28 March 2010

How Green was my Gumbo

A friend looking for kale and chard recipes commented on a previous blog post of mine, and my exchange with her reminded me of Green Gumbo, which I haven't made in forever and which I quickly began to crave. Once it dawned on me that last summer's preservation endeavors meant that I had all the ingredients I needed - including the okra, chopped and frozen - I decided to make some.

okra, bell pepper, tomatoes & corn - frozen/canned in August; collard greens frozen in December

The recipe I originally used for Green Gumbo is mostly just greens, okra, and Creole seasoning. Oh, and a roux. I much prefer making mine with tomatoes and corn as well. The first time I made it I botched the roux and then just left it out after that. But I tried again tonight and I think I was successful. (In as much as "successful" simply means, I didn't have to throw anything away.)

The consistency of the gumbo seemed just right to me; maybe that was from the roux. Or maybe it was the okra. Which, by the way, is where the word gumbo comes from: ngombo in West Africa is the word for okra.

Green Gumbo over rice

Green Gumbo

serves 4
6 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1-2 Tablespoons of Creole seasoning*
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper
(celery, if you've got it, to complete the Holy Trinity; but tonight, like most nights I had none)
12-16 ounces of okra, chopped
1 quart of tomatoes, with juices
1-2 cups vegetable broth (depending on how much juice there is with the tomatoes)
1 pint of corn
1 teaspoon of thyme
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
or a few splashes of liquid smoke
6-8 ounces of frozen chopped collard greens (also works with turnip greens, kale, chard, or a combination - and you can use as much as you want, depending on how green you want your gumbo - just add extra broth if needed)

Melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, until flour turns golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in Creole seasoning.
Add onions, garlic, and bell pepper (and celery, if using). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in okra, cover, and cook. Add tomatoes, corn, broth, thyme, Worcestershire and/or liquid smoke. Cook, stirring, 10 minutes.
Add greens, stirring. Cover and cook until greens are tender, 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve gumbo over cooked white rice.

* I used a modified version of this recipe to make Creole seasoning. Modified, because I didn't have celery seed or paprika.

25 March 2010

Can't Wait for Saturday

I have been counting down the days to this Saturday. Fresh local salad greens, maybe some scallions, pea shoots if I'm lucky. It has been a long winter without those fresh delicacies. And, I'm hoping to stock up on jams and that local mustard again - like from last year. It won't be long now before spring begins for real at the first Eat Local expo, day after tomorrow!

19 March 2010


This is the last weekend of the KC Rep's production of Broke-ology, which has been highly acclaimed over the last few weeks. Lots of folks were saying lots of good things about it, so we decided to catch it before it ended. And I'm so glad we did.

The story is set in present day Kansas City, Kansas and is about a poor African American family - an aging and ill father, two twenty-something sons, and just the memory of their mother. The location is close to where I live, yet the circumstances couldn't be further away from my world, so I went expecting something unfamiliar.

And yet the story hit home, big time, and I found myself crying like a baby. You don't have to be a trying-to-make-ends-meet black man from KCK to recognize the power of generational transitions, of aging, and of the abrading passage of time. A suburban born-and-raised, pregnant white woman can feel that loud and clear. And anyone who loves their family will feel something too.

16 March 2010

Believe it or Not

I'm pregnant. We found out two months ago and - three ultrasounds later - I still can hardly believe it's real. Yes, the nausea has made me believe. And the increasing waist line has made me believe. The fatigue was pretty convincing, too. But when I see that baby moving around on the screen, it's still just too good to be true.

The Fig, kickin' back

According to Baby Center, our baby was approximately the size of fig last week, so as has been our custom each week since we found out, we refer to it by its food corollary. The Blueberry. The Kidney Bean, The Kumquat, etc. "They grow up so fast!" Sergio wrote in our pregnancy planner as we moved from week to week. This week it's The Lime, but we're still calling it The Fig from last week; that one was most endearing to us.

I'm due September 26, about which I couldn't be more excited, since that's the same time frame as the birthdays of all four of the nieces and nephews on my side. We'll be waiting until then to find out whether it's a boy or a girl. Sergio thinks it's a girl; I have no premonition. Not yet anyway. I do have really elaborate and exhausting dreams - dreams about water, a dream about a pet dolphin, a dream that I gave birth to a dachshund. The miracle of life does strange things to the psyche.

Sergio and I have gone public and nearly completed our media campaign, which we launched a few days ago - by now I've received the most Facebook comments I've ever received. But not as many as Sergio - he won that contest. Either way, I'm thinking this kid is going to have lots of friends, even before s/he arrives. And that makes us feel all the more excited.

15 March 2010

Visit from Tyler and the Girls (a photo essay)

starting off the day with crepes

a morning family art session at Kaleidescope

Minli meditating at Tea Drops

Minli expressing her opinion of the bubbles in bubble tea

a wonderful weekend, all the way around