It’s that time of year! The time of year when the parents of Texas drag their babies and pets out into the middle of a ditch, the side of a dangerously busy highway overpass, or trespass on private property to take family photos and trample a perfectly good patch of bluebonnets.
We are no different.
Last year, Landry couldn’t understand why we woke her from a perfectly good nap to drive 30 miles and look at weeds in a ditch. But this year?
This year was different. Someone was really excited! (Although it might have had something to do with the expectations of a candy-filled basket.) (I am *so* over candy holidays.)
On our way up Highway 6 to Easter dinner in College Station, we passed a beautiful, colorful hill of paints & bluebonnets. We stopped, took pictures, and were on our way. The patch wasn’t very thick but I was happy enough. We got back in the car and on the road to lunch.
And then I saw it.
U-TURN! U-TURN! UTURNUTURNUTURN!
A person-wide break in the roadside brush had revealed a huge field of bluebonnets just off the road. We were probably the 8th or 9th family there at the time. On our way home, there were 30+ cars parked along the highway. 2 hours later, a friend mentioned that it had turned into an all-out frenzy and there were at least 100 cars there.
Crawfish boils are kind of a big deal here in Houston. And by kind of a big deal, I mean how much more fun could a person want to have besides drinking beer (ahem, grapefruit margaritas), standing around a gigantic pot filled to the brim with corn, potatoes, crawfish, and scary amounts of cayenne pepper.
All that’s turned out onto a large table covered with newspaper. Suddenly, it’s the ultimate, informal family style experience.
I’ve developed a new appreciation for crawfish this year. You see, I’ve always had this thing with crawfish… or against crawfish.
Really, my thing has to do with getting to the actual crawfish. It’s not the most appealing thing. But a few grapefruit margaritas seem to take care of all of that and I found myself peeling away.
My friend Harmony says peeling crawfish is therapeutic. And I’d agree… all the way up until my fingers began to burn. And that really just meant it was time for another margarita.
Harmony sent us away with a bunch of leftover crawfish and the orders to “make something awesome” with it. And something awesome we made.
I whipped up my favorite stove top mac & cheese and added the leftover crawfish and the spicy corn cut away from the cob. If you already think that a pile of spicy crawfish is pretty much a perfect food on its own, try it in a big bowl of carbs, covered in a light cheesy sauce.
The rest of the leftovers went into the freezer until I have the chance to make something awesome for Harmony
Crawfish Mac & Cheese
Crawfish boil leftovers get new life in a creamy stove top mac & cheese.
8 oz macaroni pasta
4 oz white cheddar cheese, grated (don't use pre-shred)
4 oz fontina
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt (I use 0% Fage)
1 Tbsp Creole (or other spicy brown) mustard
1 cup leftover crawfish tails
Kernels from 1-2 leftover corn cobs
Sliced dark green onions, for serving
Cook macaroni pasta for 8-10 minutes in salted water, until al dente.
Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining the pasta.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
Add 1/4 cup pasta water, the yogurt, several dashes of Tobasco, mustard, and 1/3 of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
Stir in remaining cheese, one small handful at a time to prevent clumping, adding additional pasta water as necessary to thin the cheese sauce.
Stir in crawfish and corn kernels, and serve immediately topped with green onions.
To reheat, microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Add a tablespoon or two of skim milk or water to thin the sauce, if necessary.
At the last minute, we changed our Thanksgiving plans and went home. My home.
My hometown is a modest, quiet little dot on the map north of the big city. The room I had decorated in Wildcat purple & white my senior year is now a sewing room. Mom spends the days of her retirement, when her arthritis allows, stitching lace trimming onto Victorian-era dresses and taking care of my dad. My dad spends his days annoying the every loving crap out of my mom.
Not much has changed in 14 years.
Except the arthritis. And the surgeries and heart attacks and weekly trips to the various specialists. All the things that happen when you get older and so caught up in the day-to-day churn that you forget that the people around you get older, too.
But I’m thankful for another day with the people who drove me crazy in high school. The ones that couldn’t even entertain the idea that the pack of empty wine cooler bottles belonged to me. (Sweet underage baby Jesus, were those things terrible.) The ones that couldn’t see that the broken piece of siding on the house outside my bedroom window was actually the perfect height for a foot-hold.
And I’m thankful for a baby brother that shook some pretty dramatic, troubled teenage years and is now responsible for a family of his own. For the record, he didn’t throw a hissy fit when his beloved broccoli & rice casserole was replaced by a fancier, less-processed version. (He saved the hissy fit for when I handed him a beer that wasn’t Bud Light. Or Miller Light. Or whatever else he usually buys from the gas station.)
And I’m thankful for a partner-in-crime who taught me how to use a camera and would burn a sick day at the drop of a hat to play Halo with me.
And I’m thankful for the little punk with the shiny blonde hair who’s obsessed with dinosaurs, and lizards, and gross bugs. I just wish she’d inherited her father’s attitude instead of mine. And her father’s patience. And her father’s – SERIOUSLY?! BUGS AND LIZARDS?!