Monday, April 17, 2017

Cooking from the Hip

The good fortune of having a full-time, salaried job, complete with health benefits and a retirement plan is not lost on me. I'm one of those gals that signed on at an early age with the most reliable employer in the state. The State. They can't seem to fire anyone no matter how poorly the perform or behave on the job.

The better part of my late 20s and early 30s has been spent on one floor or another of the E.F. Woolfolk State Office Building in downtown Jackson. It has a dramatic presence on the corner of West and High Streets, an art moderne architectural style, my husband tells me, that emulates the trend in transportation, travel and movement when it was erected in 1949; a marked response to the neoclassical styles with which Mississippi is mostly associated.

The facade is crafted wholly of glass, with metal images representing industries like agriculture, aerospace and energy, yet a quick Google search will tell you the building was designed to "celebrate Mississippi's culture and heritage". (Does this level of irony only exist in Mississippi?) The central atrium is a site to behold, bedazzled in marble and metal with a bank of quaint telephone booths in the front lobby where legislators privately discussed "important state business" over secure lines. They stand today largely unoccupied, except for the occasional, bored state employee, hiding from his responsibilities while talking on a cell phone.

Despite my slow progression up the proverbial ladder of the Woolfolk, my bank account always gets anemic around the third week of the month. Hence, my need and, admittedly, love, for cooking from the hip.

As I shared yesterday, Saturday brought the annual Rolling Back the Rock crawfish boil to our home. After five years, we've finally gotten the formula down in terms of the crowd. We don't just have just the right amount of people, we have the right type of people. And by "type of people", I mean people that can seriously get down on some crawfish. Of the 160 pounds that Pat so lovingly boiled, the only leftovers were the lagniappe, the veggies he tosses in with the mudbugs. The veggies are my favorite part, so when I came away with a gallon Ziplock full of green beans, brussel sprouts, onions, carrots, garlic, corn, potatoes, mushrooms, pineapple and, well, sausage, I knew some recipe devising was in my future.

My first thought was to make a simple bechamel sauce with butter, flour and milk, then fold in the veggies (sans pineapple & potatoes) and pour into a Pilsbury refrigerated crust for a pot pie of sorts. After consulting with Mama, though, we decided that approach might be a little too much decadence for a post-holiday Monday. Rather, I stuck with the original idea, creating a quick white sauce for the crawfish lagniappe, adding a handful of Weezie's peas and carrots for color and serving over brown rice. The recipe needed zero seasoning, as the flavors from the boil shined through. We served it with bagged salad for a low-intensity kitchen clean-up and aim to be in bed by 9 p.m.

I have a feeling this dish will be even better tomorrow, which is good, because it is still 11 days until payday.

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