Louisiana down time

Operation Caracal, part 2

Unlike some of our earlier family trips, this one didn’t have a lot of frills. For me, this was a chance to put some distance between myself and the problems I had been dealing with for most of the preceding year, and try to determine how best to handle whatever came next. For Lisa, it was a chance to collect and prepare for her upcoming plunge back into the workforce. For Caitlin and Michael, this was a chance to spend time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Days 3-4, December 23-24.

These two days were quiet days, devoted largely to recovering from the grueling drive. We did run some errands, such as acquire stocking stuffers for the kids and some other last minute things. One strange observation, for me at least, was the sight of teens and twenty somethings walking around in t-shirts, Bermudas, and Daisy Dukes. I know that Louisiana is one of the warmer parts of the country. But even so, the sight of so much traditionally summer attire at Christmas time created a cognitive disconnect.

As with the last time we spent Christmas here, Mr. Wayne prepared a traditional Lithuanian kūčios dinner. The main course contained fish, onions and mushrooms, while the side dishes consisted largely of, well, onions and mushrooms. Caitlin wasn’t very thrilled, because she’s not fond of mushrooms. She asked why there were so many onions and mushrooms in the meal. I told her that in the days prior to refrigeration, onions and mushrooms were among the few foods that could be preserved well into the winter. It was either eat these things, or go hungry until Spring. That’s not much of a choice when you think about it.

Day 5, December 25.

Christmas day was spent in Metarie, at the home of Lisa’s younger sister and her family. Michael had fun with his two young cousins, and Caitlin met her new good friend, a Kindle.

The dinner was amazing, with roasted Cajun-style turkey, a variety of vegetables, and some decadent Louisiana-style desserts. My blood glucose read me the riot act a short time later.

That evening, we did a drive-by of Celebration in the Oaks, a long running tradition in the New Orleans City Park. Lisa and I returned to Hammond, because Michael was falling asleep, but Caitlin stayed with the rest of the family and went through the entire display.

To be continued.

Caracal travelogue:

  1. Operation Caracal
  2. Louisiana down time
  3. Driveabout
  4. Michabelle Inn
  5. Arrival 2017AD
  6. Dems good eats
  7. First transition


Christmas Eve dinner, Lithuanian style!


My father-in-law is of Lithuanian extraction, so most years he prepares a traditional Kūčios dinner on Christmas Eve. The dinner is steeped in tradition. For example, almost all of the foods are common in Lithuanian cuisine. There is a lot of fish, onions, and mushrooms. In fact, onions and mushrooms dominate the entire meal. In the days before refrigeration and food preservation, fish, onions and mushrooms were often the only foods available during the deepest part of winter. The running joke in the Vedeckis family is that after the annual Kūčios, you will smell like mushrooms and onions for several days.

Typically there is no land meat in a Kūčios; the only meat is fish. In addition to being a traditional Lithuanian fare, the fish echoes back to the original apostles. And speaking of the apostles, a true Kūčios has twelve courses, one for each. On this point my wife’s family has strayed from tradition, and gone with only eight courses. Apparently the remaining courses were far too, shall we say, exotic for most tastes.

This year, the menu was:

  • Oplatek bread
  • Slizikai cereal with sweetened poppy seed milk
  • Marinated mushrooms
  • Mushrooms and onions in sour cream, over pumpernickel bread
  • Sauerkraut
  • Stuffed fish (mushrooms and onions were in the stuffing)
  • Herring, both in wine sauce and sour cream
  • Fruit compote

This was the third Kūčios I’ve attended with my in-laws, and in past years the menu has been very similar. Some things, like the Oplatek and Slizikai, are a standard. In truth most of the food is quite good, though I wouldn’t want to eat it every day. There are some things I won’t go near, like the sauerkraut and the herring, and I would have tried the compote if it didn’t have apricot in it (I’m allergic). But no matter! It’s good stuff!

Linksmų Kalėdų!


  • Christmas Past
  • Christmas Present