Monday, July 30, 2007

Wash Day on the Bayou

This is Part Two in a trilogy. Part One is "Red Beans and Rice, Old Time Creole Style: A Story and a Recipe", posted on July 26, 2007. Part Three is "PureCajunSunshine's Red Beans and Rice Recipe", posted August 4, 2007.

Early in the morning, before most of the birds were fully awake, Mamere would already have the fires blazing under two huge black kettles of water that were set up outside. Those who lived near the bayous usually set up their wash day contraptions near the water's edge, to make the job of hauling water easier. The large kettles were set up on bricks over the fire. One kettle was filled about two thirds full of water, and was designated for washing and boiling sheets first, then a succession of clothes. Another kettle was filled with clear water to be heated and used to fill smaller wash tubs. A long poke stick or two, a few cakes of lye soap (or store-bought Octagon soap), some wooden benches, wash tubs, and a washboard were set up. The addition of a wooden deck was always nice because it helped to keep the place from turning into a messy mud-wallow after countless Mondays of laundry.

Mamere's washboard was a beautiful old one. Its gleaming hills and valleys were carved from a single heavy block of cypress by her grandfather's hand. The newer metal washboards became the minou's meow back in the 1850's, when the new-fangled inventions made their first appearance in the stores. But Mamere stubbornly clung to the old family washboard. Mais, cher! The old ways are good.

While water heated in the kettles outside, Mamere would hurry back into the kitchen to prepare the morning meal and to get the tradtional Monday's Red Beans and Rice started. After the breakfast dishes were cleaned and put away, the pot of beans was given a final stirring, and was moved to the back of the stove. There, it would gently simmer for the next several hours while Mamere washed clothes.

Although the same basic steps were always followed, Mamere, like countless other women of the day, had her own way of doing laundry. She would pour hot water into four wash tubs that were arranged on the benches. Two of the tubs were reserved for rinsing only. A third tub was filled two thirds full with hot water and enough soap flakes to make a mild soapy brew. Soap flakes were made by shaving off thin slivers from a bar of homemade lye soap or store bought Octagon bar soap (Ivory soap can be used this way, too). Enough soap was added to the big kettle that was filled two thirds full of boiling hot water, to make a very strong soapy brew. A fourth tub of water on the bench included liquid starch that she made from potatoes. In later years, she admitted that powdered store bought Faultless Starch from a box worked almost as well as her potato starch. Imagine that.

Into the strong soapy brew in the big pot over the fire, went the big stuff like bed sheets. The sheets were stirred and poked with the long poke stick until Mamere was satisfied they were clean. With a deft sweeping motion of her poke stick, Mamere would lift the sheets out of the pot and plop them onto a bench to drain and cool a bit before wringing, rinsing, and wringing them again. After the sheets were hung on the clothes line, then the dark colored pants, shirts and dresses were washed in the same hot soapy water. They were stirred and poked in the same manner as the sheets. Lastly, after the previous batch of clothing was removed from the pot, the grubbier work clothes were thrown in, and given a real good workout with the poke stick.

If it was a warm breezy day, Mamere didn't have to wring the water out of the clothes as much. Drip dry is nice. On very humid or freezing cold days, she would wring out as much water out as possible, so that the clothes dried better. There was a trick to wringing bed sheets and other heavy items by twisting them with the poke stick, but she used to wring just about everything else by hand. Later, after she bought a hand-cranked wringer, she wondered how in the world she managed to do laundry without it.

The lighter weight whites and very light colored items such as shirts, pants, dresses and underwear went into the washtub on the bench with the mild soapy mixture.
After the clothes soaked for a few minutes, the whites were scrubbed on a wooden washboard that was set up inside the tub. It went something like this: rub and plunge, rub and plunge. One area at a time, each article of clothing was rubbed on the washboard, then plunged into the soapy water...rub and plunge, rub and plunge... Often she hummed or sang a catchy tune in time with the action. It looked like a right good time to all the little girls, who wanted so badly to hurry up and grow big enough to help. Duh huh. Little did they know...

After much rinsing, wringing and singing, the cleaned shirts, pants and dresses were dipped into the starch pan, and wrung out a final time. In the days after Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing was invented, a small amount was often added to the final rinse water for making whites look brighter and whiter. Mrs. Stewart's familiar blue bottle can still be found on store shelves to this day, near the laundry detergents.

True to South Louisiana tradition, nothing is ever wasted. At the end of the washday, the pot of hot soapy water was poured on unwanted weeds in the driveway and walkways. This worked fine and dandy as a weed killer, or it could be used to scrub the porch. The rinse water from the washtubs was poured into the flower beds.

By the time the last of the clothing was dried and taken off the line, the Red Beans and Rice that simmered all day had reached the peak of goodness and was ready to enjoy! To many in South Louisiana, it is a delicious comfort food that evokes fond memories of our mothers and grandmothers from a time gone by.

(Coming soon...two of my favorite Red Beans and Rice recipes. One recipe takes less than two hours to cook; the other one takes less than thirty minutes, and tastes almost as good as Mamere's beans that cooked all day.)

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This is an excerpt from . For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:




Thursday, July 26, 2007

Red Beans and Rice, Old Time Creole Style: A Story and a Recipe

This is Part One in a trilogy. Part Two is "Wash Day on the Bayou", posted July 30, 2007. Part Three is "PureCajunSunshine's Red Beans and Rice Recipe", posted August 4, 2007.

Red Beans and Rice is the old fashioned South Louisiana answer to the electric Crock Pot. Traditionally, this delicious slow cooked comfort food was usually prepared on wash day. Why wash day fell on Mondays is anybody's guess. I think it was because most folks were rested and charged-up from the slower pace of Sundays.

Wash day in the old days was hard, and it was an all day affair. Red Beans and Rice was the perfect solution for Monday's not-enough-hours-in-a-day problem. The beans could be left alone to simmer slowly for hours with very little attention from the cook.

Red Beans and Rice is a versatile dish. It is delicious either as a two hour cooked affair, or simmered for up to eight hours in a heavy black iron pot on the back of a wood burning stove. It adapts well to whatever is on hand, such as sausage, diced ham, smoked ham hock, pork chops, or salt pork. There are recipes that call for regional favorites such as pickle meat, tasso, or andouille. Singly or in any combination, these flavors work well with beans. Traditionally, a meaty hambone from Sunday's dinner is added to the pot. Mamere always gave the hambone a few good whacks to break it, so that the goodness from the marrow can seep out as it cooked.

Of course, the longer it cooks, the creamier the beans will be. The flavor from the cracked hambone lends a special taste and creaminess that can only be attributed to the marrow. An almost-as-good substitute for hambone marrow is a dollop of real butter stirred into the pot just before serving.

All day long, back in the old days...promises of fine eating wafted outside kitchen windows all over the neighborhood, to ride in the breeze, and tormented us all. By the time all the laundry was washed, supper was ready and welcomed with glad hearts and large appetites, whetted sharp with the smells of the day. In some of the older neighborhoods (on high ground) in New Orleans, it is still like that to this day. Good smells, good food, good times...

I think that second only to Sunday's dinner, Monday's supper is the most eagerly awaited meal of the week In New Orleans. No, wait! There's Friday's seafood. Or, what about Tuesday's Red Bean Gumbo, made with Monday's Red Beans and Rice, that's made with Sunday's hambone...and so on it goes. It just gets better and better.

We don't just have leftovers, we celebrate them.

I have a couple of favorite recipes to share, but first let me tell you the story of why Red Beans and Rice seems to taste so much better on wash day in South Louisiana...

(Recipes will follow shortly after the post titled, Wash Day on the Bayou)

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This is an excerpt from . For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

You are probably from Louisiana if...

You know that "(he / she / it) passed me a pair of eyes." means that someone has just given you a look of utter disdain. This is usually performed best by teenagers, husbands and wives. My own dog has given me that look. Many times.

You eat things that most people hire an exterminator to get out of their yards.

Your eyes pop and your jaws drop. you drool, and your tongue hangs out whenever you see a whole gallon of Tabasco. You will willingly spend your last $$$ to buy a gallon of this essential life-giving fluid. Hmmm.. I wonder if it can be used in an I.V. drip to rejuvinate tired old Cajuns? can get it here:

You are probably from Louisiana if...

You plan your wedding around hunting season. Your funeral too, if you could.

You drive a boat more than your car.

When you evacuate, the first things you grab are your ever-trusty shrimp boots that saw you through many a wild time. You'd just feel better knowing they're right there with you. Those white shrimping boots, also known as Cajun Reeboks, will keep your feet dry no matter what comes. Even in a Motel 6 parking lot in another state.

Northerners are anyone living any further north above Baton Rouge.

When you say "WAY up North", you are referring to places like Alexandria, Shreveport or Monroe. There are places more north than that, where polar bears live.

Your burial plot is six feet over rather than six feet under. Even the dead float, here.

When giving directions for almost any town in South Louisiana, you use words like "lakeside", "northshore", "eastbank", "westbank", "bestbank", "down da bayou", "up da bayou", "riverside", or "across da river".

You've ever worn T shirts and shorts in December.

You can pronounce Tchoupitoulas, and know that it is the name of a street in New Orleans, not a sexually transmitted disease.

You know it is normal when you see ships riding higher in the river than the top of your house. When they're not, you know the levee broke...

You know it is Monday in New Orleans if you smell Red Beans and Rice cooking.

(Coming soon...a story and my favorite Red Beans and Rice recipe.)

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

"You are probably from Louisiana if..." and this recipe is an excerpt from . For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

SPECIAL NEEDS in an Emergency Situation - Solar Power for the Hearing Impaired

Good news for those who are dependent on hearing aids, and their ever-dying batteries!

This might help solve the problem of what to do in a prolonged crisis situation, when hearing aid batteries are not available...or you find your little stockpile of batteries are fading out fast. Hearing aid batteries have a way of "expiring" long before their expiration date.

Or horror of horrors, your hearing aid may go on the fritz.

What's that you say?

I plan on ordering the charger soon and will try it out on an inexpensive "hunter's hearing aid" to see if this really works. If you beat me to it, please leave a comment about your experiences (comment link at the end of this post).


Solar Button Cell Battery Charger

Sundance Solar

Solar Button Cell Battery Charger Perfect for hearing aid batteries.
Item#: 700-10003-00 $19.95

Here's what they have to say...

" charger for all those tiny button batteries that are so expensive. Charges Ni-Cd, Alkaline, Zinc Air, Mercury and Ni-Mh button cells that are 1.2 - 1.5 volts.

In 3-5 hours of direct sun your battery will be charged and ready for use.
Includes suction cup so you can hang it in any sunny window. Charges one battery at a time, simply put the battery under the alligator clip on back. Red LED tells you it's working!

One of our customers charged her hearing aid batteries 14 times! She went from spending $25 per month to spending less than $4.00 per month!"

Measures approx. 1.5" X 2.5". Shipping wt. .10 lb. Made in the USA.

The best way to get in touch with us is via email.

Telephone: 603-456-2020
Monday through Friday 9 AM to 4 PM EST.
Fax 603-456-3298.
Snail mail:
Sundance Solar
PO Box 10
Warner, NH 03278

Solar Powered Hearing Aid

ComCare International, Inc.
Scotta Williams, Executive Director
3027 Split Rock Circle
Bulverde, TX 78163

You may place your order by phoning the ComCare office, 309-833-3727

Solar Powered Hearing Aid: $100.00
Custom earmolds are not provided with the instrument.


Here's the world's original first ever solar hearing aid, made in Africa.

(I bought two in 1999...they're powerful little suckers, still going strong)

Godisa USA
Tel. +1.866.901.4327 (toll-free in the USA)


Green Angel
Zeke Zavie
49 St. Olaves Rd.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Tel +1.416.767.9108

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fast Relief From Bug Bites and Stings With Homemade Honeysuckle Lotion

This homemade remedy is one of my top favorites for soothing all insect bites and itchy skin. It will even stop the awful hot bruised lumps that wasps and deerflies and inflict on me, so I am mightily impressed.

Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is a valued medicinal plant in Japan, but is considered a serious weed in America, especially in the south, all the way up to Indiana and Massachusetts. The white sweetly scented flowers start blooming in April and finishing around July. To see what this plant looks like, click on the link at the end of this post.

In Japan, the leaves and flowers are used as a beverage tea. Floating a few honeysuckle flowers in your iced tea will boost its summertime cooling powers. Honeysuckle is known by Japanese healers for lowering body temperature. Now that's good news for a hot day!

They use dried or fresh honeysuckle flowers in tea for fevers, flu, bacterial dysentery, enteritis, and laryngitis. It is also regarded by natural healers to be an antiviral, antibacterial and a tuberculostatic, with cholesterol lowering properties.

Externally, the leaves and flowers are traditionally used as a wash for swellings, rheumatism, sores, scabies and infected boils, insect bites and stings.


For those who are new at this tincturing thing, almost all herbal tinctures are made for internal use, but PLEASE NOTE: This recipe is a rubbing alcohol's for external use only!

Harvest a bunch of leaves, flowers and a few new green growth shoots. The best time is in mid-morning, after the dew dries and before the day heats up. Although the leaves can be harvested anytime, they reach their peak medicinal potency just before, or at the very beginning of the flowering stage.

Chop everything, and put into a blender. Add barely just enough rubbing alcohol to cover. Whiz-pulse in blender for a couple of minutes. Pour alcohol and whacked up honeysuckle into jars. Cover and keep away from light. Shake once or twice daily for two weeks or longer. Strain and pour into clean jars.

For ease of application, I like to store some of it in empty rubbing alcohol bottles, and empty well-cleaned hot sauce flip-top shaker type bottles. For longer term storage, my tincture goes into glass canning jars. Warning: this tincture will stain your clothes a lovely shade of green.

This year I'm going to "test drive" a few batches using a vinegar tincture.

For identifying photos and many other uses of Honeysuckle, see

Go and be amazed.

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article and recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #2: HOW TO MAKE HOME REMEDIES THAT REALLY WORK. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"I Can't Believe It's Not 'Hidden Valley' Ranch Dressing Mix"

After much tweaking, tinkering and fiddling around with recipes for homemade Ranch Dressing Mix, I am delighted to share my best with you:

Pure Cajun Sunshine's "I Can't Believe It's Not 'Hidden Valley' Ranch Dressing Mix"

To use, mix one tablespoon dry mix to 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk. No buttermilk? See below for buttermilk substitutes.

7 saltine crackers
1 cup dry parsley flakes, measured first, then finely crumbled
1/4 cup dry minced onion
1 tablespoon dry dill weed
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
3 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
3 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder

Whiz crackers in a blender on high speed until finely pulverized. Add remaining ingredients, and pulverize everything almost to a powder. This can be stored in a covered container for up to a year without losing flavor. The dry powdered mix does not need refrigeration (but the prepared dressing does).

Mix well one tablespoon dry mix to 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk. Refrigerate. For best flavor, prepare the dressing at least two hours before using.

For a rich tasting and delicious low calorie and low fat dressing, use 1 cup Kraft Mayo (Fat Free Mayonnaise Dressing), and 1 cup Lowfat Buttermilk. This translates to only 8 1/2 calories each tablespoon serving.

BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTES -Try any one of the following:

--> 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar (let stand 5 -10 minutes before using)
--> 1/2 plain yogurt + 1/2 milk
--> 1 cup plain yogurt (thicker)
--> 1 cup milk + 1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
--> 1 cup sour cream

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #5 : QUICK SUBSTITUTES & EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 CANT'-DO-WITHOUT ITEMS. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Monday, July 9, 2007

Jazz Funerals...and all that jazz

It's this kind of stuff that makes me homesick...

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a New Orleans Jazz Funeral, here's a quote from a memorial to Tuba Fat's funeral:

"For us in New Orleans, death is the ultimate celebration of a life well lived. It is a time to rejoice. It is a time to celebrate. For we believe that if we do not mark the passing with one final party, then the creator will never know how much the person was appreciated and loved."

To read the rest of this tribute, and for visual (and audio) treat, visit Cajun Images:

Saturday, July 7, 2007

"You are going to rot your brain out..."

Nature - Real Help for ADHD Sufferers

This needed to be said, and it needs to be passed on.

Here's the article...

My mother’s warning; “You are going to rot your brain out...” still rings through my mind whenever I spend too much time in front of the television set.

I grew up in a time when mothers shooed their children out - rain, snow or shine - to get a breath of fresh air. Our television set tuned in to only four or five channels and those channels signed off at midnight. It would be years before cable television, satellite dish, VCRs and Nintendo would debut. Lazy summer days were spent riding bicycles for hours because there wasn’t much of anything better to do.

This period of time was also a few decades before Ritalin and Attention Deficit would become commonplace terms.

I have long believed that inactive hours spent indoors has contributed to the increased incidence of Attention Deficit Disorder. A recent study, published in the September 2004 issue of the “American Journal of Public Health,” validates that believe.

University of Illinois researchers studied nature as an ADHD natural treatment. This study showed that children with ADHD benefit from time outdoors enjoying nature with a significant reduction of ADHD symptoms.

Researchers of this nationwide recruited the parents of 322 boys and 84 girls, all diagnosed with ADHD, through ads in major newspapers and the Internet. Participants, ages 5 to18, spent time in a variety of settings which varied from big cities to rural settings. Some activities were conducted indoors, others in outdoor places without much greenery such as parking lots and downtown areas and other activities were in "green" areas such as a tree-lined street, back yards or parks. The parents were interviewed and asked to report how their children performed after participating in a wide range of activities.

The researchers found that symptoms were reduced most in green outdoor settings, even when the same activities were compared across different settings. Researchers believe that simply incorporating nature into a child’s day could be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.

Based on the results of this ADHD natural treatment study, researchers recommend that children with ADHD spend quality after-school hours and weekend time outdoors enjoying nature.

Study authors Frances E. Kuo and Andrea Faber Taylor suggested that daily doses of ''green time'' might supplement medications and behavioral approaches to ADHD if clinical trials and additional research confirm the value of nature as a natural treatment for ADHD.

The study findings indicate that exposure to ordinary natural settings in the course of common after-school and weekend activities may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children.

In each comparison (there were 56 in all), green outdoor activities received more positive ratings over the activities taking place in other settings. In 54 of the 56, the difference was significant, signaling that the findings were consistent.

Researchers said that exposing ADHD children to nature is an affordable, healthy method of controlling symptoms. Researchers also suggested that daily doses of "green time" can supplement medications and other traditional treatments of ADHD.

Simply using nature may offer a way to help manage ADHD symptoms that is readily available, doesn't have any stigma associated with it, doesn't cost anything, and doesn't have any side effects.

ADHD natural “green” treatment has endless possibilities, many of which might closely resemble childhoods from years long past.

Here are just a few ideas for increasing "green time":
_ Play in a green yard or ball field at recess and after school.
_ Take after-dinner walks.
_ Make a scarecrow.
_ Doing class work or homework outside or at a window with a relatively green view.
_ Build a birdhouse.
_ Grow an outdoor garden.
_ Bike, ski, sled, inline skate...
_ Visit a nature center.
_ Choose a greener route for the walk to school.
_ Participate in local nature clean-ups.
_ Take up bird watching.
_ Star gaze.

Jeannine Virtue is a freelance writer with a focus on issues relating to Attention Deficit Disorder. For research-based information about Attention Deficit Disorder, practical tips to help parents survive the task of raising Attention Deficit children and information about effective Ritalin alternatives, please visit

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Tame those wild potato chip monsters

Here's a satisfying homemade snack to tame those unruly cravings to munch on too many chips, nuts and stuff. I love the way it satisfies cravings for salt and crunchies. Super low cost, too. Tweak this delicious and healthy recipe with your own favorite seasonings.

PureCajunSunshine's Lentil Snacks

1 cup brown lentils
1 quart water
salt (between 1/2 -1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon oil (olive, coconut, canola, etc)

Boil gently for 10 minutes, then let stand 15 minutes. Drain well.
Stir in the oil until well distributed. Sprinkle on your favorite seasonings (see below).
Mix well.
Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
Spread thinly, in a single layer in a pan lined with foil.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often until crisp. Let cool.

CAUTION: Watch closely, as they will burn to a nasty black crisp in no time!

For small portions, I like to use my electric toaster oven. For open fire cooking, use a skillet.

The mild taste of the lentils makes this a versatile snack because you can flavor it with just about any seasoning, and it'll probably turn out good. Experiment until you find your favorites. Have fun!

Lentil snack seasoning blends to try:

Flavor treat #1
Cajun/Creole Seasoning
(Don't have any? Make your own. See recipe at the end of the Jambalaya-ya-ya recipe.)


Flavor treat #2
1/8 - 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 - 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 - 1/2 teaspoon chili powder


Flavor treat #3
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Other flavoring options to use singly or combined with the above blends:

--Popcorn Salt (superfine grade, buttered or plain)

--Powdered Cheese Flavoring

--Morton's Nature's Seasonings (contains no MSG)

--Red Monkey Seasonings (
Their seasonings are made to be used after cooking for an extra taste treat. Several flavors to pick from: BBQ, Cajun,Charbroiled, Southwest Flavors. No MSG. Wondermous make-you-sigh flavors.

Next, I'm going to try this with cooked or canned chickpeas, black beans, and all kinds of other cooked beans...if you beat me to it, please tell me your results!

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This recipe is an excerpt from . For more information, see the left sidebar on this site: