Happy Lundi Gras, y’all!!

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Tomorrow is Mardi Gras Day in my hometown, New Orleans, which makes today Lundi Gras. The Monday (Lundi en Français) before Mardi Gras used to be a day to rest and recover from the massive parades over the previous weekend. It became its own day of celebration in 1987, and NewOrleans.com has the details on the newer Lundi Gras celebrations.

Tonight’s Parades

Google Maps showing the NOLAcom building about a block and a half down St. Charles St. towards Julia Street from Harmony CircleTonight we have the parades for the Krewe of Proteus and the Krewe of Orpheus. You can watch the parades on NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune Parade Cam. They’ll be streaming from The Times-Picayune building just east of Harmony Circle (formerly named for a losing Confederate general) beginning at 5:15 pm Central Time, just keep in mind that it will take some time for the parades to get to Harmony Circle.

Orpheus will have the terrific twosome of Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka as their celebrity monarchs, and I’m going to try to get the stream hosts to shout “Spice up your life!” at Neil. Why, you ask? Because he danced to that song from the Spice Girls in the third 60th anniversary Doctor Whoo special, The Giggle.

Mardi Gras Day

You can stream the Mardi Gras Day festivities from several sources in La Nouvelle Orléans. In addition to several marching groups, there are parades in New Orleans for the Krewes of Zulu and Rex (the King of Carnival) as well as truck parades for the Krewes of Elks Orleanians and Crescent City.

NOLA.com’s Parade Cam will stream Zulu and Rex, and it will be a nice way to watch the major New Orleans parades on Fat Tuesday. Local NBC affiliate WDSU (a sister station to ABC affiliate WCVB, the station I watch for local news in Boston) will add coverage for some of the marching clubs, black masking indians, and truck parades. WDSU will also cover the parades in the surrounding area for a more inclusive day of coverage. NOLA.com’s stream will start at 8 am Central Time and WDSU will start streaming both on their website and the Very Local app beginning at 6:00 am Central Time. (WDSU is a sister station to WCVB, the station I watch for local news in Boston.)

Do you want some New Orleans-esque food for Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras donuts from Mardi Gras Day 2023My family has two food traditions for Mardi Gras Day. We start with Mardi Gras donuts, which are similar to beignets but without the yeast. The recipe is super simple with just three ingredients. The picture is the donuts I made for last year’s Mardi Gras Day.

Important note: Once again, I forgot that the recipe I got from my aunt doesn’t include any liquid. I’ll have to correct the recipe in the coming months, and when I do I’ll post the update here. I’ll also write a stand-alone article with the corrected recipe for Mardi Gras 2025, which will be on 4 March 2025.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  1. Mix the ingredients.
  2. Roll thin and cut into triangles or diamond shapes. Cut a vent slit or two, depending on the size of the triangle.
  3. Fry till crispy in vegetable oil heated to 3500℉.
  4. Dust with powdered (confectioner’s) sugar.
  5. Bon appetite.

They go great with a nice cup of Community New Orleans Blend if you’re able to get it. I buy it from Amazon and it’s the coffee I brew every day. It doesn’t contain chicory, but it’s the coffee my family made when I was younger. You can add plain chicory to get coffee and chicory, but the brand of chicory I used was discontinued, and I haven’t found a new brand I love yet. If you like cold brewed coffee, I can promise you that New Orleans Blend is delicious brewed cold.

Our other Mardi Gras Day food tradition is a simple lunch to take to the parades: fried chicken. Not only is it a great thing to eat between parades out on the route, but you can also have it for dinner if you have any left. Just serve it with a simple salad, and it’s a (fairly) nutritious meal on a very full day.

I could fry up a batch of air fryer wing dings (I need to post that recipe soon), but I bought a tray of fried chicken while I was making a few groceries.

Have a great Mardi Gras and laissez les bons temps rouler, y’all!

One more quick note

Thanks to a nice long bit of jury duty, I’m finally getting some gear for recording demos of some of my songs. I’ll be posting a teaser clip for Somewhere Someone Cares in the coming days to YouTube so you may want to subscribe to my channel at @JMHardin and click the bell so you get notified when it drops. I also post cute videos of Babe, my upstairs neighbor’s cat, so if you like cat videos you may have another reason to follow my channel there.

Coffee and Chicory, Hardin Style

Growing up in New Orleans, I always drank coffee and chicory. Many people think chicory makes coffee stronger, but it really adds complexity to coffee.

After moving to Boston in 1989, I couldn’t get my chicory coffee because Boston stores don’t carry it. Now and then, I could find a can of Luzianne or French Market coffee at the grocery store, but it wasn’t available in the stores where I usually shopped.

Last year, I discovered that I could find coffee and chicory on Amazon. I found not only the Luzianne Coffee my mom made when I was a child, but they also had the Community coffee we came to prefer.

I immediately stopped buying the coffee I had been drinking and switched to only buying my Community Coffee New Orleans Blend. It was great to be drinking the coffee I drank back home, even though it wasn’t quite the coffee mom used to make.

I’ve long had mild tinnitus, but after getting my 2nd COVID jab, the ringing went from occasional to persistent, and I got hit with pain along with the ringing. When I saw my ENT doctor, she said that caffeine is a big trigger for tinnitus, so I tried making a half-caff blend for my coffee.

Community’s New Orleans Blend coffee doesn’t have a decaf version, so I bought a bag of decaf coffee and chicory. I found the blend a little too bitter for my taste, so I went back to just getting the New Orleans Blend coffee. I said it wasn’t quite what my mom made because she added a chicory product called Coffee Partner to each bag of coffee, but it wasn’t easy to find. Eventually, I found it on Amazon and got a box, and I remembered why my mom made coffee this way. It made delicious, rich cups of coffee with that extra kick that New Orleans insist on getting from their coffee.

It’s a pretty straightforward recipe, but I wanted to pass along the recipe I came up with so you can try it at home. You’ll need a large bowl, a digital scale, and a whisk. You do have a digital scale in your kitchen, right? A lot of people can measure by sight, but my eyes aren’t calibrated nearly well enough. If you do any baking from scratch, your digital scale is required to get the proportions right for the chemistry that is baking.

The necessary ingredients. A box of Coffee Partner Chicory, a bag of Community Coffee New Orleans Blend, and a canister to hold the combined grounds.

Recipe: Coffee and Chicory, Hardin Style


  • 1 12 oz bag of Community Coffee New Orleans Blend
  • 3.25 of Coffee Partner (92g)

Add the coffee and chicory into a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Store in an airtight container away, preferably a vented container that will allow CO2 to escape but not allow air to come in.

Like I said, it’s pretty straightforward. I love my 22 oz stainless steel canister from Veken for storing my coffee. It seals with a simple latch, a measuring scoop with a hook for storing it, and it even has a date tracker to let you remember when you last filled it.

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Have you tried my mom’s way of making chicory coffee? I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Do you love salad dressings?

Growing up, my mom and grandmother gave me a love of eating good salads, and in the last few years I’ve started changing from buying salad dressings to making my own. Not only do they not have all the preservatives the stuff on the grocers’ shelves have, they’re also pretty easy to make. I cook for just one, li’l old me, so I’m not going to go through huge productions just to have homemade salad dressing.

Some time back I discovered Rachel Cooks when I was looking for a homemade taco seasoning recipe (there’s also a large batch recipe if you find you want to make it less often but enjoy it regularly). Then I discovered her honey mustard vinaigrette dressing and I became hooked on her recipes.

I’ve since subscribed to her email newsletter, and today’s edition was all about her yummy salad dressings. After tweeting a link I decided to share all of the salad dressing recipes I use. They’re not all from Rachel (sorry!), but they’re so good that I bookmarked them so I could find them easily. I put vinaigrettes into Good Season cruets, and right now I have a bottle of their Italian dressing just to use up one of the packets I got when I decided I wanted a second cruet for salad dressings. My creamy dressings are in repurposed salsa jars, which makes me glad I save my old jars after I empty them. (My taco seasoning is in a reused spice bottle that lives next to my nukeomatic.)

My gateway to homemade dressings was the vinaigrette from The Kitchn’s Classic Salad Niçoise. I don’t remember where I saw the recipe, but I quickly bookmarked it as something to try. I’ve since made it for other salads, and if I didn’t have a bottle of Italian dressing in my fridge the bottle would have balsamic vinaigrette from a stand-alone recipe.

I think I found Rachel’s honey mustard vinaigrette recipe while looking for balsamic vinaigrette recipes, and it quickly became my favorite dressing. I use Grey Poupon’s Harvest Coarse Ground Dijon Mustard in it, and I’m thinking of trying it with Zatarain’s Creole Mustard something that I grew up eating on sandwiches. I could easily use just this dressing on all my salads if I didn’t want to make sure I didn’t get sick of eating it all the time.

Every now and then I want some thousand island dressing and wanted to find recipe, but every recipe I found used a hard boiled egg. Adding the egg sharply reduces how long it will last in your fridge, and when I was ready to make it I wanted something that needed less prep work than Rachel’s recipe called for. I ended up going with a recipe from Simply Whisked, but I’ll give Rachel’s recipe a try for the next batch, but my days of buying bottles of thousand island are over.

When I was in high school, Kraft’s Catalina dressing was my go-to dressing. Since I got older I didn’t like how sweet it was, but every now and then I still want some on my salad. Rachel has a recipe for that, and it’s just what the doctor ordered. I mixed it up in a salsa jar to save a dirty bowl, but my immersion blender clearly wanted more room to work so next time I’ll dirty a bowl to make it. And I know I’ll make it again. The recipe says to run it through the blender, but I really hate having to clean my blender for such a small amount of dressing.

I’m not a big ranch dressing eater, and I rarely buy buttermilk unless I’m whipping up a batch of buttermilk drop donuts so I may buy a bottle of ranch dressing from time to time. There is one other kind of bottled dressing that I used to buy and I had a hard time finding a replacement. I love dipping my homemade chicken tenders in honey mustard dressing, but Rachel’s recipe isn’t what I want to dip my tenders in. In fact, most of the recipes I found weren’t the nice, creamy dressing I was looking for. I ended up trying the dip recipe for The Kitchn’s Turkey Wraps with Honey Mustard Dip and it’s pretty good.

Rachel’s list of salad dressings & toppings includes two recipes I definitely want to try. One is for homemade croutons, and the other is for Caesar Croutons. I really like croutons, and I used to be able to eat them right out of the box, but lately it seems the croutons I buy are bigger than the ones I got in my 20’s. Rachel’s recipes use sliced bread, which will make for the size of croutons I’m wanting. Then the only salad topping I’ll need to make myself is bacon bits, and I need to work on my chopping skills to get good bacon bits. And, of course, I need to not eat the bacon before I have a chance to turn them into bacon bits, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks there’s no such thing as too much bacon.

I’m thankful that I got my mom’s love of cooking, and her desire to do more than your basic American meat-and-potatoes cooking. Maybe it came from living in New Orleans, where your basic meat-and-potatoes meal can be as out of place as a harpsichord at a guitar shred fest. Wherever it came from, I love to cook and the only reason I don’t try more recipes is because it’s rare to find recipes that will only feed one person. That and the fact that so many recipes I’d want to try use ingredients I don’t usually buy, and I’m concerned about being able to use up what doesn’t go into the dish.

Comfort food from my days at summer camp

Camp Windywood at the Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, LA.

Updated 22 April to finally add a picture of the egg placed into your ring of bread. I’m sorry it took so long to get added.

When I was a kid my mom was a single mother, and my brother sister and I lived with our grandparents. Since my grandmother was a Girl Scout leader known as Cappy that meant every summer until I was old enough to be left behind I got packed off to Camp Windywood. Being a tween-aged boy I wasn’t thrilled with having to go to Girl Scout camp every summer, although now I wish I had been able to enjoy more of it. Back then I was a city kid who hadn’t fallen in love with being able to get out in the woods from time to time like I do now.

One thing I always enjoyed about going to camp was cooking on buddy burners, and the way we cooked fried eggs was so tasty that I still cook eggs that way 40 years later and refer to them as camp-style eggs.

more “Comfort food from my days at summer camp”

Trail Mix, Peng Style

I love to eat, but what I may love more is to cook. Some of the things I cook often are Red Beans & Rice (I am from New Orleans after all, where red beans & rice is a Monday dinner tradition)  and Chicken Piccata, but I have a bookmark folder full of things to make and things to try,

When I was a teenager my grandmother used to tease me saying I didn’t eat three meals a day, I ate one. It started when I got up and it ended when I went to bed at night. I still love grazing but with me being in my 50’s I try to eat better, even when I graze. One of the things I love to nosh on is trail mix, but not just any trail mix. I have my own trail mix that I like to make. more “Trail Mix, Peng Style”