Oh, I love summer nights! The deep blue of twilight makes the lake almost glow in the distance and the stars grow brighter and brighter as nightfall deepens. Great blue heron squawk farewells when they fly by going to roosts high up in the treetops, ducks murmur goodnight as they come gliding by, and the tree frogs sing a craggy lullaby.
Oh, the summer night, has a smile of light, and she sits on a sapphire throne."Bryan Procter
The other day on a whim, I threw an afghan covered with images of fishing lures over our table. I instantly loved the charm the afghan added to the room and decided to set a simple tablescape that looked as if we were having dinner at an old fish camp, or fishing cabin. I walked around the house, “shopping” for items I could use for our table.
NOTE: “Fish camps” began in the 1930’s and were campsites located near rivers or lakes where fishermen could fry their fresh catch-of-the-day in small sheds. Fish camps have evolved and are still popular campsites today, though the sheds have been replaced with cabins, and there is usually a camp restaurant that prepares local cuisine, and features the catch-of-the-day. However the rustic charm, and casual atmosphere of those early fish camps are still replicated in the fish camps of today.
After I’d gathered up some items I thought would help create the fish camp tablescape I was envisioning, I stacked 2 of my favorite picnic baskets on top of each other, and placed them on the table. The 2 baskets created an instant focal point, like a centerpiece creates on a table and were perfect for the outdoorsy, fishing camp…“Gone Fishing” theme I was going for.
With my focal point in place, my next contemplation was what tableware would be a good choice for a fishing cabin. I chose our picnic dishes, and placed a stack of tin chargers and plaid melamine dishes next to a tin ice bucket, and put dark blue paper napkins with the words, “ON LAKE TIME” into a little square basket.
The last thing needed to complete my tablescape was adding a fun variety of accessories to pull together the fish cabin theme. Amidst and amongst the other things already on the table, I placed two wooden canoes, an etched glass canoe, an antique lantern, some rustic blocks with twig borders perched on top of the baskets that read, “Gone Fishing” and a little red and white hinged, ceramic fish bobber, which was a dear gift from our son.
"At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice."Proverbs 7:6
The rest of the camp ambiance was easily created with the glow of our table lamp, and the view of the gorgeous lake outside.
Now…for the delicious recipe for my Cajun Beans! This side dish of beans is so colorful and pretty, I had a hard time deciding whether to name it Calico Beans, or Cajun Beans! This bean recipe serves a crowd and look impressive, though they are easy to make…especially when using canned beans and frozen vegetables! I call these recipes I create, when I use canned, already prepared, or frozen ingredients to make preparing the meal less labor intensive, “Short Cut Meals!” These are our family’s favorite summertime side and they’re delicious whether paired with barbeque, or with the catch-of-the-day…and they make a showy side dish to take to a potluck dinner.
- 1 lb pork sausage, cooked and drained well
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons bacon grease
- 1 10 pkg frozen seasoning blend or…use fresh onion, bell pepper, celery, and parsley flakes
- Creole Seasoning-to taste (I used 1-2 teaspoons of Tony ChaChere’s Original Creole Seasoning)
- 1 10 oz can Mild Rotel Tomatoes (in Texas we like things “spicy” (: Use Petite Diced Tomatoes if you want to tone down the heat!)
- 1 can Lima Beans, drained(*bean cans vary slightly in size depending on the brand. Use 14-16 oz size cans for all the beans used in this recipe)
- 1 can* Navy Beans, drained
- 1 can* Black Beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly!
- 1 can* Light Red Kidney beans, drained
- 1 4 oz bottle of Hickory Liquid Smoke
- Cook sausage in medium size skillet until sausage is done throughout.
- Drain sausage in a colander lined with several layers of paper towels to remove grease. Note: After draining, I fold the paper towels over the sausage, while it is still in the colander. Press the paper towels firmly against the cooked sausage to remove all excess grease
- In a large Dutch oven, or stew pot, melt butter and bacon grease
- Add entire bag of frozen seasoning blend, or…use fresh, diced onions, celery, red & green peppers, and parsley flakes,
- Sauté vegetable blend until tender, then stir in Tony ChaChere’s Original Creole Seasoning, according to taste. (I add 1-2 teaspoons of seasoning to my beans)
- Add cooked, drained sausage, to the sautéed vegetables and mix well
- Pour in Rotel tomatoes with juice from can
- Open and drain all bean cans, and rinse the BLACK BEANS WELL! (I dump my black beans in a colander and rinse them until the water runs clear. If black beans are not drained and rinsed until the water runs clear, the taste won’t be effected, but the unrinsed beans will “dirty” and ruin the colorful presentation of the beans.
- Add entire 4 ounce bottle of Hickory Liquid Smoke to bean mixture
- Mix and stir all ingredients well
- If in a hurry…cover bean mixture and cook over medium heat until heated thoroughly and bubbly, or, if time allows, I prefer slower cooking…cover and cook bean mixture on a lower heat setting, allowing time for the flavors to meld and blend (Note: after I’ve cooked and drained the sausage, I usually mix all the other ingredients and put the entire bean mixture into my crock pot and cook on low, up to 2 hours; then set the crock pot “to warm” until time for serving
- Serve beans in individual bowls, and top with a dollop of sour cream sprinkled with paprika and grated cheese
I’ve made these beans many ways, and all the ways have been delicious! Sometimes I add orzo and smoked sausage to the beans while they are cooking, toss a quick salad, and toast some garlic bread, or bake some dinner rolls for a quick and easy meal.
And…last of all a peek inside the ceramic, hinged bobber you saw closed, earlier in this post…the cutest, miniature “Catch of the Day!” (:
Make your own home feel like you’re “away from home” by setting a fun, themed tablescape for your next meal. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and Cajun Beans becomes one of your family’s favorite’s!
From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda
"At twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in."Proverbs 7:9
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