Thursday, October 8, 2015

Paul Prudhomme (1940 - 2015)

I love to cook, and it was with great sadness that I saw that one of my foodie idols died today. Paul Prudhomme died in New Orleans at the age of 75 following a brief illness.
Paul Prudhomme. later years

Credited with mainstreaming and popularizing cajun food in the 1970s and 1980s, Prudhomme was a larger than life character (literally and figuratively). Before there was a Food Network and a Cooking Channel, the only way to see cooking on TV was PBS (Public Broadcasting System) channels. One of the early people that I remember vividly was Prudhomme (who appeared on some other shows, but didn't have his own series runs until the 1990's).
Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen

Sometime in the 1990s, I was in New Orleans on a business trip with a few others, and we tried to get into K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen but could not. Back in those days, the place didn't take reservations, and the lines routinely stretched down the block.
Prudhomme's Fiery Foods...

I have three of his ten cookbooks; Louisiana Kitchen (1984, his first), Seasoned America (1991, his fourth) and Fiery Foods That I Love (1995, his seventh).

Louisiana Kitchen is a treasure trove of classic cajun and creole cooking. Fiery Foods contains some of my favorite recipes of all time, including two fantastic chicken recipes, Tomato Cream Chicken (page 182), and Chicken Dippin' (page 172). Tomato Cream Chicken is perhaps my single favorite recipe. Of any kind. Ever.
Browning for Chicken Dippin'

Grace and I made Chicken Dippin' this past weekend: (it was delicious)
Grace Making Chicken Dippin'

Rest in Peace, Paul.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Plans Foiled, Plans Made (ish)

This weekend was supposed to be a three-day guys' camping trip. We were going to leave Friday, drive the 3+ hours to Assateague Island (Maryland/Virginia), where we would camp, hike, fish and relax at the oceanside campground, returning late Sunday. Then tropical storm/hurricane Joaquin showed up and washed us out.

In lieu of the planned trip, we had to settle for talking about planning another trip.
Half Dome, Yosemite NP

The four of us (Leo, Ted, brother Dave and myself) gathered at Ted's place in Philly Saturday evening, had a very nice dinner of grilled rib-eye steaks and the accoutrements, and pondered the question "what should we do for our 2016 trip?"

Basic parameters fell into place fairly quickly. Nobody had any major family-related travel plans for next year, so the option of a big trip, with flying as opposed to driving, was in play. Driving trips are generally for those years when people have a 5-day weekend or so to spare, and the timing (and expense) prohibits flying (not enough bang for your buck, too much transit time, etc). Driving trips span the realistically viable range from the Great Smoky Mountains in the south to upstate New York or southern New England in the north.

Flying trips, on the other hand, basically open anything in the entire continental US as possible destinations, especially the West. Like the Dakotas trip of 2011, this could mean 8-9 days, airplanes, big rental minivan, hotels at the ends of the trip and possibly motels in the middle if driving from place to place. A big trip. Still surprisingly reasonable when split between four people, but a big trip nonetheless.

Seems like 2016 is headed toward Big Trip.

The basics of a possible plan, formulated off the cuff over steaks and wine could be as follows:

Things are far from settled, and we are nearly a year from the roughly proposed September trip, but it sure looks good on paper. More to come...