As soon as I get to Mom's, our first Cajun meal is usually fried seafood like catfish, green beans and loaded potato salad from Cajun Catch in Gonzales, Louisiana.
Click on any photo to see larger.
Along with a bag of Zapp's Potato Chips. They have almost have a dozen flavors now. My latest fave is Cajun Dill Gator-Tators, followed by Voodoo Heat...oh boy!
There's the usual cast of characters who swing by Mom's house including sisters Denise and Brenda, various nieces and nephews and I can't forget my high school buddy Marvin, plus the latest addition to the family, the Swamp Chef.
Speaking of a sibling born on the bayou, for the first adventure the Swamp Chef tagged along to the New Orleans Audubon Zoo with the kids of my niece Candyse and nephews Jason and Matt. Audubon Zoo is very kid and granny friendly with small cho-cho train rides and benches at every animal exhibit.
Kade with peacock
Adalyn & Ava
Lunch Break: Miles, Swampy, Adalyn & Kade.
The Swamp Chef's never meet an alligator he couldn't tame!
The next day my high school buddy Marvin swung by and took Swampy & I to his house and barn at his lake in nearby Mississippi, barely a couple hours drive along backroads.
Of course, we stopped along the way for a few photo ops.
In Prairieville, Louisiana we stopped at Hole N' Da Wall Seafood, where you can buy 30 to 40 pound bags of live crawfish for a backyard Crawfish Boil. Normally you factor about 10 pounds of crawfish per person to consume -- you only eat crawfish tail meat. Click here to see a video of how I eat a crawfish.
They say if a boiled crawfish has a straight tail, don't eat! Something about bacteria that can't be eliminated once shellfish dies and sets around too long.
Once we got to Mississippi, Marvin insisted we have lunch at a local dining destination called The Dinner Bell located in the small town of McComb.
And boy did it ring my bell! It's a lunch-only restaurant with the most unusual tables that are giant lazy susans, seating about a dozen diners per table. You just spin the table and reach for the most heavenly Southern-style veggies, and divine fried chicken, catfish and eggplant.
Next stop was Camp Hawleywood, Marvin's lakeside home. It's quite the spread, big enough to handle his extended family including grandkids.
With a stocked pond loaded with bass and it didn't take long for the Swamp Chef to get his plastic worm wet!
It was a chill way to spend the day -- drinking a couple beers and fishing -- now that's a vacation.
But it's mainly about hanging out with Mom and doing small chores: changing light bulbs, mowing the lawn, and after several attempts, fixing her washing machine.
Oh, and doing my food blogging and video making while babysitting Ava, my niece's 5-year-old. And there are always more drop-ins and home cooking.
I guess the plate above says it all about my family these days:Texas Toast, Denise's Slaw and Cajun Crawfish Etouffee, Brenda's Vegan Mexican-style Pinto Beans -- that is, Texans, eat-anything-Cajuns, Vegans, and Mexican half-breeds.
Sisters Denise & Brenda
Nephews Jason & Zak
Mom & Candyse
Lacee & Mom
Zak, Lacee, Miles & Matt
Zak at skatepark
My nieces Candyse and Maranda are always on the go, so it's nice when they drop by.
Maranda & Candyse
Yoga with Candyse & AvaAnd no vacation's complete without coming up with a recipe video. Swamp Chef Cajun Nachos anyone?
Here's a sneak peek of the recipe video intro, "Chef Zak Meets The Swamp Chef"...there's more to come!
My friend Marvin came through again by taking me to New Orleans Airport for my flight back to Los Angeles. Since it was approaching rush hour we took the old Airline Highway, instead of the 10 Interstate freeway - and I'm glad we did! On the way, we stopped at the Zapp's Potato Chips factory and for a final meal at Port Side Restaurant. What a way to go!
99 thanks to all my Cajun family and friends!