Thursday, October 4, 2012

Adventure in a Bowl: Gumbo

Do you have any older siblings?
My older sister has always been the adventurer,
the doer, the leader, the motivator,
the fun-maker.

I am fairly certain that if I had grown up as an only child,
my shy, awkward person would have spent too many moments alone
and not made as many friends or had nearly the stories and adventures that have forced me
out of myself.

I would not have known bike-riding without braking down hills;
boating down flooded creeks;
riding on the most ridiculous roller-coasters with my hands up
and no voice for a week afterward;
horse-racing down farm lanes;
icing the camp hill and then sledding down it on food trays in the dark;
pies in the face;
water fights that dr-r-r-r-enched all those involved, and started at ANY moment;
playing sports of every kind;
car firedrills;
and being the loudest finger whistler ever...
okay, so I never did master that one,
but then she is the one who really needed it,
 having gone on to give birth to eight boys.

I would have probably ended up being some tree scientist,
living alone on the top of a mountain
jotting down notes on the number of ants that ascended to the tree tops everyday;
not that that isn't a great life for somebody,

I needed her.
In a weird sort of way,
she prepared me for much of what happens to me in life,
gave me a sense of courage that I would have never had without her.
she helped prepare me for my husband.
Now, those of you who know my husband would say,
"No way.  He's Mr. Careful."
After all, his favorite saying (as Violet and I have made a joke of repeating) is
"Somebody is going to poke an eye out if you don't stop it."
But my Farmer needs me to do things that would have been out of my comfort zone
had I not been "pushed" out of it already 5,608 times by my older sister:
Farming isn't exactly "sitting in pretty clothes" work.
Oh, the manure I have worn.

Yes, farming can be adventurous,
but in an entirely different vein,
 one way that I have enjoyed adventure with him...

is in eating.

Before marriage, eating, to me, was a comfort thing:
to order the same thing every time we went to the same restaurants was
After all, why would anybody want to order something
if they didn't know what is was?
What if it was terrible,
and they'd spent their money for it?

My husband was the type that felt that if it is on the menu,
it must be edible and worth trying.

Whenever we go out to eat,
I get a slight panic attack when I don't know what to order,
so I hand my destiny over to him
and ask him to order for me.
I have never been disappointed with his choice
except possibly once,
and we just switched dinners
because my Farmer will pretty much eat anything
(well, except a few of my attempts at tasteless casseroles.
Tasteless is his only rejection...
and that time I misread the amount on the hot garlic sauce.
But anybody would have hated something that toxic).

And so in my adventure of marriage,
I have discovered cow tongue,
chicken hearts and gizzards,
pork necks,
 And in my journey, 
I have tried to recreate some of these palate destinations
at home.

And so,
here is my
(through the collaboration of a few recipes)

Farmer's Wyfe Gumbo.

After serving up a dish that required a lot of shrimp,
I saved the shells and boiled them for a good while,
making a sort of shrimp broth.

I decided to use this as my base for my Gumbo,
although one could use chicken broth as well.

First I made a small portion of roux using 3 Tbs. of flour
and 3 Tbs. of butter.
I don't make my roux real dark
as I get too impatient.
If you'd like to see how it is made
>HERE< is a helpful video.

 After chopping up onions, peppers, and garlic,

 I added them to the roux

and stirred until it was golden brown
(about 5 minutes, more or less)
being very careful not to burn it.

 Next I added the canned tomatoes,

 the okra
(although this year I have frozen some from the garden
so I won't have to use canned),

the spices: bay leaf, a touch of red pepper,
and a shake of old bay.

The Gumbo then cooked for 10 minutes with a cover on,
and then the cover was removed for another 10 minutes of simmering.

I added a chopped leaf of kale.

I let it cook for another 10 minutes.

While I did have about a dozen shrimp I added at the end of the cooking time,
I also had some leftover chicken that I used as the main meat source in this Gumbo.

 I added these and let it finish cooking for about 5 minutes.

Of course,
we then ate the Gumbo over a nice pile of cooked rice.

So if you are feeling adventurous
or want to pop out of your comfort zone,
save yourself a roller-coaster ride
and try making some Gumbo instead.

Farmer's Wyfe Gumbo


  1. The recipe looks real good. But I'm not sure about the okra. May try this. Loved your description of growing up with Tammy. She was/is a lively one...which makes for a good Mom of 8 boys. And I can't see you counting ants for your life work! Your a perfect farmers wyfe.

  2. Oh man, I really didn't know I had that much affect on you! ;) Life was so fun and exciting and I'm so thankful to have had you share the adventures with! What FUN memories they were!!! Come over and we can have some fun, there's still some life left in the two of us! :)


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