Monday, October 6, 2014
In Southwest Louisiana, gumbo is a staple that’s cooked in big cast iron pots and stirred with large wood spoons – or boat oars, depending on how many people are being fed.  Variations of the roux-based soup include chicken and smoked sausage, shrimp and okra, wild duck and smoked sausage, even rabbit or seafood gumbo with shrimp, crab and oysters.

Gumbo is eaten year round in Southwest Louisiana, but home and professional cooks enjoy it most during the cool months of fall and winter.  It’s gumbo season, y’all!

Everyone makes their gumbo differently and the origin of “gumbo” is a melting pot, as well. The Southern Foodways Alliance put together a great oral history of the Southern Gumbo Trail that even interviews David Papania from Seafood Palace.

One of the best attended cook-offs in Southwest Louisiana is the “World Famous Cajun Extravaganza/Gumbo Cook-off” that occurs the Saturday prior to Mardi Gras at the Lake Charles Civic Center. With over 50 teams competing, there are professional and amateur categories for Wild Game, Chicken and Sausage, and Seafood Gumbos.  For $5, you can taste from event pot!

Learn how to make your own traditional chicken and sausage gumbo from Chef Scott Landry from Lake Charles, La.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
By Angie Kay Dilmore
Eastern Bluebird by Gulf Coast Bird Club Member
Deanna Griggs

I love bird-watching. I enjoy seeing them eat at the feeders in my backyard. I’m thrilled when I spot a heron or egret wading along the shoreline when I paddle my kayak or see a flock of geese flying in V-formation across an autumn sky. But I’m not very good at specifically identifying birds by sight or, worse yet, recognizing their calls and songs. Sure, I’m familiar with the common backyard birds like cardinals, bluejays, eastern bluebirds, and black-capped chickadees. But ask me to differentiate between a red-bellied and a red-headed woodpecker, and I’m stumped.

Brown-headed Nuthatch 
So I sought out some help from our local Gulf Coast Bird Club this past Saturday. They meet for a bird walk the 4th Saturday of every month, 8 a.m, at Sam Houston Jones State Park. On this most recent bird walk, the club spotted wood ducks, nuthatches, Carolina wrens, chickadees, and a variety of woodpeckers, and that was all in the first ten minutes! Experienced birders lead these walks, which are designed for beginner birders.

Carolina Wren
On most walks, the club sees an average of 20-25 different species of birds. “We’re in fall migration season right now, so we’re seeing some different migratory birds; some warblers and northern tanagers,” says David Booth, club founder and vice president of programs.

Hooded Warbler
In addition to the monthly walks, the club occasionally takes field trips to the Lacassine area, Toledo Bend, Smith’s Point, or wildlife refuges such as Cameron Prairie or Sabine.

Snowy Egret
Their next event will be a program called “Listen Up! Birding by Ear,” which will help participants learn to identify birds by their call. This event coincides with Meet the Blind Month. All bird lovers, including the sight impaired, are encouraged to attend this program on October 10, 8 - 9:30 a.m. at Drew Park, 416 Michael DeBakey Dr., Lake Charles. 
Pileated Woodpecker by Gulf Coast Bird Club
Member Deanna Griggs

Blue Heron
The Gulf Coast Bird Club is dedicated to promoting the knowledge and conservation of birdlife, other wildlife, natural habitats and natural resources; and to fostering an appreciation of our natural environment and of the significance of its influence upon human life. Founded in 1983, the club seeks to provide educational opportunities to the general public and to other organizations regarding bird life.

For more information on the club or their events, see their websitejoin their Facebook page, or call 337-526-0837. 

To read more of Angie's adventures, check out her blog,