If you haven’t yet read the post by Heidi, aka Margarita Mama, on our recent Saturday afternoon at Cajun’s Wharf Christmas Camp 2014, please check it out here. As she said, we and about 2 dozen Arkansas Women Bloggers spent the afternoon with the Cajun’s Wharf crew, eating, drinking and having a grand ole’ time.
First up was a wine tasting with Dan, the manager at Cajun’s Wharf.
Dan let us sample A to Z 2013 Oregon Riesling, Yali Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, Adelsheim Pinot Noir, also from Oregon, and St. Francis Merlot from California’s Sonoma Valley. My favorites were the Riesling, which was very refreshing and not nearly as sweet as many Rieslings are, and the Merlot, which was rich and lush — everything a Merlot ought to be.
Next up was lunch. Just in case you didn’t know it, Cajun’s Wharf is now open for lunch Monday through Friday. And their lunch menu is quite varied — think seafood, salads, soup, sandwiches and burgers, plus appetizers and desert.
First up were the appetizers. The table I was at couldn’t decide what appetizers to try, so our awesome server brought a little bit of everything. It was all so good, especially the Oysters Bienville, which Heidi had to convince me to try by promising it would be as good as the last oyster she talked me into eating in Gulf Shores! It was! I think I’ll definitely order the Oysters Bienville again.
As far as the other appetizers, the artichoke dip at Cajun’s Wharf has long been a favorite of mine. Oh, and I can’t leave out the shrimp and crawfish cakes with the slightly spicy cream sauce — I could have eaten the entire plate of those!
After the appetizers, it was a wonder I had room for lunch. Ha, who am I kidding — of course I had room for lunch! My pick was the Shrimp Enchiladas, a dish that combined shrimp, cheese and sour cream. It’s like they wrote that recipe just for me!
Somehow I failed to get any good pictures of desert (sorry!) but we sampled chocolate ganache Key lime pie, coconut cream pie, white chocolate bread pudding and chocolate creme brulee and a pumpkin pie. Everything was good, but my heart will always belong to chocolate creme brulee.
After all of this deliciousness, it was time to get cooking, err, cooking tips, that is!
Mary Beth Ringgold, the co-owner of Cajun’s Wharf, Capers and Copper Grill restaurants, was our teacher for the afternoon. I was thrilled to see that the recipe she was cooking for us was Mussels and Clams in Tomato Broth. Mussels are a dish that my husband makes for us occasionally, so I was excited to take him home a recipe that adds in clams!
Mussels and Claims in Tomato Broth
- 2 lbs. Mussels
- 30 each Little Neck Clams
- 2 TBS Olive Oil
- 2 TBS Butter
- 1 Shallot, minced
- 1 each Red, yellow and green bell pepper
- 1/2 Medium yellow onion — you can use leeks instead
- 4 each Garlic cloves
- 6 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 1 cup White Wine***
- 1 each Lemon juiced
- 2 cups Chicken broth
- 2 TBS Clam juice
- 1 can Rotel
- Pinch of Red pepper flakes
- 1 Fresh tomato
- 1/2 cup Rough chopped parsley
- 2 TBS Butter for finishing
- Salt and pepper to taste
*** Don’t cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink. — Mary Beth Ringgold
1. Rinse and scrub the mussels and clams.
2. Discard any that have opened or have broken shells.
TIP: If a shell is just partially opened, gently tap it on the side of the stock pot or counter. If it closes back on its own, it is still alive and fine to cook. If it does not, it is dead and you need to toss it!
3. Heat oil and then butter in a stock pot.
4. Saute the onion, shallot, garlic and thyme — do them in this order, especially the onion first.
5. Add the wine, chicken stock, lemon juice and red pepper flakes.
6. Add the clam juice and the Rotel.
7. Bring to a light boil.
8. Add the Clams, bring back to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes.
9. Add the mussels and cook until the shells start to open.
10. Add the reserved butter, parsley and fresh tomatoes.
TIP: Discard any mussels and clams if their shells do not open!
11. Serve with plenty of garlic bread or toasts.
Next on the agenda was a whiskey tasting. Now I know what you’re thinking — You don’t like whiskey. I admit, I’ve often been sitting right there next to you on the “It tastes Yucky” bench. But apparently, we haven’t been drinking the right kind of whiskey!
What we tried were four types of sipping whiskey. All four were made in Nashville in small batch distilleries. And I liked three of the four, especially when I diluted them slightly.
Both the Collier & McKeel Tennessee Whiskey and the Belle Meade Bourbon Whiskey had a little bit of a sweetness to them, which really surprised me. I’ve NEVER thought that whiskey could have vanilla and maple syrup notes in it, but the Collier & McKeel did.
And being born in Kentucky, I’m glad to say I can now drink at least one type of bourbon, even if it is made in Tennessee.
I can’t quite describe the Rye Whiskey, other than to say it was very smooth and I liked it. Did you know that Ryes are considered an Old World whiskey, while the Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon are New World ones — largely because the latter two are made with corn, which was plentiful in the United States, but not Europe.
Sadly, the one I wasn’t a fan of is Corsair Artisan’s Triple Smoke Single Malt, which was named Whiskey Advocate‘s “Artisan Whiskey of the Year.” The grains in the Triple Smoke had been smoked over three kinds of wood or fuel, including peat, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, all my novice palate tasted in the whiskey was smoke.
Our last whiskey treat was a Tennessee sipping cream by Whisper Creek. Oh my word, it was good! If you like Bailey’s, you would like this. I think this would make an excellent treat on a cold winter’s night!
Many thanks to Cajun’s Wharf for inviting us to spend the afternoon with you. I had a blast!
“Mary, Did You Know?” is one of my favorite “newish” Christmas songs. According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, it was written in 1984 by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene and first recorded by Michael English in 1992.
I heard English’s version when I was in high school and have loved the song ever since. Since then, tons of people have covered the song, including my all-time favorite version from Acappella. But now you can add a second a capella rendition to the list — this time by Pentatonix. Their version of the song gave me goosebumps — really gorgeous!
While it is still too early for me to listen to Christmas carols, this is one song I can make an exception for. Enjoy.
So apparently, police officers in Winter Haven, Fla., held an active shooter drill at a middle school on Thursday. Unfortunately, students (and their parents) were not notified in advance, so the terror that the children displayed during the drill was all too real.
You can read the full story from The Washington Post here.
I wanted to highlight one particular quote from the school district:
“Unfortunately, no one gets an advanced notice of real life emergencies,” Polk County Public Schools spokesman Jason Gearey said in an e-mailed statement to The Washington Post. “We don’t want students to be scared, but we need them to be safe.”
And have I mentioned that the officers were armed?
Stacy Ray told WTVT that she received a text from her seventh-grade daughter Lauren Marionneaux after two armed officers burst into her classroom. Winter Haven police told The Post that one of the officers had his duty firearm – a handgun – drawn. The gun was loaded,
as required. The other officer was carrying an unloaded AR-15. According to Ray, one of her other children texted: “I thought he was going to shoot me.”
Now most of y’all know that I’m a journalist and I rarely comment publicly about news events because of that fact. But I’m pretty livid about what went down at this school.
When I was a kid, we didn’t need to simulate a tornado to do a tornado drill. We didn’t need to set a classroom on fire to participate in a fire drill. So I’d like the police and school officials in Winter Haven, Fla., to answer this — why do you need to scare children to death in order to conduct an active shooter drill? Why couldn’t there be a PA announcement before the drill started? Why couldn’t parents be told a day or two in advance so they could prepare their children for the drill?
I know that our children go to school in a different world from the one I grew up in. I recognize that schools can be the target of violence and evil. I am eternally grateful to the teachers and administrators who protect and educate my child on a daily basis. I am thankful for the police officers who would run into my daughter’s school to protect her should that ever be necessary.
But what happens when the school and the police are the one terrifying our children? When they are the boogeyman?
Is it really necessary to sacrifice their innocence and scare them to death in the interest of keeping them safe? I think the answer is no. What do you think?
Matt snapped this wonderful picture of Alaina last week. I love the joy on her face.
Welcome to Part 4 of the 2014 A Haunted Blog Hop! If you’ve hopped over here from Minivan Momma, Desperately Seeking Gina or Our Everyday Dinners, thanks so much for visiting me!
If you haven’t read the first three parts of the story, you’ll want to start here and work your way through the links to get back to me!
The cookie was heavenly. She quickly finished it, licking the crumbs off of her lips. Eli handed her another one, which she devoured. Eli laughed and said, “Good, right?”
Then he grabbed her hand and pulled her into the crowd.
She followed, taking two steps for his one, as she was pulled along with Eli and the dancing girls toward the lights and the music. Suddenly, she stopped as she realized that she wasn’t limping. Her feet didn’t hurt. She wasn’t falling. Her body wasn’t betraying her. She felt whole.
She looked at Eli with questions in her eyes. He smiled and pulled her toward the carousel.
They climbed aboard and each mounted a pony. Ruby smiled because her pony had emerald eyes, just like papa. “Just like papa,” she thought and the smile vanished from her face.
Her sadness was quickly dispelled when the carousel started spinning, slowly at first, then faster, and faster and faster until the outside world was just a blur of lights and it seemed like they would be thrown off and dashed into a thousand bits. As Ruby opened her mouth to scream, Eli whispered in her ear, “Hold on. It will all be over soon.” Ruby couldn’t understand how he was whispering when he was on another carousel horse and they were spinning faster than a top.
But his words calmed her. And just like that, the spinning stopped.
As Eli helped her down from the carousel, she looked more closely at her surroundings. To her left was a Master of Ceremonies in a coat and tails with his top hat rakishly perched atop his head. In front of her were the dancing girls, laughing at something the Strong Man had just said. And to the right was Eli — handsome, perfect Eli.
“Eli, what is all of this? I don’t understand,” Ruby said.
Eli just smiled, “Just enjoy,” he said, as he pulled her further and further into the carnival.
And enjoy she did. Hand in hand, Eli and Ruby rode rides, played games and feasted on cotton candy and funnel cakes. Finally in the hallway of mirrors, Eli kissed her. Ruby thought she might die of happiness right then and there.
Hours later, Ruby hugged a teddy bear that Eli had won for her at one of the game booths. ‘This night is perfect,’ she thought to herself.
“It certainly is,” Eli said as he brushed his lips over her hair.
She jumped. “Wait, I didn’t say that out loud,” she protested.
“You didn’t have to,” Eli said. “Here, in this place, we are connected. I can hear your thoughts. I can feel what you feel. I live, I breathe because you live and you breathe.”
“This can’t be real,” Ruby said. “No wonder this seems perfect. It isn’t real,” she said, as she started to cry.
“But it can be,” Eli said. “If …” and his voice trailed off.
“If, what?” Ruby asked.
“If you’re willing to pay the price,” Eli said, as he grabbed her hand and pulled her toward another tent, one she hadn’t even noticed. As they neared the tent, she tried to read the sign by the door, but it wasn’t in English. Actually, it didn’t look like words at all — rather, it looked like some sort of runic inscription or hieroglyphics.
“Eli, what is this place? What price?,” Ruby said, her voice becoming more shrill with each word out of her mouth.
“Shh,” Eli said, as he held her tight. “All will be explained.”
What is the price? And will Ruby agree to pay it? Read the thrilling conclusion to our Haunted Blog Hop on Thursday at JunQue RethunQue.
As Halloween approaches and the witching hour is near, it is time for A Haunted Blog Hop. mwaahahhahaha
For the second year in a row, I’m joining forces with Gina of Desperately Seeking Gina and other Arkansas Women Bloggers to write a spooky tale just in time for Halloween. My piece of the story will go live tomorrow (Wednesday), but until then, please go check out the other talented ladies in the Haunted Blog Hop.
Heather, aka Minivan Momma, kicks off our story. Then visit Gina for more of our terrifying tale. Stop by to see Amy at Our Everyday Dinners for a little respite and then be back here on Wednesday to see what spookiness I’ve created. Then tune in to Laurie at JunQue RethunQue on Thursday to see how it all ends. mwhahhahhahha
Alaina got her first big-girl haircut last Saturday. WooHoo!
Until now, we had been taking her to a salon that caters to kids. It did the trick — especially in making her comfortable enough to allow someone to cut her hair. But they’re always packed AND loud, so I wasn’t looking forward to her next haircut.
But on Saturday, it dawned on me that my hair stylist said she cuts kids’ hair. Since I already had an appointment for myself, I called to see if Beth would have time to cut Alaina’s hair too. Luckily she did!
So Alaina and headed had a little mommy/daughter time as we both got haircuts Saturday. I was amazed at how grown up my little girl was in the big chair.
So many thanks to Beth at Payton Place Salon in North Little Rock for doing a great job on Alaina’s hair! Farewell to the children’s salon — this mama’s little girl is ready for the big chair now!
Well that was interesting.
For the past few days, we’ve heard squirrels scratching away in the attic. Matt and I would look at each other and say, “We’ve got to get those squirrels out of the attic.” But neither of us really had any idea how one would go about such a task. So it would be forgotten until those squirrels started scratching again.
Then yesterday we heard a squirrel in the bathroom wall. Uh oh, the little rodent had just upped the stakes. But how do you go about getting a squirrel out of a wall?
But then this afternoon happened. We heard the squirrel under the dishwasher. Now don’t ask me HOW the squirrel got from the bathroom wall to under the dishwasher, but the little guy did. So Matt tries to lure him out from under the dishwasher before the little rat with a fluffy tail eats the wiring or the insulation, fries himself and/or sets the house on fire.
Next thing we know, the squirrel is in the dryer. Once again, I’ve really no clue how he got from Point A to Point B, but he did. Then Matt is trying to get him to run out the patio door. But by this time, the squirrel has caught the attention of Ginger and Abby who have spent countless hours in the backyard trying to lessen the squirrel population one furry kill at at time. A squirrel is in their house — oh the indignity could not stand! So they run at the squirrel, trying to catch it and generally terrifying the creature more than it already was.
The next thing I know, the squirrel is running toward the back of the house to the bedrooms. Into Alaina’s room it goes. (Thankfully Alaina is sitting at the dining room table and not in her bed when this goes down.) Because Alaina’s bed is where the squirrel is headed. He runs up the side and to the headboard, where he balances precariously. BTW, squirrels have seriously awesome balance. Then he crosses her room in a flash and starts to climb up the bookcase. The books in the bookcase thwarted his attempt to hide in the shelving — another use for a children’s library!
At this point, I’ve handed Matt a small cardboard box with the idea that he should trap the squirrel in the box. I don’t know WHY I thought the squirrel could be caught in a box. He couldn’t. Instead, he dodges the box and heads back to the laundry room. By this point, we’ve opened the front door and are attempting to escort it from the premises. FINALLY, the squirrel runs to freedom and leaves the house.
So thus is my tale of The Great Squirrel Caper and how the Chase family spent their Sunday evening.
P.S. My Cat is a worthless specimen of catliness. As all of this was going down, my cat just looked at the squirrel, kind of like she was asking him, “Who are you? And why are you here?” But she made no effort to catch him. Obviously, Arkie Mama’s Mr. Kitty would not have allowed such an interloper into the house. Maybe I need to borrow him for a few days.
Jason DaSilva is a documentary filmmaker who was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis when he was 25. Trust me when I say in the wide world of MS it really doesn’t get worse than primary progressive. It is fast, aggressive and debilitating.
To understand his disease (and help others understand too) he did what he knew to do. He made a film about it.
When I Walk was filmed over seven years and shows how a very active young man very quickly found himself in a wheelchair. He tried various treatments — nothing worked. There are drugs for those of us with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The drugs don’t offer a cure — but they can buy time. There are no treatments for progressive MS. There is nothing to stop the effects of a terrible disease.
But the film isn’t all sadness. During the seven years DaSilva is shooting and editing When I Walk, he falls in love and gets married to a woman named Alice whose mother has MS. They struggle with his disease and the constant demands it makes on them. But they find happiness. They try to have a child and Alice suffers a miscarriage. But at the end of the movie, Alice is pregnant.
Yesterday (Oct. 9) on Meredith Vieira’s talk show, the world met Jason and Alice’s 18-month-old son, Jase. You can watch the interview here.
It was wonderful to see the newest member of the DaSilva family.
When I Walk is a difficult film to watch. It is raw, it is painful, it is real. There are highs and there are lows. But at the end of the day, Jase is a very real reminder that MS doesn’t win. Life goes on.
Alaina has decided that the remnants of the tree in our backyard make for great climbing!