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Freedom, Fry & Family

This past Saturday Cody, Butch and I loaded up the car at 4:00am and made the six hour trek to Alabama to celebrate a very Dixie 4th of July.

We have a tradition of going to Fort Rucker Army Base (where my step-dad works) for the Freedom Fest and I think this year was one of their best shows yet. They had the Lt. Dan Band perform before the fireworks which really got the crowd in the mood! I somehow caught a second wind and was dancing around like a huge dork while most of my family stared in embarrassment. I’m sure onlookers thought I was inebriated, but no, if anything, I was sleep drunk, and having the time of my life!

There’s something about being surrounded by thousands of active duty men and women, and vets alike, that really reminds you of how blessed we are to live in a free country. It was a fabulous night and a great way to start the holiday weekend.

The next day I went out and explored mom’s growing garden and picked a ton of these blue gems:


which mom later turned into a yummy ice cream. I so wish I had gotten my paws on more of that before we left!

My sister Jessica came over in the afternoon and gave me a little ballet lesson which probably looked a little like Anna Pavolova teaching Lucille Ball how pirouette. Comical.

After that, the whole family (minus the brothers who were M.I.A.) got to work making dinner, the way we always do when we’re together. It’s so fun to work in mom’s new dream kitchen—we have so much more space than when she was in her makeshift-kitchen-purgatory (though I’m sure sharing cutting board space on top of a washing machine does have it’s perks).

Jerry was frying catfish, so I decided to try my hand at making hush puppies which happen to be one of my favorite parts of a fish fry.


The recipe I used was from Donald Link’s Real Cajun. They turned out fairly well for a first try, but next time I probably would use yellow medium grind corn meal (not fine white) and either fresh thyme, or none at all. Here’s half of the final product:


And my beautiful, brave sister about to bite into one, still hot from the oil!


Jerry’s catfish did not disappoint. That man is a fry-master {grill-master too}! I mean seriously—amazing. It was so good that I made Baja fish tacos out of the leftovers. yes, I know. This may have been the first time catfish has ever been used in fish tacos. I’m a ground breaker, what can I say?


Cody was busy in the kitchen whipping up a batch of hot sauce since mom had a bumper crop of jalapenos this year. Man that stuff was HOT {just like the chef} but tasty. He might just put Crystal out of business!


Jessica was in charge of steaming up the crab claws:


I’m drooling just thinking about how good they were! So good I broke them open with my bare hands; couldn’t be bothered with tools.

While we were all busy about our culinary tasks, mom was making peach ice cream {from her tree} and eggplant parmesan with yet another offering from her garden. This woman is amazing.


Dinner that night was a feast, to say the least. That’s what holiday weekends are all about! Relaxing together and making memories with the family. I hope you all got the chance to do the very same!