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Texas…finishing.

April 26, 2009

I seemed to have started a brief discussion of my trip to Texas without actually finishing the rest of the weekend!

On Saturday, after having spent a great day with Mom and Dad visiting College Station (I got to see Kishore and Ren!!! and Jane Bailey and Diego and Deryle!!!), the family and I hopped in Dad’s Texas Wagon* (a King Ranch edition Ford F-350 extended bed 4-door diesel monstrosity that could probably occupy a small nation with its brute force) to head to Uncle Steve’s house in Mont Belvieu for our quarterly celebrations of birthdays. Unfortunately, the storm decided to come with us:

The view from my backseat window in the truck.

The view from my backseat window in the truck.

We had fun anyways – Steve’s house sprung a leak, so we got to try out the new Sham Wow! Silver linings everywhere! I had assumed I would take tons of pictures of Grandma’s cooking, but my stomach got the better of me and by the time I remembered…all the food had been consumed. All that remained was this rather sad looking sweet potato casserole:

A little sad looking, but incredibly delicious.

A little sad looking, but incredibly delicious.

That’s brown sugar and pecans on top, in case you were wondering. It tastes like pecan pie but with potatoes, so you can tell yourself it’s good for you. YUM.

After having successfully kept Steve’s house from floating away in the monsoon, we headed home for a nice relaxed night of nachos and National Treasure 2. The following day, the sun came out!  Thank goodness, too, because Sunday’s the day we had scheduled a trip to Galveston to visit my Uncle David for another birthday celebration for Mom. The area around his house was hit pretty hard by the hurricane last fall, but his house made it with limited damage to the downstairs portion. For those of you who don’t know, houses in Galveston are built on stilts with this exact purpose – the water can rise up to 10 feet or so over the bulkhead and the houses can escape water in the upper decks.

Anyways, Uncle David’s setup is great – he’s got a great house with a nice backyard snuggled up to a canal:

Uncle David's Backyard, complete with seagulls.

Uncle David's Backyard, complete with seagulls.

Uncle David also has a family of ducks that has moved in nearby – evidently a mama goose took over a clutch of duck eggs and raised the babies as her own. This has produced a somewhat less-skittish clan of duckies who wander around the area, expecting to be fed. These two were fans of the Cheetos my mother kept feeding them (which were bought by my uncle for that purpose, I think) – so much so that the little lady (the white one) had a little orange chest after all the orange she gobbled up!

Ducks!

Ducks!

Unfortunately, any time you feed any kind of animals on the canal…the seagulls try to take over.

These jerks steal food from the cuter animals.

These jerks steal food from the cuter animals.

Normally they hover in the air, waiting to swoop down with their evilly sharp beaks and stab the food. But this time, there was one gull who pretended to be a duck, waddling on the ground with the other two (real) ducks, until my mom finally decided he’d worked hard for his meal and gave him a Cheeto all his own. Aside from him, the rest were jerks.

After playing with the seagulls (and getting Lisa a good sunburn that’s now peeling all over everything), we went inside for a shrimp boil (delicious) followed by birthday cake!

Birthday cake, and Blue Bell.

Birthday cake, and Blue Bell.

The cake was done by Thierry André Tellier, and was a nice vanilla with strawberry cream in the middle of the layers. The cake and stawberry cream were fantastic, but I think they may have skipped too much sugar in the icing (it tasted like straight butter – no sweetness to it). Because we’re obviously  not this fancy a family, Uncle David set it up so we could make the cake more Mom-friendly:

By adding gummy worms to the cake!

By adding gummy worms to the cake!

It was quite delicious and it had been quite a long time since I’d had sour gummy worms.

After a very pleasant day on the canal, we went back in to Bellaire, had dinner with Patrick and Emily and their adorable children Connor and Hannah, then returned to Lake Conroe, where the sun was still shining:

Sunny view of the lake.

Sunny view of the lake.

The rain made the built-in waterfall near the lake run like crazy, but even MORE crazy was this:

Waterfall?

Waterfall?

Nope…those are the steps leading down to the dock. See?

Toes in the water. I painted them myself.

Toes in the water. I painted them myself.

Even without the rain, the water was running off enough to generate this semi-waterfall. Crazy Houston weather.

All in all, the trip to Texas was fantastic. Great food (as always), and it was wonderful to see my family. The next time I visit, I’m sure the temperature will be up n the 90s, so it was good to get the trip done while it’s still “spring.” I’ll sure miss playing around by the lake though.

This is what your shadow looks like when you wear gaucho pants!

This is what your shadow looks like when you wear gaucho pants!

Tip of the Day: Crawfish!

Have you ever hosted a crawfish boil? Or been to an over-night one? Well, this trip to Texas made me think of the many crawfish boils I’ve been to, and some of the wins (and losses) of that genre of cooking. Crawfish themselves are not inherently the most appetizing thing to me (gasp!) – they’re just too much work! The little guys have such hard shells I get my fingers cut, and inevitably I have an eye itch when my hands are covered in hot pepper spice, leaving me frustrated, covered in crawfish juice, and in pain.

HOWEVER. Some of the most fun I’ve ever had has been at various crawfish boils over the years, so I’m willing to overlook a little pain and juicy-ness in favor of the end result: actually pretty tasty little crawfish tails and good fun with friends.  One of my favorite times of the crawfish boil is the moment when everybody’s had enough to eat, and you’ve still got a bajillion little guys left. What do you do with the leftovers? Well, our friend Steve’s annual crawfish boil has been an overnight event for years, so we’ve got some experience dealing with leftover crawfish, and honestly the best preparation of leftover crawfish is the Crawfish Quesadilla, preferably served for breakfast.

Make sure you peel the crawfish tails well, stick them in plastic baggies, and put them in the fridge before you go to bed (I think we skipped this step one year, but the health department would arrest me for saying so, so we’ll pretend that didn’t happen). The next morning, when everyone’s waking up (and by morning I mean 12PM, of course), take out the crawfish, some flour tortillas, the shredded cheese of your choice (I like jack cheese for this, but the mixed kind is also delicious), a pan, and some butter. I think the first time I had crawfish quesadillas they were produced by Wally, so if he’s reading this and has some trick of the trade to offer, he better comment and say so…

Basically, you prepare the quesadilla like you would any other: butter into the pan, warm it up a bit, toss in the bottom tortilla, cover with cheese and crawfish tails (you could add some scrambled eggs at this point if you wanted to make it really breakfasty) and then with the other tortilla. Flip (CAREFULLY) the quesadilla over when the bottom guy starts looking too toasty, mush it down with your spatula (a very important step: the mushing), and wait till all the cheese is melty and delicious.

I seem to recall there was some microwaving involved in the first batch I ever had, but I can’t recall exactly what was microwaved…perhaps the crawfish, to keep them from being too cold when the quesadilla goes in? Anyways, the simplicity of this dish means you can try it many different ways, adding or taking out whatever ingredients you have on hand (though I must insist on the cheese – a quesadilla is pointless without cheese), and making sure to have some sour cream to serve it with. A delicious way to start the day, usually the day which features cleaning up the trail of crawfish shells leading from the club house to the pool (wave to the one little guy swimming around the pool – he lucked out) and back to the roof of the carport in front of your apartment building. Fun times, fun times.

* FYI, this is just my own silly term for Dad’s truck – this bears no relation to any custom truck store or body style – I just made it up on the spot because Dad’s truck is huge and makes me think of a chuck-wagon, if only for its hardiness and ability to haul cattle (which, admittedly, a chuck-wagon does not do, but it does tend to ride around with cattle, thus the link). Thanks, Anthony, for pointing that out!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Wally permalink
    April 27, 2009 9:19 am

    Well done! Next time, i’ll make crawfish stew. however, the last couple of boils we’ve done there haven’t been any leftovers. this is a good season, so i’ve been to several this spring. where you livin’ these days?

  2. Emily permalink
    April 29, 2009 6:11 pm

    No pictures of you delicious Jax fries?

  3. Robert permalink
    April 30, 2009 5:39 pm

    How can you talk like that about Big Red, after all you were the first one to drive him off the lot and park him I might add. You guys should have seen her turning heads as she backed a 25′ long truck into a parking space between two cars in a crowded parking lot. It was priceless.

    • lisam permalink
      May 1, 2009 11:25 am

      Haha, I love the beast. He’s a great truck! I just want to make sure people get the fuuuuuuuuull picture. 🙂

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