Squirrel Head Potpie

When a recipe starts by telling you to boil ten squirrel heads, you know you’re onto something good! I found this little gem in “Louisiana Cultural Vistas,” one of those fancy magazines they put in upscale hotel rooms in New Orleans. It’s actually an excellent damn mag judging by this particular issue. And the potpie recipe was tucked in an article about Mary Land, author of Louisiana Cookery and a woman light years ahead of her time — conservationist, serial marrier, hunter, fisher, cook.

Anyway, the recipe card reads:

Boil ten squirrel heads until tender in just enough water to cover. Make pie crust and line casserole. Place a layer of heads and some juice. Dot with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make another layer of heads, juice and more pie crust strips. Cook in oven for one-half hour. (Serves six).

I sure as hell hope the recipe assumes you’ll take the meat off the skulls before putting it in the crust. Otherwise, that would be one huge (and crunchy) potpie.

Reality vs. Fiction in Grand Prairie

This weekend, I made a quick pass through the real Grand Prairie, Louisiana — as opposed to the alternate-reality one I created for The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. To be honest, I didn’t expect to find that much difference between the two. After all, the one is based on the other.

But I was wrong.
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Boudin, Baby. Boudin

Trust me on this one.
Trust me on this one.
Boudin. If you’re not from Louisiana, you probably haven’t had it and you probably can’t pronounce it. Boo-dan. But you have to cut about half of the n off of dan.

Sure, at first glance, a box of boudin may look like a carton full of soft-boiled geriatric, uh, weinies. But I promise you won’t put anything tastier in your mouth. (I’m talking about the boudin, you perv.) Continue reading “Boudin, Baby. Boudin”

Early Acclaim for the Novel: Part 4

TFAGPRF“You have to watch these Louisiana boys. They can drink you under the table, and some of them can write you under the table. Ken Wheaton can do both. He’s a wild one, and this is a sparkling debut.” — Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North

This particular blurb is 99.9% gold. (I’ll get to the 0.1% later.)
Continue reading “Early Acclaim for the Novel: Part 4”

The First Annual Bodacious Basinkeepers BBQ

No. I did not change the name of my novel from The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival to The First Annual Bodacious Basinkeepers BBQ. Rather, in a weird bit of coincidence, my good friend Toby Dore–the guy who set up the Facebook Group for my book–is actually part of a gang of guys trying to get their own first festival off the ground. The Basin Cleanup and BBQ will be held Sept. 26 from 6 to 12 p.m. at Whiskey River Landing.

Like I said to Toby, I wish he’d have told me about this. I could have used him for a little research instead of just making up all the details in my book!

I fully expect those of you who live in the area to get out there and go check this out. Invite your friends. Spread the Facebook group around. Go, man. Go.

And for those who don’t live in the area? Well, come a little closer. Let me talk to you about Louisiana festivals.
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It’s a Family Tradition

Why are my uncles and cousins drunkenly wrasslin’ over a pineapple, I found myself thinking not very long ago. And why is my other cousin dancing with a mop while standing in a laundry basket?

Most of my family lives in South Louisiana and they’re Cajun through and through. Even when the crew from Ville Platte invades Face Book en masse, as they’ve been doing in the last couple of months, they bring their style to social media.
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‘The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival’

There it is, the name of my first published novel, due in January 2010. My agent, my editor and I met for drinks last night to discuss the title and other book-related things. It was the first time I met my editor, so it was all quite exciting.

Continue reading “‘The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival’”

Ken’s Crawfish Etouffee

In the comments on the gumbo recipe, Caro asked about crawfish. Crawfish is almost always the first thing to come up in a discussion with non-Cajuns about Cajun food — unless it’s Thanksgiving, when the talk turns to Turduckens or Deep-fried turkey.

Let me say first that Crawfish Etouffee has little to do with crawfish boils–in which people stand around in the backyard drinking beer and getting their hands messy cracking those little buggers open and eating all the tail meat. Unless you have an outdoor space, the proper equipment and access to live crawfish, you can just forget about boiled crawfish. It’s only good fresh. And though you can get live crawfish delivered in season (generally February through June), it’s ridiculously expensive. And take it from someone who boiled crawfish in a New York City apartment — just don’t. The horrible ditch-water smell will be with you for weeks and stray cats will come from miles around to investigate. At any rate, if you want the great taste of crawfish, go with etouffee. (Ay — too — fay)

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Snow Falls on Louisiana

So at 6:45 this morning, my phone rings. “Someone’s dead,” is my first thought. But it only rang once, meaning it was a text. “Some fool’s sending me a direct message through Twitter,” was my second guess. Then it happened again. “Surely I’m not that popular on Twitter (yet).” So I dragged my ass out of bed — did you know that I don’t have to be at work until 10, so usually don’t wake until 8:45? — and checked my phone. Picture mail from my mom. And from my stepdad. And a text from my brother. “It’s snowing!”


 So here you see a wee little picture of my mom’s house all covered in snow. I also received emails from my son, in Prairieville. They’ve got two inches (he says) and it’s still coming down. To which I replied: “What are you doing inside on the computer. Go out and play in the snow.” I also added some snow-ball making tips so that he can put someone’s eye out.

I’d say it snows about once every ten years in South Louisiana. This is the second time in four years. And this looks like the real deal–unlike the quarter inch of sleet and frozen rain that counted as my first snowfall. 

Meanwhile, it’s raining here in New York.