Another day, another holiday! As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, this February the holidays are really packed together. Valentines Day came only two days after Lunar New Year, while the day after that is Presidents Day, and the day after that is Mardi Gras. Even for a heavy-duty celebrator like me, that’s a lot of holidays in a row. Plus it’s Monday, so that means another of our Meatless Monday meals.
Poor Mardi Gras–like everything else in this pandemic, all the really fun parts of the holiday have been cancelled, leaving only the eating and the drinking, as long as it is done alone at home with your family or pod. So I decided to concentrate on Mardi Gras food. I ended up making a non-recipe main dish..some pasta with vegetables and a Cajun cream sauce.
It’s hard to tell from this picture, but there really is a ton of vegetables in there–the famous Cajun trilogy of onions, celery, and bell peppers. Cayenne is the pepper of choice for Cajun cooking, so there is a lot of ground cayenne and smoked paprika in the sauce (I cooked down some of our Farmers Market tomatoes with cream to make a pink-ish sauce, at least before the spices went in) to give it some zip. Served with some fresh raw vegetables–grape tomatoes, celery, and carrots–made it quite a satisfying entree.
For Presidents Day, I made hoecakes, which are basically cornmeal pancakes. According to the information I could find on the Internet, they were favorites of both George Washington AND Abraham Lincoln, so they seemed appropriate for Presidents Day. Plus, they are also a shout-out to all the places that celebrate Shrove Tuesday instead of Mardi Gras by serving pancakes for dinner on the night before Ash Wednesday.
While the traditional ones are made without sugar, I made mine more like the common sweeter cornbread recipes because I was serving them with the remaining raspberries for dessert. And since I’m sure you are curious, I will let you know that they are called hoecakes because hoe used to be an English term for a griddle.
So there you have it–a menu without meat (although it does have both dairy and eggs) that celebrates TWO back-to-back holidays in ONE meal. Tomorrow, my husband is buying dinner from a local restaurant as his “Valentines Dinner” gift, although the restaurant serves some Cajun dishes and I’ll probably order another Mardi Gras meal, except with seafood this time. Seafood is usually my favorite thing to get when eating out at a nice restaurant. So for Ash Wednesday, what I’m giving up is COOKING…for a few days. I hope the leftovers can get us to at least Friday before I’ve got to put my figurative chef’s hat back on.