04 February 2008

Random thoughts on the week ahead

Tonight Dennis is off to church to drop off the gumbo I made for an impromptu Mardi Gras celebration tomorrow. I invited the congregation and local clergy and families to stop by for gumbo, french bread and king cake during lunch. I intended to make gumbo for about 30, but somehow made gumbo for 100. I'd consider myself extremely blessed to have 30 people show up. My guests may not consider themselves blessed, though; they're all going to be required to take home gumbo.

I'm excited about Super Tuesday. Most of you know that I am wholeheartedly supporting John McCain. Some of you think I'm crazy. You're right about me being crazy. But not about this. Regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, it is very, very good to be able to actually have our votes matter this year! I don't think I've ever been so excited to vote!

Anyway... moving on... the next day is Ash Wednesday and we will start our midweek Lenten service, Soup for the Soul. We are hosting it this week and I am in charge of making soup. It may be leftover gumbo.

This is one of my favorite times at church, partly because of the shear business of it, but also because it is a time to really hone in on how we are living out our faith in everday life. I just adore the whole vibe of Lent.

Dennis and I have been thinking a lot about what to do for Lent and came to a decision a few weeks ago after I got several books by Michael Pollan from Amazon. Our family is going to try a Lenten experiment of giving up as much industrial and processed food as we can without going broke. For us, this is going to mean eating as much organic produce and grains as possible and using organic and free-range meat very seldomly. Both he and I are kind of excited about it. We have been increasingly aware of the questionable way our country manufactures food with corn and its subsidized products being used in EVERYTHING. So we are going to see what it would be like to get off that merry-go-round.

We are, however, making an exception on Thursday, the second day of Lent, because our big boy is TURNING ONE!!! :( :( Everyday we are so grateful for this wonderful little being who has been entrusted to us. That he has been here a whole year is just amazing. Last year at this time, I was in hour 8 of the 39-hour labor marathon that brought him into the world. Crazy.

And on Friday, my incredibly generous and wondrous husband is going to take a half-day so I can go visit all my shut-ins in one fell swoop for the month. We'll see how that goes.

I have a feeling I'll be ready for Saturday.


~liz said...

oooh - i want to come eat gumbo! we're having the traditional pancake feast at our church tonight and even though i love me some pancakes, gumbo sounds so much more appetizing to me right now! will you share your recipe?

Kalin said...

Oh man, is it The Omnivore's Dilemma?

I had to discuss that bad boy for 3 weeks straight in Ag Ethics.

TulipGirl said...

Gumbo for the masses?!

I'm so jealous! I'm feeling miserable and in bed, so I won't be making any. But you're the second person today who has mentioned it to me and I'm jonesing.

And I'd love for you to post your technique of Gumbo-For-100.

April said...

The roux
1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
Heat the oil on med. high. Whisk in flour, whisking constantly until roux is the color of peanut butter (or even milk chocolate if you want to get really authentic). If the roux gets dark brown or black flecks in it, throw it out and start over.
After roux is dark, immediately add to it 1 chopped onion, 1 green pepper, 3 stalks of celery and 2 cloves garlic. This will cook the veggies and stop the roux from cooking more.

Add to the roux something like this...
1 qt. chicken stock
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomatoes with garlic and onion
1 package frozen okra (OR frozen gumbo veggies)
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces, browned
4 chicken breasts, diced, browned
2-3 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons creole seasoning (start with that and then go up)
1 bay leaf

Heat and cook until chicken is done. You may have to add more stock. Or tomato juice would work.
Gumbo is pretty forgiving once you make the roux. You can add whatever veggies you really like. Lots of gumbos don't have much tomato in them. You can also add the rice dry and just add enough water to the gumbo to compensate.

This recipe feeds about 15. If you triple the roux and add two cans of tomato juice and two cans of crushed tomatoes, another lb. or so of smoked sausage, about 8 more chicken breasts, and a bag of rice, you end up with a HUGE pot of gumbo! And it is so filling that one bowl is about enough for most folks.

It's best served with crusty french bread.

And yes, Kali, TOD. And also his new one In Defense of Food.

April said...

Tulip Girl... I realized I didn't really answer you...

A large pot, a long handled spoon and lots of stirring. That's about it in terms of technique!