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A Frog, Food, and Cajun Culture: A Trip to Louisiana

Originally posted on my Contingency Writer’s Blog

I arrived home at about midnight this morning after a 10-day trip in Louisiana. The primary reasons for my visit were to see family, and to work on a romance novel and the third Detective Games entry; although it became a great deal more.

Instead of a linear progression for this blog post, I’d like to try out bullet points!

  • I tried my hand… er, legs, at Irish dancing. My cousins had been Irish dancing for years, and I had come along to support them. Their instructor welcomed me to join in as well. My fencing instructor had always said I should go dancing, and about a year apart from his remarks, I was clumsily thumping across a multipurpose ballet studio.
  • Trekking through Jean Lafitte National Park, I wished I had first put on some bug spray, with the presence of a multitude of mosquitos. But the beauty of the marsh and swamplands were incredible, and afforded the opportunity for many pictures.
A tiny tree frog

A tiny tree frog

A young alligator surfaces near a walkway

A young alligator surfaces near a walkway

  • We visited Destrehan Plantation and took a tour of the grounds, with its grand trees covered in Spanish moss, and learnt of the vast history, including the day to day lives of the household owners and the enslaved, as well as the construction process and architectural functions. At the end, a blacksmith with a heavy cajun accent, demonstrated the use of his forge.
  • The food. Oh boy, the food. The delicious simplicity of red beans and rice, messy po’ boys, savory gumbo and jambalaya, fun flavors with stuffed snowballs, and the mandatory beignets (from Café du Monde) I had to have on a daily basis.
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Beignets and powdered sugar! Yum!

Savory gumbo!

Savory gumbo!

  • The French Quarter was a fun experience, with sights to see, a banana smoothie in hand, and trinkets to be had in the market.
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The Jackson equestrian statue

Fruit Smoothie: The Perfect Balance

Tasty, and with a nice peach color!

Tasty, and with a nice peach color! (green from the pear, although one could subtly add some vegetables!)

Tonight I was meddling in smoothies, and put together one that is the perfect balance of sweet and not too tangy. The flavor is mostly that of pear and apple, with a significant hint of strawberry.

The smoothie is made up of approximately…

5x Strawberries, 5x Carrots, 1x small container of Blueberry Yogurt, 1x Pear, 1x Apple (a sweet one!), a small bowl of ice, one scoop of vanilla ice cream. (Optional to decrease thickness): 1-2 cup/s water.

Serves around four people.

I excluded the water, because I don’t mind the thickness, and I wanted all the flavors at their height. To remedy this however, one could substitute fruit juice, which would add rather than take away any flavor.

Plus, if you or your friends are among the camp who dislike yogurt but would readily eat it for its health benefits if not for the flavor, then this smoothie is prime way to do so as the yogurt isn’t very prominent.

The Cuban Sandwich (et frites)

On November 8th, 2009 I made one of my first posts, and it was about a Cuban Sandwich. Yet I had never thought to take a picture!

The remedy for my terrible grievance is finally here:

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For your viewing pleasure, the Cuban Sandwich. Mustard, meat, pickles, cheese… some seem to be unlikely combinations, but they work so well. The finger making its debut in this photograph was used to prop up the sandwich. It’s intentional. Not one of those, “whoops! Stuck my finger in the photograph again!” moments.

Bon appetit.

Adieu.

 

Breakfast Delight: Pancakes with…

…dark chocolate, whipped cream, and vanilla bean maple syrup.

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These pancakes have the perfect balance of vanilla maple syrup, as well as the option of whipped cream and special dark chocolate from the famous Pennsylvanian chocolate factory (*hint, hint*).

Not only did the pancakes taste great, they also were very quick to make. The pancakes were  the freezer variation (made from scratch would have been the best option), which was the most efficient option, time-wise.

It’s a writer’s breakfast! At least for this author.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

It’s been quite some time since my last DP Photo Challenge entry. Today it’s the full version of a photograph which I posted sometime last year.

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A cake with my name on it. Literally. The white frosting is in the shape of a fleur de lis, accompanied by the French national colors. The cake was designed by a local bakery. Why the French theme? Of all the ethnicities that run through my family, French is at the top, followed by English…

No, I did not eat it all… just a majority.

Delectable Burger

As this photograph was merely displayed as eye-candy for my Make That A Triple Stacker: Manuscript Completion post, I thought it might deserve a slightly better introduction than “Not quite like writing, though much more delectable.”

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It had been a long time since I last visited Chilis, and I decided to make a visit, if only to have my favorite southwestern eggrolls. For the main course, I had a set of sliders, which were good, albeit quite salty (I suspect this may be attributable to the bacon bits). I snapped a quick picture with my Kodak Easyshare, arranging the plates and silverware slightly. It wasn’t the best lighting conditions, or the most carefully composed, but I thought it turned out quite nicely.

Make That A Triple Stacker: Manuscript Completion

Manuscripts and Burgers

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Not quite like writing, though much more delectable.

What is quite like the feeling of completing a book? Perhaps completing a burger (veggie or meat, take your pick)? I believe the latter’s jubilant expression, mixed with grease and morsels, is hardly able to compare with the writer’s exhausted cry. Especially since the former is often accompanied by abdominal pains and regret of the worst sort… unless it’s a slider. Those are more harmless.

“Ludicrous, appended to my delicious tropical friend…”

-Jean Rusé

Literary Excursion

With some parallels to the foodie fandom, the writing journey is filled with a series of stages, often including bouts of perseverance, jubilation, courage, ingenuity, boredom, aggravation, and rain clouds (“Writer’s Block”). When the haze of conflicting emotions finally fades, however, all that is left is triumph and relief. In my case, there is also an overwhelming sentiment of gratitude.

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“The Three Tier Papier”

It often takes a measure of encouragement to get a good book going, to establish momentum, and I’m grateful to those who have joined me in cheering the story onto completion. It does, at times, seem to be a very detached process, the story unfolding itself like a scroll tossed in the wind. This is why I include myself in the story’s audience, for some details are only revealed in the process, and I am equally awed as the reader when they come to light.

Seeing the story in its printed form, aside from word count statistics and page numbers, was a surprise at first. It looked very much the manuscript I was hoping for, although it was shy of aspirations of a few hundred pages.

Two-Cents Worth

While assembling the book, I found it tremendously helpful to keep a “To Do” .docx or Pages file on hand, to jot down ideas and plot points which had yet to be resolved. On occasion I’d visit Barnes & Noble’s Starbucks and brainstorm whilst (as I put it last time) munching on scones and sipping smoothies and hot cocoas. As an INFP personality, I found it imperative to set a deadline, even if I couldn’t reach it in time. It was better to have a goal than to leave it unrestricted, likely to fade into the oblivion of daily life. Break-time was also a must, both in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and retaining concentration.

“Have you finished relaxing?”

-Mr. Lombardi

Book Excerpts & Quotes ©2012 Zechariah Barrett – All Rights Reserved

Beautiful Header Photography: Introduction (recipes & locations)

As readers may encounter these headers on a continual basis, I thought to provide some background information (particularly location):

Omaha Beach Cemetery – Normandy, France

Flower of Monet’s Garden: Giverny, France

Adventure Writer: Estes Park, Colorado, USA

Mont Saint Michel: Normandy, France

Goose Looking at Autumn Leaf: Litteau, Normandy, France

“Sunset Lion,” graphic alteration of lion statue: Paris, France

Christ Jesus on the Cross, Notre Dame (one of many): Rouen, France

Beef & Broccoli @ Home: Sesame seed oil, soy sauce, vegetable oil (or butter), sea salt, chicken soup broth, paired with rice or ramen noodles.

Beautiful Blue Sky and Pure White Clouds: Midwest, USA

Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies @ Home (oats omitted from recipe)

Le Pigeonnier: Litteau, Normandy, France.

Omaha Beach Cemetery, “Forever Hallowed…” Memorial: Normandy France

“Dreamy Mountaintops” – Colorado, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday Celebrations Make For Much Business!

I was born shortly after daybreak, this day many years ago, on a snowy April’s night.

Today was filled with much hustle-and-bustle, with volunteer work in the morning and birthday celebrations for the remainder of the day, spending time with family and friends, until night brought such festivities to an end.

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This beautifully designed birthday cake portrays a typewriter with birthday congratulations produced upon its blanc and brown product.

The Lion, The Pigeon, and The Fantastical Manor (witch and wardrobe not included)

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In a previous post entitled, "The Lion and the Pigeon House (no wardrobe this time)" I shared a cropped version of this photograph in a romanticized format. This time, however, c'est vrais (it's true - no alterations). "While travelling in Europe I had the pleasure of staying in a pigeon house, which was much more hospitable than would sound. It was remodeled by a British couple, and the only indication of what it once was were the shoe-box sized holes dotting the curved walls. (The pigeon house in this photograph is the cone shaped building)." The manor (center) is for guests who are willing to pay extra for luxury and meal accommodations - we, however, did fine at our quaint (and superbly comfortable) pigeon house, crafting our own scrumptious repas with local ingredients.