We’re finally back in our Yankee home after a two-and-a-half week trip to the South. It was such a joy to spend time with our family and friends. For the most part, we did just that; we sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed our time! I hardly cooked a thing while we were on the road. Most of the time, I would regret that fact, especially since I didn’t spend any time making holiday treats during exams, but it was time for everyone else’s culinary skills to shine and for us to relish our cherished time at home.
Of course, the holidays are really a time for us to celebrate! We did so from our arrival until our departure.
We arrived in Knoxville after a long journey, and spent the next few days, celebrating both Christmas and family reunions, but also the baptism of our youngest cousin.
A few days later, after a family Christmas trip to Nashville, we took the short trip to Montgomery for another family celebration, and celebrated the birth of Christ with a feast.
Everywhere we went, the halls were decked.
Everywhere we went, there was wonderful food to be had (including the “roast beast”).
The days after Christmas were cause to celebrate in and of themselves; on those days we did whatever we wished. Finished a puzzle, read a book (or kindle), visited, gathered in the kitchen for leftovers, watched a few movies. It was delightful.
And then we celebrated some more; we ate a delicious meal during the last few moments of 2010, and cheered in 2011 with some of our dearest friends. We gathered after supper to make resolutions and predictions for the New Year. We spent the next day with many of these friends watching football and babies.
After most of the delicious Christmas goodies had been eaten, it was finally time for me to spend some time in the kitchen. I wanted to make something comforting, but not too rich; something that would move us away from the sweets and towards a healthier New Year. Gumbo seemed just the thing. This gumbo is full of vegetables, is just a bit spicy, and even my brother, who eschews okra and the like, seemed to enjoy it.
We’re back up north, and I have one more reason to celebrate. War Eagle!
Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo
Adapted from Southern Living's Homestyle Cooking
2 pounds frozen okra
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 small onions, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 6-oz can tomato paste
3 large bay leaves
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¾ teaspoon Cajun seasoning (Pilleteri’s, Cachere’s, or equivalent)
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon ground red pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash white pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
7 cups water
1 pound spicy link sausage, cut into ½ inch lengths (Conecuh, Andouille, or equivalent)
2 ½ pounds medium fresh wild shrimp, peeled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 cups hot cooked rice
Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven. Add okra and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 35 minutes, stirring often. Remove okra from the pot and set aside.
In the same pot (there will still be some bits of okra in there), combine 2 tablespoons of oil and flour in the pot and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a roux whisk, until the mixture is fragrant and has darkened in color. Add onion and celery; cook 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, green onions, and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the next eleven ingredients (through water), and the reserved okra; stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and heat until the shrimp are cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove and discard the bay leaves, and stir in the parsley. Serve over hot rice.