Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Curiosity That is Pagoda House, New Orleans, Louisiana

Blogger's Note:  There are many unique and wonderful architectural moments in New Orleans, but one of this blogger's favorites is the "Pagoda House" on Napoleon Avenue.  Quite of a mystery to unravel as to whom the original owner might be as well as the inspiration to reference traditional Japanese architecture.


(Above): 2037 Napoleon Avenue, is Pagoda House, built in 1904. Listed as the home of Raoul Vallon designed by Frank P Gravelt & Co Limited, costing over $15,000 or more to construct in the early 1900s. The Vallons owned the home until 1925.

From New Orleans Architecture: Jefferson City By Friends of the Cabildo:

"2037 Napoleon, corner of  S. Saratoga, and Danneel,.  This curious but striking residence may be atypical in this area, but there is ample logic in its concept of large, double, pagoda-like overhangs, which provide protection from the sun and rain of our climate.  

On August 31, 1904, the Daily States pointed out that the unique structure was also a curiosity in its day:

Among the numerous frame residences erected during the past twelve months, that of Raoul Vallon, designed by Frank P. Gravely & Co. Limited located at Napoleon avenue and Saratoga street, is one of the most costly, and by far the most unique and picturesque in design.  While the architects executed the actual design it was along the line of the ideas suggested by Mr. Vallon.  

In design the building bears a close resemblance to the Japanese architecture, the eaves of the roof and the gallery sheds having the pagoda-like upturn at the corners, and the general appearance otherwise being much after the appearance of Japanese or Chinese structures.  It is said also, that the building is being fitted throughout in Japanese furniture, draperies, etc.  This beautiful and novel dwelling cost to complete $15,000 or more.  

#funfact It has the distinction of being the only one of the kind in the city, there is not another residence in this section which is even a near approach to it in appearance.  The Vallon family owned the house until 1925."

Iron Horses of the French Quarter

Blogger's Note: Part of the charm and history of the French Quarter, the cast iron horse head hitching posts are a favorite of tourists and locals alike.  It's one of those quirks of the Crescent City that can go unnoticed, but once you notice one, you will start seeing them everywhere!  Littered throughout the French Quarter and the oldest parts of the Garden District, where streets are still lined with cobblestones.  Enjoy!

When you go to town, turning off your car's ignition is the main thing to do after parking. But in the days of real horsepower, tying up to an iron ring or a hitching post was standard procedure.  These horse head hitching post used to line the streets in Victorian days , usually bolted to a marble piece with a step next to it for ladies and children to have an easier time getting up on the horse that
is stationed at this post.

From Horsing Around: 19th Century Cast Iron Hitching Posts edited by W. Douglas McCombs:
"Selection of a hitching post was an act of personal expression, but one limited to the forms available through the foundries and retailers who sold them, like hardware businesses and agricultural equipment suppliers.  Certain forms were more common than others.  The horse head post ... appear[s] most frequently in catalogs.  The variety of [this] design ... speaks to the ... popularity and to the various pattern carvers who took basic forms and personalized them.   

The horse head was the most common motif.  The variety of horse forms is plentiful, ranging from realistic to stylized and even whimsical.  Some examples are statuesque, like chess pieces, while others have the feeling of movement with flowing manes, open mouths, and expressive faces." 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Try These Traditional Natchitoches Meat Pies, Recipe Included!

Natchitoches, Louisiana, is the oldest town in the Louisiana Purchase and is home to the oldest and largest Creole settlement outside of New Orleans. Pronounced NACK-id-dush, it is also home of the famous Natchitoches Meat Pie, a popular street food since the late 1700's. A half-moon shape of pastry crust is filled with a spicy blend of beef and pork then fried golden and crispy. Seriously addictive, Natchitoches Meat Pies are a true Louisiana food. 
Recipe from The Kitchen Mirror website:

Meat Pie Filling

1 pound ground meat
1 pound ground pork meat
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 pod garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt, black pepper and red pepper to taste
1 tablespoon flour

Melt shortening in heavy pot. Add meat. Cook until pink is gone. Add vegetables and season to taste. (Season well, as meat will lose seasoning during frying.) When meat is completely done and vegetables glazed, remove from heat and drain excess liquid. Stir in 1 tablespoon flour.

Meat Pie Crust

1 quart flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening + 1 T
1 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening. Beat egg and add to milk. Work gradually into dry ingredients until proper consistency to roll. Break into small pieces and roll very thin. Cut into rounds using a saucer as a guide. Or you can get some fancy little meat pie cutters in various shapes.

To assemble:

Place a large tablespoon of prepared meat along edge and halfway in the center of round dough. Fold the other half over, making edges meet and seal with water, crimp edges with a fork. Drop in deep fat and cook until golden brown. Drain and serve hot. Makes approximately 18.

 (Above): Freshly made Natchitoches Meat Pies ready to fry.

Meat pies may be frozen before cooking. After assembly, arrange pies on a cookie sheet and freeze, once frozen remove from cookie sheet and store in freezer bags until ready to fry. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

How To Eat Sugarcane: Memories From The Deep South

Blogger's Note:  This blogger had their first Sugarcane at the Old Farmer's Day festival at around age eight.  The outside looks of the rugged stalks belied the juicy delicious syrup contained within.  This time of year is Sugarcane harvesting time in Southern Louisiana, let's take a moment to "stop and taste the sugar".

(Above): Cut stalks of Sugarcane from the harvest. 

From the LSUAg Center website: 

"Sugarcane has been an integral part of the south Louisiana economy and culture for more than 200 years. When Jesuit priests first brought sugarcane into south Louisiana in 1751, little did they know that the foundation was being laid for an industry that now contributes $2 billion to the Louisiana economy.

The first successful sugar crop used to produce raw sugar was that of Etienne de Bore. In 1795, de Bore succeeded in making sugar that was valued at $12,000. A thriving sugar industry soon replaced the cultivation of indigo in Louisiana. The first sugarcane varieties grown in Louisiana were 'Creole,' from which Etienne De Bore first granulated sugar, 'Otaheite,' and later 'Louisiana Striped,' 'Louisiana Purple' and 'D74.' These varieties were called the 'Noble' canes and were characterized by a large stalk diameter, low fiber content and a sucrose content satisfactory for sugar production under Louisiana conditions.

Today, Louisiana sugarcane yields range from 30 to 50 tons per acre, with recoveries ranging from 180 to 240 pounds of sugar produced from each ton of cane. These sugar levels rival yields obtained in the more tropical sugarcane-growing regions. That's why sugar continues to be a major part of the south Louisiana economy."

How to Eat Sugar Cane

From the WikiHow website:

Eat a Sugar Cane Step 1.jpg

Step 1 Take out a sharp knife and a cutting board.

Eat a Sugar Cane Step 2.jpg

Step 2 Cut the stalk into sections between the segments, as the end of each segment is woody and not edible.

Eat a Sugar Cane Step 3.jpg

Step 3 Start from the top and slowly and carefully cut into it and slice down to the bottom to remove the outer, woody layer.
Eat a Sugar Cane Step 4.jpg

Step 4 If you look in the middle of it, you will see the fibrous veins; that is where the sweet sugar sap will be.
Dig into it and pull some of the fibrous material out. 
Eat a Sugar Cane Step 5.jpg

Step 5 Chew it like gum to squeeze out the sugary sap. Spit out the fiber after it is no longer sweet.

Enjoy!  Sugarcane has been a tasty treat for generations of children throughout the South.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Legend of Bayou Teche, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana


(Above): A scenic view of Bayou Teche.

From the FOX8 News website:  

Heart of Louisiana: The Beauty of Bayou Teche, written by: Dave McNamara, Heart of Louisiana

"NEW ORLEANS, La. - If you spend any time in South Louisiana, you've been near a bayou. But you get an entirely different experience if you can paddle a bayou in a canoe or kayak. Tonight, FOX 8's Dave McNamara takes us to St. Martin Parish for a trip down the state's longest bayou in the 'Heart of Louisiana'.

(Above): Bayou Teche looks very much the same as it did back in the 1800s.  Painting by artist Meyer Straus (1831–1905) Bayou Teche c. 1870. Oil on canvas 30 x 60 inches. 
'The same meaning that the Mississippi has to the New Orleans area or Baton Rouge, Bayou Teche has to the Acadians,' said tour guide Cory Werk. A funny thing happened to Werk, who is originally from California. The political science major was planning on law school. But he changed course, moved to South Louisiana, bought some kayaks and started offering tours through his 'Bayou Teche experience.' 'My mother's from Baton Rouge, she's an LSU grad, and my grandmother's from Breaux Bridge,' Werk said. 'So I have deep and long-standing ties in this area.' Werk's future is now linked to Bayou Teche, a 135-mile-long scenic bayou that starts at Port Barre and snakes its way through Cajun country on the way to the Atchafalaya River at Morgan City.

(Above): Bayou Teche, the State of Louisiana's longest bayou.

If you drive through Southwest Louisiana, you've likely crossed it. But the bayou is hardly noticeable as you speed along Interstate 10. The beauty is on the water. 'Whether it's giant live oaks that are towering above on the bayou or the large cypress trees that you can weave in and out of with your kayak in the swamp, there's no place in the world that has these opportunities that Acadiana offers,' Werk said. 'Bayou Teche gets its name from the Chitimacha Indians who fished, hunted and lived along the waterway centuries ago. And they have a story about how the bayou got came to be. 'Teche' is the Chitamacha word for 'snake.'

(Above): The monument which tells the Legend of Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.

A bayou-side monument in Breaux Bridge tells the legend of how the Chitimacha fought a huge snake 'They came together and they fought by hand to kill this snake,' said Nicole Patin, one of the organizers of Tour du Teche, a three-day race down the full length of the bayou. 'And where the snake lay and decomposed is actually where the bayou lies today.'

(Above): A monument to the legend of how the 125-mile long Bayou Teche was formed.

From The Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana website: 

The Legend of Bayou Teche 

"Many years ago, in the days of the Tribe's strength, there was a huge and venomous snake. This snake was so large, and so long, that its size was not measured in feet, but in miles. This enormous snake had been an enemy of the Chitimacha for many years, because of its  destruction to many of their ways of life. One day, the Chitimacha chief called together his warriors, and had them prepare themselves for a battle with their enemy. In those days, there were no guns that could be used to kill this snake. All they had were clubs and bows and arrows, with arrowheads made of large bones from the garfish.

(Above): A close up of the monument shows markings commemorating the founding of several old towns along the bayou.

Of course, a snake over ten miles long could not be instantly killed. The warriors fought courageously to kill the enemy, but the snake fought just as hard to survive. As the beast turned and twisted in the last few days of a slow death, it broadened, curved and deepened the place wherein his huge body lay. The Bayou Teche is proof of the exact position into which this enemy placed himself when overcome by the Chitimacha warriors."   

The Bayou Teche, 'Teche' meaning 'snake', is today proof of the exact position into which this enemy placed himself when overcome by the Chitimachas in the days of their strength

(Above): Acadian farmstead situated along the bank of Bayou Teche.

From U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset National Map, 2011:
The Science Behind the Legend

"The Bayou Teche is a 125-mile-long  waterway of great cultural significance in south central Louisiana in the United States. Bayou Teche was the Mississippi River's main course when it developed a delta about 2,800 to 4,500 years ago. Through a natural process known as deltaic switching, the river's deposits of silt and sediment cause the Mississippi to change its course every thousand years or so."

Myth or legend ... you decide.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Study of Architectural Life, Part 1

Blogger's Note: The Louisiana Speaks: Pattern Book is an amazing resource that we recently discovered.  In this series we will explore selections from pages which intimately discuss the styles of Louisiana architecture, and the sound environmental reasoning behind them.  With this detailed accounting of what is traditional, it is apt that it would also include ways to modernize a structure while retaining the archetype.  Participants in the creation of the Pattern Book repeatedly stressed the importance of preserving the local culture and social traditions and the particular aspects of house and community design essentials to doing so.  With the interest of highlighting some of this style guide's content, we hope to encourage authentic rebuilding and awaken a desire to preserve historic places, a continuation of what southern architecture has to offer.  The Pattern Book is available for free download in its entirety on the Louisiana Recovery Authority website.  Download Here

"The Purpose of the Pattern Book
The Pattern Book contains patterns and techniques for building housing, neighborhoods, and towns at a greatly accelerated pace while remaining true to the values and traditions of the people of Louisiana.  These traditions provide guidance for rebuilding in harmony with the state's natural environment and climate in the design and construction of environmentally responsible houses that incorporate many of the traditional architectural features of the region.

Architectural Patterns
The Pattern Book identifies those patterns among Louisiana house and building types that are important to maintain in the rebuilding process.  Individual builders and homeowners, as well as production house builders and developers will find the architectural patterns presented in this section of the Pattern Book useful as they rebuild the fabric of Louisiana's neighborhoods and towns.

The Influence of Climate on Architecture
The unique climate and geography of Louisiana play an important role in the daily life of its residents.  The intense heat and humidity, extended summers, short winters, and prevalent gulf breezes provide a backdrop to the lifestyles and traditions of South Louisiana.  Over time, builders, designers, and home owners have developed architecture and landscape patterns that are a direct response to the extreme climate of the region.

Vernacular architecture from all regions of South Louisiana a share the pursuit of providing relief from the sun and rain while still capturing as many breezes as possible.  Generously scaled porches, tall ceilings, full-height windows, shade gardens, porch fans, and wood shutters are all elements that distinguish the traditional architecture of South Louisiana from elsewhere in the the country.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Give Us a Like & Help Us Change Lives


Give Us a Like & Help Us Change Lives with a Donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. In honor of Veterans Day, from now until midnight tomorrow (11/11/2014), Albany Woodworks will make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project® based on your likes! The more likes we receive, the more we are able to give! #woundedwarriorproject #changelives

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Guess Who Is Ready For Their Close Up!

Resident mill pup Shadow is the star of an upcoming print ad campaign for Albany Woodworks.

#funfact Shadow is a lab mix we rescued a little over 2 years ago. She loves meeting new people, especially kids; chasing squirrels and nice long walks in the fields behind the mill. What a sweet face. #rescuedog #mansbestfriend #adopt