Monday, February 29, 2016

Gumbo, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Books, Oh My!

What's for Dinner (and Dessert):

I recently tried my hand at gumbo. My first experience with gumbo was in Garmisch, Germany. Yep! I had to fly all the way to Bavarian country for a taste. Actually, my family and I were there for Spring break a few years ago and on the menu was gumbo. So I went for it. And I'm so glad I did. I'm a soup/stew/stoup enthusiast. Those warm, steaming bowls of comfort keep me ladling all year long.

I posted a picture of my first attempt, which as it turned out was a great success according to the empty bowls and smiling faces. I'm so excited to share this yummy recipe and since it took me so long to post I'm going to share a Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe that I recently tried (I'd also consider myself a chocolate chip cookie enthusiast!) and well, the crumbs and chocolatey smiles are proof again that something worked!

Gumbo Recipe:
This recipe makes a lot, hence the large amount of rice called for. You could probably half and it would be enough for a family with left overs. I served this for our super bowl party and had enough for two bowls of leftovers and one medium to go container :)

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 ribs of celery, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped 
8-10 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans of diced tomatoes (15oz. each)
2 qts. chicken stock
24 oz. of cooked sausage. You can use andouille, which is traditional, or a combination of andouille and smoked sausage. For my recipe I used smoked sausage and smoked turkey sausage.
1 scant tbsp. cayenne, or more to taste (this makes it medium spicy)
3 bay leaves
1 1/5 tbsp. Kosher salt and 
1 tbsp. freshly ground pepper
1 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
15 cups of white rice, for serving 
1 10oz. box frozen sliced okra, thawed ** I omitted this and before I get any hate comments please understand that when a vegetable needs the gel or slime (slime, people!) to dry out before consumption-you lose me. Sorry!

Warm 1 cup oil over medium heat in a large stock pot oven until hot. Add the flour to the pot all at once whisking until the consistency is uniform. Cook the roux. Whisking occasionally until the color of a tarnished penny-about 20 minutes. Do not let it darken any further. ** This part freaked me out because I know the secret to a good gumbo is the roux. This darkening process happened very quickly for me ... I pulled my roux at the ten minute mark because it was getting dark quick and I was so scared of burning it. I think it probably could've gone a little longer but again-scared.

Add enough stock to just cover the vegetables (about 1 quart) and stir to combine. The roux may separate. Add the tomatoes with their juices, sausage, cayenne, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and remaining stock. Partially cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

(This is when you would heat the remaining 2 tbsp. of oil in a skillet over high heat and add the okra to cook, stirring until the gel (slime) dries out slightly (ewwww!), about 3 minutes. Add to pot.

Taste the gumbo for seasoning and adjust as desired. Add the chicken, cook until warmed through and serve. Or simmer for up to 2 hours more to concentrate the flavors ADDING the chicken 20 minutes before serving.

*This recipe was adapted from Valerie's Home Cooking

Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe yielded about 30 cookies with a 2 tbsp scoop.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
2 lg. eggs-at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 12oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips*I only had a third bag left ... don't know where those little chippers could've gone??


Preheat your oven to 375*F.

In a large bowl mix sugars, butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. *I used stand mixer until adding chips.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

When dough has come together, stir in chocolate chips.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop the dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes, until the edges have started to brown. The top of the cookie will be pale and it will be really soft but the bottom of the cookie will be brown. Leave the cookies on the baking sheet to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.

*This recipe was adapted from Lisa G Cooks.

Finally, the best part-BOOKS!

This weekend I found a little book shop in Savannah called "The Book Lady Bookstore". This quaint little shop was filled to the brim with used books, exposed brick, and funky posters. As soon as I stepped into the store it was like I was stepping into one of my favorite novels and I could easily lose a few hours in here.

As a little girl I would spend summers at my grandparent's house, which was a few blocks from the public library. My cousins, siblings, and I would walk to the library where I would spend hours at a table reading underneath the vents pumping out cool air. I loved the smell of the library, the atmosphere of the library, and it was the first place I'd spend hours getting "lost".

I am a huge supporter of libraries and am a proud card carrying member (in several states-including the Library of Congress!) and believe they offer more than books on a shelf.
They offer:
Programs for all ages
Computer services
Some host book clubs or author events
Book sales (This is a great way to add to your collection while supporting the library!)

As a writer I never forget how important libraries are and I hope readers don't forget either. Stop by your local library, breathe in the beautiful smell of stories, and stay awhile. The librarians won't mind-I promise!

1 comment :

  1. Love this post! The gumbo looks amazing...I may have to try my hand at it. And I'm always up for chocolate chip cookies! And hey, Library of Congress shout out! :D


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