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Thursday
Jan242013

Why Purple, Green, & Gold for Mardi Gras Colors?

I am sure most of you are well aware, the traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold, and maybe some of you, have actually wondered why those are the chosen colors.  

First of all, purple represents ‘justice’; gold represents ‘power’; and green represents ‘faith’, reminding us all, believe it or not, that Mardi Gras, is in fact, a religious celebration!  It’s the final ‘anything goes’, right before the sacrifices of lint.  Gotta love those Catholics! 

So, why these colors, you ask?  Well, it seems to be that the Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia, paid a visit to New Orleans, in 1872, and the Krewe of Rex was formed to greet the king, who chose these colors, during his visit.  The Krewe of Rex Parade, gave the colors, their meanings (justice, power, and faith).  

This information seems to be widely found, when sourcing the origins of the color choices; however, in
 the book ‘Krewe:  The Early New Orleans Carnival:  Comus to Zulu’, Errol Laborde, states the colors were chosen, merely because they looked good! 

Now, this is not an original quote of my own, but there is a funny little saying about New Orleans, and it goes like this…. ‘You know you have been in New Orleans too long, when you actually start thinking that purple, green, and gold looks good on you!’ 

A trip to New Orleans, whether it be during Mardi Gras season, or not, you will find the city draped in colors of purple, green, and gold. Regardless of who is right, or wrong, on the origins of these Mardi Gras colors, it is safe to say, the colors ain’t changin’!  

Wishin' ya' a Happy Mardi Gras Season & lots of good eatin'....

Connie Rouble, 

The Mississippi Queen,

Mississippi Queen Foods

 

Wednesday
Jan162013

The History of Mardi Gras King Cakes

Mardi Gras King Cake is a type of cake associated with Twelfth Night Celebration, or the festivities of Epiphany, which begins on January 6th, twelve nights from the birth of Christ, or Christmas Day.  This celebration may also be called Little Christmas, or King’s Day, in honor of the kings, or wise men, who brought gifts to the Christ Child.  A popular custom is baking a cake for the kings, and this cake soon became known as ‘king’s cake’. 

The New Orleans tradition of baking a cake, for King’s Day, supposedly began as far back as the 1870’s, and continues today, from Twelfth Night, through to Fat Tuesday, or the Day before Ash Wednesday, or beginning of Lent. 

The ‘traditional’ King Cake is made from braided strands of Danish, cinnamon coffee cake dough, and then topped with a fondant icing, which is, then, liberally sprinkled with Mardi Gras festive colors of purple, green, and gold sanding sugars.  Purple represents Justice; Green represents Faith; and Gold represents Power.  Today, in the New Orleans area, many additional varieties of King Cake are also available by adding cream cheese, or other fillings to the traditional King Cake. 

In present day, New Orleans culture, a small, plastic baby, representing the Christ child, is placed inside
 the cake.  In other cultures, the king cake might contain a coin, bean, nut, or pea.  Good luck is to be had by the person who finds the baby in the cake, but New Orleans, Southern tradition, is that whoever finds the baby is the one who buys the next cake, or host the next Mardi Gras party.  This always helps to keep the party going through Carnival season!

A plastic, one inch baby is inserted inside each king cake; however, due to safety concerns, many bakers are including the baby for you to insert, into the cake, yourself, prior to serving.  Mississippi Queen Foods does it the old fashion by inserting the baby inside the cake, and asks you to please use caution, or common sense, when serving a Mardi Gras King Cake- the baby is inside, and please explain to all guests, especially children, and people not familiar with Mardi Gras traditions, to expect to find a small, plastic baby, lurking, somewhere in the cake!

I supply many displaced Southerners, with king cakes each season, through my company, Mississippi Queen Foods, here in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as many other folks, who want to celebrate Mardi Gras season.  No Mardi Gras party is complete without an authentic, Mardi Gras King Cake! 

The Mississippi Queen is one of those bakers, who offer Mardi Gras King Cake, any time of the year, all year round!  I have provided King Cakes to a number of weddings for the groom’s cakes, as well as birthday cakes, and even a baby shower.  Enjoy…whenever you like!

Wishin’ ya’ lots of good eatin’ & a Happy Mardi Gras seaon…

Connie Rouble, the Mississippi Queen

Mississippi Queen Foods

Monday
Jan142013

The Pit Bar-B-Que in Clarksdale, Mississippi 

I’d like to introduce myself to ya’, folks.  I am the self-appointed, Mississippi Queen, owner of Mississippi Queen Foods.  I actually reside in Toronto, Canada, now, but I was born, and raised in Pearl River County, Mississippi, and I get myself, back home, to visit family, and friends, a few times each year, ‘cause ya’ know I can’t go long, without standin’ on some Southern soil.  

Now, when I get home, I spend my time eatin’; listenin’ to the blues; eatin’; explorin’ the Great State of Mississippi; eatin’; hangin’ with the family; and eatin’.  Did I mention I like to eat?  Now, if ya’ travelin’ down to Mississippi, as many of you know, us Mississippians are known for our Southern food, but I gotta tell ya’ somethin’, for those of ya’, folks, who have not yet spent any time yet, in the Great State of Mississippi.  

First of all, ya’ gotta get ya’ self there, to really, truly experience, and understand what it is about the flavor of the South, not only in the food, but the flavor in the ‘way of life’.  The people are considered to be the ‘friendliest’ around, and they are more than happy to welcome ya’ in, and show you all that Mississippi has to offer, and trust me, there is lots! 

I was down in Clarksdale, Mississippi, considered to be the Birthplace of the Blues, back in April, of this year, for the annual Juke Joint Festival, which is one of the best times of year, in Mississippi, if ya’ ask me.  The weather’s warm, but not too hot, just yet, and at Juke Joint Festival, people come from all over the world, to see living legends, play the blues. Some of these players, go back to the beginning of the blues, and this is an ‘up front and close’, intimate festival, ya’ should put on ya’ list, especially if you’re a lover of the blues.  

Now, while I was there, I had to get some food, because, as ya’ know, I love to eat.  I was walkin’ along, and approachin’ the corner of Issaquena and N. Edwards Avenues, at 317 Issaquena Avenue, and I could smell that distinctive smell.  It was smoke billowin’ out of a half barrel smoker, right on the street, and it was intoxicatin’!  If ya’ know what I mean, I felt weak in the knees!  It smelled amazin’, and I did not have far, to follow my nose, which brought me right outside ‘The Pit’, Bar-B-Que joint.  

Now, lemme give ya’, folks, some unsolicited advice ‘bout travelin’ and eatin’ in Mississippi.  Ya’ probably done heard this one, ‘cause I ain’t the one who made it up, but ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.  That’s all I gotta say.  I mean if ya’ look at a book, and it don’t even look like its been read before, must not be so good a book, right? 

I guess I’m sayin’ some of the best places to eat in Mississippi, ain’t necessarily the fanciest of places.  I mean we got places all fancy, you betcha, but don’t skip over those Mom & Pop joints along the way, ‘cause there’s some real good eatin’ to be had there.  Take it from the Mississippi Queen.  

So, I guess I’m paintin’ the picture, of this joint…

I saw a couple of guys, lingerin’ about, on the outside, but the place did not quite yet appear to be open.  So, they look over at me, and give me the typical Mississippi, ‘hey, how ya’ll doin’?’, to which I reply, ‘I’m all good.  Whatcha got on that smoker?’  ‘Oh, we ain’t got nuttin’ on it’.  

I’m like, thinkin’ to myself, ‘now I might look all crazy runnin’ around this here town in my high heels, all dressed up, with a parasol over my head’, but I ain’t plum stupid!  They can’t tell I’m from Mississippi.  They tryin’ to fool me!  I smell a smoker, and I ain’t leavin’ ‘till I know what’s on it!’

Now, I’m a woman on a mission.  So, I mosey on up a bit closer into the joint, and I am quickly introduced to Little Hogg Jr., who owns The Pit, and his help, for the day.  So, once we all met, and we good friends, I’m right back at that smoker, askin’, again, what’s on it.

Little Hogg looks at me, and flashes one of those smiles, that goes completely across his face, all warm, and friendly, and he knows he has a captive audience, with me, and I can tell, he can’t wait to let me in on a little secret.  He’s like a kid, anxious to show off a new toy on Christmas Day!  

He grabs his keys, and tells me ‘come awnn…’, and off I follow Hogg, wonderin’ what the heck is so secret, it’s all under lock and key’, until I see it….the locked door, which he quickly opens to reveal an electric, commercial smoker.                                                                                                          

Aaahhh, that’s his secret!  He’s got this nailed down to a science!  He’s using his wood fired smoker, out front, to ‘reel ‘em in’!  What an idea!  He’s brilliant.  Then, behind the scenes, he’s got a workhorse of a smoker, which he is insanely proud of!  He shows her off, walking me through his process. 

Then, just as I think my tour is done, he opens another door, which I quickly recognize as the door to his
 kitchen!  Now, we gettin’ good!  Out he pulls, his ‘pulled pork’, and the ribs!  This is Southern hospitality at its finest!  I’m back in the kitchen with Hogg Jr., and he has made a full on pulled pork sandwich topped with his coleslaw, and a side of ribs, fresh off the smoker!

    

I am literally in heaven, Hogg Heaven, that is, and I can’t believe what I have just walked into!  Yes, the meat was so tender, falling off the bone, and meltin’ in my mouth!  I knew it would be the case, just from the smell.  I could not compliment him enough for his BBQ abilities.

This is when Hogg, shared with me, his family history around BBQ.  See, the BBQ rub he uses, is a Sixth Generation recipe, originally developed by his Great-Great-Great-Grandmother, who was a slave, on one of the plantations, in Louisiana.  Her father, was the plantation owner, and for this reason, he ended up sending her to culinary school, in Louisiana, which was basically unheard of, for her time!

She developed this rub, and it has been handed down, through the family, through the years, and now Hogg Jr., uses it for his infamous BBQ, and even sells it, by the pound, if you ask.  No, I did not get the recipe, nor did I even ask!  I’m still livin’, ain’t I?  I think it’s safe to say, he guards it as much as he does his smoker, and I don’t blame ‘em!

I returned to The Pit, the very next day, because this location served as a venue for many of the legendary blues players, so I enjoyed this food, two days in a row, but there was no complainin’ ‘bout that from me!  

Meetin’ Little Hogg Jr., and gettin’ the grand tour, of The Pit, was one of my highlights on this trip to Clarksdale.  I walked away, with not only a big, huge, smile on my face, proud to be a Mississippian, but also a full belly, and even a T-shirt, given to me, from Hogg, which read, ‘Blues Comes Naturally..Clarksdale, Mississippi’.

Folks, that’s Southern hospitality for ya’.  I can’t encourage you, enough, to stop in, and pay Little Hogg Jr. a visit ya’ self.  He’s so personable, ya’ can even give him a call, and let ‘em know ya’ on ya’ way, at 662-902-0558.  Just be sure to tell ‘em that red-headed Mississippi Queen sent ya’!

Until next time…

Wishin’ ya’ lots of good eatin’…

Connie Rouble, the Mississippi Queen,

Mississippi Queen Foods

Thursday
Dec062012

Christmas Gifting with the Mississippi Queen 

Heah, I know what ya' Folks are thinkin'...Ya'ain't quite ready for the holidays just yet.  It's WAY too early for that, right?  Well, Imma be real honest, and tell ya' that Imma right there with ya'!
 
I ain't no different then ya'll on this one.  I usually work fairly late on Christmas Eve, taking care of orders, in the Greater Toronto Area, with my own Christmas tree usually in a 'half way up / half way down' sort of state, all throughout the month of December.  
I've had that shocking moment, in the midst of filling orders, when I realized if I did not drop what I was doing, at that moment, and run to Toys R Us, Santa would not be 'visting' my daughter, and I, would not be receiving my 'Mom of the Year' Award, at all.  
I have even opened my own fridge on Christmas Day, to find I forgot to defrost my own turkey!  
 
Nope, I ain't makin' this stuff up.  So, let's not all be confused, thinkin' Imma super organized woman, here, in Mississippi Queen Foods Land, when it comes to the holidays.  I'm not.  I will admit, I am in denial, they are quickly upon us, as well.  
 
Maybe it's because I've been receivin' so many holiday promotions, in my own email inbox, and I started feelin' a bit guilty, and a bit like a slacker, because I had not sent out any myself.  So, get ready, ya'll, here it comes.....it's my best pitch at promotin' and sellin' ya' somethin' because it's Happy Holidays Time!........
                                                                                                        
I'll let ya' in on a lil secret, and tell ya' what a few of my clients do, for their holiday gifting....they 
actually send a lil note to me, of all the folks, on their list, asking me to make some Pecan Pralines for a few of them, and boxes of Red Velvet Cupcakes for some of the others, Southern Pecan Pies go to this one,Pecan Pralines $25 per box and that one....a few even get Southern Groceries all packaged together for someone real good on their list....and I have all my holiday ribbons and decorations, so I can make all this stuff look extra purty for 'em.    
                                                                                                 
I show up at their place, or they pick it all up from me, and then they just go 'round and drop it all off....or, sit at home and eat it up themselves, cuz maybe they done went and lied to me, 'bout it all bein' gifts...who knows!  All I know is they ain't all stressed out, when I get there....maybe I mighta been a lil stressed out on the other side, but we ain't gonna talk 'bout that....maybe they kinda smart.....just sayin'.....
 
Red Velvet Cupcakes $35 per box / 24 standard cupcakesOk, Folks, that's the end of my holiday promotin', but ya' know Imma be back, again, talkin' 'bout this, once time starts runnin' out, and I know ya'll be all stressed out, in need of some desparate gift suggestions.  I am out on deliveries, in the Greater Toronto Area, for anyone who would like to have the Pecan Pralines; Red Velvet cupcakes; and the Southern Pecan Pies, delivered to the special peoople on your lists, around the Greater Toronto Area.  I can ship theSouthern Pecan Pie $25 for one pie / $20 each for two or more Southern Groceries, all across Canada...just sayin'    
 
 
Just remember, the Mississippi Queen's here to help!
  
Wishin' ya' 'Peas on Earth' this holiday season, and lots of good eatin'!
Best Wishes, 
Connie Rouble,
The Mississippi Queen 

 

Monday
Nov262012

The Mississippi Queen Barbie Doll

Well, it's not every day, Folks, that a Barbie Doll gets made in your likeness. I have to say, quite honestly, this is something, I never dreamt anyone would do! Extremely flattered, is all I can say, to describe how I felt, when I realized, one of my clients, and her family, had thrown a 'Mississippi Queen birthday themed party', for another member of their family, creating a Barbie doll, in my likeness, which served as the centerpiece for their table. 

Ironically enough, it was the eve of my own birthday, when I first saw the email come through, which included pictures, my client had taken, of this Mississippi Queen party. I was confused, thinking, the 'Mississippi Queen birthday theme', in the subject line, of the email, was intended for my own birthday wishes.  However, it was to show me, how I had been such a huge part of someone else's birthday, and all the while, unknown to me!  

I could not believe my eyes, but, yes, indeed, they had taken a Barbie doll, and made it into the likeness of the Mississippi Queen.  As you can see, she not only has red hair with an infamous flower, and an apron, but she's also, sportin' a pinup dress, like the ones I wear. 

As I sat and looked at this, enjoying one of my 'fishbowl' like, glasses of red wine, my heart was warmed, and spilled over. I am reminded of those feelings, as I write about it, in this blog.  I felt great honor, to see the amount of time, energy, and effort, these kind Folks, put into this party, all in my name! I begin to realize, what my clients did not know, was that by sharing this with me, they had given to me, a very special birthday gift. 

These special moments, are the greatest reward for me, and what keeps me walking the path of my soul, and keeps fire in my soul!  I call myself the Purveyor of Southern Culture, and this is sheer proof, my work is well received, here, on Canadian soil.

I cannot express enough gratitude, that they took the time to share this with me, and to return the favor, I asked the family, for their permission, to be able to share the details, of their party, with you.  When I see such great appreciation, of my Southern culture, displayed here, on Canadian soil, I can't help but want to share, with everyone, especially my own contacts.  

So, here is what they did..... 

These clients, a woman, 'Aunt Anne', and her sister, the wife of the 'birthday boy', came to me, at the Kitchener Blues Festival, this past summer, purchasing some of my Southern Groceries, so they could prepare Southern food, for themselves, at home.  I posed for a photo with them, that day, and these groceries, went on to become key ingredients, in some of the dishes for this party, which was held, as a surprise for the 'Southern food lovin' birthday boy, who normally makes Southern food, on his own! 

Aunt Anne created the Mississippi Queen Barbie doll, and the birthday card, which was the image of me,
with the 'Who is the Mississippi Queen?' poster, but it was Lindsay, the daughter of the 'birthday boy', who created all of the amazing Southern dishes, and decorations for the party. I was quite impressed with the research she committed herself to do, spending vast amounts of time on my website, and educating herself on Southern cuisine.  

Here's what all she made, in her own words: 'a large pot of shrimp boil, buttermilk and cajun marinated BBQ chicken, Andouille sausage, red beans and rice, sweet potato casserole, Kale with beets and bacon, jalepeno cheddar and honey hush cornbread, and buttermilk buscuits with white sausage gravy.  The sweet table had a red velvet cake centre piece, sweet potato pecan pie, rice pudding (in the mason jars), key lime parfaits, bread pudding with a whiskey sauce, southern lemon squares, hummingbird cupcakes (had never heard of hummingbird cake before but from what I read it is a southern classic cake), pecan tarts, and  few types of whoopie pies.  There are also some of my dads favorite treats on the table as well I found a few types of southern cheeses and a fruit plate freaturing southern fruits such as peaches and blackberries.  We had iced tea and lemonade and homemade hurricanes to drink. As you can tell I was having so much fun I got a little carried away.  There are so many delicious southern foods!  But with the food, family and friends came the southern hospitality and relaxed atmosphere.....'  
 

That's quite the impressive list, coming from Lindsay! I am salivating, just reading it!  I applaud her work, and efforts, put forth into making this party happen, along with her Aunt Anne, and anyone else, who may have had a hand in putting this function together, in celebration of Southern culture, and her Dad's birthday.  

The really cool part, is that Lindsay works in hospitality, at the University of Guelph, where she is an up and coming student Event Manager.  I will not post her email address within this blog, however, if any of you, reading this, has an opportunity, which may require Lindsay's services, please do not hesitate to contact me, and I will put you, in contact with her.  Trust me, she has the Mississippi Queen's Stamp of Approval! 

As always, wishin' ya' lots of good eatin'..... 

 

Best to ya',

Connie Rouble,

the Mississippi Queen