Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Po' Girls Walking Krewe & Muffulettas

Do You Know What it means to Ms. New Orleans?  
We Po' Girls sure do.

Po' Girls with their Lucky Dogs — Louie, Rasco & Oscar! 

As Louisiana natives living in DC, Margot, Leah, my sister Julie and I have stuck together.  We joke that New Orleans is such a different place than the rest of the country that we stick together like people do from the same foreign country in America. Recently, we finally put that you can take the girls out of Louisiana but not the Louisiana out of the girls sentiment to good use — we founded the Krewe de Po' Girls as a way to bring Louisiana flavor to the District.

The Po' Girls are a bona fide New Orleans walking krewe — just 1,000+ miles northeast, distance be damned. We debuted in DC at the annual High Heel Drag Queen Race in Dupont.  And, yes, it is exactly as FABULOUS as it sounds.  This year our Louisiana alter ego is Zapp's Potato Chips.

Drumroll please, here we have the original Po' Girls:
Chip photos were found online, primarily on the Zapp's website

We hot glued beads on corsets and used craft supplies for the sashes and badges. 

Our Grand Debut

We knew dressing as Zapp's at a drag race in DC could be confusing for people on all different levels.  People may think we are men? So, what!  People won't know what we are. We'll tell them! 

And, honestly, our predictions were accurate. We were a huge hit.  People on the street took probably hundreds of photos of us. Some thought we were a rainbow, some thought we were Mardi Gras (we'll take it) and others were dead on — we even attracted some fellow Louisianans! In the end, we strutted our stuff,  threw beads to excited onlookers, saw some absolutely amazing drag ensembles (The Rockford Peaches, hello!) and talked to tons of people about New Orleans, Mardi Gras, walking krewes, Po' Boys (& girls) and Zapp's.  Did I mention we strutted? 

Our debut was also a little bit of a social experiment. While people overwhelmingly knew we were women, some thought we were men because frankly we were at a drag event. Most people studied us before coming to the XXY conclusion, some drag queens playfully called us "cheaters" and one woman, who thought I was a man in drag, stared at me and said, "You are so beautiful." Hey, I'll take it. There was one hilarious straight guy who said we had him rethinking his orientation before he realized we were girls. But, we also had the unique experience of witnessing a little bit of discrimination. With thousands of people in the crowd only two people were not very kind to us.  One guy said, after I pet his girlfriend's dog and was walking away, "It's just not right." 

Buddy, you're not right. 

Mini New Orleans Muffulettas (Regular + Vegetarian)
Now, for a very fitting recipe. 

Before the race last night we enjoyed a taste of home with New Orleans original muffulettas.  My sister and I made the original Nola recipe and a vegetarian option for party guests.

Ingredients for the Original Recipe:

Genoa Salami
Rouse's Olive Salad
Slider buns/ petite kaiser rolls

Arrange ingredients in bun and toast until warm and crisp at about 200 degrees.

Ingredients for the Vegetarian Recipe:

3 Egg Whites
Bread Crumbs
Tablespoon milk (soy or almond ok) 
Tablespoon olive oil 
Rouse's Olive Salad
Slider buns/ petite kaiser rolls in whole wheat

Slice eggplant into circles.  Dip individual pieces in egg wash made of oil, milk and egg whites, then dip in flour and lastly bread.  Arrange circles on a greased and aluminum foiled baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, flipping the eggplant pieces over at the 10 minute mark.  Eggplant pieces should be crisp and brown.  For the last couple of minutes in the oven, allow cheeses to melt on eggplant.

Arrange olive salad and eggplant with cheese in buns and toast at 200 as directed above. 

Did you know? 

That the Muffuletta is one of the best examples of New Orleans' melting pot?  The Sicilian family that founded Central Grocery in New Orleans blended the taste of home with ingredients found in Louisiana and invented the Muffuletta.  Today, Central Grocery is still in business and serving the best sandwich in town. 

Some more of Zapps! 

With our cuts. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

100th Recipe! Hazelnut Torte

Today marks 100 recipes at The Old Country Blog!

I am proud of this little milestone and chose to bake a hazelnut torte for the occasion because ... 

As many of you know, I started this blog as a way to learn my family's German, Louisiana and Lebanese recipes. My Oma was a master of all three and her lessons translated into this blog.  After she passed away in January, the blog took on a new role that I hadn't planned. When we planned her services, the stories on the blog served as a point of reference. The Old Country Blog became a place for my family to remember Oma — her stories and her recipes.  And a little weekly reminder of her life and what she has passed on to us.  

I wanted to honor her today with a German torte in her favorite flavor, hazelnut.  Oma was crazy about hazelnuts — in fact hazelnut cookies were the last thing she taught me to make.  So, for the occasion, I used one of Oma's German cookbooks, The German Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton — it's English language. I made Sheraton's Nusstorte or Nut (Hazelnut) Torte. 

Without further ado, here's to Oma and 100 recipes! 

Nusstorte - from Mimi Sheraton
the one hundredth recipe

8 eggs separated
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (or rum)
1 teaspoon arak (the recipe didn't originally call for it, but it was Oma's favorite. She snuck it in everything)
1 1/2 cups shelled hazelnuts
1 tbs sugar
whipped cream, rum flavored*

Cream yolks with sugar and extracts. Sheraton says mixture should be a pale yellow and thick enough to ribbon.
Crush the hazelnuts but do not grate nuts too finely. Sheraton suggests using a bag and a rolling pin, I used a bag and a hammer.
Beat egg whites and as they thicken add a tbs of sugar. Stir 2 or 3 egg whites into the yolk mixture. Then pour yolk mixture over egg whites. Sprinkle in grated nuts.
Fold mixture with rubber spatula until no traces of whites showing.
Butter and flour two 9 inch layer cake pans — you can also use a spring form pan and later cut cake into layers.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Cool cake until sides shrink in and then invert on rack.

Now make whipped cream to go between the layers, I used Ina Garten's rum whipped cream recipe. Just heavy cream, dark rum, sugar and vanilla! And maybe a dash of arak ...

I topped the cake with another German classic, marzipan. Most grocery stores sell tubes of this almond paste now.  I bought a tube at my local grocery store and rolled it out over a waxed papered cutting board with a rolling pin.  I then used fall cookie cutters to cut out shapes — aren't cookie cutters the best?  I topped the cake with my pretty fall patterns, a small layer of whipped cream and crushed hazelnuts. A sprinkle of cocoa powder also gives the cake a nice kick.

Serve the cake cold, I allowed mine to chill overnight, but 30 minutes will do.


Looking Good!

Thanks so much to my amazing friend Emily for creating a new header and buttons for my blog — just in time for my 100th recipe! 

I am loving all the little updates and the new colors.

Thank you! 

via Pinterest

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Under Construction ...

Sorry if the blog is a little wonky looking right now! It is currently under construction and should look normal again by Tuesday - be sure to check back for the new design thanks to Slacktologie

In the mean time, please enjoy this construction-inspired Wrecking Ball parody or these Wrecking Ball gifs. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall so Far ...

Crossing off the Fall Bucket List 
Remember my checklist? Here's what I've done so far ... 

+  Try a delicious idea for a new fall cookie recipe. 

Remember these from last year? I made them this year with carrot cake mix! 

+  Craft with pumpkins. 
+  Do something awesome the week of Halloween. (It's a surprise.)
+  You can never have too much pumpkin.  Between this and my pumpkin coffee, done and done! 
+  Finish my Halloween costume. (Part of the awesome surprise - GET EXCITED!) 
+  Watch Beetlejuice and all of my favorite Tim Burton movies. 
+  & Rocky Horror. 
+  & Arsenic & Old Lace. 
+  Find Pumpkin Spice Hershey's kisses. Robert and I may have eaten an entire bag ... 

Pumpkin Kisses had to be found online ... worth it! instagram

+ See changing leaves.  I'm not in Louisiana anymore. It was the one plus of a recent 7 hour bus ride.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

For the baby elephants!

I usually don't post things like this here, but I really want to help get the word out about an initiative from Adobe to help save baby elephants! 

All you have to do is tweet #ProtecttheElephants and Adobe will donate $1 to National Geographic to do just that! 

Image found via Pinterest

Let's #ProtecttheElephants today! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to throw a Grown Up Zombie Birthday Party ...

My sister and I threw a Zombie Birthday Party for her husband Andrew — he turned 28. It was a huge success on all counts from costumes to food to the big game.  We served up a mess of Zombie foods and created a pretty elaborate game.  

Perhaps our zombie bash could serve as inspiration for your Halloween party?

Here are some recipes, ideas and scenes to help you throw an awesome apocalyptic bash. 


Brain Cupcakes -- with green goo

1 box cake mix or my original confetti cake recipe (the birthday boy requested confetti cake)
green candy melts or white chocolate with green food coloring
pink icing from the store or food coloring with my buttercream recipe

With the goo ... 

Spoon one tablespoon of batter.  
Place green candy melt.  
Finish filling cupcake tray 3/4 the way full.
Bake as directed on box or blog. Cool. 
Decorate cupcake as seen above. 

Red Velvet Cake "Eye"Balls -- from my friend Candace

1 box cake mix or the Sprinkles copycat red velvet recipe
cream cheese icing
white almond bark or chocolate
candy melts: red & blue
mini chocolate chips 

Bake the cake as directed.
After cooling, combine cake with icing.
You should start with half the can of icing. 
and see if the dough is sticky and can be easily rolled into a ball.
If not, add more icing until reaching desired texture.
Roll into 1” ball shape.
Melt white bakers chocolate. 
Dip balls in white chocolate.
Allow to harden.
Decorate with a dollop of the melted blue candy melt 
(as the eye's center).
Place mini chocolate chip as the pupil.
Allow to harden and use red melt to create the veins with red icing or edible marker.

Intestine Bread 

Two packages (4 sheets) of frozen pastry dough for the crust
two large packages chopped or lightly creamed frozen spinach, thawed
one large tub nonfat Ricotta
one tbsp granulated garlic
one tbsp Italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

Thaw dough on wax paper.
Cut each square into strips.
Blend other ingredients & chill to firm.
Spoon onto flat pastry strips.
Fold one side of pastry strip over filling.
Pull other side to meet in middle.
Pinch sides together to seal center seam.
Put filled tube seam-side down in pan.
Arrange into guts.*
Brush with olive oil.
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.
Brush with red sauce: I used marinara.

* Place tubes seam-side down. Bend them into one top squiggle like seen above. 

28 Beers Later

The Grown Up Zombie Game 

The guests got pretty into it ... 

Survive all three rounds of the apocalypse
If you become a Zombie be the best -- 
Turn the most people and collect the most arm bandanas 

How you become a Zombie: 
Say one of the forbidden words announced at the beginning of each round 
(It is safe to say the forbidden word to a fellow survivor, just not in earshot of a walker)
Getting iced 
Acts of God (Announcement)
Third Round Attacks

Zombies must get their faces painted!

How to Protect Yourself:
Gold Level Immunity: Protects you from all attacks for a round.  Can only be won as a team in trivia. 
Green Level Immunity:  Take a shot to gain immunity. Shots lose potency at the end of every round. Green level protects against saying a forbidden word. But not getting iced.
Weapons ...

Immunity is signified with gold and green Mardi Gras beads.

Weapons for the living:
Weapons are hidden throughout the house - 
We used beers with weapons in the name like Strong Bow or just PBR

If you get attacked by a walker and you have no immunity/have to use a weapon, 
you and the zombie split the beer and have a drink-off. If the living wins, the they stay alive. 

Weapons for the undead:
The first six zombies get Smirnoff to ice people with 
Six Resurrection Beers are hidden in the apartment to turn you back into a human 
(We used a beer called Resurrection)

The living and the undead can barter for weapons ... 
ie the undead for resurrections and the living for weapons.  

When guests arrived they were given bandanas to wear as a headband, around the arm or wrist.  The bandanas were in three different colors signifying three different teams (We used red, yellow and blue).  The guests, who arrived in "survival gear" mingled and listened to music until radio programming was interrupted ... 

If you don't have equipment to create a radio announcement (a friend of ours who does podcasts helped), you can do it live.

(Announcement breaks in around 2:12) 

First Round Rules: 
The Red Team/District loses two players (Act of God) (Shortest and Tallest)
Don't say zombie  

We then did a 10 question Zombie trivia round — music, books, movies themed.  And the winning team won  immunity for the first round. 

Allow the game to go for as long as it takes for a few weapons, resurrections to be found. 

Second Announcement, disease has spread to Yellow District
Five Question Trivia: With the theme "Survival Skills" for Gold immunity 

Second Round Rules: 
The Yellow District loses two players
Three new forbidden words are introduced

Allow the game to go for as long as it takes for almost all weapons, resurrections to be found. 

Third Announcement: Disease has spread to last district
There will be so little living players left trivia is different ... No gold level immunity.

Survivors line up single file for "Real Zombies"trivia 
(questions about the brain, cannibalism and voodoo zombies).
This is a lightning round. 
If you get your one question right you get green immunity.
If not, you enter the round with no immunity.

Third Round attacks:
Zombies can now attack with challenges or drink offs, the victim decides
A challenge may be the alphabet or spelling "apocalypse" backward

When one survivor is left, the game is over and prizes are distributed to the last man standing and most dangerous zombie — who turned the most people and collected the bandanas to prove it. 

Our winners and birthday boy.

Zombie Inspiration 

Have a ration table of brain inspired cuisine
and foods so artificial they would survive the apocalypse. 
Deviled eyeballs, intestine bread, brain cupcakes ...
Post apocalyptic cuisine. 
Paint the Town Dead 
Awesome "Survival Gear" costumes 
And, of course, a brain jello mold 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Two Weeks

In just two weeks, or so, my little blog is going to reach 100 recipes.  I am pretty proud of this milestone and have decided on what to make for the occasion! But, I am still trying to think of a fun way to present it.  Do you have any ideas or questions?  

With 100 recipes on the horizon, I wanted to look back at what I've shared so far. Here are some of my most popular recipes — click the picture to get to the post! 

Were these your favorites? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Guacamole & Sweet Potato Stew + October Wish List

When the weather snapped cold, I started dreaming about tights, scarves and pumpkin.  So, when my mom was in town on the first chilly day, I decided to make a Fall Feast: Pumpkin Guacamole (YES, it is a thing!) and Sweet Potato Stew.  It was full of fall flavor, spice and extra filling! The perfect way to kick off my favorite time of the year ...

Pumpkin Guacamole! 
This may sound crazy ... But it works. 

Saute half a red pepper and half an onion. Make a very chunky Guacamole – and go heavy on the lime juice. Heat a can pumkin for 10 minutes on the stove.  Heat one can of black beans.  Allow ingredients to cool and combine with cilantro and diced tomato (to taste). 

I served mine in lettuce wraps, but it would be tasty with veggie dippers or chips!

Sweet Potato Stew
Get it while it's hot! 

·       2 tbs olive oil
·       2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
·       1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
·       1 chopped onion
·       1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped, or 12 slices of jar jalapeno
·       2 tbs garlic
·       1 tablespoon chili powder
·       1 teaspoon ground cumin
·       1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·       Dash Tony’s (if you don’t know what it is, don’t worry about it)
·       3 cups vegetable broth or a soup.  (I used a very liquid-y black bean soup)
·       1 can black beans
·       1 can diced tomatoes
·       1 can whole kernel corn
·       ¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro – add more to taste
·       ¼ cup lime juice
·       Salt & Pepper
·       Shredded cheddar cheese

Sauté onion and bell pepper, adding in jalapeno and garlic toward the end. 
Roast sweet potatoes in cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the tender vegetables to a pot on medium heat.

Stir in liquids and canned items UNDRAINED. *If you use a soup, heat as directed in microwave before adding it to the stew.  Blend in seasonings. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add cilantro and additional ingredients to taste.  I added extra garlic, lime and juice from the jalapeno jar.

Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes, but the longer the better. After 30 minutes, I dropped to a low heat and let the stew cook for an additional hour and a half.

Serve with shredded cheese. 

My October Wish List 
This is my absolute favorite time of year: Halloween, Birthday & Gorgeous Weather. I decided to make a list of all the things that I save for autumn and hope to enjoy over the next few weeks. 

Via Pinterest

+  Try a delicious idea for a new fall cookie recipe. Remember this one from last year?
+  Craft with pumpkins. 
+  Do something awesome the week of Halloween. (It's a surprise.)
+  You can never have too much pumpkin.
+  Finish my Halloween costume. (Part of the awesome surprise.) 
+  Watch Beetlejuice and all of my favorite Tim Burton movies. 
+  & Rocky Horror. 
+  & Arsenic & Old Lace. 
+  Find Pumpkin Spice Hershey's kisses. Yes, this is a thing and they are incredible.
+ See changing leaves.  I'm not in Louisiana anymore. 

Blogging tips