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Shopping Locally and the Farm-to-Table Concept

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Vendor selling okra, red and yellow bell peppers to shoppers under a tentShopping for farm-fresh produce in Baton Rouge just got easier with the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. The concept of “Farm-to-Table” is becoming increasingly popular as local markets pop up across the country. Have you considered the difference in taste and texture, for example, between canned asparagus, spinach and beets, compared to when they are fresh? No wonder the farm-to-table concept has caught on!

“Farm-to-table” is defined as purchasing locally-grown food directly from the source, i.e. local farmers. According to the Farm to Table Concept there are many benefits to this way of shopping for produce because it takes less time and fewer hands to get the produce from the farm to the table. The obvious benefits are that the produce tastes fresher, lasts longer and supports local farmers. The not-so-obvious benefits, as pointed out by South Source, are that this process is good for the environment.

Since the produce doesn’t have to travel long distances to get to the supermarket, local food can be grown to be healthy and tasty without the farmer having to worry about growing foods that are resilient to long travel. In order to get fruits and vegetables into supermarkets, the produce can be transported as much as 1,500 miles. Eighteen wheelers burn about 500 gallons of diesel to travel this distance. Additionally, many fruits and vegetables are imported from other countries. To keep food from spoiling during these trips, some of the produce must be picked before it is ripe. The produce must ripen during travel. According to South Source, the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that this causes the produce to lack some of the nutrients that would be present in produce from a local farmer.

Many bed and breakfasts are getting into the act by growing some of the fruits, vegetables and herbs they use in their meals. Restaurants are doing the same thing, growing organic foods that taste fresh with no preservatives.

Today, farm-to-school, or more correctly phrased, farm-to-cafeteria is becoming popular around the country. Students are provided with healthy locally grown food and some of the schools are teaching students to grow their own vegetables. Programs exist in the school to encourage nutrition education activities designed to teach children to eat healthy for life.

Try produce you’ve never tasted fresh before. If you live in or around Baton Rouge, check the schedule for the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. Otherwise, there are plenty of markets around the country with produce for you to enjoy, possibly right in your own area.


Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

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Several strawberries with stems which have been dipped in chocolate

2 pints strawberries
1 lb. of candy making chocolate (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white)
 tsp. Paramount Crystals
Finely chopped and toasted almonds, pecans or pistachios (optional)
Baking sheet, covered with sheet of waxed paper


Before starting, make sure berries are clean and very dry. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt candy-making chocolate in microwave on high for 2 minutes; stir, and continue to heat for 1 more minute. Remove from microwave and stir. There will still be lumps, but make sure you do not overheat. As soon as the chocolate is smooth, add the Paramount Crystals and stir.

Holding berry by stem, dip into chocolate and cover about ¾ of the berry. Then dip tip of berry into nuts if desired and place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strawberries, chocolate and nuts.

For double dipped berries: After first coating is set, dip into contrasting chocolate, leaving part of the first coating exposed.

3 strawberries dipped in milk and white chocolate, decorated with a chocolate drizzleTo drizzle strawberries with chocolate for decorating: Lay berries close together on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Place melted chocolate in decorator bag or plastic bag. While squeezing gently, move back and forth over berries. For a fine drizzle of chocolate, the chocolate needs to be rather thin. Use more Paramount crystals, if necessary. For a real “gourmet looking” fine drizzle, hold the bag higher up rather than just above the berries. The line of chocolate will thin out even more.



Planting a Butterfly Garden

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Monarch butterfly feeding on a pink plantThere are few things more calming than sitting still and watching nature. Now that winter is over, Baton Rouge and South Louisiana will soon see the migration of the butterfly as it returns from its winter home in Mexico. Now is the time to plant a butterfly garden to attract these lovely creatures. “Flutterby: Butterfly” will be held through April 10, 2016, at Collonnade Gallery at LSU, featuring these extraordinary insects.

A growing number of Louisiana gardeners are planting butterfly plants to create a natural habitat that attracts these magical creatures. Growing butterfly plants in pots or in the ground around patios is a great hobby for homeowners as well as bed and breakfasts innkeepers who decorate their landscapes with these plants to the delight of their guests.

The life cycle of a butterfly is a truly fascinating occurrence. Beginning life as a caterpillar, these insects develop into beautiful and delicate butterflies. Once a butterfly, before winter, they must migrate south from many areas in the U.S., mostly to Mexico but also to Florida and California. How can a small, delicate butterfly travel that many miles?

The flight of butterflies, which has been occurring for thousands of years, is the longest known distance insect migration on earth. The beautiful monarch butterfly tends to be very popular and is easily recognizable. They have an extraordinary sense which helps them avoid large bodies of water and tall mountains, even though none of them have ever traveled that way before. One of the most amazing things about the monarchs flight from Canada to Mexico is that they fly south in a 50-mile wide distance between Eagle Pass, Texas and Del Rio, Texas. To save energy, they take advantage of thermal waves in the sky. They end their migration to roost in evergreen trees in only a dozen specific high mountain peaks in the Sierra Madre mountain rage in Central Mexico. Then, after several months, they return north, east and west where the females lay hundreds of eggs. Those eggs develop into caterpillars, then as pupa in its chrysalis, then finally emerge as a butterfly. This process takes about 4 weeks.

The only source of food for the monarch butterfly is the milkweed plant, poisonous to many animals but not to the monarch. Gulf fritillary or passion butterflies like passion vine or maypop. Your local nursery should be able to help you choose plants that will work in your garden or around your patio.

Want to learn more about butterflies and get started planting your butterfly garden? Read Butterfly Gardening for Louisianians by the LSU Ag Center.

Sunday Morning Eye Opener Casserole

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  • 1-12 oz. package of seasoned croutonsSundayMorningCasserole
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 4 oz. Rotel tomatoes
  • 1½ c. grated cheese
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • ¾ c. red and green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 stick butter
  • Tony Chachere’s seasoning
  • ½ tsp. basil
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • pie crust (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º.

Butter 9″ x 13″ casserole. Spray casserole dish with Pam cooking spray and sprinkle croutons in. Sauté green onions, bell peppers in butter until soft. Pour over croutons. Cover with cheese. Mix eggs, half and half, Rotel tomatoes, seasoning, and spices together. Pour mixture in casserole dish. Sprinkle top with chopped parsley and paprika. Bake at 350º for approximately 45 minutes or until done.

Optional: Casserole may be poured into a pie crust, as in photo above. Bake pie shell for a few minutes before adding mixture, then back as directed above.



This is our most versatile dish and should be prepared to fit each cooks’ taste. Feel free to add sautéed spinach, cooked asparagus, or even enjoy this dish without the croutons! Make it your own!



Marmalade Bread

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Marmalade Bread2 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
1½ c. orange marmalade
1 egg
¾ c. orange juice
¼ c. oil
1 c. pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350º.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Reserve ¼ cup of the marmalade and set aside. In a separate bowl mix together 1¼ cups marmalade, egg, oil, and juice. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Stir in the nuts. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350º for 50 to 60 minutes.

When done, cool briefly and then remove the bread from the pan.  Place the bread in a baking dish, glaze with the reserved marmalade and return to oven for 1 minute.  Place on a rack and cool completely before slicing.  This bread will be easier to slice if you chill it beforehand.

This recipe comes from my fellow B&B owner Sally Crochet of Crochet House Bed & Breakfast in Houma.

St. Patrick’s Day – Another Reason for a Parade!

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(Photo by Blake Panepinto)Don’t forget to wear green on March 17th.  It’s St. Patrick’s Day (also known as St. Patty’s Day)!

All across America, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on or around March 17th each year. Baton Rouge’s Parade is called “Wearin’ of the Green” and will take place on March 12, 2016. As in all cities, celebrations include displays of the color green, drinking, eating, religious observances and numerous parades. But few people know where the tradition began, or why.

St. Patrick was born in the 4th century and became one of the most successful Christian missionaries in Ireland. However, the first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland. There is some dispute as to whether it was held in New York City or in Boston, but definitely not in Ireland. The celebration became popular due to the dramatic increase in Irish immigrants to the StPatrickDayParadeU.S. in the mid-19th century. Today, millions of Irish-Americans, and even those bearing no Irish ancestry at all, celebrate this day in America with parades, parties and other celebrations. Why March 17th? That date is thought to be the date of St. Patrick’s death.

Along with the celebration of that day comes the wearing of green. Traditionally those of Irish ancestry who are caught not wearing green are pinched, but “watch out”! – these days, anyone not wearing green is subject to being pinched. Green clothes, green hair, green drinks, streets painted green and even rivers dyed green are part of what has become a tradition of this day. Besides the color green, the shamrock is a symbol that goes along with this day’s celebration. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Christian Holy Trinity, but there is no real evidence of that.

A classic St. Patrick’s Day meal is corned beef and cabbage, however, that meal is more American than Irish. The most affordable meat for poor Irish Americans in the 19th century was corned beef. And cabbage, being a spring vegetable, was cheap, which explains why that meal came to be part of the tradition of the day.

The world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parades are held in Hot Springs, Arkansas and Boulder, Colorado where they are less than a block long. The New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the longest parade in the world.

Need more information on the Baton Rouge parade? Click here.


Tart Tatin

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Tess cooking Tart TatinWhile my sister Jacqueline’s kids were infants, I went to France to help out. They had an apple tree in the backyard which produced a LOT of apples, so I was always looking for a dish that used them.  Therefore, I started making Tart Tatin, which is simply divine apple pie.  When I made it for dinner parties, everyone said “OOO LA LA!”




Frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-ounce package)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar depending upon the tartness of the apples
7 to 9 Gala apples (3 to 4 pounds), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored. You may use other varieties, but a hard, tart apple works best.


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll pasty on flour to the shape of 10” iron skillet with enough over the edges of the pan to tuck in.

Spread butter thickly on the bottom and side of the skillet and pour sugar evenly over the bottom. Arrange as many apples as will fit vertically on sugar, packing them tightly in concentric circles.

Cook apples over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until juices are deep golden and bubbling, 18 to 25 minutes.

Move skillet to oven and bake 20 minutes, then remove from oven and lay pastry over apples and tuck into pan.

Bake tart until pastry is browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes or more.  You can re-warm if necessary.

Just before serving, invert tart onto platter.  Serve immediately.

JD’s Comments:

I don’t know what variety of apples that I was using in France, but use what you ordinarily would to make your homemade apple pie. You can put whipped cream on top or serve with ice cream.  C’est delicieux!

Tart Tatin straight from oven, still in the black iron skillet

Tart Tatin straight from oven

Tart Tatin




What Could Be Special About February

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Winter SceneWhen most of us think of the month of February, at least in the northern hemisphere, we think of cold dreary days barely warmed by the sun which still sets early. We realize, however, that it is a short month and will soon give way to March, which is sometimes better…sometimes. But February is an important month with several things to celebrate. So cheer up! Let’s have some fun with this!

February 1st of every year is recognized as “National Freedom Day”. It celebrates “freedom from slavery” which was signed into effect by Abraham Lincoln.

February 2nd is “National Groundhog Day”. Whether we can trust him or not, Punxsutawney, the famous groundhog, awakens from his long winter nap and goes outside to see if he can see his shadow. If he does, that means there will be six more weeks of winter. If this is the case, he retrieves back into his den and goes back to sleep. If he doesn’t see his shadow, he remains outside to play. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has been chosen as the place to celebrate this momentous occasion. No doubt, by February 2nd, Pennsylvanians are ready for spring.

February 3rd is called “The Day the Music Died” Day. Three singers, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) died in an airplane accident on February 3, 1959 near Clear Lake, Iowa. “The day the music died” is a line in Don McLean’s hit song, American Pie.

February 5th is “National Wear Red Day” to recognize that heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women.

February 8th is “National Boy Scouts Day”. Boys across America have been doing good deeds, learning survival skills and developing a moral foundation through this organization since 1910.

February 14th is, of course, “Valentine’s Day”, the day you buy chocolates, roses, strawberries and take your sweetie to a nice dinner. Or something like that. However, the entire month of February is recognized as “Creative Romance Month” where you are urged to create a special surprise to show your love to your special someone. We think you should show your love every day of the year. (And we hope that you will choose to stay with us at The Stockade Bed and Breakfast and enjoy one of our Romance Packages.)

• The 3rd Monday in February, which falls on February 15th this year, is “Presidents Day” and is set aside to honor all of the past United States Presidents that have served our country.

• The 3rd Friday in February, which falls on February 19th this year, is “National Caregivers Day”. It honors health care professionals, particularly those who serve people requiring long-term or hospice care.

• The last day in February is recognized as “Rare Disease Day USA” to raise awareness about rare diseases and the impact they have on people’s lives. However, this year the last day in February, the 29th, is “Leap Day”, occurring only once every 4 years, and will undoubtedly outshine Rare Disease Day. Leap Day is the day that women, who have been, to no avail, waiting for a proposal, can take matters into their own hands and propose to their guys. The Stockade will be waiting to hear from all those fellows who say “Yes” and are ready to begin planning their weddings. Click to view our Hacienda Wedding Package.

Every day of the year has a special designation, and as one person put it, “Why can’t we have a National Buy Car Parts Day?” Why not? We cannot end this article without mentioning some of our other favorites, which also occur in February:

National Heavenly Hash Day
National Thank a Mailman Day
National Fettuccini Alfredo Day (was first created to help a person eat who had no appetite)
National Clean Out Your Computer Day
National Toothache Day
National Make a Friend Day
National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day (Think positive thoughts today.)
National Ferris Wheel Day (To honor the first drawing, sketched on a napkin in a restaurant.)
National Do A Grouch a Favor Day (Go ahead, it will make you feel better.)
National Drink Wine Day (As if any wine lover needs permission.)
National Lash Day (to promote the need for false eyelashes)
National Love Your Pet Day (hopefully you love your pet every day)
National Cook a Sweet Potato Day (Why not?)
National Dog Biscuit Day
National Tell a Fairy Tale Day
National Public Sleeping Day (On this day, you can take a nap anywhere in public.)

Who comes up with these things anyway????


Beef Brisket Slow-Cooked and Oh So Tender

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The secret to tender brisket is slow cooking in the oven with a marinade of your choice.  Even a bottle of beer can make a brisket delicious and tender. After cooking, you may put it on the pit to get the smoked char on the outside or just serve straight from the oven.  You can put it in the fridge overnight and slice it the next day and reheat in the oven.  But, remember, the brisket is a tricky cut of meat and you must slice across the grain if you want slices.  If not, you can pull the meat and serve it as “pulled brisket.”  Either way, it is delicious.

JD’s Brisket Marinade

Depending upon how many pounds of meat you are cooking, you may need to double this recipe.  But for 1 brisket that is approximately 8 lbs, this should be enough.

Mix together:

1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T soy sauce
2 medium onions cut up
8 cloves garlic chopped

Buy brisket pre-trimmed or trim before cooking to remove excess fat.  Season with Tony Chachere’s seasoning, garlic powder, basil, thyme and oregano.  Place in pan deep enough to accommodate brisket with liquid poured over it.  Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in 325 degree oven for 3 to 4 hours.  Cool.

You may make gravy from the liquid that it is cooked in.  I use the fat skimmed from the top and pre-browned flour to make the roux.  Pour in the liquid and cook till thick.  You can put in some beef bouillon for extra flavor.

This is a great dish for New Year’s Eve or the day before a party because you can cook ahead and serve in a chaffer.  Enjoy the party!!!

Joyce DeLerno’s Pecan Pie

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Pecan Pie PhotoEverybody has their own family recipes that bring back fond memories. My mom’s pecan pie was always one of my favorites and she did a couple of things different than other recipes that I’ve read. The use of the maple flavored syrup mixed with the light corn syrup gives it a slightly different flavor. Mom used Log Cabin syrup, but it is no longer available. I now use Mrs. Butterworth’s Original. You could use real maple syrup also if you are so inclined. Using chopped pecans gives a more crunchy top. I use Pillsbury pie crust as I don’t have the time to make crust from scratch. But, the flavor and texture of this pie is wonderful and I hope you enjoy it as much as the DeLerno family does. Thanks for the memories Mom! We miss you.

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup maple flavored syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups chopped pecans
Pastry pie shell

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy
Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth
Add syrups, extract & salt and blend until smooth
Fold in pecans
Pour into 9 inch deep pie shell brushed with egg whites to prevent sogginess
Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes or until golden brown with filling set
Delicious plain or served with vanilla ice cream on top