For more information on planting and gardening, visit these two North Texas specific sites!
I was first introduced to Mardi Gras and all of its glory in college while attending LSU. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before, but I’ll save those stories for another time! As Fat Tuesday draws near and many of us are attending fun Mardi Gras parties, and I started to wonder how many of you all know the history of Mardi Gras and it’s deeply religious ties. So here is a quick 411 on Mardi Gras beyond the parties and parades, beads and masks and alcohol!
The History of Mardi Gras.
The origination of Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years ago. Its original purpose was to celebrate the coming of spring and fertility. The Mardi Gras we know began in Roman times as a Christian celebration before Lent and the Easter holiday. Mardi Gras in the United States took life in Louisiana and has evolved into a long weekend celebration of indulgences, bright colors, and costumes.
So why the three colors and what do they mean? Mardi Gras’ purple, green and gold can be traced to the first Rex parade in 1872. The Rex Parade theme, Symbolism of Colors, in 1892 gave meaning to these colors. Purple – Justice. Green – Faith. Gold – Power.
Fat Tuesday marks the day before Ash Wednesday and the start to the Lenten season, where fasting and sacrifice are common in certain religions. Celebrations that center around good food are a Mrs. Gridiron favorite. Each year our family celebrates with the traditional Red Beans and Rice and the ever famous king cake.
We’re proud to share our family tradition with our Mrs. Gridiron family this year. Check out our Mardi Gras menu here.
Here is a bonus factoid for all of you LSU and Tulane fans! It has been said that the three colors of Mardi Gras had a significant impact on the school colors chosen by Louisiana State University and Tulane University. The shops in New Orleans were overflowing with purple, gold, and green for the Mardi Gras season. It was then that LSU chose purple and gold and bought as much of the two colors as possible, leaving Tulane to pick the remaining green.
In honor of all things Mardi Gras, we’re spotlighting a base recipe that will help all your Cajun cooking dreams come true. A roux is simply a thickening agent for soups, stews, and sauces. The ingredient list consists of equal parts oil (I prefer vegetable oil) and flour. There are many methods and end products, but the easiest directions we have are to start heating the oil in your cast iron skillet, slowly whisk all the flour in, a little bit at a time, until smooth. Reduce heat and over the next 30-45 minutes continue to stir and watch the color darken until ready. Here is a great how-to video!
Add some cajun spice to your cooking with Mrs. Gridiron’s Shotgun Cajun Seasoning. It’s perfect for meat, veggies and more! Available for purchase here.
Meet JulieAnn Bever. She’s our Mom MVP for February. JulieAnn is a local Dallas mom and we’re thrilled to share her story and learn more about her and her small business, Pint-Sized Prints.
JulieAnn is a Dallas native. She received her business degree from UNT in 2004. JulieAnn works at Lake Highlands High School and involved in her local PTA. She is a member of 100 Women of Lake Highlands and is proud that Pint-Sized Prints allows her to give back to her community. When not in her studio, you can find JulieAnn at the baseball field with her sons or at a gymnastics competition with her daughter.
Pint-sized Prints was founded in 2012. The brainchild of founder JulieAnn Bever, Pint-sized Prints was born from her desire to do something creative. After watching her three children grow so quickly over five years, JulieAnn was inspired to capture their handprints in time so she could remember how small and innocent her children were during their first years for years to come. She was also inspired to do the same for other parents so they could have precious keepsakes of their children’s first years.
MVP Mom Q+A
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is hands down anything my mom cooks! It was not until I was an adult I realized how skilled she was in the kitchen. Some of my favorites she makes are: Lasagna, Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, Chicken Spaghetti, and of course hamburgers on the grill with her famous baked beans.
What is your favorite restaurant?
My favorite restaurant rotates almost monthly. I LOVE all types of food and can’t seem to pick just one. My current favorite is the new Smoky Rose across from the Arboretum. Their brisket is incredible! It has just the right amount of lean meat and moisture. There is no need for sauce because it just melts in your mouth.
What is your favorite kitchen gadget/tool?
I love my bread maker. I added it to my wedding registry as an impulse (I was a little trigger happy with that scanner ☺ ). When I received it I wasn’t sure I’d ever use it. After my first bake I was hooked. I have used many different recipes, but my favorite is just the classic buttermilk white bread. *Sometimes I even take my fresh baked bread up to Kroger to use their bread slicer in the bakery.
What do you like to do to recharge your batteries?
I love, love, LOVE a pedicure!
What is your go-to hostess gift?
I love to give a candle to those opening up their home. My favorite candle is Niven Morgan GOLD.
What is your entertaining must have?
Sonic Ice! Every good cocktail is kicked up a notch with sonic style ice!
What is your favorite holiday to host?Christmas! Every year I host my annual Spode Dinner. I have the entire set of Christmas Spode dishes (and I add to the collection every year). I invite my family and my husband’s family over for a sit-down “fancy” dinner. We change the menu a little every year, but one thing that remains constant is the place cards. I have place cards for everyone’s seat and change the assignments up every year. One of the first things the guests do when they arrive is check the table to see who they are sitting next to (NO SWITCHING!). I like to split up couple’s and place people next to each other to encourage meaningful and interesting conversations. Often we are sitting at the table still talking long after the coffee and dessert have been cleared.
A zester is a kitchen staple that we cannot live without. The purpose of a zester is to shred hard foods, whole spices, or remove fruit rind. While there are lots of different kinds and brands of zesters out there, the two kinds featured here are our favorites, and one can easily work in place of the other.
First is the microplane. This zester is small, but mighty and produces strong bursts of flavor, from citrus fruits and spices. The result is fine, but flavorful pieces that will enhance any recipe or drink. I probably use this one most often. Besides zesting citrus, I use it to grate garlic, onion, spices such as nutmeg, chocolate, and cheese!
Second is the handheld grater, otherwise known as a rasp and is used mainly when grating hard cheese, chocolate or other hard food or roots (think ginger!). The key is for the handle to be sturdy and slip free.
In my kitchen, either one does the trick & makes life a little zestier!
Spring break is just around the corner, and travel planning has begun! Every trip we take starts with planning our food adventures first! So the focus for our Mrs. Gridiron travel trends is providing tools for planning your culinary experience in these top locations for 2017.
- New Orleans, Louisiana: We’re partial to Cajun flavors and adore the bold and spicy cuisine of this diverse city; there is a little bit of everything in NOLA. The Crescent City goes well beyond the savory, with excellent pastries and decadent desserts to satiate the most intense sweet tooth. A fun, little-known fact: New Orleans is also the home to a thriving Vietnamese community & food scene
- Portland, Oregon: Portland has a booming 145 square mile local food + drink scene. There is something for all travelers, so make sure to plan a culinary tour to experience this cities unique foodie culture.
- Santa Fe, New Mexico: Santa Fe is the original home of Southwestern cuisine. It’s top chefs and restauranteurs are constantly reinventing and continue to surprise their patrons, traveling to Santa Fe for culture, art & FOOD!
New York, New York: The big Apple is always a top trend; this culinary heaven is a melting pot of world cuisine. Unique restaurants of various sizes and takes on regional fare can be found in each neighborhood and borrow. Our personal NYC favorite is Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster in Harlem. We fell in love with Mr. Samuelsson and his genuine nature on TV. He was every bit as gracious in person when he stopped by our table to grant us a picture while we were enjoying the amazing fried chicken at his signature restaurant.
- Staycation: Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff): Quality dining can be found in every corner of Dallas, but here we bring you just south of downtown for a special selection of fine dining restaurants. The foodie experience here appears to be endless. Our #1 in this hotspot is Boulevardier! A must try for French cuisine. No need to travel far, just jump in your car and enjoy what Big D has to offer.
This month’s featured Gridiron gadget is the all mighty blender. This countertop appliance can change your life in the kitchen! There are three well-known brands that we feel are worth the investment: Vitamix, Blendtec , Ninja.
Not only can these beauties create smoothies, soups, and sauces, but they are so high-powered that they are a whiz with food items like nut butters, ice creams, hummus & bread. We feel like no matter your budget; it’s a gadget that will surely make your culinary life that much better. Since it’s (still) January and everyone is (still) working on their healthy living resolutions, we’ve found a place for you to build up your smoothie recipe repertoire.