Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cookbook Review - Da Cajn Critter


Giveaway is closed! Click here to see who the winner is.
There are three rules that you need to follow to become a Critter. "The first rule is that there are no rules." -Pamela D. Lyles, author of Da Cajn Critter: The Lifestyles, The Rules and Makin' Groceries

What a delightful cookbook! As soon as I saw the term "makin' groceries" I had a pretty good feeling that it would be, because you see, when I lived in New Orleans, I learned all about faire son marché, “to do one’s market shopping.” (Faire meaning “to do” or “to make.”)

Being a Mississippi girl living in New Orleans, the first time I heard that term, I had no idea what in the world those gals were talking about, and I admit, that even after hearing a brief definition, at first I didn't quite fully grasp the meaning of it. After living there a few months though, I quickly learned that it was not merely just the act of going to the store to buy groceries, but more a process - beginning with deciding what one would be cooking, and all the way to the actual process of cooking it, with the trip to the grocery store simply a single step in the middle. The author's description perfectly explains why I love to browse the shelves of our local Louisiana owned Rouse's Supermarket, just like I used to at Schwegmann's Grocery in New Orleans. Makin' groceries is an entire experience.

At first glance, you might think that Da Cajn Critter would be focused solely on Cajun recipes, and yes, while there are some of those, this cookbook is so much more than that.  It is a compilation of favorite family recipes. Recipes that contain common ingredients, easy to find and in fact, often pantry staples, with simple instructions and just downright good, southern food.

The author grew up in historic Uptown New Orleans, and learned much of the kitchen at the elbow of the family cook who stoked her interest in food and cooking. That growing interest proved her worthy over the years to be deserving of secret family recipes that birthed this wonderful cookbook.  When Lyles mentioned that she has a dining room table that easily seats 20, and an oven that can hold 6 cookie sheets, well, I knew she was a cook to be trusted!

While Da Cajn Critter is a typical community style cookbook that is absent of photography, it is filled with recipes not only from her friends and relatives and her life in New Orleans, but those that also reflect a wide ethnic diversity in the kitchen. Alongside the likes of what she calls family heirloom recipes such as Grandma Bea's Christmas Tipsy Pudding, the author's own Dirty Rice Dressing, Aunt Pam's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mama Bea's Cheese Cookies, Aunt Norma's Buttermilk Pound Cake and Uncle Alan's After Thanksgiving Gumbo - a perfect dish for that after Christmas turkey carcass - you'll also find traditional recipes we all love like Classic Lasagna, Barbecue Ribs, Mom's Meat Loaf, Chicken Cacciatore, Mama Bea's and Dorothy's Cherry Pie, and Cream Cheese and Caramel Brownies. 

There are the familiar southern dishes like Red Beans & Rice, Jambalaya, Shrimp Po'boys, Sweet Potato Casserole, Pecan Pie, and Banana Pudding. And with Christmas coming up, you'll find lots of holiday goodies there too - Cheese Grits, Pomegranate Salad, Fruit Salad with Citrus Dressing, Peppermint Shakes, Spiced Tea, Creole Roast Leg of Lamb, Cajun Fried Turkey, Toni and Eddie’s Ham, Jack’s Fudge, and of course, Red Velvet Cake.

There are also some fun recipes like Mardi Gras Jello Shots and a Spicy Cajun Martini. And you'll even find Cajun Hanukkah Latkes, Charosets, Lisa’s Noodle Kugel and Schnecken.

I had a difficult time deciding on a recipe to try for my review because there are so many that sounded so good to me! I literally have dozens of recipes tabbed with post it notes that I want to try. Since it's the holidays, I finally settled on Janet's Rocky Road Squares - made with melted chocolate, marshmallows, sweetened condensed milk and peanuts, I just so happened to have all of those ingredients on hand. It's a perfect treat for the sweets tray over the holidays.

This is just a fun cookbook that is loaded with absolutely yummy sounding recipes, tidbits, stories and a little traditional Louisiana lagniappe - some helpful, like a great wine pairing guide, and tips for how to buy the freshest bread (did you know those colored twist ties had meaning?) and some just for fun, like the North versus South pronunciation chart I know you'll get a kick out of.

This is the kind of cookbook that I treasure. Perfect for gift giving - stick a copy of this in a little basket, pick out a recipe and include the non-perishable ingredients and you have one fantastic Christmas gift that anybody would treasure. It's not too late to order it right from Amazon and in just a couple of days you will have it to gift, or to add to your own collection.

You need a copy of this cookbook - and one lucky winner will have the chance to win a copy. Leave any comment and you're entered to win. Don't want to wait? Or want a copy to give to your favorite cook for Christmas? Click this link and get you one right now, ya hear? Promise you'll be happy, happy cher!

Planned Television Arts provided me with a complimentary copy of this cookbook hoping that I might review it and share my opinion with my readers. They also are providing a complimentary copy to one of my readers who will be selected at random on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 12:00 noon CST. Your comment is your entry. Open to U.S. residents only please.

46 comments:

  1. Love your blogs. I also would love to win this cookbook!!

    Tracey

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  2. What a fun cookbook! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season :)

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  3. That cookbook sounds right up my alley! As a southern girl who has moved up north, I sure do miss those southern classics!

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  4. I quite selfishly would love to own the book. So there! I hope you are having a great day.

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  5. What a neat cookbook Mary. Looks like something so worth reading and adding to my cookbook colleciton.

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  6. Oh my GAWD doll, I gots to go make groceries at the Schwegmanns...since it's the holidays I'm-a wear my high-heel house shoes wit' de feather pompoms...gotta look good...

    I'm old enough to remember when Schwegmanns sold mixed drinks to sip while the housewives did their shopping...lol...wow, what memories your post brought back...

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  7. Ohhh yasss ! I would like to have this !!!!! Im makn' seafood gumbo as we speak cher !

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  8. Oh, it sounds like a perfectly delightful cookbook! As much fun to read as it is to cook out of!

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  9. This sounds like a fun cookbook - my fingers are crossed!!

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  10. Oh this cookbook looks so fantastic, I bet there is tons of good treasures to find and make inside. Thanks so much for the opportunity to enter my name, in your giveaway.

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  11. I will have to head on over to Amazon to check out the cookbook as I collect cookbooks and own over 100 of them. I love the community style or fundraiser style cookbooks as they always have delicious recipes.

    Shelly

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  12. Would LOVE to win this! Being a transplant to MS, we don't know all the classic southern dishes so maybe this would help me out! It sure looks like a fun book.

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  13. Wow this book sounds fun...This book would come in handy for me at the grogery store since I am new to cooking all different types of dinners...I would love to get a copy of this book...

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  14. Love your blog and your sence of humor. Being over 50 is not that bad. love to win the cookbook.

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  15. I am originally from SE Texas (Beaumont) and grew up on Cajun cooking. This book looks great. :)

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  16. Looks like a fun cookbook to have and enjoy. Coming from coastal NC, I bet I could relate to a lot of the recipes!

    On Twitter - @SolakNC

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  17. I'm so addicted to your site! I collect cookbooks and love these kind, I find some of the best recipe! Cookbooks that tell a story and include a wide array of recipes are hands down a favorite.

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  18. What a fun looking cookbook!!!!!!

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  19. This cookbook sounds like a lot of fun! I love southern food!

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  20. Jim said
    Well Mary,thought I might sign up,for the book!! I know those women,wouldn't make those recipes in there about,"Possum & Grits ,Coon & Sweet Taters,Road Kill & Gravy and notes about how to tell if road kill is fresh!! "LOL"!! Had to have some fun,You know I love the site and recipes!! Just baked 2 Blueberry Braids,and 1 Strawberry Braid and now,I'll go fry up some of those fresh shrimp.Have fun!!

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  21. Would love to win this as it looks like such a fun cookbook with great recipes!

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  22. Yes!!! I want to win this cookbook. I love, love, love cookbooks and collect all kinds. Let me be picked.

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  23. I'm not too familiar w/ the bayou's cuisine - I've made a few dishes here and there but I don't know if I'm doing it right. I need to trek out west a little bit and try the real good stuff :)

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  24. I'm not originally from the south, but my husband is, and these recipes are dishes he's mentioned before as favorites. I actually made cheese grits for the first time this past week, and they were very good. Thanks for the great giveaway!
    ceevegnashville [at] gmail [dot] com

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  25. Sounds like a great book!! Keep up the great work

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  26. Absolutely love your blogs and your posts to Facebook. Am so grateful for your selflessnss AND your love of teachings others the art of cookin cajun! Thanks for all your hard work - please don't stop and please add my name to the cookbook give away!

    Merry Christmas!

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  27. I could always new ideas from a new cookbook. This sounds like a great one.

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  28. I love community cook books. They always have those wonderful recipes that always show up at church pot lucks. I would love to add this one to my collection.
    Happy Holidays,
    Renea

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  29. I am so excited about this cookbook. I am from Louisiana, but 2 of my kids have moved away and I would love to send them one
    ~Mary

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  30. Hmmmm...sounds like one I'd enjoy...I hope you have a great week friend

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  31. pick me pick me pick me....

    I love New Orleans (vacation there about every other year).

    for a fun read, here's how I worked to single handedly rebuild New Orleans...

    http://yearonthegrill.blogspot.com/2009/10/sazerac-cocktail-was-created-in-new.html

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  32. My wife would sure love that cook book! Happy Holidays and thanks for all your tweets!

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  33. Sounds like a great cookbook that I'd love to win!

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  34. I absolutely adore southern cooking and the simplest recipes are often the best, would love to win this cookbook. Happy Holidays!

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  35. I love simple people, simply cooking good food. Down-home food that is warm, filling, and sparks comfortable conversation. Thanks!

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  36. Hey Mary, the rocky road looks great! The cookbook sounds perfect and you know I sure could use some help with the southern cooking!

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  37. Love your blog and cookbook is awesome.

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  38. Would love to win this cookbook! Enjoy your blogs. Am making a big pot of seafood gumbo for family Christmas eve gathering but don't have a clue about what side dishes to serve with it. Maybe a book like this would help.

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  39. Looks like a great cookbook. My husband has family in Louisiana, and I love to go there. The food is to die for!! Hope I win. Have a merry and blessed Christmas.

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  40. The ribs! Those are the first things that really stand out as a must try. Oh, and then the cheese cookies. And dirty rice dressing!

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  41. I have never seen that cookbook, but I love spicy cooking and Cajun is one of my favorites... happy holidays!

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  42. I happened upon your site while looking for the garlic-cheese substitute; happily so. And tomorrow's my Birthday (waay over 50), soooo.... fb friended, too; and recommending you to my daughters.

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  43. Tweeted about the contest over on twitter. http://twitter.com/Ravish30/status/6734487761

    Shelly

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  44. Posted about the giveaway over on my Classy Chics Message Board at http://www.classybusinesswomenforums.com/viewforum.php?f=110

    Shelly

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  45. Thanks for entering everybody! The giveaway is closed & winner has been announced here http://www.mynew30.com/2009/12/winner-winner-chicken-dinner.html

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  46. Thanks for the fabulous review. I really appreciate it. Who won the cookbook ?
    For all of you that didn't win, I appreciate the wonderful comments.You can get my cookbook at my website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. Happy Holidays from Da Cajn Critter, Pam

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