How can it be Friday again already? There’s still a lot on this week’s “To Do” list. Didn’t we just have a Friday a few days back? Now, I’m scrambling to get things done on the list!
By now I wanted to do at least another post or two about http://www.byhand.me/ and all it’s wondrous features. I’ve been meandering around the site a little each day getting to know it. There are just so many good things there. I’m working on what they call a “Spotlight.” It’s a lot like the Etsy treasuries (for those who are Etsy fans). I hope to put one together by the beginning of the week for you to see. I’ll have to give you all those spotlighting details next week. If you get a little impatient and have some time on your hands, check it out for yourself.
Next week, I also hope to tell you about Timothy Adams’ new site, http://www.handmadeology.com/. I haven’t had as much time to explore there yet but I’m working on it. Both sites seem really informative, easy to maneuver and fun to use. Check them out at your leisure.
My next in-depth crafter profile should also appear next week.
So, what did I accomplish this week? I actually did some painting and produced some new merchandise soon to be seen in my shop at http://www.splashin.etsy.com/! I filled some orders and began sketching out some Spring ideas. One whole afternoon was spent traipsing about trying to locate one particular, somewhat evasive, supply I need for a gift I’m working on. (Phone calls to various stores just weren’t going well and had sent me on a couple of wild goose chases!)
I took a long look at a few stragglers in my shop that just hadn’t garnered a lot of interest and began re-working them a bit. They’ll soon reappear the listings in their new forms. I changed my Beach Bum Denim Set from a 3 pieces to 2 and lowered the price when I relisted the other day. (The denim jackets have just gotten too pricey and hard to locate.)
The biggest time drain has been planning and working on my new Spring promotionals, both online and hands-on. I have the opportunity to participate as a supplier for items for some swag bags this Spring and I’ve been busy brainstorming and producing prototypes. I have to come up with items that are fairly quick and inexpensive to produce, eye-catching and interesting enough to make these folks check out my website. I’d also like it to be something they’ll keep around for a bit and actually use. That way, they’ll have an occasional reminder to check out my stuff. The monkey wrench in all this is -- I’ve got three events to do swag items for and a fair number of the recipients will be at all three events. I’d like to have different items for each event. As soon as I get some of these together, I’ll present them here and get some opinions from all of you.
Tuesday is Mardi Gras. We’re not having a party but we’ll celebrate anyway. Got my door decorated and beads hanging around the house. The zydeco music is sitting atop the entertainment center, ready to pop it in. I’ve got a tub of jambalaya ready to give to my neighbor and a grocery list for my gumbo supplies. Gumbo takes a while to brew properly so I’ll be cooking over the weekend. (Still no oven!) Want’a make some, too?
Here’s my recipe:
Gumbo, a Cajun specialty, can be many things. There are almost as many variations out there as there are cooks.. I pretty much took all the things we liked in many different versions and put them together to come up with this one. It makes a ton, freezes great and keeps our crowd happy ! The downside: it will take you the better part of a whole day to make the pot. (Remember, you can eat this for a long time, it does make a lot !)
1 ½ cups canola oil
1 ½ cups flour
3 cups chopped sweet onions
2 cups chopped celery
3 cups chopped bell peppers
1 lb. smoked spicy hot sausage - cut cross-wise into ¼” slices
(I use andouille, but chorizo or kielbasa also works.)
3 tsps. salt
2 tsp. cayenne
6 cups of beef broth (I use low sodium)
1 medium-sized chicken, cut up (I use about 1 ½ lbs. of boneless breast cut into large bite-size pieces.)
3 cups chopped okra (fresh or frozen)
3-4 Tbsp. of parsley flakes
2-3 Tbsp. file powder
1-1 ½ lbs. peeled shrimp
2-3 sliced jalapeno peppers (partially de-seeded)
Making the Roux -
(The roux is the most important part. Get this right and the rest simply falls together.)
First, make a chocolate brown roux. Heat oil in heavy -bottomed pot (or cast iron skillet) over medium heat. (I found my club-ware pot - although heavy - did not work real well. I use a cast iron Dutch oven bottom for this and it is perfect. I do, however, need to switch to the bigger pot once the roux is working. This makes a big pot full!) Gradually add flour (about a ¼ cup at a time), mixing with a whisk or wooden spoon until each addition is well integrated.
When all flour has been added, constantly stir over medium heat (lower heat slightly as necessary). Roux will gradually change from light caramel color to peanut butter color to a rich brown. This process should take about 20-25 minutes.
If black, burned specks appear in the roux, throw it out and start over. Be careful, this substance can splash easily and does stick and burn any skin it touches.)
Now that you have a good roux, add the onions, celery and bell peppers and continue to stir for several minutes until wilted. Add the sausage. Add about 4 cups of beef broth. Stir until the roux and broth are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
Season the chicken with Cajun seasoning, being sure to coat it well. (I put this in a plastic bag and shake it well, then let it sit in the bag soaking up the seasoning until the gumbo has cooked with the sausage for that hour.) Add the uncooked chicken pieces at the end of that hour. Add the okra, parsley and file at that time, too. Let simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally.
Taste test occasionally during that time to determine if you need to add more of the spices to suit your own taste. (Remember, the spices “expand” and get a little richer while the gumbo sits in the fridge overnight or the next day!)
Finally, add the shrimp. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Turn heat off. Shrimp will finish cooking in the residual heat.
To serve: Prepare a bowl of white rice. Fill a soup bowl about 2/3 full with the gumbo and top with a spoonful or two of rice in the center of the bowl. Add a good fresh crusty bread will for a complete meal.
Makes 8-10 servings.
***This also tastes better when shared with friends.