Gumbo

image by: Jmprouty, wikimediacommons

image by: Jmprouty, wikimediacommons

Okra as a thickener?  I must say it is a little ‘weird’ to observe the clear slime (mucilage) that interconnect slices of okra like spider webs when they are moved around in a saute pan. [It is also interesting to note that the viscosity of this substance increases with heat.]

No matter – the okra entertainment value is a ‘plus’ and it is delicious when combined with the other ingredients that make Gumbo!

 

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo). – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basic Gumbo Components:

Sauce:

6-8 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 med. or lg. onion – chopped
meat | protein of choice chopped into bite sized pieces (my favorite is chicken thighs)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (regular mustard also works fine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Combine all and refrigerate for several hours to overnight.

In a large soup pot start with 2 tbslp. olive oil . Add 1 large package of frozen okra (thawed). Saute until brown. Add whatever other vegetables you wish to include.

In the version pictured at the far right, I used broccoli, turnips, carrots, onions and green beans. Cut these into bite sized pieces and saute with okra for about 10 minutes. gumbo

Spices:
1 tblsp. thyme
1 tblsp. oregano
1 tblsp. basil
2-3 bay leaves
salt to taste

*2 bunches of fresh cilantro – finely chopped – added right before serving

To soup pot, add 1 large can of diced tomatoes and 2 cups chicken stock –  set on low while you work on stage two.

Stage Two:

In a saucepan, saute sauce mixture from above until meat is cooked. Add this to the soup pot.

Stage Three: Additional thickener – roux

In a saute pan, melt 1/4 cup butter over low heat. Slowly, whisk in 1/4 cup flour until it is smooth and smells slightly nutty (about 3-4 minutes). Add to soup pot.

Simmer until Gumbo is the consistency of gravy.

Shrimp_gumbo

“Gumbo isn’t so much a recipe as it is a state of mind, complete with secret language and poetic license.” – Peggy Lampman, author of Simmer and Smoke and culinary food blogger. [click here to see Peggy’s Gumbo ya-ya reicpe]

 

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Apple (or other fruit) Cider Vinegar

I LOVE it when I can work in my kitchen preparing one thing…and have numerous other things going on at the same time. This one utilizes scraps from ‘other things going on.’

apples

Apples or other tart fruit scraps

1 cup honey per gallon of water

Open glass or crock container

Towels or cloth for covering

Time…

Chop apples into chunks (or use scraps from pie making)

Add honey – stir to mix well

Put a glass plate on top with a weight to make sure all fruit is submergedapples in bowl

Cover with towels (the towels are to keep out fruit flies *see fruit fly trap below) or use a rubber band to tightly tie down a cloth around the opening of the container.

Place in dark spot on counter or in pantry for a month or more…taste occasionally till it’s reached the desired strength
Note: a white ‘fermenting’ scum will appear on the top [this is normal]…scoop it off if you wish…or scoot it aside for taste testing

Strain out fruit

Put liquid in a glass jar with a lid

The 'floaties' are a good thing....it's what turns the fruit liquid into vinegar. Bacteria, air, and sugar create a vinegar 'mother.'

The ‘floaties’ are a good thing….it’s what turns the fruit liquid into vinegar. Bacteria, air, and sugar create a vinegar ‘mother.’

Let it sit another 6 weeks – Voila! It’s Vinegar!jar

Lisa’s Notes:

Like many cooks before me, I have to test my results before sharing a recipe.gift bottles

I experimented with different sugars; concluding that I like honey the best. I tried different sitting times; deducing that a stronger taste will result from a longer sit – but also that the type of fruit used, air temperature, and the time of year that you make it will also have an effect. Which boils it down to – the taste will tell you when it’s done.

Fruit Fly Trap – In an open dish on your counter, place vinegar, liquid dish soap and a piece of fruit that sticks up over the liquid

Additional Resources: 

From The White House Cookbook 1887  – Digitized – Michigan State University Library

“Apple Vinegar (economical and good)
Have an earthen jar ready for use. Into this put your apple peelings and cores if good. Cover generously with water. Cover the jar tight, and let stand in cool place. Every day parings may be added, putting on more water each time. When cold tea is left, pour into this jar and also add molasses to the proportion of a cup to a gallon of water. In the course of two or three weeks you will have an excellent vinegar made of nothing. When ready to use, strain through cheese cloth and stand away. This has been tried with good results, and with a little thought economical housekeepers can make enough in one summer to last all winter. ”

Apple Vinegar from Peels and Cores – Mother Earth News

How to Make Homemade Vinegar – Mother Earth News

Creating Homemade Fruit Vinegars – Mother Earth News

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinegar

http://www.apple-cider-vinegar-benefits.com/vinegar-history.html

Yellow Roasted Beets

Roasted Yellow Beets

peel and slice beets to about 1/2 inch thick

coat with olive oil & apple cider vinegar

  • roast open in a 500 degree oven
  • turn them occasionally
  • they are done when they are browned

I love beets. My family does not. So I spend the summer experimenting with different versions to see if I could change their minds. I scored a winner with this one. My 7 year old eats these as fast as I can make them…he likes them ‘extra crispy.’