Born in 1951 and raised in south Louisiana, as a child I had no idea everyone across the nation wasn't eating Cajun style cooking. Some of our everyday fare would be considered exoctic by many. I come from a long line of very fine cooks who didn't own cookbooks or measuring cups and spoons. Theirs was cooking by tradition and from the heart. Not just women - most of the men, as well. Surprisingly, despite all that legacy, I couldn't cook when I married. There was never any reason to learn. Everyone in my large expanded family cooked. Over time I've learned to cook and lots of people love my Cajun cooking. I guess observation and consumption are good teachers.
My favorite things to cook
My husband calls me the Soup Queen. From Gumbo to Pablano Corn Chowder, I love them all. For me, soup is the ultimate comfort food that can actually be healthy. Of course I love cooking Cajun favorites for family and friends. Living in the midwest, people are happy to have someone cook something they can't.
My favorite family cooking traditions
For the last 7 years we've had a crawfish boil (like a traditional lobster boil with corn and potatoes).Crawfish is not available in the Kansas City area, so we fly in a hundred pounds or more of live crawfish, go to a park and have a big party. It's become so popular we've expanded it over the years. Now the event is for charity and includes live bands, commerative t-shirts, and corporate sponsors. It's great to annually re-live one of my fondest childhood memories and bring joy to so many others while helping our local children's hospital.
My cooking triumphs
I made turkey and sausage gumbo for a church charity event. It was cooked in a 2o gallon pot on a propane burner and fed over 100 people. The event was a Mardi Gras theme, and a big success. Most of the people, being native Kansans, had never had real Cajun style gumbo. They loved it.
My cooking tragedies
While living in California I was frequently asked to bring something Cajun when we were invited to pot luck parties. On one occasion I decided to make a jambalaya. I always cook rice in homemade chicken stock, which I keep on-hand in jars in my freezer. I brought out a jar of stock, defrosted it and cooked the rice. It wasn't until we were about to leave that I tasted my completed jambalaya. It was awful. Our neighbor had a lemon tree and provided us with at least a bushel of lemons each year. I squeezed half the bushel to have juice available. Frozen lemon juice and frozen chicken broth look very similar. But 2 cups of lemon juice in a jambalay recipe doesn't work very well. I threw the whole thing out and went to the party with a bottle of wine and an interesting excuse instead of chicken and sausage jambalaya.