Monday, July 9, 2012

Go Fourth to the Market!

It has been an eventful few days! Unfortunately, when things pick up it's harder for me to find time to blog. But a disgruntled comment from a devoted reader has renewed my commitment to post more often. ;)

My Fourth of July was complete with a cookout, grilled corn, fresh watermelon, apple pie, and fireworks. The boys that live downstairs fired up the grill and made burgers and grilled the corn Dennis gave me. Scott made apple and blueberry pies, and I contributed a couple of giant watermelons I bought from Timmy at the Tuesday market. Various coworkers joined us, as well as some other Duke students here this summer through a different program. When it got dark, we walked downtown to watch the fireworks show over the Mississippi River.

I had to return to the office on Thursday. I spent the day making phone calls and surveying managers from farmers markets across the state. We're collecting information on behalf of the State of Louisiana, which received funding to help enable farmers markets to accept food stamps instead of cash alone. It's exciting to be a part of that step in bringing fresh, nutritional food to low-income people. I also love interviewing people, so I enjoyed doing that.

Friday was more of the same, plus writing this week's market newsletter and also preparing for Saturday market, of course. On Saturday I was in charge of our kids activity, which was a no-cook canning activity as part of our canning series sponsored by Ball (the jar company). You can use instant pectin to make refrigerator jam. It isn't shelf-stable because it's not sealed by heat, but it lasts in the fridge for three weeks. A steady trickle of people approached my table, so I stayed busy and time passed quickly.

I was willing the time away because I was eager to get off work because the Mississippi scholars were visiting! All six of them came down for the weekend, and we NOLA folks were all excited to have them here. I was especially happy to meet for the first time two of our new matriculated scholars, who joined the program in April. Since altogether we made a group of 17 (Krissi was home for the Fourth), our group split and reformed in different combinations throughout the weekend.

We all hung out in the house for a while on Saturday afternoon while we discussed what to do for the night. Some went to the Essence music festival later that evening, while others opted to explore downtown before eating dinner together. As someone who eats out far more than anyone else present, I felt responsible for recommending a restaurant for dinner. But various dietary limitations made that a daunting task, especially since many, if not most, of the group didn't eat seafood. In a city where nearly every menu is predominantly seafood, I wasn't sure what to recommend.

Katie suggested New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Co, saying they had a really good veggie burger. I knew they had good po'boys too (for those who were willing to try it), so about eight of us ate there for dinner. I tried the bbq shrimp po'boy for the first time and liked it even more than their famous thin-fried catfish. Everyone else enjoyed their New Orleans veggie burgers as well.

After getting ready at the house, we headed back downtown to find live jazz on Frenchmen Street. Later, some people left to meet up with some of our Essence-goers at Cafe du Monde. I chose to stay a little longer at the jazz venue, and then returned home with my group around 2am. We all sat around in the living room, talking and waiting for the others to get back. But as we had all had a long day, many of us were dozing off in our chairs. I finally went to bed, knowing I wasn't going to contribute much to the conversation in that state anyway.

Eight people in the group left early Sunday morning for a swamp tour. I would've gone with them if I hadn't done a swamp tour with my family in Florida two spring breaks ago. It was fun then but not something you're itching to do again. Instead, I slept in then went to brunch on Magazine Street with a few of the other girls. All 17 of us met up at the National World War II Museum around 1pm and spent the next few hours being impressed by the museum's extensive exhibits, which were both educational and moving. The highlights of the visit were the WWII veterans who volunteered there and the 4-D "Beyond All Boundaries" film, which gave a comprehensive narrative of the war. The 45-minute film was shown on a 120-feet wide screen, and the special effects were incredible. I hate war stuff but I really enjoyed that film.

Pictures coming soon!

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