I decorated this year by bringing out my own beads (earned during Mardi Gras in the early 90's, and yes, you are assuming correctly) to lay on the table and to adorn our guests. I kept almost every strand of beads that I commandeered during that trip, so I was able to have an extra bowl for people to choose from. Purple, green, red, gold, white, blue, pink, you name it...Mardi Gras beads come in all shapes and sizes. Some even have a baby in the middle of them, like one I used as part of the centerpiece. One of the reasons I enjoy this holiday so much is that in the dull-drums of winter, even though in San Diego it was 75 degrees today, the colors of Mardi Gras bring a brightness to the ordinary drab winter. To me, it's like the first sign of spring.
First I made the king cake. I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but I basically did a Sandra Lee recipe, with a few adaptations. I'm not a fan of hers in anyway shape or form, but today, I was not in the mood to cook up a king cake in the proper fashion of using yeast. I went for the easy way out and used bread sticks, braided them together, and formed them into a circle.
I have ordered king cakes in past years, but in an effort to save money this year, I decided to make my own. Upon reading the reviews for Sandra Lee's King Cake, I opted to go with one reviewer and dip the bread sticks in melted butter and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar before braiding. All in all, it was okay, but since I cooked it earlier in the day, it did dry out. Next year, I'll be making the yeast cake. After cooking, you insert a plastic baby somewhere in the cake and then cover with frosting. Can you spot the baby?
For the main course, we had Jambalaya, which was good and comforting. I chose not to put in as much cayenne pepper as it called for since we were also feeding it to kids. To compliment the dish, I put out a couple different hot sauces so the adults could spice it up a bit. It was tasty, a tad on the gummy side, but very fulfilling with pieces of smoked sausage, ham, chicken, and shrimp.
The kids also dressed up for the occasion! Little did they know, but dressing up in costumes, wearing masks, and dancing is a big part of Mardi Gras. I'm glad they did their part :)
So who got the baby? I'm glad it was one of the kids. To make it even better, the kids were trying to pick their piece, telling me where they wanted me to cut it, etc...Ryan said he didn't care, and just to give him any piece. Well, it worked.
Happy Fat Tuesday!