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Northern Louisiana

Regional Reports From Across the State

A few members of The Young Troupe representing partial cast of Robin Hood

Photo courtesy Cindy Ingram

Recipes for high tables
I’ll admit that I experience a dichotomy of choice when it comes to selecting types of dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Thanksgiving repasts tend to consist of harvest-colored foods: ruby cranberries, tan nuts, the deep ecru of sweet fowl, rust-colored spices and sweet potatoes the color of ripe persimmons. Christmas feasts are almost like medieval high tables – roast prime rib, duck in wine and onions and desserts that run the gamut from smooth frothy trifles and orange-and-coconut ambrosia to light bread pudding in a whiskey sauce. To reflect these divergent culinary proclivities for each holiday, included are two recipes from the Shreveport and Monroe areas respectively. Shreveport is considered to be part of the Red River Riches culinary trail; the eastern corner of upper Louisiana wherein lies Monroe is part of the trail named Delta Delights.

Sweet Sugar’s
Sweet Potatoes
3-4 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and slice
1-2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 teaspoon ginger
1-2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons each, white
  and brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
Drizzles of Louisiana Black Cane
  Syrup or honey
1-2 sticks softened butter
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Combine all dry ingredients together. Place fruit juices and softened butter in separate bowl, and whisk together well. In a large, deep baking dish, place the sweet potatoes, and then evenly sprinkle them with the mixture of dried ingredients. Pour the liquid mixture on top of the sweet potatoes, evenly drizzle with syrup or honey, and sprinkle the top with pecans. Cover with foil, and bake at 200-275 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Baste, and turn in the liquid four or five times during cooking duration.

Banana Caramel Pie
1 14-ounce can sweetened
   condensed milk
2-3 bananas
1 9-inch pie crust, baked
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Crumbled Heath bars

Pour condensed milk into an 8-inch glass pie plate. Cover with foil. Fill a shallow 2-quart casserole dish with a quarter-inch of hot water. Place the covered pie plate in the casserole dish, and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until condensed milk is caramel-colored and thickened. Add hot water to the water bath as needed. Bananas should be cut crosswise into one-eighth-inch slices and placed in the bottom of the pie crust. Spread the caramelized condensed milk over the banana slices, and cool for 30 minutes. Combine sugar and whipping cream together, and beat until stiff. After you’ve spread the whipped cream over the caramel layer, top with the crumbled Heath bars. The pie should be chilled at least three hours or, preferably, overnight and served with dessert coffee.

Both recipes courtesy of Louisiana Culinary Trails Web site.

Tiny spangles
Monroe’s Strauss Youth Center for the Performing Arts kicked off a wonderful year of young theater this past October with a production of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Auditions for roles are open to all young thespians. I can’t think of a better gift for a child or a family than a Young Troupe membership that provides tickets to each season’s productions.

The 2009-2010 season will bring the magic of youngsters performing in the plays Madeline’s Christmas, a morning walk of Miss Clavel’s charges that turns into a nightmare of the flu that threatens to completely destroy any notion of a Joyeux Noël; Cyrano de Bergerac, the saga of the ultimate renaissance man with the larger-than-life snoot and genius for swordplay who suffers from unrequited love for the beautiful Roxanne; Seussical Jr., based on Horton Hears a Who! (also featuring the Cat in the Hat, a detached observer who acts as both narrator and devil’s advocate).

There’s nothing like live children performing live theater; clothed in costumes and lit by colored lighting, they resemble bright Christmas packages beneath a glowing tree.

Place a membership gift beneath a Christmas tree or just buy tickets.

Contact (318) 323-0474. The Young Troupe at the Strauss Theatre, 1300 Lamy Lane, Monroe.

Holiday peace
The holiday season in the Shreveport-Bossier area is a many-splendored thing, filled with celebrations as lively as the fireworks that explode over the Red River. This intoxicating time, brimming with parties, shopping, visits and cooking, also requires time to turn inward. It is the season of peace, after all.

As W.B. Yeats so ably put it, “peace comes dropping low” at the R.S. Barnwell Memorial Garden and Art Center. This quiet enclave of all that’s beautiful provides visitors with a remarkable view of the mahogany-colored Red River, framed by the background of friendly rival cities, Shreveport and Bossier City, wherein the neon lights of the Texas Street Bridge flame against the skyline. Inside the center you’ll find botanical gardens, one of which is aptly named the Fragrance Garden, sown with the seeing-impaired in mind and filled with blossoms that are easy to identify by scent and touch. They almost think of everything here. The Conservatory flows with palms, flowering shrubs and bromeliads.

The arts are well-endowed here, and past exhibits have been resplendent in the form of the photographic “God’s Delight,” the many-hued exaltation of “A Love Story of Color,” “Instinct: The Art of the Chimpanzees” and “Orchids Down the River.”

On Thursday evening this November, intermediate art classes will be offered.

Also on-site and convenient for Christmas shopping, the interesting gift shop is filled with such unique items as twin blue willow figures, dangling earrings, handcrafted scarves, artwork, sculpture and more.

Opening Dec. 3, the center will feature an exhibit called “White on White: A Winter Season Juried Exhibition of the Many Hues and Shades of White.” This discovery of the varieties of white can open your eyes to things you’ve never noticed, as might befit the Christmas season. Sometimes, after years of wearing either red or green on Christmas Day, you find yourself choosing to wear winter white instead and realize you’ve found the peace of Christmas.

R.S. Barnwell Memorial Garden and Art, 601 Clyde Fant Parkway, Shreveport, (318) 673-7703.

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