Monday, November 21, 2011

Gumbo Season

When football season arrives and the weather starts to turn cool, I immediately begin to crave gumbo. I like to make my first batch in September and by the time its truly cold outside, my roux making skills have been fully restored. The interesting thing about gumbo is that everyone makes it differently, very much like spaghetti or chili. Everyone has their preferences and their family traditions that are very special and personal to them. My favorite is chicken and sausage gumbo and I like it SPICY!!!! I also like it the true Cajun way with a little potato salad in it. I know, I know, sounds crazy but don't mock it 'til you try it! I've made believers out of many and my goal is to make believers out of you today!

Gumbo is the traditional Christmas Eve meal at my parent's house, and my sister and I really look forward to it every year. Our parent's have talked about changing the menu a couple times and realized that it just wasn't an option without starting a household debate. What can I say aside from the fact that I'm just too much of a creature of habit, and food sparks warm happy memories for me. So give this a try soon (it makes a great Sunday football meal), and maybe you will have it perfected in time for Christmas Eve too!!!!

Mom and Dad's Gumbo recipe (enhanced by me cause I never follow directions closely):

1 large onion, chopped
1 onion whole, for stock
2 stalks celery chopped
3 stalks celery, with leaves for stock
1 bell pepper chopped
4+ garlic cloves (you can never have enough garlic!)
1 jalapeno or habanero depending on your spice preference
4 quarts chicken stock (instructions on making your own below)
1 large chicken or turkey
1.5 lbs of sausage
1-2 bay leaves
hot sauce to taste
gumbo file to taste
2 cups flour
1 cup olive oil

Boil chicken or turkey in water with 1 whole onion and celery stalks (onion with skins, and celery with leaves for color). Add salt and pepper, and thyme (I also recommend trying Morton's Nature's Seasoning which has onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, etc). Boil for 1 hour, then strain, reserve stock, de-bone chicken, and set aside.

In a clean dry pot make your roux. Put flour in pot and turn heat on medium-high. Brown flour, stirring continuously until flour is dark brown. Turn down heat if necessary, do NOT burn! Add oil to flour and stir, should be a chocolaty color. Add in chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute until soft.

Add 4 quarts of reserved stock and bay leaves, then stir. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add sausage and chicken and simmer for 15-20 minutes longer. Add seasoning, hot sauce, and gumbo file to taste. Serve over rice and with a dollop of potato salad if you are adventurous!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Song of the Day

Kraut and I are pretty into music, and we listen to just about everything. I love to sing all the time and I can carry a tune, but I was not blessed with impressive skills by any means. However, that has never stopped me. In fact, if you are ever next to a red head in a 2011 blue Ford Fiesta that looks like she is jamming out, its quite possibly me! I also sing a lot to our dog JJ because he never judges fact he actually likes my singing (of course I usually change the words and make the songs about him). In regular conversation with Kraut or close friends (people that know me and won't think I'm totally nutty), I often burst out into song when it somehow applies to the conversation. Kraut and I have termed it my "soundtrack of life".

We do a lot of road biking and usually there is a song that pops to mind while I'm out riding. It usually comes to me when I'm really trying to push myself to speed up or make it up a tough hill and need some inspiration. The other day it was a gorgeous day for a ride, so Kraut and I went out with a group of about 6 or 7 people. It was pretty windy and it had been a while since I'd been out on my bike, so it slowed me down a bit. I was trying not to lag behind the group and Kraut was being sweet about sticking with me. At one point he asked me how I was doing, and I said I'm's song on the soundtrack of life is "Hot Blooded" and I started singing the chorus. It was a great song of the day, so I thought I'd share with you and I would just like to thank the band Foreigner for me getting me through my 30 mile ride!!


P.S. I've been doing lots of cooking and taking lots of pictures lately. I've made some great Cajun dishes, so I promise to share my gumbo recipe asap!