Let's talk about Cafe Mais Sha a moment. Pronouced Meh Sha if you were wondering, Mom was the first that asked about what it meant and how to say it, she said no one would ever come to my little cafe because no one could pronounce it LOL. Both words are Cajun and link right back to my French Canadian roots on my .. you guessed it, MOTHERS SIDE. She should study her family line a little closer :) Now granted my mom's grandparents settled in Salem but I have managed to trace the L'Heureux line back to where they split and went both to Salem and New Orleans. So the name, just a little nod to heritage. If nothing else because Bygar (moms mom) taught me some very very useful cooking tips that I continue to use to this day.
I never was one to be in the kitchen watching, or learning, and no one ever said HEY.. YOU.. I AM TEACHING YOU THIS! It was more trial by fire, for years.. and I mean YEARS I didn't even know I could cook. I could do the staples (read hamburger helper or tv dinners) to get by but they didn't have much finesse, it was just food on a plate, and it was cooked so you wouldn't starve, not something you went OHHHHH AHHHHH at. I even worked in restaurant kitchens, but by design it they weren't OHHHH AHHHH places. They were more of the 80's style buffet on a plate covered in gravy, or fried seafood platters, and those steaks.. those poor steaks, I don't think any went out of there that were not smashed to death on the griddle and well done. So that certainly didn't help my cooking skills. So I thought, I couldn't cook, every time I tried to fry an egg.. it was .. yea lets not talk about it.
Then one day, Craig will remember this well, I decided I was going to have my mom come to the house for Thanksgiving, the kids were small, Drake I believe was just a few months old if he was even here yet. I sat down and and made this long list of everything one would have at a Thanksgiving meal if you were feeding 25 people, not the 3 adults and tiny little kids, and he said.. "Who is cooking that??" when I said "I am" I think he laughed, if he didn't full out laugh he at least snickered. You see... I didn't cook, he did. He was good at it. I remember watching him in the kitchen and thinking "How the heck does he do that?" I still don't really know because he never followed any recipes, he just did and it turned out and was amazing. At the time I barely knew how to boil a potato much less cook a turkey! We had recently gotten internet (yes the dial up kind) and I went online and looked at recipe after recipe after recipe and I printed and I shopped and I chopped and I baked and I sauteed, and I cooked a damn turkey in the oven. I cooked every last bit of that meal under the watchful eye of someone who knew if I was burning the canned cranberries, the only exception was the rolls, mom brought those and I still don't know how to make them. I even made homemade pumpkins pies.. from pumpkins not cans. Hey go big or go home right? Right there on that day my actual love of cooking began because I could follow a recipe.
It was not until I met my beloved Amanda and Randolph that I really learned about the actual plating of food and how important it is to eat with your eyes first, and I started playing with how I placed things on the plate. Those first years were rough looking, I didn't have the touch, honestly I didn't even have it going into this year, but I have practiced on roughly 200 plates by now so I am getting better. It is very rare that I place bowls of things on the table family style, I plate in the kitchen and serve, it started as a eat with your eyes first thing, but it also made me so much more aware of my portion size! It keeps me accountable to what I am eating, and not just being able to scoop another spoon of mashed potatoes on my plate. (not that I am eating those right now) and then I started seeing how much better my own food tasted when the plate looked nice. So I kept trying.
I do love posting the photos of my beautiful food, and even the beautiful food Amanda and Randolph prepare. But my food has a secret. I am going to share that with you all now. I use food boxes! Yup not kidding. I would say we have been getting them for about 6 months now. It all started when I could not take another week of making the same damn thing!!! I started looking at recipes online and shopping to cook for those things and the food bill went sky high not to mention the absolute frustration of the quality of meats found here in this county and the next and the lack of ingredients I needed. I was annoyed as all get out and sick to death of all of the high carb load and fried crap I was cooking. Side Note: I love a good old fashion country meal just like the next person but every day.. no thanks. So I did some research and I found Marley and Spoon, I settled on that particular box because when looking at the recipes I thought, my dad will eat that and that was of the utmost importance. Sure there were meals that I wanted so badly to try but I knew that they were a bit far out of Dad's realm of eating.
When our first box arrived, I quickly put all the food away and stashed the box so he wouldn't see it. That night I made his dinner and when he saw it he said "WHAT IS THIS???" My heart sank, I just knew that this was not going to work. I responded with exactly what it was and he replied "It looks good!" To this day there has only been one thing dad didn't eat, purple cabbage, he can't get by the color. The only other things he has had issue with since we started with food boxes are the following, I did over cook the pork once and he said it wasn't the best in the world, and once I made boiled potatoes and he thought they were supposed to be mashed potatoes so he didn't like those much. My dad has eaten more "different things" in 6 months time than he has in his entire 77 years! He mentioned once, that he would never order any of these things from a restaurant because they just don't look like something he would like, I told him that he has short changed himself all of these years with so many good things out there he just never tried. It was that night I let him on "the secret" and showed him the food box and the recipes. Now he wants to see the recipe card with his meal so he knows all of the ingredients that he is eating!
In a way I feel like all of the love and likes and oohhh's and ahhhh's on my food pics are a cheat. Like I don't deserve that, I didn't put this together, someone in Florida likely designed my menu. But you know what, that is not fair to me. No one else cooked that meal, I did. No one else plated that meal, I did. Yes the food came in a box, so what.. it comes in a bag from the grocery store, what's the difference?? Oh I can tell you, I am not throwing out all of the left over ingredients next week because they are perfectly portioned. Yes the recipe cards come printed in the box, well they come printed off of the internet too, or from recipe books, what's the difference??? Oh I can tell you, hours and hours of scouring for the perfect things, time is so important to me right now and this helps save me time. It is still me that modifies these recipes with Bygar tips and for myself and my way of Keto eating, no one else. So while I have felt like I was hiding this big secret of my food being delivered in a box, DOES THAT EVEN MATTER?? It's just like short changing myself on accomplishments, yesterday's half mile run was horrendous for some reason, but you know what no matter if I was really going that slow or if my watch was wonky I went on that half mile run! I did that!
We live in a society of being embarrassed by our own accomplishments, and I just don't know why. We don't give ourselves credit where it is due. We don't look at the fact that we made it to the gym and left our comfort zone and got our work out on as an accomplishment, instead we look in the mirror and think bad thoughts about ourselves. We don't look at the fact that we are in fact getting out of a deep dark place and are proud we picked ourselves up once again, instead we chastise ourselves for being there to begin with and only see how much farther we have to go. We look at a half mile run and think, you used to run half marathons for fun, now look at you, instead of thinking I am doing this the right way this time, I am building this on layer by layer, so that the next half marathon will be strong and true, and not some half ass trained bull shit that leaves you limping around for days, but we look badly at that half mile. We don't look at a beautifully plated dinner and think, I did this, I created this, instead we think shamefully that all I did was follow a recipe from a box!
I wish I knew why we do this, I think knowing would help so many people, people I love. Maybe the trick is to start owning our accomplishments? I think many of us grew up with the you made your bed now you have to sleep in it mind set that it has spilled over into every thing we do, so much so we don't see the good things we do, we are constantly looking at that bed we made, that is supposed to be something ugly, why can't that bed be beautiful and pretty? Why can't that bed we made look inviting and comfortable? Maybe we all need to order new bedding!
Circling back up to Cafe Mais Sha.. what does it mean you wonder? It literally means "Well then love". Mais is used to express delight, shock, exasperation etc. Sha is nothing more than slang for Cher which means Love.
Mais Sha, know you know my cooking secret and how you too can do the same! I am excited for the box next week, we are changing services to a greener delivery that is known for it's Keto meals.. EXCITED!!!
I am going to sign off today by asking you, in what ways do you short change yourself? Are you not seeing your true accomplishments as your friends see them?
Peace, Love and Light,