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Hi, welcome to our blog! We are newlyweds living in Memphis, TN. We love life, adventure and of course each other. We're starting a blog to keep track of any and 'all things Jacques' so we can look back and cherish memories from our first year of marriage. We'll be sharing memories, I'm sure a lot of our dog Bella, favorite recipes, books, trips, spiritual thoughts, home projects, and anything we're enjoying in life at the moment! We hope you enjoy as well. Much love, Michael and Rachel Jacques

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jambalaya, traditions & the works. It's Fat Tuesday, y'all!

Happy Fat Tuesday to all!

Today at work we did a jambalaya cook-off. How much fun is that? I'm blessed to have such a great job.

Now, I was a bit nervous because I have never made jambalaya. However, I turned to two of my favorite ladies for some help: Ina Garten (most of you know her as "Barefoot Contessa") and Martha Stewart! The first one (Ina) is my absolute favorite. If you've never heard her story you should look into it. It's very interesting... with her starting her career at the White House managing budgets to becoming 'the Barefoot Contessa'. She is fabulous, but enough about her. :)

Here's the recipe (plus a few of Michael's sneaky spice additions that he told me about after the fact... He always does this when we cook. And usually it's for the better. I love having him in the kitchen with me.):

Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 pound sausage, such as kielbasa or Andouille, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons diced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon diced fresh thyme
1 can of crushed peel tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups long grain rice, rinsed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6-8 dashes Hot sauce (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 pound medium shrimp, deveined (20-24 count)

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Cut into 3/4-inch pieces; set aside. Add the kielbasa and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Remove the kielbasa to a bowl, and set aside. Add the butter, onion, celery and peppers to the same pot and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, cayenne, oregano, thyme, and tomatos and cook until all the vegetables and herbs are blended well (Michael also added some accent here). Add the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice, and add the chicken, sausage, salt, pepper and hot sauce (Michael also added garlic powder here). Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, add some olive oil to a skillet and saute the shrimp with Old Bay seasoning. Add 1/4 cup of the parsley, the lemon juice and the shrimp, and stir well. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and allow the jambalaya steam, for 15 minutes, before serving.

This was fantastic! I think I'll have to make it more than once a year on Fat Tuesday.

Original recipes: Barefoot Contessa's Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya, Martha Stewart's Quick Jambalaya

I was talking with my mom this morning about Fat Tuesday and the meaning behind it and neither of us could really remember, so I did a little research on the history behind it.

Fat Tuesday
Fat Tuesday is the traditional name for the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. (Also known as Mardi Gras, which is simply Fat Tuesday in French) It gets its name from the custom, in many Catholic countries, of marking the day with feasting before the fasting season of Lent begins. If you've ever been to Mardi Gras you know that the Fat Tuesdsay/Mardi Gras celebration ends abruptly at midnight... and this is why.

King Cakes
King Cakes(picture below)were traditionally served during Epiphany (12 days after Christmas; celebrates the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for the infant Jesus. In cultures that celebrate Carnival, Epiphany kicks off a series of parties leading up to Mardi Gras). This is a custom that began in France in the 12th century. According to legend, the cakes are made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus in order to confuse King Herod (who had plans to kill Christ). In earlier days a coin or bean was hidden inside the cake, and whoever found the item was said to have good luck in the coming year. In Louisiana, bakers now put a small baby, representing the Christ Child, in the cake. If you get the piece with the baby then you are supposed to provide the Kings Cake next year (assuming you celebrate with a group of people or are having a Kings Cake party).

Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras was founded in 1699, when a French explorer arrived at the Mississippi River, about 60 miles out side of present day New Orleans. He named the spot Point du Mardi Gras because he knew the holiday was being celebrated in his native country that day. Later on the French would begin to celebrate Mardi Gras with masked balls and parties. The colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green and gold each have meanings as well:

Purple: symbol of justice
Green: represents faith
Gold: signifies power

Fat Tuesday is a fun tradition. However, the meaning behind it is important to me as a Christian. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lent season. Our church, Christ United Methodist, has services at noon and at 6:15pm. We are planning on going to one to remember what really matters and to focus on Christ this Lent season leading up to Easter. I'm still considering what (if I will) give up anything for Lent. I was raised non-denominational and then Baptist so we never participated in this. As a new Methodist (Michael was rasied Methodist), I would like to participate. We're going to chat over some left over jambalaya tonight. More on that to come...

R & M

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