About me. You can become a Cajun in one of three ways: by birth, by the ring, or by the back door. From the Bay State to the Bayou State, I don’t qualify as Cajun by birth, but as Meatloaf sang, “Two out three ain’t bad.”
My name is Sharon LaFleur, and I love to cook for people I love. This is quite a different undertaking than cooking professionally. As much as I’ve wondered over the years if a chef’s life would be right for me, in the end, I’d have to say it wouldn’t. If I’m going to be “in the weeds,” I’d much rather it be in my darling husband’s garden than trying to crank out 300 omelets for Sunday brunch service.
We live in rural St. Landry Parish in the Louisiana region known as Acadiana for the Acadians who settled in this area in the late 1700s. About 30 minutes down the road is Lafayette, the happiest city in America (according to The Wall Street Journal’s Market/Watch). And it is happy indeed for us. We can take advantage of all the fun and diversity of Lafayette and then retreat to our little corner of the woods with a large garden, critters of all stripes and feathers, and a little house that we love. And, by the way, a tiny kitchen by most HGTV standards that I adore cooking in. Light filled and perfectly suited for easy prep, I wouldn’t trade my kitchen for any other.
And my new countertops made from Dekton:
I bring to this blog an abundance of experience as a home cook in all its challenges and rewards. And with the Spotify playlists that are included with each menu, I hope to give to you what I try to bring to every meal I prepare for my family and friends: loving companionship, nutritious and delicious food, and a sense of peace at the end of long and busy days. Bienvenue!
Real food. If you want to improve your health and well-being without going bonkers reading all the research, just do this: Eat real food. Use single ingredients that are found around the perimeter of the grocery store, at your local farmers market and better yet, in your own garden, chicken coop, fishing spot and hunters’ haven. Avoid the boxes, cans and frozen containers of stuff that’s low in nutrients and high in chemicals. If you or a nearby third grader don’t know what the heck the gobbledygook on a package is, don’t eat it. Simple as that. And don’t stress over grassfed this and pastured that. Not everyone has the budget to spend a lot of money on groceries or the expertise to hunt, fish and grow vegetables. Buy the best you can afford and let the zealots go hang. Getting real with food includes getting real with your life circumstances.
This is not a competition; it’s about your health as well as being happy and looking forward to delectable meals with your family and friends. Supermarket flank steak seasoned and cooked nicely with a salad made with unbagged veggies and dressing you make yourself from real olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice is heads and shoulders above the processed stuff. Your tastebuds and tummy will agree. An inspired and inspiring story about the journey to real, nourishing food and its transformative effects, is Richard Morris’s powerful book, “A Life Unburdened: Getting Over Weight and Getting on with My Life.” And if you’re new to real food, you might find that eliminating the boxes and bags of junk, even frees up lots of money in your food budget for better quality ingredients.
To make the process easier, I create entire menus so you won’t have to guess what else to serve with the main dish. I try to balance rich with fresh and light, savory with a bit of sweet, and always look to the seasons and local farmers for inspiration and fabulous ingredients. Enjoy!!!
Southern comfort. Southern cuisine is legendary for its warmth and comforting, yummy flavors. Culinary graduates the country over flock to the southern states to learn foodways and use the legendary ingredients that make our cooking so good. Taking what grows abundantly, fishing and hunting, and turning that bounty into delicious food has nourished and delighted generations and continues to influence the national scene.
Sadly Southern home cooks have often come to depend on convenience products like cake and biscuit mixes, unhealthy shortening and margarine as well as canned, condensed soups, and this has degraded the nourishment of our food and led to diseases like diabetes 2 and obesity in numbers far greater than other U.S. regions. This blog aims to get back to what makes southern food amazing and good for us: sweet potatoes with butter, slow-roasted pork, greens cooked to juicy perfection, peaches and cream and so much more. The old ways are the best ways.
Paleo Friendly. Unlike other diets that focus on whether eating regimes are high or low in calories, carbs, or fats, paleo advocates look at the quality of foods in light of what ancient people consumed. People began to discover what was making them sick and fat by eliminating grains, commercial vegetable oil, legumes, dairy and processed products of all kinds. And they found some surprising benefits along the way: people prone to depression discovered that avoiding soy, canola, corn, peanut and other vegetable oils alleviated their symptoms. Others found relief from seasonal allergies and migraines by eliminating wheat – though they weren’t celiac or allergic to gluten. Digestive problems disappeared; weight was often easy to lose even though people ate to their (literal) heart’s content. Paleo “dieters” weren’t cranky from being hungry or hungry for junk foods and sweets.
As research has progressed into this type of eating, new things are being discovered. One of which is the idea of “safe starches” first widely mentioned by the husband-and-wife Ph.D. team, the Jaminets, who meticulously researched and wrote their book “The Perfect Health Diet” after each had suffered for years from debilitating chronic diseases. They found that white rice (not brown, y’all) and potatoes (not just sweet ones) were not toxic and moreover, were a desirable part of a paleo-friendly diet. Dark chocolate and red wine, too! Now some paleo adherents are horrified by the suggestion and would never eat a baked potato or rice with their wild salmon and kale, and the paleo/low carb blogosphere went nuts when the Jaminets presented their findings. But quietly, paleo bloggers and authorities like John Durant, who wrote, “The Paleo Manifesto,” have looked into the data themselves and agreed with the Jaminets. Even Whole30 has added white potatoes to their approved list.
And the Jaminets have been further lauded for reporting on and encouraging new research into “resistant starches.” Resistance happens when starches like rice and potatoes are cooked, refrigerated and eaten either cold or rewarmed. Think potato salad and rice dressing. A good portion of the starch becomes indigestible in the stomach. This in turn lowers the glycemic effect on blood sugar and insulin production (a good thing for sure) and isn’t metabolized until it gets to the intestines – which is another (very) good thing because it replenishes the gut with microbes that increase the power and diversity of the immune system. Win. Win. Win.
And these radical (to paleo) ideas include the ancestral ways of preparing ingredients that are problematical today. Quick cooking beans or not allowing grains to ferment or sprout, has led to improper digestion and toxic effects that can be drastically reduced by long, slow methods of preparation. We don’t want to take or sometimes don’t have the time to prepare grains, beans and other items properly. The occasional serving of genuine sourdough bread from heirloom wheat is not what harms people. It’s the eat-at-every-meal, fast-rising, additive-laced, overly hybridized dwarf-wheat that’s bad – and labeled “whole grain” to make you think it’s good. But sourcing the ingredients, nurturing the sourdough starter, and making sourdough bread from scratch is not fast or simple. So paleo people prefer to avoid the whole subject. If you’re not intimidated by the thought of scratch-making wonderful old-time dishes, check out Sally Fallon and Mary Enig’s, “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.” It’s based on the research of Weston A. Price, an early 20th-century dentist who traveled the world to discover why traditional cultures were healthy while Americans’ health was in an alarming decline.
So I say: don’t be rigid in your views about paleo. Be open to new (or ancient) ideas. Try out things for yourself and see what happens. For years, nutritionists have been hampered by long-held and as it turns out, deeply flawed notions about what makes us sick and what makes us healthy. For background you might want to read the new book by Nina Teicholz called “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.”
I have a simple goal in this blog, for you to Live Long and Prosper, Dance, Dine and Laugh: All a’ y’all!!Google+