Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday 2

I took this a few weeks ago when I was in Paris.  The sun came out for a little while that morning creating shadows that brought into dramatic relief the carvings of some amazing Greek statues in the courtyard of the Louvre.  This is a detail of a horse's tail.  I was struck by the dynamic movement the sculptor captured so long ago.  I could almost hear the galloping hooves. 

Now we're back home.  Summer in south Louisiana is way hotter different  than the summer in France.  Back home, there are other beauties.

One New Orleans beauty is okra.  Do they eat it in other parts of the world?  It's fresh in all the markets (and gardens) right now.  It's used in a variety of old-fashioned recipes.  One of my favorites is okra and tomatoes with shrimp.  I made it yesterday to much husbandly acclaim (and daughterly tolerance).

Here's my recipe:

1 1/2 pounds okra cut into 1/3 inch thick "coins" (frozen is o.k.)
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
a couple of tablespoons of diced garlic
2 large tomatoes diced (chunky)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
I actually don't measure ingredients all that much.
  1. In a large cast-iron skillet to medium-high and sautee onions until translucent
  2. Add cut up okra and garlic.  Stir frequently until sliminess is gone.  Add water whenever it looks dry and/or starts to stick.
  3. Add tomatoes and cook until just heated, add cayenne pepper
  4. Stir in shrimp, sautee until just pink
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
I love it with corn bread -- so sweet!  But right now it's so hot (and muggy) here you could cut the air with a knife outside and I didn't want to heat up the kitchen with baking.  I got a crusty country loaf from the bakery.

There aren't too many ways to go wrong; like most traditional recipes there are as many variations as there are cooks.  There's only one rule when cooking fresh okra:  choose younger, smaller pods.  When the pods are too large, they're tough and fibrous.

When Gem was little, she would stick the stem ends of the okra to her forehead and pretend to be a space alien.  I'd stick them to my face too and chase her around.  I remember doing that with my brother and sisters when I was little.  How many other kids were okra space aliens?

On the stitching front, I'm almost finished my niece's butterfly:

I'm excited and think she will really like it.  Yay!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My grandparents, though their families had been in Louisiana since before it was a part of the U.S., spoke only their French dialect as young children.  When they began school (in the years before 1920), there was a new idea about what it was to be a "good" American.  It meant to be assimilated into the blander greater culture.  They were punished severely (and I imagine incomprehensibly) if they spoke any language other than English.  

Within a generation, their language was made academic.  I studied French in high school.  Lucky for me, I also studied at a French university and really learned the language.  I tried to give my daughter, Gem, the best of both worlds so she is bilingual.  In that way it's come full circle.  

Did you know that (contrary to popular opinion) the United States has no official language?  Yep, and I say that's a good thing.  People always do and always will find a way to get things done across a language/religious/cultural/regional divide.

Some countries have 2 or more official languages:  Switzerland has 4 and they're doing all right.

What it is that makes us want to either be like everyone else or make everyone else like us?  Why can't we just enjoy who we are and enjoy others as they are?  Is it too Kumbaya to think we can?  

I can walk around my neighborhood and find people with many different religions, languages, cultures, and families.  I consider each to be a friend, would gladly go out of my way to help any of them, but don't necessarily look, act, talk, or think like them.  

This was all driven home to me recently when our family returned from a trip to France.  Gem had been there the whole summer; my husband and I just a couple of weeks.  I couldn't believe the negative remarks people made about France and the French.  Whether or not I agree with a country's policies, I would never assume that all its citizens are in lockstep agreement with it.  (I sure don't agree with many U.S. policies.) 

Here's what I think about the French:
  • They love their children and want the best for them.
  • They value family and friends.
  • Most live their lives according to what they see as right and good.  And are doing just fine.
  • They eat very well.
  • The graffiti artists in Paris are ingenious; how do they get into those spots?
All of which I could say about any other people in any other place.  We're all richer when we make connections rather than divisions.