Monthly Archives: January 2012

We bought a house

We’re homeowners! I can’t believe it. You know that feeling you have when you move into your first place right after college and you feel like a real adult? This is just like that except 1,000x more frightening because now there isn’t a landlord to do the dirty work when something breaks.

The last two weeks have been not only exciting (a real kitchen! granite counter tops! a fireplace!) but also incredibly educational. I now know how to install a doorstop, turn on the water to the house, and light a gas water heater, among other grown-up things. I also took trash out to the curb for the first time in my life and while I was collapsing cardboard boxes and sorting the recycling, I briefly experienced empathy for my brother because that used to be his weekly chore when we were growing up.

The best part of the house, though? The backyard! Having lived in an apartment the last 4 1/2 years, this is a true treat! It is even Gidget-approved as evidenced by this photo of her sunbathing (have I mentioned that I love Louisiana winters?).

Now, I just need to get a Mardi Gras wreath to hang on our front door to make it a true Southern home.

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Mardi Gras season begins with a King Cake

Back home, Mardi Gras used to mean a day of decadent indulgence relegated solely to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Now that I’m living in the motherland of this holiday, I understand that, like all things in Louisiana, this is not to be taken lightly.

Christmas wreaths and Tiger gear that hung upon front doors a month ago have now been replaced with flashy green, yellow, and purple Mardi Gras adornments. Front lawns and store windows all overflow in anticipation for the upcoming parades and celebrations. And every food establishment is proudly advertising the sale of their King Cakes.

The King Cake is a fun Mardi Gras tradition and I think that Northerners are depriving themselves by not partaking in this sweet ritual. The King Cake is akin to a cinnamon roll, sometimes stuffed, with a lot of icing and sprinkles. Inside the cake, the baker hides a plastic baby Jesus and whoever gets the baby in their piece of cake is responsible for buying the next King Cake.

Several reliable sources insisted that true and traditional King Cakes are best from bakeries in New Orleans but that Shreveport did have a few places where I could get something (almost) as good. Their words, not mine.

The first King Cake I tried was from Julie Anne’s on the corner of Line Avenue and Kings Highway.

I bought one that was stuffed with a brownie cheesecake filling.

Check out the warning label about the plastic baby inside.

When I cut the first piece, guess what?

I got the baby Jesus! I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been told this means good luck.

The cake was amazing. Kind of like a Domino’s stuffed crust pizza except the crust is like a coffee cake with a brownie cheesecake filling.

A few days later, a colleague brought me a King Cake from Gambino’s. A place here in town, called Barrakooda Bites, brings the cakes up from this New Orleans bakery a few times a week.

I was told this is a more traditional King Cake because traditional King Cakes aren’t stuffed.

Can't argue with the label. It is the "King" of King Cakes.

I ate one piece.

Then I ate several more.

It was SO good.

And I didn’t get the baby.

But I kind of wished I did so that I would have an excuse to immediately buy another one…

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Celebrity Sighting in Shreveport: Benjamin Bratt

I’m pretty sure we saw him at dinner last night. While walking out of Wine Country (my favorite) a friend pointed him out. I was oblivious but a second look and a quick Google search confirmed that Benjamin Bratt is in town for the movie Snitch, which I wrote about last week.

This guy…

…is in Shreveport.

I know. I can hardly believe it myself.

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Country Living in the Winter

Sometimes the daily scenery around here leaves me in admiration thinking, “Wow, I really do live in the country.”

That feeling is immediately followed by a pang of despair and panic thinking, “Wow, I really do live in the country.

I thought that winter in the South would be warm and sunny and well, I guess I thought I would have a year-round tan. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way and it turns out that it can get cold here. “Cold” means anything below 55º and we’ve even had a few days in the 30s. This is nothing compared to the winters I spent in South Bend, Indiana, but I didn’t think a Southern winter would be just as dreary. We may not have snow, but the colors are just as blah.

While walking Gidg this afternoon, I took some photos of the scenery.

At the end of the walk Gidget caught scent of something and took over. Channeling a derby race horse, she dragged me across crunching leaves and tall grass (I was thankful I wore boots because I was fearing snakes) until we reached the prize she had spotted from about 1/4 mile away.

I have NO IDEA what animal this once was but it definitely wasn’t a squirrel. I’m pretty sure that it’s either the skeleton of a pelican or a baby T-Rex.

Let’s just say I’m grateful that the beast that ate this creature for dinner wasn’t still lurking around looking for his dessert.

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Filming on location in Shreveport

Last week rumors were swirling that The Rock had been spotted working out at my gym with a slew of bodyguards. I completely forgot about it until my afternoon plans were interrupted by a road closure while a camera crew filmed a scene for a movie.

That’s right! A movie is being filmed in Shreveport! It’s called Snitch and it’s an action-thriller with Susan Sarandon and Dwayne Johnson. Apparently, it’s based on a Frontline documentary. You can read about it here.

I desperately tried to get a photo but I was unsuccessful for several reasons: 1) I didn’t have my camera with me and I have a phone that is reminiscent of something from the Reagan era 2) The police were moving cars along the road quickly and discouraged stopping.

This is all I could get:

So basically I didn’t get anything and you probably think I’m lying and/or had a hallucination.

But if you look really really close (or just use your imagination), you will see a red truck at the end of the bridge and that’s what was being filmed. I have no idea who was in the truck.

And if you still don’t believe me, this website confirms that the  Snitch cast is on-site in Shreveport for about another week.

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The OTHER victory from the BCS National Championship Game

For once this season I am very grateful to be a Notre Dame fan.  After so many years of experiencing one devastating loss after another, I think I was numbed  enough to handle the LSU loss fairly well. Ah, well. As a Notre Dame fan deliriously says at the end of a depressing bowl game, “There’s always next year.”

So let me tell you about the real victory that happened last night: I made Gumbo.

Remember when I first moved here, unimpressed with the take-out scene, and barely capable of making a grilled cheese? Then I posted with excitement when I made a few edible dishes for the first time?

If there’s been one surprising thing about living here, it is that I have become a really good cook. No, really. Didn’t you you see the Thanksgiving photos? Just last week I made Pesto Genovese. From scratch.

To get into the spirit for the big game – southern style – I made Gumbo. To me, this was the most Louisiana thing I could think of that could be a hearty winter dinner.

I did give it a little twist though. By that I mean I made a low-fat, low-sodium version and I opted not to include collard greens.

It was delicious.

Gumbo! Looks a little gross, but it was soo good!

Next time though, I think I’ll be less zealous with the cayenne pepper. It was hard to tell if it was the bad football, the gumbo, or a combo of both that had me sweating.

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‘Caged’ airs on MTV

Remember when I signed up for a cross-fit class and accidentally completed a workout with these guys? The MMA fighters from the MTV reality show, Caged (full story here)?

photo from the Shreveport Times (article here)

The season preview aired on Thursday night and of course, I watched the first episode. It flips between the towns of Minden and Shreveport and I would say it’s like any MTV reality show, so if you want some sweet camera shots of reality life in Shreveport, then it’s worth tuning in.

Plus, if they air the episode of the guys working out at Peak Physiques, you may see some girl struggling to keep up in the background and that girl might be me.

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