Mardi Gras

by MichelleR on February 13, 2012

I remember my first Mardi Gras celebration. I went to Church with my Grandmother learning about the importance of Lent and how, until the morning of Ash Wednesday, we were still allowed to celebrate and enjoy our guilty pleasures. It was one of the few times my Grandmother took me home from Church instead of giving me etiquette lessons at our favorite restaurant. Moments through the door of my Grandparents’ condo, my Grandmother starts stirring her five-day slow cooked gumbo. The place smelled so good full of Louisiana cooking. I watched as my Grandpa got his hand slapped for trying to steal a taste. My Grandmother served my Grandpa and I, eggs and bacon, even though she was using all the burners. My Grandmother would say “Bacon grease runs through his veins,” because of how much bacon my Grandpa ate.

I remember helping my Grandmother cook, stirring and turning over okra in the pan. I remember all of her different spoons for things, big spoons and small spoons, like the one to dig out bone marrow. My Grandmother always had a cane and trouble walking. She was hit by a Cable car in New Orleans when she was a girl. She would tell me stories about her older brothers always playing tricks on her and her debutant ball. She told me about her Nanny’s, how she tried to cut her hair when she was a toddler and stories of my Dad and Uncle getting into trouble. When she was tired of me asking her to retell the same stories she would read to me Children’s stories of naughty children and a clumsy goose.

After all the food was nearly cooked, my Grandmother took me into the other room to set the table properly and decorate it with colorful Mardi Gras coins and beads. She told me about the colors: purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. Soon my parents arrived with my baby brother, family and friends crowded around the table. Hot Gumbo over rice, red beans and rice, Louisiana hot sausage links, okra, salads, pepper jelly and pralines shipped from New Orleans. By the time we were all full, there was still one more dish to be served, the King’s Cake.

The King’s Cake is a sugary bunt cake dyed in the colors purple, green and gold. The first bite I had of the King’s Cake was hard and inedible. I was trying to eat a small plastic baby hidden in the cake. Everyone at the table cheered! It is superstitious that whoever gets the piece with the baby inside will receive good luck all year.

After dinner they would all talk about the days at the University, war times, politics and friends lost. My Grandfather would show my brother and I his toy train and extremely large stamp collection.

My Grandmother just celebrated her 90th birthday and still completing crossword puzzles. She has been a big part in my life and has helped turn me into the person I am today.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my Grandmother and Grandma’s everywhere.
Happy Mardi Gras!









King’s Cake

  • 3 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour 1
    package (2 1/4 teaspoons) Rapid Rise yeast 1 cup milk 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon
    salt 2 eggs 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into 12 pieces
  • Cinnamon Filling
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons
    ground cinnamon 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Icing
  • 1 cup powdered sugar 1 tablespoon milk 1/2
    teaspoon vanilla
  • Decoration
  • Dark green, purple, and yellow or gold sugars &
    a Miniature plastic baby
  1.  Mix 2 1/2 cups flour and yeast in mixing bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, on low for about 30 seconds.
  2. Heat milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and milk is between 120°F to 130°F.
  3. With mixer on low, pour in liquids and mix until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Clean off paddle and switch to dough hook. Mix in the remaining 1 cup flour a little at a time, adding more
    or less flour as needed to make a soft dough. Add the softened butter, a piece at a time, kneading until each piece of butter is absorbed.
  4. Knead for eight minutes on low. The dough should completely clear the sides of the bowl. If it is too sticky, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing in thoroughly before determining if more flour is needed. If the dough seems too dry, spritz with water from a spray bottle a couple of times, mixing in thoroughly before determining if more water is needed. Every 2 minutes, stop the machine, scrape the dough off the hook, and then continue kneading.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand to be sure it’s smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball. Place dough into a greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  6. While the dough is chilling, make cinnamon filling. In small bowl, combine the brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Combine butter with cinnamon mixture and mix well.
  7. Roll the chilled dough into a 10 x 20 inch rectangle. Spread the filling on half of the long side of the dough. Fold the dough in half covering the filling. Pat dough down firmly so the dough will stick together. Cut dough into three long strips. Press the tops of the strips together and braid the strips. Press the ends together at the bottom. Gently stretch the braid so that it measures 20 inches again. Shape it into a circle/oval and press the edges together.
  8. Transfer the ring to a parchment lined or greased baking sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350º. Bake the cake until it is golden brown, 20 –35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes on baking sheet and then place it on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing. To hide the baby in the cake, if desired, make a small slit in the bottom of the cake and put the miniature plastic baby in after the cake has cooled.
  9. Icing: In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth (add additional milk if mixture is too thick or powdered sugar if too thin).
  10. Spoon icing over top of the cake. Immediately sprinkle on colored sugar, alternating
    between the three colors.

“All 4 Wine, LLC, d.b.a. as an independently owned and operated Home Instead Senior Care franchise.”



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