Labor Day Recipes, Remembrances and Reflections – Oh, My!

September 4, 2023

Labor Day Recipes, Remembrances and Reflections – Oh, My!


A good blog post has a purpose, a point, a profound statement or three and a call to action. It’s not too long, and not too short.

Even as this post was just a vague itch of an idea early this morning, I knew it could be ambling and rambling and might not accomplish all of the above.

Apparently, Labor Day does that to me.

In addition to my appreciation for the fact that I have an interesting and fulfilling job (which I always feel on Labor Day), recipes and remembrances abound from the plethora of parties and family vacations that spring up to leverage the extra day off. We’ve been blessed by so many rollicking good times with family and friends over the years, and other times, when things were more somber, just being together was what we needed. The story below is a look back at Labor Day of 2000, the last time I saw my Mom before she quietly slipped over the rainbow she’d been hovering beneath for years just weeks later.

Rereading that post, I’m overwhelmed by the personal benefit I draw from this small but mighty platform where I process, reflect, share and connect / reconnect. Tapping into the memories of that last Labor Day with Mom more than two decades ago brings her struggles and stoicism back into sharp focus, and I continue to learn from her uniqueness and spirited optimism and determination, all these years later. Thank you, Mom.

Another post is more recent, an in-the-moment Labor Day lament just two years ago as another family member was suffering an imminent loss.

It makes me realize how fresh this grief still is for her, and how important it is for me to listen and be there for this friend-sister whom I love with all my heart.

In the category of rollicking good times, Labor Day 2020 included a family trip to Gumbo Cove (where we are now) when the YGs (Young Glovers) told us they were expecting! (We now have two amazing and brilliant grandboys who are 2½ and 7 months – yay!)

Being on or near water is definitely a Labor Day tradition, and on that 2020 trip, we saw dolphins, which is so magical. There might have been some shrieking and excited utterances.

But Labor Day is also about cookouts, picnics and recipes right?

I was delighted to hear from Blaine of Blaine’s Restaurant Report that his wife made the brownies from my pre-Labor Day post on Saturday. (It makes me so happy when you make my recipes, Dear Readers!)

Labor Day in 2018 was just the two of us at Glover Gardens, spawning this post about jerk-spiced game hens (YUM!).

I did a Labor Day recipe roundup back in 2016 when the Glover Gardens blog was still a toddler and those recipes have stood the test of time.

These ribs are probably the most Labor Day-ish of the Glover Gardens grilling recipes.

Other than the brownie recipe from Saturday, I don’t have a new recipe to share this Labor Day. I was doing some recipe-testing last night for a new take on corn maque choux with shrimp and pork belly that I’m working on, and while it was good, it wasn’t at all like I imagined.

As I was imagining the recipe, I wanted The Grill-Meister to grill everything that could be grilled – the pork belly, corn, shrimp, mushrooms bell peppers, onions and chile peppers – which would have given the corn maque choux a special Labor Day barbecue flavor. But by time we arrived at our shrimp purveyor at noon yesterday, they only had the tiniest of shrimp left. I think some of them were 51/60s (meaning 51 to 60 shrimp per pound), smaller than 1.5 inches. They would have fallen through the grill! I had been hoping for some nice 16/20s, which are perfect for grilling.

No worries! We are always ready to pivot.

We got “pork belly burnt ends” from the butcher since we weren’t firing up the grill. I boiled the tiny shrimp and sauteed everything else like a normal maque choux. It was good but not yet ready for prime time, in my humble opinion.

I’ll have to make this again in the way I originally intended before sharing the recipe with you, and I think I would go with sausage instead of pork belly. If you haven’t heard of corn maque choux before, here’s a great article in Southern Living that sheds light on its history and provides a standard recipe.

All in all, it was a nice evening, and I took a break before peeling those tiny shrimp to create a throwdown appetizer platter for us.

Our background music for the appetizer and throughout this weekend was a playlist I call “Folk Like Canal City”, which I’ve described on Apple Music as: “Music in the folk and adjacent genres that one would have heard visiting the Harvell House in Gilchrist, Texas, in the 70s, 80s and 90s, as Frank and Nancy Harvell entertained or just enjoyed time with family at their beach house in the Canal City subdivision on the Bolivar Peninsula. Good times.” I consider this description a public service, just in case anyone happens to search Apple Music for the vibe that was always present back in the day at my parents’ beach house in tiny Gilchrist, Texas. 😎 Click here if you’d like to have the playlist.

The post below is my attempt to convey what my amazing childhood at the beach was like (in support of the Folk Like Canal City playlist), and includes something precious: a comment from my Dad, just a few months before his own unexpected trip over the rainbow.

I had the 4-hour “Folk Like Canal City” playlist cued up on Friday for our Labor Day weekend jam – and then Jimmy Buffett died and it became even more apropos. There’s an “island escapism” feel here at Gumbo Cove, so reminiscent of the childhood I tried to describe in that post above. Jimmy Buffett tunes were a part of that time, and when the news of his death was circulating on Saturday morning, I got a text from my friend / sister referencing Cheeseburger in Paradise with the suggestion that my Mom would have already asked him to play it for her several times in heaven. Yes, indeed, she definitely would have. And she’d have sung along, all nasally and tone-deaf, but joyful, nonetheless.

Jimmy Buffett was born in Pascagoula, MS, a little over an hour East from where we are at Gumbo Cove in Bay St. Louis, MS, and spent lots of time in early adulthood playing in New Orleans, just an hour West. This was his early stomping ground. Everywhere we’ve been this Labor Day Weekend has been punctuated by Jimmy Buffett songs and people grieving the loss of a local boy made good, the end of an era, and perhaps, like me, their own mortality. I saw Jimmy in concert a few times at the NOLA Jazz Fest and with a friend in Houston, which is when I really got it. He was always barefoot when I saw him perform.

Jimmy Buffett was a genre unto himself. He was and remains a vibe, a lifestyle, a promise that we can relax if we try, can turn our frown upside down (“wrinkles only go where the smiles have been”), and can wrestle an amusing story out of calamity (Jamaica Mistaica). He was humble, funny and genuine (at least that’s how he seemed), a reminder that taking ourselves too seriously was probably a mistake. His lines from Son of a Son of a Sailor are on my mind:

“Where it all ends I can’t fathom, my friends.
If I knew, I might toss out my anchor.”

That’s me tossing out my anchor for this Glover Gardens 2023 Labor Day all-over-the-place ramble.

Happy Labor Day, wherever you are in the world, whether or not you celebrate it.

If you do, what’s on your menu?

© 2023, Glover Gardens

5 thoughts on “Labor Day Recipes, Remembrances and Reflections – Oh, My!”

    • Spicy is our middle name!

      Gumbo Cove is in Bay St. Louis, a little bay camp on Watts Bayou, which leads into St. Louis Bay. One of the things that drew us here is its proximity to NOLA, from the Jazz Fest to the food to the music to the culture. We can’t get here as often as we like, but when we do, it’s sooooo relaxing. Here’s the introductory post from 2019, when I hadn’t found your blog yet. 😊

      • I love Bay St. Louis. As you know I live in New Orleans but for years I drilled in Gulfport with the Navy Reserve. I don’t gamble but hit every casino along the coast, for the buffets! The Epic Buffet at the Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis was one of my favorites. They used to have all you can eat lobster. I seriously hurt myself several times. I just looked them up and now they have all you can eat Dungeness and Snow crab. And speaking of spicy, I grow my own peppers and make fermented hot sauces. I’ve got some great chocolate habanero sauces with black cherries, mango, pineapple and even persimmon. My chocolate habs produce so much I have a ton of peppers dried wondering what to do with them.

        • Oh gee, now you’ve done it! We don’t really gamble, either, and have only been to the Hollywood Casino once just to see what it was like (smoky). But I didn’t know about the crab buffet!!!

          It sounds like your peppers are doing well this year. I’m jealous! I gave up the big garden about 10 years ago when it was clear that I didn’t have time for it and now only grow peppers and herbs in pots. That’s been pretty satisfying except for this year, when the peppers just aren’t thriving. I think it’s a combination of the heat and the over-watering that I’m compulsively doing. I’ve mostly been buying (beautiful) peppers from the farmers market this year.

          Making your own fermented hot sauces sounds wonderful! If I can get the peppers to grow, that’s something I’ll take up in retirement in a handful of years from now. Do you use a recipe? If so, do you share it?

          • This is the recipe I saw years ago that got me started. It’s still the recipe I follow just changing ingredients. Early on every hot sauce I made I thought “could have added more garlic”. Then the idea to make a mild garlic sauce hit me. First year I was growing Fresno peppers (a little hotter than Jalapeños). I did about 20% Fresnos and 80% garlic! One onion slice on top to keep everything under the brine. After a two month ferment everyone loved it! I’ve been doing garlic sauce since with various peppers for various degrees of heat. Chocolate habs, Ghost, cayenne, lemon ahi and jalapeños. It’s delicious.


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