Dear Smiley: Recent accounts of cooking goofs reminded me of one that happened years ago, when I had just moved to Louisiana.

A former brother-in-law who lives in Nashville asked for a gumbo recipe, which I was happy to supply.

After making a batch for his family, they decided that Louisiana cuisine was a bit too spicy for them.

I don’t remember who made the mistake, but somehow the instruction to add three teaspoons of ground red pepper got changed to three tablespoons!

DOUG JOHNSON

Watson

Substitution blues

Dear Smiley: I have had many kitchen disasters, and still do after 20-something years of marriage, because I like to try new recipes.

But an old stand-by has always been crawfish étouffée my stepmother taught me years ago.

I have always thickened it with flour, but for some reason recently I grabbed the corn starch.

Well, I ended up using quite a bit of the stuff, and the étouffée became the consistency of canned dog food.

It tasted OK, but the texture was disgusting. After a family vote, we went out for Chinese food.

CINDY BOUCHIE

Pineville

Thanks, Ronnie

Dear Smiley: I recently noticed the following sign outside a local store: “The number of Americans catching the flu each year could be reduced by 60 percent when you get a flu shot.”

When I get a flu shot? That’s sure putting a lot of responsibility on me.

RONNIE STUTES

Baton Rouge

Edited version

Dear Smiley: Following the thread of Diane Martin about flowery words in obits, I’m reminded of the funeral of a prominent man in the community which my mother attended.

She said the preacher went on and on about all the wonderful attributes of the deceased, while everyone knew of his shady other side.

When he had finished with all the wonderful things about this man, the prominent drunk of the community stood up and said, “Now, I’ve got something to say...”

Well, he was ushered out faster than you can say Jack Daniels!

JOYCE H. BABIN

Gonzales

Just stop it!

Dear Smiley: Your reader’s complaint about the number of funerals he’d attended lately reminds me of a similar situation among my in-laws a while back.

During one period, we had so many deaths and marriages in the family that I was spending far too much time in church.

But I hit upon a solution: I declared a moratorium. Nobody was allowed to die or get married for six months.

Believe it or not, it worked.

JOHN LaCARNA

Baton Rouge

Personal best

Dear Smiley: On a recent trip to my doctor for a checkup, he commented that I had gained a few pounds since my last visit. (I’ve been retired for a number of years.)

I mentioned that it was probably overindulgence on my part due to the holiday season (Thanksgiving through Mardi Gras).

He asked me what I was doing for exercise.

I told him that during the winter months it consisted of getting up from my reading/TV chair, wandering to another room in the house, wondering what I went there for and traveling back to my chair.

He was not impressed.

FRED SPAGNA SR.

Baton Rouge

Aging process

Dear Smiley: Three random thoughts for seniors:

The biggest lie I tell myself is, “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it.”

I don’t have white hair, I have wisdom highlights.

At my age, “getting lucky” means I walk into a room and remember what I came for.

BO BIENVENU

Prairieville

The humor cure

Dear Smiley: Saw a great quote that reminded me of one of the benefits of your column:

“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.”

MARVIN BORGMEYER

Baton Rouge

Stuff it

Dear Smiley: I have a pair of soft-top boots that I don’t wear often. I rolled up a newspaper and put in each one, so they stand up in the closet.

I got them out last night to wear them, and decided to look at the papers.

One of them just happened to be the Metro/State section with your column on the front page.

The picture’s a little different, but the column is still the same. The date on the paper is Friday, January 26, 1996.

Wow, those are some old boots!

ALGIE PETRERE

Baton Rouge

Dear Algie: And wow, that is some old columnist!

Contact Smiley

Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.