02 February

Cajun Spice Bread

February: Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday

The Louisianan librarian who heads the culinary book club in our Texas town suggested this month’s Mardi Gras theme as “Cajun Cooking”. There is a lot of influence of Cajun culture in the Houston area. In fact, there are three crawfish restaurants (one was called Louisiana Kitchen before it became a Cajun café) within walking distance from our townhouse. As we were still not able to bring food for potluck due to pandemic precautions, we brought pictures and copies of our recipes to the meeting. Islander and her friend Karen B. did exchange food in the library parking lot, though. She gave Karen this Cajun spice bread made easily from the machine and Karen gave gumbo with andouille sausage (we got the better bargain as her dish had a lot more cooking and preparation involved than our food trade). Make this Cajun spice bread in a machine for an easy side dish for a Mardi Gras meal. Happy Fat Tuesday!

(Adapted from Electric Bread)


  • 1 1/8 water
  • 3 cups white bread flour
  • 2 tablespoon dry milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons instant/fast rise yeast)


In the container of the bread machine, place the ingredients in the order listed above. Press the standard start cycle. Remove the baked bread from the machine when done. Cool to room temperature and slice. 

Pedernales River Chili

(a.k.a. LBJ Chili)

February: Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)

We took a road trip to the Texas capitol city, Austin, one year. We used to just drive through it many times from San Antonio to Dallas when visiting Highlander’s cousin in North Texas. We finally stopped for a state staycation. 

While in Austin, among other tourist attractions, we wanted to see the Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of the University of Texas. Like the other presidential libraries and museums, LBJ’s had exhibits chronicling his life and career in public service. LBJ’s wife, Lady Bird, also had some displays of her campaign clothing and ball gowns and information about her accomplishments in the community and world as well. 

We ended up at the gift shop as all tourists seem to do. Islander browsed through the cookbooks and recipe postcards but was too cheap to buy anything. Besides, several of LBJ-related recipes are online for free. For this blog post, we prepared Pedernales River Chili in honor of the 36th president of the United States who grew up in the Hill Country where the river runs through it. Politics aside, try Pedernales River Chili today for Presidents’ Day!


(Adapted from the LBJ Library)


  • 2 pounds chili meat (roughly cut or coarsely ground chuck steak)
  • Vegetable or other oil for frying
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2+ teaspoons chili powder or to taste
  • 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1+ drops of hot sauce or to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a little oil in a pan and brown the meat. Set aside to drain. In a pot, add a little oil and saute the onions with garlic. 

Stir in the meat. Season with oregano, cumin and chili powder.

Stir in the tomatoes. Season with hot sauce. Pour hot water and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to simmer for about an hour until meat is tender. Skim off some fat on the top during cook time and stir. Ladle into bowls and serve hot.


  • We were fortunate to have visited all three presidential libraries and museums in Texas (LBJ, Bush 41 and Bush 43) and one in California (Reagan). We also visited the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza which chronicles the assassination of JFK. 
  • We halved the original recipe to feed the two of us with lots of leftovers to share with foodie friends.
  • Texas chili does not typically contain beans like other recipes.
  • Search our blog for other recipes associated with the U.S. presidents.

Strawberry Scones

February 27: National Strawberry Day

Chocolate-covered strawberries have been popular throughout the month of love. As February comes to a close, indulge in strawberry scones for a romantic teatime. Instead of fresh strawberries, which could get runny in a recipe sometimes, we used the freeze dried fruit. Smother the scones in more strawberry jam and clotted cream and these are also a delightful treat to eat on National Strawberry Day!


(Adapted from TeaTime Magazine)


  • 2 cups flour, all purpose
  • ½ cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried strawberry bits (we used Trader Joe’s freeze dried strawberries
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold, chopped into pieces
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream + 1-2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


In a large mixing bow, combine the flour, ½ cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the cold butter and mix gently until it resembles coarse crumbs and peas.

Crush the strawberry bits into small pieces and add them to the flour mixture. Infuse the vanilla into ¾ cup heavy whipping cream. Stir in the whipped cream mixture into the flour mixture and bring dough together with hands until it sticks together. Place the ball of dough onto a floured surface and knead gently.

Pat and roll down to ¾ inch thick. Cut out shapes (use a 2- or 3-inch round cutter or heart-shaped cutter). Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush the tops with the remaining whipping cream. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. May be served warm with clotted cream and strawberry jam.


  • The scone dough is pretty in pink. But after baking, it has a lighter hue to allow the strawberry speckles to sparkle.
  • Thanks to fellow baker Karen B. for gifting us with the dried strawberries.
  • National Strawberry Month is in May. Search our blog for more strawberry recipes.
  • Search our blog for more scones recipes under the Theme Menus.

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