Give Your Dinner A Taste Of The Blues

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The birth site of the blues is generally thought to be in the vicinity of New Orleans, at least by some.

So, in honor of the June Bug Blues Festival, here are a couple of my favorite recipes from a trip down to New Orleans.

If ever the opportunity arises to visit that fabulous place, jump at it feet first in a heartbeat.

I had heard of Red Beans and Rice before, I was a fan of the old Justin Wilson cooking show on KAET, but I had never tasted the dish until I visited New Orleans. My sister and I had lunch at a restaurant in the French Quarter.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound red kidney beans, soaked overnight

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 stalks parsley, chopped

2 bay leaves

1/2 pound ham or sausage

2 tablespoons bacon grease or cooking oil

1-1/2 cups raw rice

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and brown meat in it. Remove meat and sautnion. Cover beans with water in large, deep pot and cook for about one hour. Add meat, onion, rice and all seasonings. Cover and let cook slowly for about two hours, stirring now and then and adding water if it gets too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tabasco sauce or red pepper vinegar.

Now, since it is summer and this sounds like a lot of work, I have an excellent, low-heat shortcut for this dish. It comes in a box and takes only about 20 to 30 minutes to prepare. Zatarain's New Orleans Style Red Beans and Rice is a tasty substitute. Throw in some leftover baked ham from a deli and make up a pan of cornbread (the Jiffy mix with additional sugar is good) and you have a great little meal.

Another taste treat I discovered in New Orleans, taking a river cruise on the Mississippi, is an Amaretto Slush. This thing is made for summer sipping.

I finally found a couple of recipes for it, but have yet to give it a try.

Amaretto Slush

1 cup sugar

4-1/2 cups water

1, 6-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted

1 cup Amaretto

lemon-lime soda, chilled

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring well. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Combine sugar mixture, lemonade and Amaretto, stir well and freeze overnight. Break frozen mixture into chunks and scoop into glasses, filling a third to half full, add soda and stir until slushy. Makes 7-1/2 cups.

I suspect if you don't want to wait overnight, you could use one of those home snowcone making machines and get faster results.

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