Archive for January, 2009

Recipe Monday! **updated w/ photo**

(Yes, I just randomly proclaim special days around here willy-nilly as the mood strikes me, what’s your point?)

Ok, in honor of our holiday trip to N’Awlins, I just made my first-ever pot of gumbo and if I may say so myself, it rocked so hard I should have a statue erected of me in Jackson Square. Not really, but seriously? It was really good and I am going to share the recipe with you right this minute. I kind of made up my own version after I read a whole bunch of recipes, which I guess is kind of the history of gumbo, anyway– I think it started out as a Cajun one-pot stew that utilized whatever was local and available. I didn’t put anything weird in it like alligator meat or rabbits or cocker spaniels, though that would make for a more interesting read for you guys… Oh well, next time.

Also? I would really like to have one of your favorite cold weather comfort food recipes as well– how’s about you dig out a recipe and post it here? It doesn’t have to be an original one, just something you like making and people like eating. Of course you don’t HAVE to post a recipe in order to comment, you can just say any ol’ thing you want, no pressure. You KNOW how I feel about comments…

(Some of this will be guesstimates as far as amounts go, I was kinda going by when it “looked right” to me!)

**UPDATE: And here’s a photo!


Here goes:



Here are all of the meats:

** 2 lbs. medium frozen raw shrimp, deveined, shelled and tails removed– thawed

** Package of polska kielbasa sausage OR hot cajun sausage  or mixture of both (slice about 3/4 of it up and set aside)

** 1 pkg. crawfish tails

**some leftover diced cooked chicken breast, maybe a cup (optional, but good!)

Here are all of the veggies:

** I pkg. frozen sliced okra (I KNOW, but trust me.)

** I heaping cup coarsely diced onions

** 3/4 heaping cup coarsely diced celery

** 1/2 to 3/4 cup coarsely diced green pepper

** 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Here all the ingredients that are a little less than precise in the specified amounts– these will all be to your taste.

** 2 (or maybe 3) cans diced tomatoes– you can use petite diced, or the ones that also have garlic and onions in them, or even Rotel, whatever you want.

**1 32-oz. carton of chicken stock or broth

** 1/2 to 1 cup homemade shrimp stock **optional**– (OK, don’t panic, all you do is put the tails and shells you took off of the frozen shrimp into a little saucepan and cover them with water and let them simmer while you’re doing the other stuff. It adds a nice seafood-y layer to the broth.)

** 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

** 6 Tablespoons all purpose flour

** A few slugs of white wine

** Couple of bay leaves

** Varying pinches or teaspoons (to taste) of basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, kosher or sea salt AND Cajun seasoning of some kind (like Tony Chachere’s, Chef Paul’s Magic Seasoning, or Emeril’s Original Essence Seasoning– I used some of all three, but remember, they do have salt in them, so adjust your seasoning.)

** Cooked white rice to put in the bowls and ladle the gumbo over


Start off by placing a big pot or dutch oven on the stove top, turning the fire up to medium-high, and heating the vegetable oil until it begins to sizzle. Then, a little at a time, briskly whisk in the flour until it has all been added and it begins to brown. Keep moving the flour around in the pot until it reaches a deep tan color (but be careful not to let it burn or scorch.)

At that point, drop in the seasoning vegetables (onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic), reduce the fire to low, and incorporate all the veggies into the darkening roux. In other words, mix, mix, and mix again! Then immediately move the gumbo pot off the fire and set it aside for a while

(If you’re going to boil the shrimp tails/shells with some water, you can get that going off to the side.)

In the meantime, in a big, high-sided skillet over medium high heat, cook the sliced polska kielbasa/cajun sausage pieces until they start to render out their pan drippings. Then, without reducing the heat, stir in the cut okra (thawed or still frozen) and begin pan-frying it, stirring continually, (expect this to take about 12 minutes or so). One note here: don’t worry about cooking out the okra “slime.” That will take care of itself later in the cooking process.

When the okra begins to toast evenly, stir into the skillet the two cans of tomatoes and cook them into the mixture until thoroughly blended. And yes, use the liquid the tomatoes come packed in, too.

At this time, everything gets transferred to the gumbo pot. The kielbasa, drippings, okra, and tomatoes now get stirred into the tan roux and the seasoning vegetables you cooked in the gumbo pot. And while you’re at it, go ahead and add the chopped cooked chicken and the rest of the ingredients-the stock, the wine, the bay leaves, the basil, the thyme, the red pepper flakes, the sea salt, and the seafood seasoning. If you DID do that make-your-own-shrimp-broth thing, this is when you add some of that to taste.

***Keep in mind that it is important to stir thoroughly at this stage-***  (1) you want to completely dissolve and smooth out the roux to keep lumps out of the gumbo, and (2) you want to fully disperse the ingredients into the liquids to cause them to blend and balance the overall flavor. When this is done, reduce the flame to low, cover the pot tightly, and simmer the gumbo base for at least 30 minutes to get all the ingredients to marry. I did it a little longer than that.

Then when the flavors have combined and peaked, toss in the raw shrimp and the package of crawfish tail meat and stir the entire pot a few more times for continuity. Remember that the shrimp will be ready to eat in just a matter of minutes, so be careful that you don’t overcook them (about 5 to 6 minutes should be all it takes!)

Finally, just before you plan to serve the gumbo, once more check the thickness and texture (and the seasonings). Add extra water, wine, or chicken stock if the gumbo has become too thick; or work in a little extra roux if it has turned out too thin.

This gumbo is best when ladled over steaming hot rice in deep soup bowls, surrounded by hot buttered French bread right from the oven. You can garnish with chopped parsley and green onions if you want.

So… how about some recipes from you guys?

Why Women Friends Are Necessary To Life– Kinda Like Oxygen.

I just ordered a memoir from– “The Middle Place” by Kelly Corrigan. Obviously I haven’t read it yet, so um, this isn’t a book review or anything. But I stumbled across this little video and it moved me enough to order the book, so I wanted to share it with you guys.

I am a huge proponent of women friends. I can chart my life by the women God chose to bring into it at any given time. I have had some friends for over 30 years, and I have some new ones that I just made this past year. My friends are a diverse group (all different ages, political and religious affiliations, locations, economic levels, etc.) and a pretty select one– I have lots and lots of acquaintances, but my Real Friends are definitely more of a “quality not quantity” kind of thing. One of my favorite surprises about is that it has brought even more friends into my life, and I am so grateful– didn’t see that coming when I began blogging! So, in celebration of all of the incredible, funny, wise, loving, strong women friends in my life, here is a lovely essay about what we mean to each other:

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