hogs for the cause

•Saturday, March 29, 2014 • 1 Comment

This weekend the Hogs for the Cause was held in City Pork, a benefit for families that have been impacted by pediatric brain cancer. It was an incredible event, with great music and great pork. The mud made the event complete! If you want to see some more pictures and read more commentary, browse through the #hogsforthecause hashtag.

I got there early and upon entering, the Pig Sexy booth was ready to go, serving up steamed pork buns, which were delicious!!!

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The 555 Sauciers were ready with the best chocolate covered bacon!

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Mr. Pigglesworth’s booth had a hawker in pink pig costume, one of many booths with team members in costume!

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Pork was the star of the day, but I managed to find the LA 23 BBQ team selling brisket!

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Kevin Bacon’s Balls representing!

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And of course the all femmes team, Sweet Swine O’ Mine were representing as well!

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There were lots of teams from all over the south, and the Fox Bros. BBQ team from Atlanta had a whole hog come out the smoker right in the middle of the festivities – great timing!

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RIght down the path, last years winners Stand Up and Snout were serving up the best smoked boudin ever!

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and across the path, Notorious P.I.G. was out in force

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Plus, the Hogs for the Cause had its own version of the St. Joseph’s Altar by Fat Buddies

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The music was wonderful, gave the crowds a way to start working off all that good pork

Treme Brass Band

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Hurray for the Riff Raff

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and the North Mississippi Allstars both on the NOLA Brewing stage were just a sampling of all the good music

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There were reminders so folks in attendance would remember the reason behind the festival – very nice to see children dancing in the Boss Hog VIP section in front of the stage.

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And of course, HUGE PROPS to all the BBQ teams, for braving the weather and the mud to feed the masses

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Congratulations to all the competition winners! Until next year…

 

 

 

 

recipes are for sharing

•Tuesday, November 26, 2013 • 1 Comment

I recently lost a relative of mine this past summer. It was a sudden and tragic death. While the rest of the family was gathering in the aftermath to let the loss sink in, one of the women in the younger generation lamented the loss of this person’s crabmeat au gratin. My relative made this dish every Christmas, and everyone that gathered waited patiently to have a taste of the fabulous recipe that showcased the sweet lump crabmeat. So the discussion ensued and everyone began wringing their hands over the loss of the recipe for this dish, when lo and behold one of the children piped up and said “look here, the recipe is right here in this cookbook!”

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the dish was saved and that in memory of our loved one we could raise a toast and a dollop of crabmeat au gratin on a cracker over the holidays. And this got me to thinking; what about all those beloved recipes that were lost, never to be tasted again. A particular recipe that is gone was my grandmother’s rice pudding. My mother said that no matter how hard she tried, she could never replicate it. Back then recipes were barely written down: a list of ingredients and if you were lucky maybe you had the quantities alongside the items. And never mind the process to assemble the dish, all one could get was add this, add that, cook for about an hour (forget the temperature) and voila! your recipe is done!

Losing a recipe because someone failed to write it down is one thing. What is more egregious is someone that makes a particular dish that everyone loves, yet refuses to share it with anyone. I recall an acquaintance I knew in my 20’s who made the best red velvet cake I’ve ever tasted in my life. It was rich, moist, and had the best cream cheese icing! I was able to partake on a few occasions and no matter how much I begged her, she flat out refused to share the recipe and then had the nerve to gloat over how good it tasted and how no one could ever share in that delight by making it and passing the recipe forward. All I can remember about her is the extreme selfishness and if she ever died how bittersweet it would be that only empty plates would be her legacy. Remember that when you so tenaciously guard your recipes over the holidays and insist on taking them to the grave. Instead of your remaining loved ones celebrating your memory by recreating your dish, all they will have to hang on is a bitter person that refused to share their love from the kitchen so others could enjoy.

So in memory of my loved one, please enjoy their crabmeat au gratin – Happy Thanksgiving

2 large white onions chopped

1 bunch green onions chopped

6 ribs celery chopped

1/2 # butter (2 sticks)

4 tbsp flour

1 large & 1 small can evaporated milk

2 egg yolks

2 # lump crabmeat

12 oz. grated swiss or cheddar

Salt & pepper & hot sauce

Saute onion, celery & butter, add flour & blend, then add evaporated milk & blend. Remove from heat & add egg, crabmeat, salt, pepper and cheese. Put in an 8″ casserole and add extra cheese on top, then bake for 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until bubbly.

80,000 gallons of oil headed our way

•Wednesday, January 30, 2013 • Comments Off

Last weekend, a barge upriver near Vicksburg disposed of its contents into the Mississippi River. Tally? Another 80,000 gallons of oil migrating down the river towards the delta. 

I ask – does anything ever happen to these irresponsible entities? Better safety practices in place? Fines and penalties enough to put the derelict company out of business? Nah, probably not…

A barge laden with 80,000 gallons of oil struck a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Miss., over the weekend, spilling light crude into the Mississippi River and closing the waterway for miles each way, the Coast Guard said. A second barge was damaged. Although an oily sheen was reported up to three miles downriver from Vicksburg, investigators were uncertain how much of the oil had spilled when the bridge was hit early Sunday, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Ryan Gomez said.

Barge-Miss.jpgThe towboat Nature Way Endeavor banks a barge against the western bank of the Mississippi River, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. The river was closed to all traffic eight miles north and south of Vicksburg.AP Photo/Vicksburg Post, Eli Baylis 

“Investigators are still trying to figure out what happened,” he said by telephone from Coast Guard offices in Memphis, Tenn.

The oil sheen from Sunday’s incident was unlikely to pose a threat to the Gulf of Mexico, located more than 340 river miles south of Vicksburg.

Authorities were still trying to pinpoint the leak’s source, but it appeared to be coming from one or two tanks located at the stern of the first barge, Gomez added. He said there was no indication that any oil was leaking from the second vessel, and said it was still unclear whether the second barge also hit the bridge or was damaged through a collision with the first.

United States Environmental Services, a response-and-remediation company, was working to contain the oil with booms before collecting it, Gomez said.

He could not say how long the river would remain closed in the area. Five northbound and two southbound vessels were waiting to pass, he said. A message seeking a Coast Guard update early Monday was not immediately returned.

Railroad traffic was allowed to continue after the bridge was found safe for trains, Petty Officer Carlos Vega said Sunday.

The barges are owned by Third Coast Towing LLC, Gomez said. According to a website listed under that name, the company is located in Corpus Christi, Texas. No one answered the telephone at the company Sunday night.

Both vessels were being pushed by the tugboat Nature’s Way Endeavor. The website for Nature’s Way Marine LLC of Theodore, Ala., identifies the vessel as a 3,000-horsepower, 90-foot-long boat. It was built in 1974 and underwent a complete rebuild in 2011, according to the company.

A company manager referred calls to the Coast Guard command center at Vicksburg.

The last time an oil spill closed a portion of the lower Mississippi River, it was for less than a day last February after an oil barge and a construction barge collided, spilling less than 10,000 gallons of oil. In 2008, a fuel barge collided with a tanker and broke in half, dumping 283,000 gallons of heavy crude into the waterway, and closing the river for six days.

Residents and businesses in Gulf Coast states are still recovering from the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.

adieu Bob Marshall

•Sunday, September 30, 2012 • Comments Off

This week has been very disturbing, reading all of the sad goodbyes from the journalists I’ve followed through the years at the Times Picayune. One who will be particularly missed is Bob Marshall. He has always championed his love of the outdoors and has been a prominent voice that always promotes Louisiana’s ecological and environmental survival. I hope you have a bountiful time in the swamps and marshes, bonne chance.

When local outdoors folk look back on the summer of 2012 they may well remember it as a season of questions. Such as “What happened to the speckled trout?” And “What happened to the teal?” And “How did a Category 1 storm spread so much damage?”

I found part of the answer last week when I spotted the bodies. They were laying along the shoulders and on the neutral ground of Highway 23 between Lake Hermitage and Port Sulphur. Some in starkly sad isolation, others twisted together where the storm’s surge had left them, still others extending from 20-foot piles of debris being dropped into trucks by heavy equipment.

Two weeks earlier they had been residents of the southeast Louisiana marsh, full-grown clumps of spartina grass complete with a foot-thick supporting plug of delta mud, something that might have taken the river decades to lay down – when it could still reach its delta.

The nearest marsh from their final resting places was probably five miles away. So Isaac had ripped them from the skeletal remains of our once vibrant, growing delta, and dropped them when the Mississippi River levees blocked further transport. The line of death reached halfway up the tall mud walls along the river and were stacked four to six feet deep on the highway before the mechanical undertakers arrived to sanitize the scene.

That clean-up was urgently important, but it would have been helpful if locals living inside our new $14 billion storm surge levees had been required to view the scene before the job was done. Maybe then they would have found part of the answers to their growing list of questions about “what’s happening?” with fishing and hunting, with home-flooding from even “minimal” hurricanes, and road inundations just from stiff southerly winds. The miles of marsh lying dead on the road would be a powerful reminder that the loss of wetlands – which is a big reason those levees are necessary – continues apace.

Hurricanes, of course, have long been a part of this ecosystem. Ecologists say in a healthy coastal delta the big storms play a role similar to wild fire in natural forests – cleaning out the old and sick and creating openings for the generation of new life. And on deltas connected to their life-giving rivers, the healing from storm scars begins with the next spring rise.

But this delta – which supports our homes, culture and livelihoods – has been sick and dying for decades, its lifeblood blocked by levees, its circulatory system destroyed by canals carved for oil, gas and shipping. It can’t heal itself; wounds fester and grow, eventually becoming fatal.

The “coastal erosion” everyone has heard about isn’t just a move northward from the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. It’s also a simultaneous death from the inside out. Viewing year-to-year satellite images of areas outside our levees is like watching pixels being pulled from a digital photo, with tiny holes steadily growing into ever larger blank spaces. These open space fill with water, which gives even light breezes a longer fetch to build energy, which means waves landing against surviving shorelines arrive with greater force – which means our problem grows ever larger, faster.

That’s one reason comparatively small storms like Isaac now do so much damage. As the large masses of marsh are rendered into progressively smaller fragments, they become easier victims for wind and wave energy.

Of course, there’s another reason smaller storms are now causing more marsh destruction and consequent home and road flooding. It’s the fact that shall not be named by our congressional delegation: global warming. The build-up of greenhouse gases mainly from fossil fuels is causing the sea to rise at an accelerated rate because water expands as it warms and because water that once was frozen on land as glaciers and ice fields is melting and flowing into the seas.

This isn’t a theory. It’s a fact recorded by measurements at tide stations over the last few decades. And the rate of sea level rise in southeast Louisiana is about four times the rate of the rest of the continent because we are sinking at the same time the Gulf is swelling.

The graphs on this page explain that. They are not computer models or projections. They are measurements of what has happened and continues to happen. You can see allthese facts online here.

And part of what they tell us is that storm surges on the other side of our levees are becoming higher and more dangerous with each passing season, because even small storms have more water to push our way and much less marsh and swamp to diminish their speed and power.

 Hunters, anglers and other who spend time on the other side of the levees are not surprised by any of this. They know the reality of the world on the wet side of those mud and concrete walls. But seeing sections of dead marsh lying along coastal roads after Isaac may be confirmation of their worst fears: the habitat base responsible for their pastimes may be losing its battle for survival.

Those bodies lying along Highway 23 were providing some answers and sending a message: Time is running out to save what we have left, and to prevent the Gulf from reaching those mud walls we think make us safe.

  A final note

 This is my last day as Outdoors Editor of The Times-Picayune. It has been a great joy and privilege to serve the readers of the metro area and work alongside some of the finest journalists in the nation.

I’ll see you in the marsh.

 

dumping grounds

•Thursday, September 13, 2012 • Comments Off

Isaac hastened it, but Louisiana simply cannot shake the fact that we remain the oil slicked dumping grounds of America. Here is the latest installment – Isaac’s flooding triggered  191,000 gallons of toxic chemicals – benzene, toluene, and styrene among others – released during the storm in Stolthaven chemical holding and transfer facility in Braithwaite, Louisiana.  Sure is nice to know that the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality as well as the Environmental Protection Agency are stepping up and doing their collective “jobs”.

Stolthaven Braithwaite terminal may have released more that 191,000 gallons of toxic chemicals during Isaac

Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012, 1:58 PM     Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012, 2:55 PM

 More than 191,000 gallons of toxic chemicals may have been released from the Stolthaven New Orleans petroleum and chemical storage and transfer terminal in Braithwaite during Hurricane Isaac, according to a company report filed Tuesday with the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center. That’s just one day after the Louisiana Department of Environmental Qualty assured the public that monitoring at the facility detected no offsite contamination.
Stolthaven  chemical admits to chemical release

DAVID GRUNFELD / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE
Workers at the Stolthaven chemical holding and transfer facility in Plaquemines Parish Thursday September 13, 2012. The company admitted to releasing more chemicals during Hurricane Isaac than initially thought. A report by Stolthaven to the National Response Center admits to releasing over 191,000 gallons of benzene, styrene, toluene and other chemicals into flood waters that entered Braithwaite, according to the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.Stolthaven chemical admits to release during Hurricane Isaac gallery (5 photos)

Today, a DEQ spokesman said Stolthaven’s report “lists the worst-case scenario for potential releases which includes tank contents that could not be accurately measured.”

“The actual amount released, the type of chemical and if it was released (air, water, etc.) has yet to be determined for the materials in this NRC update,” said DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett. “This investigation is still ongoing by DEQ and numerous state, federal and local officials.

“DEQ and others continue to monitor the air and have taken surface water samples and are reviewing plans to conduct soil samples,” he said. “The current goal of all the responding parties is to clean up the facility and ensure public safety. Pre and post-storm reconciliation of the materials that were on site will better determine the actual amount released.”

A flyover of the area by a Times-Picayune photographer this morning showed a significant quantity of liquid material adjacent to one of the tanks, with nearby workers dressed in clothing designed to protect them from hazardous chemicals.

“We know there were releases early in the event,” Mallet said. “That’s one of the reason for the extensive air monitoring which currently shows no off site impacts. The earlier releases are also one reason why we are in the process of beginning sediment sampling.”

The area around the terminal along Louisiana 39 in Plaquemines Parish remains blocked to residential traffic as a precautionary measure as workers move volatile chemical containers back into place.

On Monday, DEQ emergency response manager Peter Ricca said any hazard remained on the facility’s site. Company officials said then that the facility sustained severe flooding during Isaac, with parts of the plant under 7 feet of water. However, in the report, company officials said floodwaters were between 10 and 14 feet deep “which caused damages and leaks to some of the storage tanks.”

“The release occurred on 29Aug2012 with the discovery date of 11Sep2012,” the form said. “The quantities for all of the materials involved are not expected to exceed the specified amount.”

Officials with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade said the report raises questions about DEQ’s public reassurances.

“As of a few days ago, DEQ was offering assurances of safety to people, and this form exposes how lackadaisical they are about protecting us, and they should be fired,” said Anne Rolfes, the group’s executive director. “They were saying publicly that it was safe and nothing was released into the greater community, but it was clear from just driving through the neighborhood that something was wrong. They need to be honest and not just give kneejerk reassurances.”

Rolfes said the report also shows that Stolthaven did not do enough to prepare for an expected flooding of its facility during the storm.

“They’ll say that Isaac was an act of God, but they’re supposed to be prepared to withstand floodwaters,” she said.

Stolthaven officials reported the release of nine toxic chemicals into floodwaters:

–Diethylethanolamine, 177,568 gallons. The chemical is used as a corrosion inhibitor and in the manufacture of agrichemicals and pharmaceuticals. It can cause eye and skin burns and can be harmful or fatal if swallowed, and his harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin, according to a material safety data sheet.

–Lubricating oil, 9,474 gallons.

–Styrene monomer, 1,036 gallons. The chemical is a key ingredient in plastics manufacturing; an eye and skin irritant, hazardous if ingested, according to a material safety data sheet.

–Toluene, 973.1 gallons; an industrial feedstock and solvent, it is an eye and skin irritant and hazardous when ingested.

–Xylene, 973.1 gallons; a solvent and feedstock used in manufacturing other chemicals, harmful when inhaled or comes in contact with skin, and hazardous if ingested.

–Ethylene glycol, 822 gallons; best known as an ingredient in antifreeze, hazardous when ingested and slightly hazardous in case of skin or eye contact.

–Ethylbenzene, 291.8 gallons; used in the manufacture of styrene and other chemicals; hazardous to eyes, when ingested or inhaled.

–Napthalene, 97.3 gallons; best known as the ingredient of mothballs, is very hazardous if ingested, an eye irritant and hazardous if inhaled.

–Tetraethyl lead, 5.1 gallons; a banned gasoline additive in this country, harmful in contact with skin or eyes, can cause lung damage, and long-term exposure to lead can cause health problems in children.

 

 

it was lurking beneath the surface all this time

•Tuesday, September 4, 2012 • Comments Off

Well the inevitable happened – Hurricane Isaac stirred up the Gulf of Mexico and with it all the detritus lurking down below from the BP oil spill. So much for it all just going away…

 

La. officials close 12 miles of coastline after Isaac washes up tar balls, oil from BP spill
Published: Tuesday, September 04, 2012, 4:10 PM    
By Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune 
The state is closing a 12-mile section of Gulf coastline from Caminada Pass to Pass Fourchon after Hurricane Isaac washed up large areas of oil and tar balls at the location of one of the worst inundations of BP oil during the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010. Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said agency crews surveying damage from Isaac discovered large sections of viscous oil and tar balls floating along the coast from the beach to one mile offshore between Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge, just west of Grand Isle, to Pass Fourchon.

“It’s a very large mass that is viscous but hasn’t coalesced into tar mats yet,” Barham said. “But the Elmer’s Island beaches are littered with tar balls of every size, from eraser size to the size of baseballs.”

Samples will be analyzed by the LDWF and the state Department of Environmental Quality to determine if it originated from the Deepwater Horizon, Barham said.

Oil from that event often mixed with sand as it neared the coast and sank to the silty floor of the nearshore Gulf. But heavy weather has regularly dredged it up from the soft bottom, where waves carry it to the beach and even push it inside the marsh. The persistence of the oil has kept clean-up crews working along the coast since the April 2010 spill.

While the most toxic parts of raw oil quickly dissipate, the tar mats, tar balls and viscous sludge that reappear after storms remain a threat to fish, wildlife and humans, state authorities said. They can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, known carcinogens that can also disrupt endocrine systems in both humans and wildlife.

Barham cautioned the current discovery may not be the last. Crews are still inspecting other known Deepwater Horizon hot spots.

“Our people are still out conducting a thorough examination of the entire coast to check for storm impacts, including coast line erosion and oil, and we probably won’t be finished for several days,” he said. “Yes, we expected this could happen, but it’s still very troubling.”

LDWF crew are also reporting an oil structure in Barataria Bay leaking a small amount of oil. Clean-up crews were working that site, Barham said.

saltwater creeping towards New Orleans

•Monday, July 16, 2012 • Comments Off

Because of low water levels in the Mississippi River, salt water is creeping against the normal water flow to the gulf and up towards New Orleans and the intake for the city’s drinking water supply. 

Courtesy of The Times Picayune this morning 

Saltwater wedge moving up the Mississippi River

Low water in the Mississippi River has allowed a “wedge” of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to work its way up to mile marker 43, just above the Plaquemines Parish community of Jesuit Bend, but is not yet considered a threat to New Orleans, St. Bernard or Jefferson water supplies, officials with the Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday. Plaquemines Parish officials have measured elevated salinity levels at water intakes in Boothville and Venice, but the lower end of the parish has access to freshwater from a pipeline from Belle Chasse, said Will Veatch, a corps hydrologist. The pipeline was installed after low river events in 1988 and 1999.

Low water in the Mississippi River has allowed a ‘wedge’ of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to work its way up to mile marker 43, just above the Plaquemines Parish community of Jesuit Bend. The Mississippi River just south of Jesuit Bend in 2006.

Denser, heavier saltwater flows upriver beneath fresh water flowing downstream when the river’s flow drops below normal. The federal drinking water standard for salt is 250 parts per million, which could occur if the wedge’s upper level reaches the water intakes.

If officials believe the wedge is four weeks away from fouling the upriver freshwater intakes, the corps will block the saltwater from moving upstream by building an underwater sill of dredged sediment at mile marker 63.7, 31 miles below the Canal Street ferry.

But that’s not a threat until the leading edge of the wedge has moved 15 to 25 miles upstream of the intakes, Veatch said, and he said corps officials still don’t believe that will happen this summer.

The surface of the river was at only 2.5 feet above sea level at the Carrollton Gage in New Orleans on Friday, which was slightly higher than a reading of 2.1 feet over last weekend.

But hydrologists with the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center, based in the Slidell office of the National Weather Service, predict the water level will drop to 1.8 feet by Aug. 6, based on rainfall to date.

And the weather service’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting mostly dry weather in the Midwest, upstream of New Orleans, over the next two weeks, which could result in even lower water levels in New Orleans later this summer.

Veatch said the corps’ sill decision will be triggered by the river’s height and speed of its flow at Red River Landing, above Baton Rouge, since tidal flow at the Carrollton Gage complicates its use for long-term estimates of the wedge’s movement.

On Friday, the Red River Landing water level was 17.1 feet, and was forecast to drop to 13.5 feet by Aug. 8. Veatch said a forecast of 10 feet would be required to trigger the sill construction.

The corps has a standing contract with a dredging company to build what amounts to an underwater dam that fills in the lowest part of the river bottom where the saltwater is moving upstream, said Michelle Spraul, project manager for the Mississippi River’s operation from Baton Rouge to the Gulf.

She said about 2.5 million cubic yards of sediment would be dredged from two disposal areas located just upstream to create the sill. She could not estimate the cost of building it.

The sill will raise the bottom of the river to between 50 feet below sea level and 45 feet below sea level, which will still allow ocean-going vessels to move upstream, she said.

No additional dredging will be required to remove the sediment once river levels rise and the flow of fresh water flushes the saltwater out, Spraul said.

 
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