When we decided to pack it all up and move to Hilton Head Island from the Philadelphia suburbs, we knew we had to downsize. One thing that moving 850 miles on a tight budget will force you to do is downsize your life to that of a minimalist. I find it very therapeutic. There were some things we agreed we would not be bringing, some we brought and didn’t need (aka the blue sled) and some we couldn’t bear to part with.
We did not bring the antique organ that sat in my husbands foyer for most of his life, an amazingly ornate and intricate piece, this little piece of history lovingly moved to his sister’s house to be played with by her children.
We should not have brought the blue sled. Note to anyone thinking about moving to the Low Country of South Carolina, YOU WILL NOT NEED A BLUE PLASTIC SLED.
The one thing we never even considered leaving north was his grandmother’s cast iron pot.
This is the pot of all pots. This bad boy makes the best sauce, chili & soup on the planet. It really is all about the pot, I don’t think my stellar cooking skills even equate. This pot is coveted by many, and I sometimes wonder if it is going to be like the old carved bear from College. This bear, carved out of a log, was kidnapped, held for ransom, screwed to a table, and returned to its owners many times. I ended up with it and believe it still sits on the porch of my sister’s house. I fear my husband’s cousin will creep in and creep out with a 25lb cast iron pot on his back.
The days my husband comes home from work and sees the pot on the stove, he is sure to smile, and today was one of those days. Today I made gumbo. Being that we are in the South, I thought Gumbo was a good recipe for my first Coastal Parenting dinner. Dinner is an area of my life that is completely EE. (EE Stands for Effortless Effectiveness) Even with three kids, I have a dinner routine down and even in the most frazzled state can put something resembling a family meal on the table, it is something I look forward to, something I enjoy, therefore it is effortless. Gumbo however is much better if it sits all day, so I started my gumbo in the morning.
This is my gumbo. The real definition of Gumbo is a spicy chicken or seafood soup, typically thickened with a roux, okra, or rice. I frequently add shrimp, but have not experimented with any other seafoods.
Today I made Chicken and Andouille Gumbo. There is not really a recipe to follow, use what you have in your fridge. I try to keep andouille in the freezer because it is the only ingredient I don’t generally have on hand.
You will need:
Chicken (I prefer dark meat) andouille sausage, bell pepper, onion, celery, tomato sauce, oil, flour, cajon seasoning or use your own, chicken stock.
Put a little oil in the bottom of you pan and sear the chicken (on the bone) skin side down. Turn it a couple times, and once the skin has rendered a little bit, pull it out and add your diced celery, onion and pepper. I also use a 1/2 a link of sausage with the veg and chop it real small and cook it with the veggies. It will almost melt and will season your soup. Cook this until the veggies get tender, then add some flour. I just sprinkle some over the veggies, the professionals say to use equal parts oil and flour, but since I don’t measure my oil I just eye ball the flour. I am sure the Fab Food Fairy could help. Once you cook out the flour a bit, add the chicken stock. I use what I have on hand, also something I keep in the freezer. Today I added a can of tomato sauce, sometimes I use tomato paste and some water. You really can’t mess this up.
I then add the partially cooked chicken and chopped andouille to the pot. Then turn it on low and walk away. After a few hours your house will smell awesome. When it starts to smell really good, pull the chicken out and let it cool. Once cool, pull the meat and put it back in the pot. Some people cook their rice directly in their gumbo, but my husband prefers to have is gumbo over rice. If you are going to cook the rice in the gumbo put it in earlier than you think you need to, it takes rice a long time to cook on low.
So being that I put this together in the morning, let it sit all day in my favorite pot, and fill the house with love, I was free from 4-5 (my usual cooking time) so we went to the pool. Happy Gumbo Day.