying attention). Lorelle’s kitchen was the non-negotiable first stop for visitors to “Morning Glory” — whether it was a pre-planned mealtime stopover for pork chops or garlic-spiked roast beef (the family’s standard Welcome Home meal), a morning or afternoon cup of thick black coffee from the French drip pot, or a little snack of summer tomato cut into slabs and dusted with a little salt and pepper. Enter the kitchen outside the traditional three-meal structure and you were in for one of Mamma’s “visits” — a

I look at the ring, shake my head and think the same thing every time: “If Mamma ever saw this table, she’d kill me.” My grandmother was a fierce believer in thick vinyl place mats in exactly the way that I am not . As a way to set a proper table. As a way to “protect the table’s finish.” As a pre-meal civilizing ritual. As a sign that it’s time to be somewhat polite. I can almost feel the stern reproach and slightly sheepish feeling of “being fussed at” as I address the task at hand. A quick wipe doesn’t quite get the job done, so I take the scrubber side of a sponge and apply a little elbow grease. With each pass of the scrubber, the wine fades a bit, eventually leaving a barely visible ghost ring that’s somewhat camouflaged against the durable faux woodgrain. Over the 17 years I’ve had this table in my various homes, I’ve “filled the table” with a dozen or so friends at least once a week (sometimes three or four times a week during colder months). Gatherings are always casual — a simple menu (red beans, gumbo) served in stoneware bowls, with hot skillet cornbread in the center of the table, flanked by beer bottles, wine glasses and an enchanting, ’30s era Duraglas water decanter (for hydration purposes). Equally casual and chaotic, the table lends itself to simple cooking, spirited conversations and late-night storytelling.

were coming in from the road, it was go- ing to be a production, with the trusty table filled to the groaning point. When she asked the magic question, “Are you hungry?” guests learned quickly that “No”was not an appropriate answer, and that polite deference would get them nowhere. “Yes, ma’am” was your starting point, and you negotiated up or down from there. My grandmother, Elizabeth Lorelle Seal Hebert, used that table as her workaday social parlor and activity room. A zaftig woman from North Louisiana’s Catahoula Parish, she acted as the unquestioned head of a fast-talking, bighearted matriarchy, and her kitchen was her headquarters. If you were a true friend of the family, you knew better than to ring the front doorbell, but instead went around back and rapped on the heavy, spring-loaded screen door.

“ When she asked the magic question, ‘Are you hungry?’ guests learned quickly that ‘No’ was not an appropriate answer, and that polite deference would get them nowhere. ‘Yes, ma’am’ was your starting point, and you negotiated up or down from there.”





scheduled meals). If grandkids wanted to hang out in the kitchen (and I often did), they’d be ordered to “make yourself useful” — a busywork category that contained any simple, low-stakes task designed to keep a high- energy child busy enough to not break anything. Favorites included fetching black-eyed peas from the linen pillowcase in the outside freezer and snapping the stems from metric tons of garden string beans to setting the table or wiping down the dreaded 1970s vinyl place mats before we could thunder across the house to watch TV. Turns out that you can learn a lot by making yourself useful... After both my grandparents passed away and Morning Glory was sold, the kitchen table migrated to my first New Orleans apartment. I got the idea that “filling the table” once a week was the best way to honor the relic’s high- traffic history. Gather a bunch of folks for a simple meal, don’t be too precious about it, be a little bossy if you have to. I think Lorelle would (mostly) approve. I never did like the place mats all that much — or setting the table, for that matter — so (likely much to Mamma’s chagrin) I never bother. On crowded red bean nights, I put a roll of paper towels near the cornbread skillet, toss a dozen tablespoons on the Formica and propose a toast of welcome. The energy usually feels about right for a casual weeknight supper. Turns out that on most nights, 10 or so random friends with a few bottles of wine pretty closely mimic a mile-long table full of Hebert grandkids telling jokes and operating just a hair short of what we’d consider “company manners.” And so Lorelle’s table — the artifact — has become mine, and I run my kitchen table mostly as she ran hers. As I see my friends, guests and family eat, laugh and talk way too loud, I can’t help but think that she might approve of the spiritual adaptation, even if it is a little heavy on the wine and light on the place mats. So a couple of times a month, during the Tuesday morning cleanup, I see a little ring, and I let Mamma haunt me just a teeny bit. I indulge myself in a small smile, then get to scrubbing...

If Mamma wasn’t in the kitchen already, talking on the telephone or enjoying a bit of quiet between visitors, she’d pop into view seconds after your knock, and after a big, often misty hug, she’d sit you down and get you a little something. It was a ritual for friends and family alike — if you were there for a visit of any length, you spent a lot of it in that kitchen. Part of it was pure logistics — the long Formica® top was like an airport runway. Even if it was clear at the moment (and it rarely was), there was always another inbound flight an hour or so away. As a result, the kitchen always hummed with some kind of family activity. As kids, we’d hear her and my grandfather Leon (Papá) rattling around the kitchen, preparing for the day well before sunup. In gown and robe, Mamma would roll out and cut biscuits, and fry pans full of bacon and patty sausage. Or, on special occasions, Papá would whip up feather-light pain perdu before heading in to work. He’d return to his assigned seat for most meals — at the head of the table, his back to the stove — at a time when “eating out” was a particular luxury. Papá brought a certain authoritarian formality and “library quiet” to the table.To

compensate, Mamma would keep talking, unspooling her sprawling, multilayered yet mundane stories with a complexity that bordered on the biblical. From the pre-dawn coffee shuffles to the evening gin rummy games after supper cleanup, the family more or less lived in Lorelle’s kitchen, which she ran in her own orderly way. Whenever family was in town, she knew her showtimes — breakfast, lunch and supper — and ran the room like a machine with however many helpers happened to be around.With the sprawling network of traveling cousins, we watched in wonder as our mothers became dutiful daughters once they crossed the threshold of Morning Glory. We slowly realized that our mothers called Mamma “Mama” (a slight musical difference that perked up the ear) and worked in that kitchen like they’d been born to it (which of course, they had). And that once we were in that kitchen, we were one big family — with the rights and responsibilities thereof. Over the years, we watched Mamma and “her girls” cook and joke, tell endless stories, drink coffee and do full holiday baking production on the kitchen tabletop (between regularly



the Home Cooking issue

one harmonious and well-fed tribe. A perfect plate of “roastriceandgravy” included a few thick slices of roast resting on a mound of slightly sticky medium-grain rice and a few spoonfuls of tiny sweet peas with a little oleo for flavor. A mix of seasonal vegetables served froma crush ofTupperware containers or serving bowls filled out the rest of the plate — string beans flavored with slab bacon, okra smothered with tomato, buttery, bright yellow squash or ice-cold pineapple chunks — all accompanied by slices of “gooshy” white bread slathered with lemon- yellow homemade mayonnaise on the side. Among the family’s heavier eaters — big-eating boys of all ages — a heaping plate would disappear in just a few bites, and the multi-serving wrangling would begin. At most mealtimes, Mamma could almost supernaturally compel guests to take “just a little bit more.” But when it came to roastriceandgravy, Mama took a stricter line on portion control. Second helpings — sometimes even thirds — were usually fine, but when it got down to a fourth trip to the stove, she’d slip into “full fuss”mode — even though she liked to see her boys eat. The truly gifted roastriceandgravy eaters — including myself and The Uncle Known As Jimbo — always managed to get in an extra dose before being shooed away from the rangetop.Those of us dedicated to the cause developed an intuitive, almost supernatural feel for “gravy physics” that provided us the uncanny ability to dip a serving spoon at the optimal shallow, near-horizontal angle to achieve a heaping spoonful without tipping the hulkingMagnalite roaster up on one edge. IfyoucoulddoitwhileMammawasdistracted, then you’d be able to enjoy another few bites of pure heaven. If you attracted even a little attention, you’d hear her battle call: “Get away from that pot, pauljohnson!”And she’d flick away with a dishtowel or soapy hands, hoping to rescue the last few drops of the precious gravy: “Save some for other people!” Now that I run my own kitchen, I wait for the first solid cold fronts to make a roast for my more deserving friends. I carefully spike the roast, coat it with a healthy dose of coarse black pepper and a little salt. When it’s all done, my house smells like Mamma’s kitchen and a holiday homecoming on Morning Glory. My friends get to help me eat the roast. I don’t tell them about the gravy.

RICE & GRAVY words by Pableaux Johnson + photo by Romney Caruso F or most of my childhood, many of my mother’s seven siblings lived far from Baton Rouge, but usually returned for some chunk of the year-endThanksgiving/Christmas/New Year trifecta. When the prodigals returned, seven cars blocked the grandparent’s driveway and a chunk of Morning Glory Avenue, most sporting out-of-state plates (Illinois, Texas, Colorado) and tires still warm frommultiday highway drives.

Likemanyprized family recipes,the beef itself was a pretty simple affair. A sizeable rump or sirloin tip roast (prized for the protective layer of outside fat) was seasoned with salt, pepper and a little flour to aid in browning. The secret ingredient was, of course, garlic — a few cloves sliced into spikes and inserted into the meat with a paring knife. After a quick roast (20 minutes at 425, according to tradition), a slow bake (20 minutes a pound at 325), and about 20 minutes of moist heat, the roast was suffused with the savory flavor of garlic and coated with a well- browned crust of flour and simple spices. At the top of her game, Mamma could prep a roast — wash, pat, spike, spice — and throw it in her beloved Magnalite roaster in three minutes flat.To this day, I bet the walls of the Morning Glory house are saturated with the heady aroma of “roast in the oven.” But for all the simple joys of the slow-cooked beef, the real magic gathered to the bottom of the roaster. As the beef roasted, the fat melted and mixed with caramelizing beef juices in the pan, forming a crisp, flavorful crust. In the last few minutes of cooking, a little water mixed in helped the garlicky pan drippings to form what can only be described as God’s own gravy. Thin in texture, flecked with shards of beef and more flavorful than the law allows, this simple gravy (whisked and served right in the roaster) turned a table full of far-flung relations into

Inside the house, packs of local and exiled cousins reunited in joyous chaos as siblings- turned-parents laughed over extended“coffee visits.” And somehow, our grandmother and reigning matriarch, Mamma (aka Lorelle), kept the frenetic crowds in check. And just like clockwork, the prodigals arrived hungry and primed for the Hebert Roast. Well before I was born in the mid 1960s, constant requests for Mamma’s roast turned the dish into a reflexive celebratory meal. During the non-holiday season, a garlic-spiked roast was a Sunday afternoon standby and the fallback for the times when “somebody’s coming in.” During the blasting heat of summer or the cold wet wintertime, “roastriceandgravy” (our fast- talking contraction) signaled impending reunion — with all the chaos and largesse that a homecoming implied.





Perfect Pot Roast By Marcelle Bienvenu A Boy Scout leader and avid sportsman, my father was an ace at one-pot meals cooked in one of his treasured cast-iron pots over a wood fire. The choices were endless — crawfish étouffée, chicken aux gros onions, grillades, round steak with onions and a version of pork jambalaya that I thought was outstanding, but it was my mother who really mastered the art of pot roasts. but a front-cut brisket, although leaner, is also a good choice for braising. Braising is a cooking method that requires well-seasoned (I use cayenne pepper,salt and garlic powder) meat to be pan-seared (to brown the meat, thus enhancing the appearance and flavor), then cooked long and slow with whatever vegetables you choose — onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, celery and turnips are my choices.Then all is cooked for several hours in some kind of liquid — beef stock, wine, beer or a combination of all three — just know that the liquid must cover a little over half of the meat in the pot. Sometimes, I add a dab or two of tomato paste to give the braising liquid a rich color and flavor. Once you get everything in the pot and put a lid on it, you don’t have to do much tending to it, other than to occasionally check the level of the braising liquid and the tenderness of the meat. Coming from a farming family, she had learned at an early age how to turn a piece of meat cooked with whatever vegetables were available in the home garden into a splendid repast, especially on a cold winter day when the wind rattled the windows in the kitchen. Of course, this pot of goodness took the better part of an afternoon to make ready for supper, and the aroma that wafted from the kitchen all day long always made my mouth water and my tummy rumble. Like Papa,Mama had a collection of Lodge cast-iron pots. Lucky me — I inherited one of her favorites pots, and when cooler weather sets in, I pull it out from the pantry and set to my task. I like a chuck, rump or bottom-round roast Below is my pot roast recipe, but feel free to experiment with different cuts of beef, herbs and spices, and types of braising liquid. Serve it with Louisiana’s customary rice, or perhaps give some thought to grits or polenta.

Pot Roast Makes 6 to 8 servings WHAT YOU WILL NEED 1

front-cut brisket, about 3 pounds

2 cups dry red wine 1

tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning


tablespoon all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup (or more as needed) beef stock/broth ¼ cup tomato paste 2 cups thinly sliced onions or 1 dozen boiler onions, blanched and peeled 1 cup coarsely chopped celery 3 medium-size carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 6 garlic cloves, peeled 2 medium-size red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice 2 medium-size turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (optional) 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley HOW TO PREP Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the brisket in a large shallow bowl or heavy-duty plastic storage bag. Add the wine and mari- nate in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove the brisket from the wine and reserve the wine. Season the brisket with the Creole seasoning and dust evenly with the flour. Heat the oil in a large, heavy ovenproof pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the brisket evenly on all sides. Trans- fer the brisket to a platter. Add the reserved wine to the pot, stirring to loosen any brown bits (sometimes called fond, but I call them gremilles ) in the pot. Add the tomato paste and stir to blend. Return the brisket to the pot, and add enough beef broth or stock to cover the meat. Add the onions and cover. Put the pot in the oven and cook for 2 hours. Add the celery, carrots, garlic, potatoes and turnips (if using); re-cover and cook for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender. Remove the pot from the oven, adjust sea- soning if necessary and add the parsley. Al- low the meat to rest in the braising liquid for about 15 minutes before slicing to serve. Note to the reader: A chuck roast is cut from the shoulder and has marbling throughout. A rump roast is cut from the outside of the back leg. It also has re- ally nice marbling, and is slightly more tender. Both roasts are ideal for one-pot cooking.



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the Home Cooking issue


words by Sarah Baird + photos by Romney Caruso F or those among us who are cookbook enthusiasts, there’s a certain kind of (often self- induced) pressure to always be on the bleeding edge of what’s hip in the world of culinary writing. Whether the trend de jour is cooking with offal or creating non-alcoholic cocktails, there’s a feeling that we must have read — or at least skimmed — the latest book on the topic in order to be a part of the conversation. This is particularly true when it comes to chef-driven, fine dining cookbooks: those

glossy-paged aspirational tomes that tell us we, too, can make complex, restaurant- quality dishes in the comfort of our own kitchens. And we can, in theory, except the ingredient lists are too complicated (who has that spice in their pantry?), the processes too convoluted, and the time commitment greater than what it takes to cook a whole hog. These books are inspirational, yes, but usually not the kind of resource you’d turn to for something quick and delicious on a random Wednesday That’s where community cookbooks come in.

Community cookbooks are locally produced, deeply treasured recipe collections that read like time capsules of what was on dinner tables during the era in which they were written. Still in wide use today, they rose in popularity during the mid-1960s and continue to this day, and you’d be hard- pressed to enter any grandmother’s kitchen from Lake Charles to Mobile without finding one — or five — community cookbooks wedged between a stand mixer and toaster on the kitchen counter. “Community cookbooks were started as





plastic rings, these cookbooks offer a surefire way to begin understanding the personality of a town or region through its distinctive foodways. There’s the Pirate’s Pantry cookbook from the Junior League of Lake Charles, which includes an entire section on cooking with wild game — complete with illustrations of deer, alligator and a supporting cast of critters. The Plantation Cookbook from New Orleans’ Junior League has a recipe for the classic Creole dish crawfish cardinale that’s so delicious there are online message boards devoted to drooling over it. And in even the tiniest towns across the Gulf South, you can count on community cookbooks to not only exist, but be one of the most democratic forms of culinary history. “The community cookbook is the way communities stay in touch with who they are,” says LaMancusa. “It’s also a wonderful way for newcomers to get themselves in touch with what they [the communites] do.” They’ve also proven to be exceedingly popular over the years — and not just in their hometowns. Mobile, Alabama’s Recipe Jubilee! has sold over 164,000 copies since being published in 1964. Talk About Good! , compiled by the Junior League of Lafayette, is now in its 30th printing, with over 775,000 copies in global circulation. And the most popular of them all, River Road Recipes out of Baton Rouge, has sold a whopping 1.3 million copies since 1959. “The joy of these cookbooks is that, in most cases, the women contributed recipes that were historical snapshots of what people were eating and where they were eating it,” LaMancusa explains. “We’ll get people in the store who say, ‘My grandmother contributed a recipe to that book!’ People come in looking for them.” In true Southern fashion, contributing to a community cookbook can also be a way to not only share a family recipe with others, but gain some serious bragging rights within one’s social circle. It’s not hard to imagine a couple of legacy Junior Leaguers subtly trying to one-up each other about their family’s cookbook connection: “Other people claim to have the best deviled oysters in Baton Rouge, but they used my grandmother’s method in the original edition of River Road Recipes …” “Well, my aunt’s sand tart cookies are so

good they appeared in River Road Recipes ’ first edition and the fourth River Road that’s all about entertaining!” Unlike with other cookbooks, pride runs particularly deep for community works because they’re so unbelievably intimate. Community cookbooks aren’t the creations of some faceless culinary scribe, and they most certainly aren’t a collection of recipes from a famous chef tinkering away in a hoity-toity kitchen. No. Each recipe has the name of an individual attached to it: the same local people — neighbors, friends, fellow bowling league members — who you can, in theory, run into while buying groceries each week. (Perhaps they’re buying the ingredients for dishes in the book!) These recipes are for the people, by the people. And when it comes to older editions of community cookbooks — those passed down between generations — it’s easy to begin building storylines around the recipe- makers themselves based on the dishes they’ve decided to share with the world. For the culinarily inclined, selecting a “signature recipe” for a community cookbook has the potential to reveal more about a person than any official personality test. Would you rather be forever associated — in print — with a dish like stuffed mirlitons, lemon chiffon pie or something called “crabmeat sycamore”? The recipes towards which people gravitate tend to reveal a great deal about their personalities, intentionally or not. The way community cookbook contributors approach recipe writing — and the hodgepodge of styles therein — also helps to create a portrait of the person behind the recipe. When Charles H. Stewart of New Orleans notes in his write-up for “bowle a la kumpa” (a German wine punch) that it serves “four lusty drinkers, eight bon vivants, or 16 ‘party drinkers’” one can only assume he’d be disappointed in anyone who isn’t enjoying his punch lustily. And at the bottom of Lurnice Begnaud’s recipe for cheese puffs in Talk About Good! , there’s a parenthetical remark that proclaims, “Miss Begnaud is a math teacher at Lafayette Senior High and an excellent cook,”making it read like a not-so-subtle personal ad. Enthusiasm is often the foremost thing to seep through in community cookbook recipes, whether through the use of all

a way to raise money for organizations in the community, like churches or the Junior League,” explains Philipe LaMancusa of Kitchen Witch, a beloved culinary bookstore in New Orleans. With over 10,000 works lining its shelves, Kitchen Witch is a foremost place to explore the diversity of community cookbooks from the region and beyond. “People — mostly women — would donate recipes, and then one person would type them up and have them bound. They’d sell them mostly at church or community functions.” Often spiral bound or held together with



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