Posted in Cajuns, Children, Easter tradition, Food, Friendship, Grandchildren, Grandmother

Pock-Pock (a Cajun Easter tradition) by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Cajun Pock-Pock Easter Tradition by Ginger Keller Gannaway

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Evan & Mama Gerry

     Chubby fingers clutch a pale pink and green boiled egg.  Concerned eyes flick back and forth from the egg to the bowed head of the chubby-fingered 4-year-old girl’s 8-year-old brother, a boy with destruction in his eyes.  The boy firmly holds a bright blue egg, and as he quickly raises his egg a few inches above his sister’s egg, the girl muffles a scared squeak as the brother aims and delivers a decisive blow to his target. POCK! “Ah-ha!” the destructor declares as he witnesses the broken crown of his sister’s special Easter egg (the one that took her a full 6 minutes to dye because she patiently dyed the pink half before carefully turning her egg over and holding it in the green dye for several long minutes).  The girl juts out a “boudin lip,” yet she dutifully hands her victor brother the cracked egg.  “My egg’s the champion!” brags the boy as he tosses the pink and green egg into an overflowing basket of slightly cracked Easter eggs. He struts around the grassy backyard holding the blue egg over his head.  Other kids in church clothes throw sideways glances his way, but his sister simply reaches for a Goldbrick egg in her Easter basket to ease the loss of her two-toned egg.  MaMa Joe tells her cocky grandson, “Way to go, cha! You beat your cousins!” but PaPa Joe sulks in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and the purple guinea egg which he refused to give up to his grandson a few minutes earlier.

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Momma Gerry & Emile

For now 8-year-old Claude Emile revels in his Pock-Pock Championship for an Easter in Ville Platte, Louisiana.

Such is the way in Cajun land on Easter morning.  Friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandmas and competitive grandpas compete with their multi-colored boiled eggs to win the title of Pock-Pock Champion on a bright spring day.

            Here are our family’s Pock-Pock Rules:

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Ryan & Andrew in Eunice
  1. Two folks each choose an unbroken Easter egg.
  2. One person holds his/her egg with the fat side up and faces the opponent.
  3. The opponent holds his/her egg with the small end towards the other egg.
  4. The egg-holder on top taps the other’s egg until one of the eggs cracks.  (Most folks prefer a soft, slow tapping motion that makes a “pock-pock” sound and that keeps the game going longer. * Emile’s quick, hard hammer-like hit irks me).
  5. After a few pocks, both folks will hear a deeper sort of cracking sound that signals the breaking of one egg. They pause at this point and examine their eggs’ ends; however, sometimes the crack is not visible and a few more pocks are needed to reveal the definitive cracks that label one of the egg-holders a loser.
  6. The holder of the uncracked egg is that round’s winner and he/she gets to keep the broken egg. (Unless you’ve pocked-pocked with Papa Joe and his favorite egg)

     

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Caseman &Big Papa

My momma learned from her dad (Papa Joe) that guinea  and duck eggs were harder than regular chicken eggs, but this was not always the case.  Cajuns can be very competitive (even when the prize is a grubby boiled egg), and some have resorted to cheating.  One Easter Emile made a plaster of Paris egg and painted it yellow.  He managed to trick the younger cousins and the older relatives with poor eyesight, but when cousin Kenneth discovered the trick, the final pock-pock sounds came from Kenneth whacking Emile’s “tete dure.”

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Shane& his Easter eggs
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Kelly Ann & Ginger

 

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Casey & Jana

I have always enjoyed this Cajun tradition, and even though Emile’s grandkids don’t particularly like or even want to keep boiled Easter eggs (They prefer the plastic eggs filled with jellybeans or chocolates), the kids still enjoy the pock-pock competition.  This Easter I look forward to  spitfire Amos (age 5) going up against his calm cousin Evan (age 24) and may the best egg win!

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Easter in Eunice, 1985
Posted in Food

10 Comfort Food Hacks

 

vegetables-791892_960_72010 Comfort Food Hacks or How I Try to Trick My Husband Into Eating Healthy:

A few years ago I made the decision to start eating healthy.  I began throwing words around like, ‘Super-greens’, ‘fiber-rich’, ‘Chia seeds’, and ‘Veggie burgers’.  I started substituting the bad with the good.  I made a commitment to have spinach or kale at every meal.  The only problem was……my husband.  At any given time, any day, you can walk into my kitchen and find (amidst the kale) licorice, chips, cookies, and chocolate.

For the most part he is agreeable with my healthy foods, but sometimes when I’ve gone a little too ‘clean’, he heads for his stash!  Here are a few of my favorite comfort food hacks and my husbands’ thought on each.

  1. Spaghetti Swap:   Instead of spaghetti noodles, I always use spaghetti squash, broccoli slaw or zucchini.  I got a “Veggetti” for Christmas and I can make noodles out of any vegetable!  Just the name Veggetti gives him material for making fun of me.  He thinks it sounds like a body part.spaquettis-1377420__340
  1.  Chip Switch:  In place of tortilla chips with salsa, I use Beanitos,  chips made out of beans.  He was all on board with these until the first major gas attack!
  1.  Cauliflower is my new best friend!  Cauliflower rice.  Mashed cauliflower.  Cauliflower crust for pizza.  Stir-fry cauliflower. Raw cauliflower for dipping.   It’s so versatile and low in calorie….the possibilities are endless.   My husband wants me to put an end to cauliflowercauliflower-1465732__340

 

  1.  Applesauce vs oil:  Often I use applesauce in place of oil in brownies or muffins and then add in chopped kale or zucchini squash.  This makes me so happy, but alas...I am happy alone and left with a pan of greenish brown brownies. Brownie a la poo-poo!  

 

  1.  You scream…I scream…we all scream for…:At night, when he wants ice cream, I reach for my frozen fruit, kale smoothie!  Fresh fruit, greek yogurt, kale and almond milk.  Yummmm! I said it tasted just like ice cream and he said ‘ice crap’!  Mostly he just holds up his hand and rolls his eyes.  smoothie-drink-1966283__340

 

  1.  I’ll have what Oprah’s having:  Years ago, Oprah came out with her then favorite snack, and I became a fan.  I usually have it for lunch!  Take a WASA cracker, spread a thin layer of mayo, add lean turkey and top with spinach…It’s sooooo good and super low carbs.  My husband calls it Oprah’s favorite cardboard sandwich.

 

  1. No yolking…I love eggs:  Egg white omelets….loaded with veggies!  Easy-peasy and super healthy. You-know-who thinks it is unnatural for an egg to be all white with no yolk.  He thinks the yolk is God’s gift to the egg.egg-1460404__340

 

  1.  Just say NO to Bread:  Instead of bread, I wrap my sandwich in lettuce leaves, or put it in a carb smart tortilla and call it a wrap!  And this is another chance to give a shout out to my WASA crackers!   Mr. White Bread will only occasionally switch to wheat.  He says it reminds him of sandwiches his Granny used to make!
  1.  Holy Guacamole:  I once even tried to make Guacamole from green peas and kale instead of avocados.  I wanted to love it, but even I thought it was a little too much.  Again with the hand and eye rolling.
  1.  Dessert substitutes:  For dessert, I often try to eat fruit;  Don’t the Europeans eat fruit and cheese for dessert, too?  Or try having a hot cup of green tea with honey.  Perfect! Mr. White Bread-eye roller believes dessert should be eaten at every meal.  My attempts of fruit and green tea fall on deaf ears and a more unsophisticated palate.(Twizzlers, chocolate pudding, or cookies)5dfc629c974b699f499a6bea3c1f9f53

I know…some of these ideas seem radical.  I haven’t gone completely ‘clean’….I still love a good meatloaf, or homemade chicken pot pie.  But, I’m trying to make these little changes and make better choices.  I’m trying to incorporate more vitamins and nutrients into OUR lives, even if I am met with a little resistance.   Three cheers for cauliflower!!! 

                                                                      All hail the Kale!!!

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Posted in Food, Holidays, Introspection

I Dread Christmas by Ginger Keller Gannaway

I Dread Christmas

by Ginger Keller Gannawayimg_1589

     Like the cliched tangle of several strands of colored lights, I am a mess of knotted stress and on-and-off joy. For me, the Christmas smiles and laughs of surprise get swept away by the demands and deadlines of consumerism. First of all, why do we put so much money, effort, and worry into a holiday season? We spend hours spending dollars we cannot easily spare on presents most folks do not truly need or want. We drag out dusty decorations and spend more hours making our homes “merry and bright” for a few weeks of over-hyped, commercialized holiness. Why?
Perhaps when I was a kid or when my 20-something sons were kids, I enjoyed the getting and the giving. Back then we had Santa’s magic and loads of brand new playthings. Now I mainly see just the aftermath of the Christmas explosion: cookie crumbs, dirty napkins, discarded toys, and dead pine needles. And after the overdone turkey, off-key caroling, and cranky kids, all the cleaning and organizing and putting away looms large. Why?
I know. I know. “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But how do days and days of shopping and decorating and shopping and planning and shopping and cleaning and shopping and cooking and shopping and traveling and shopping and visiting and shopping add up to celebrating the birth of a savior who praised love over possessions?
Call me Scrooge or the Grinch or just a grumpy old lady. This is my truth. Christmas comes too soon and demands too much from our bank accounts and our time sheets. I enjoy holiday time with my family . I savor our delicious holiday meal. I enjoy the thrill of opening presents (and watching others do the same). I still get misty-eyed when singing Christmas carols. But I need to turn the whole thing down several notches. Today is December 14 and I have not bought my sons a single present. May I stick with my “single gift for each person” plan. My home has not a single decoration. May we simply trim the tree on December 24 and call it Christmas.
A picture of a Finnish proverb is taped above my desk:
“Happiness is a place between too little and too much.”img_3375
May this thought rule my life and especially my Christmas this year. A shorter and simpler holiday leaves me more time for true joy and peace.