Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Louisiana Cajun Thanksgiving--Part Two

And so....we proceeded to prepare Thanksgiving dinner in the bayou of northern Louisiana--- with no electricity, but a gasoline-powered generator--- miles deep in the cypress swamp lands, completely surrounded by the flood waters of the Ouachita River....

Except for a couple hours in the morning and then a couple of hours in the evening, when they turned on the above generator, we lived mostly in the dark, using oil lamps, flashlights, and candles for light. But we didn't mind--- we felt totally triumphant in having loads of fun despite having no electricity! And it's amazing how much great conversation you can have when there's no television! I even learned to knit in the half-dark during the day. (Finished that Kauni cardigan I showed you in the previous post.)

The above is the picture of the front acreage of my uncle's property. Believe it or not, there's a road somewhere under that water.

My uncle and his brother-in-law spent a lot of time wading through the water around the house, working hard at trying to tie things down that were trying to float away---like the butane tank.

My uncle's brother-in-law was home the whole time we were there because he was on a 5-day weekend off from work. He's a computer genius by trade, but he's also one of those tough-as-nails Cajun men who never allow bad weather or floods to best them in carving out a life for themselves in the unforgiving Louisiana bayou.

The biggest problem my uncle faced was what to do about his 80 odd roosters and hens. But when the waters first began rising, my mother came and helped him to build temporary cages to be placed on the house's several porches--- to keep all the chickens high and dry.

My uncle has raised various types of birds all his life, starting at about age 14.

(Once, as a child, I accidentally let all his quails out of their pens. I got into a HELL of a lot of trouble for that careless caper....)

I don't know if you remember, but in my first posting about going to Louisiana, I showed you pictures of some chicken eggs hatching in an incubator. Well here are those hatchlings, still somewhat young but growing like weeds. I think there's one rooster in that particular cage, and the rest are hens. In most of the roosters' cages there's a hen, as they're encouraged to breed.

Speaking of birds, here's my uncle and his brother-in-law carrying up the cooler with the turkey. And my uncle had some very firm ideas (which differed vastly from my mother's ideas) about how a Thanksgiving turkey should be guessed it---Cajun style!

First, my uncle and a buddy of his cleaned and readied the deep-fryer, as they planned on deep-frying that turkey. (And I held my breath all afternoon, hoping the guys wouldn't get so tipsy on beer and whiskey that they'd fall off the porch into the flood water....)

Speaking of the house's porches, I asked my uncle where one of his two beautiful, spotted guinea fowl's was. He used to have two but I only saw one in the cages. He replied: "Damn bird committed suicide. It was on the porch one night when it got dark--and the dang thing jumped right off the side and drowned!"

(Poor little guinea fowl, I mourned in my head. Perhaps the flooding had frightened it and it simply took leave of its senses?)

My uncle wasn't shy about preparing the turkey, Cajun-fashion, for it's dip in the deep fryer. In fact, he and my mother got into a slight snit about his insistence on rubbing it with tasty Cajun spices.

"You can't put Cajun spices on a dang Thanksgiving turkey!" my mother exclaimed. "It just ain't right!"

"You just watch me!" my uncle replied.

And so he did! He rubbed the entire turkey, inside and out, till it was orange-colored with his special blend of Cajun spices.

See the pecan pie on the right? I made that pie. And I made its crust from scratch using 1/2 Butter-Flavored Crisco and 1/2 real butter. And I also made the crust for the pie at the left, a pumpkin/sweet-potatoe pie.

Speaking of birds, my uncle even has birds in the house. These two canaries are two of God's most beautiful and perfect creations. They live only to sing for you. How I loved sitting in my uncle's living room, knitting, while listening to their sweet, innocent little angel songs. They reminded me of my late grandmother, Mamo, who used to raise canaries. She loved the delicate little birdies so very much...

Well, after much preparing and "argeeing" about whether or not to put Cajun spices on the turkey, my uncle won the fight and the turkey, covered in Cajun spices, was dunked into the deep-fryer. And the stuffing and corn pudding were ready for warming when the generator enabled us to use the oven.

All our mouths were watering for our upcoming dinner, and I was anxious to taste a Cajun-style Thanksgiving turkey...

I like to think that the late turkey went to Turkey Heaven and is now gobbling happily to itself in a heavenly barnyard--- totally not minding in the least that we used a dinner platter with his picture on it....

Coming Soon: Part Three (Including Remembrances of Mamo)...




Anonymous said...

Those pies look yummy! Congrats on the weight loss. I ejoyed the pictures. I live in southern CA and have never viewed anything like your uncles place.


Beth in MN said...

I LOVE the photos of your uncle and his brother-in-law, although now I understand how big the man's aran sweater is gonna have to be. Good luck getting it done by Christmas, woman!

Marie said...

Love your blog. I'm going to save it so I can revisit lots of times. The sweater is really beautiful and I know he will love it. If you don't get it done, just give it to him anyway and take it back to finish. He will be just as happy knowing that you thought enough of him to even design and knit it AND he can try it on.