FINALLY Posting the "Finally Fall Gumbo" From Last Fall

I wrote this months ago: Last week we had our first cool day of Fall, so I got us a hen and had it cut up into "gumbo pieces".
Most any Southern small town store has these "gumbo pieces" already on display. If not, the butcher will gladly cut them up for you.  What they are, is a large baking hen cut (with their meat saw) into small pieces.  This opens the large bones, exposing the marrow, which makes an amazing stock.  Also, it being a mature hen, it stands up well to a couple hours of simmering, whereas , a young chicken, being so tender, will usually fall apart in the broth after an hour or so of cooking.
  I also bought a lb. of andouille sausage and, giving a nod to my St. Landry roots, a lb. of Savoie's smoked sausage.
I sprinkled our own blend of Cajun spices over the hen, 
 sliced the andouille and put it and the chicken into a large pot, along with a gallon of water. I got it to boiling, then reduced it to simmer while I got the rest of the ingredients ready.
  I sliced the sausage,
tossed it into one of my beloved cast iron skillets that has been in my family for generations, with some roughly chopped onions, a little more of our spice, then browned it all down, lightly cooking the onions.
Once it cooked down good I put it in the chicken andouille pot.

along with some chopped green onion, a diced bell pepper and a healthy tablespoon of minced garlic.

   At this point, after another half an hour more of simmering, many of you would call it done, "a good gumbo" but, I like a nice brown roux in most of my gumbos.  Now, since Peggy is a "celiac" and can't have anything with wheat or gluten in it, we can't make a traditional roux so, we constantly search for good alternatives. We've found that this Savoie's powdered roux is a good choice. We sprinkled what we thought would be the right amount into our gumbo pot... 
let it simmer for another half an hour and voila!! Our first good gumbo of the season!
So, this begins our annual gumbo 'throw down'.  I make a gumbo, then Peggy makes a gumbo, and repeat. I make simple old-fashioned style and Peggy, daughter of a chef, makes hers a bit more complicated, but what I like to call "award winning" good.  They are all good, but I must admit my Yankee wife out-does 'er Cajun hubby.  I think it's mostly cause you can taste more love and effort in hers.  This is my first round offering. We plopped a big ol' sweet potato right into the middle of the bowl...another nod to my St. Landry Parish upbringing.  
Okay, Peggy, your turn, get busy! I can hardly wait.  :-P   


Merry Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas from our family to you and your loved ones. May God keep you safe and happy in the coming years, surrounded by His Goodness and Mercy. Our mission for the coming year is to try to be more kind, knowing it's nice to be nice, but nicer to be nicer. :-)



Ol' Fashioned Cajun Pork and Sweet Potato Stew

  With Fall season trying hard to get going, down here in Sunny South Louisiana, Cajuns start thinking about cool weather comfort food. Hearty stews like gumbos are first on that list, and when you come from 'sweet potato country', around Opelousas, Louisisana,  sweet potatoes are often get involved in whatcha cookin'. So, with that in mind, I made this dish a couple of weeks ago and it was so very good, I decided to make it again and share it with you. Get out your spoons. 
    First, I started with a Boston butt pork that I cut into stew meat chunks...
   seasoned it up with our own Cajun spice blend and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, that I just call "woo"...easier to say and even easier to spell. (I hadda 'google' again how to spell it for yall this time.)
Here, I've got the burner on a li'l more than 'medium' and added a small splash of water while I whacked up a few onions,
then scraped them into the pot.
I hit the onions with a li'l bit more seasoning to help them break down (the salt in the spice does that).
 I put the lid on the pot and let it cook down on a medium setting for a half an hour or so, stirring when needed.
Once it cooked down a bit, we chopped up a couple sweet potatoes (washed and skin on), and added them to the party in the pot, and aint they pretty?
After another half an hour of occasional stirring, the sweet potatoes got tender and started 'melting down'.
Next, I added half a bell pepper, chopped.
After about another 20 minutes of cooking, you can see that the pork and sweet potato made a pretty good gravy.
But, since this is supposed to be a stew, I decided to thicken it with gluten-free gravy mix.
This Savoie's Gluten free mix. It's very good, and all you have to do is shake in into the pot, as you would any seasoning, and stir.
Even if you don't have a person with celiac disease in your family, this really is a wonderful gravy mix and the most realistic we have found yet.  It's available at Rouse's grocery stores here in the South, and I am pretty sure they sell it at other places, as well.
Most Southerners make pork and turnip stew, but you really need to try this St. Landry Parish version and trade your turnips in for sweet potatoes.  Pork and sweet potatoes: two good things that are better together.
Paired with a creamy coleslaw, it's the perfect Fall dish... 'til it gets cold enough to make gumbo. Brrrrr.  :-D


Cajun Hot Legs

We  have given up on Buffalo hot wings.  They are expensive, messy and hard to eat and not at all meaty.  We decided to experiment and see what we could do to make something better in place of our favorite ballgame snack.  A few weeks ago we found Sanderson Farms big chicken legs on sale for 69 cents a lb. in family sized packs, so we bought three of the packs home to to see how close we could come to making them taste like Buffalo wings, but better: "Cajun Hot Legs!"
 We took a pack of the legs and seasoned them with a liberal dusting of our own Cajun spice mix and a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce.
We put them in a parchment paper lined pan in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes, then turned them over and put them in the oven for another 30 minutes. After another 30 minutes or so, the meat thermometer read "165"=done!
 Out of the oven they came and dumped into Peg's stainless steel "salad bowl", then drizzled with Sweet Baby Ray's Buffalo Wing sauce,
and tossed to coat them.
They turned out to be amazing and cost a fraction of the price of wings. They're a lot easier to eat, too...not quite as messy, and one hot leg is way meatier than a wimpy wing. 
Give 'em a try! Ta heck with skimpy Buffalo wings... this whole bowl of Cajun Hot Legs cost about $3.50.  We enjoyed 'em while watching our beloved Saints win again--Priceless!! Who Dat!!


The Birthday of the Greatest Country...The United States of America. So we BBQ'd !!

    The morning of the fourth of July, I stepped outside with a cup of coffee, yawned, stretched and immediately turned around and went back in for the camera.  One of my Daddy's favorite flowers was in full bloom and beautiful.

These double blossom spotted tiger lilies are an amazing testament to how wonderful my wife is.  Several years ago they came up in conversation and I mentioned how hard they were to find.  About a month later the bulbs came in the mail. I was amazed, and they continue to bless our yard, year after year  in spite of our shoddy gardening practices.
  But, since it was "the fourth" I figured I might as well do like the rest of the country and fire up our rusty ol' bbq pit. 

   I've been seeing lots of folks talking 'bout stuffing jalapenos  and grilling them, so I thought we would give them a try.  We took six peppers from our garden, split them in half and dug the seeds out, but leaving the white inner veins for added heat.  We stuffed them with some Rouses fresh Cajun sausage, then rolled them in shredded cheese and wrapped them in Wright's thick bacon. They didn't come out all perfect and fancy, but I thought they looked good sitting on the pit cozied up with a couple slabs of ribs.
The ribs were rubbed with a li'l  worcestershire sauce and our own special blend of Cajun seasoning mix. 
   I closed 'everybody' in pit for an hour and a half...3 beers length of time.

   Then, I checked the internal temp of the ribs saw they were over 170F, so I pulled everybody out, and let them rest for another beer or so.

   Like I said before, the peppers were not all that pretty, but they were crispy, a nice light smokiness and Peg and I thought they were very tasty. Problem was, is that they disappeared too soon...six of 'em disappeared that night, and the other six were gone by noon the next day. 
We had an amazing holiday meal and later that night we enjoyed the neighbors' fireworks from sitting in our yard. BeauxBear "celebrated" by hiding under the bed. Well, at least he had enjoyed the meal earlier.
We humbly thank God for this beautiful country that He has given us. We hope you all had a joyful, thankful, prayerful, and plateful Fourth of July, 2019 as well.


Dreaming of Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Well…mebbe it’s because, for some reason lately, that we’ve been sleep-deprived that we haven’t posted much of late. Just plain tired and behind the eight-ball, is what I’m sayin’.
    Seems like Peggy’s been sleepin’ good. It’s obvious to me, that she is. I know she’s sleepin’, cuz she dreams, and I know she’s dreamin’…or she better be dreamin’ is all I can say, and I have my reasons why, too.
   I’ve been awakened by finger tips lightly dancing all over the top of my bald head. I’ve been “polka-dotted” with a finger on the side of my face, which, of course, woke me up. One time I worried about whether or not she had hurt her hand when I got walloped while I was sleeping and she was supposedly sleeping and never knew a thing about it, until I asked her in the morning if her hand hurt. Nope—THEN she was worried about me; I don’t think she worried when I was getting walloped...good thing it was just the one smack.
    Sometimes I really worry about what’s going on in her dreams, like for instance, when I’m deeeeeeep in blessed sleep and am suddenly awakened by somebody screeching directly into my ear, “Heyyyy!!!” or “AAAAHHHHHH!!!” My heart starts racing because I don’t know what’s going on in our room! My “fight-or-flight” has kicked on, I throw the covers back, ready to jump outa bed and do battle with…I hear soft snoring. Sound asleep she is, after scaring me and da dawg awake. He must be used to it by now, cuz he doesn’t even break a bark anymore about it. I open my nook to read a little bit to calm my nerves and try to get back to sleep.
  Dat dawg would have trouble going back to sleep if he about had his nose nearly screwed off while he was sound asleep. Peg sez she was dreaming that she was reaching wayyy over to turn off a light switch, and it didn’t wanna turn. So, she pinched it harder--gonna make it twist. She only stopped when I grabbed her hand off my C-Pap face mask.    If I knew what to expect in her nighttime assaults, I might be like the dawg…no big deal, but she comes up with new “ideas” every night.
   One night she accused me of being “Joe” somebody, so she started smacking him around, yelling at him to, “Knock it off, Joe”. Boy, I’m glad I’m not Joe.
    I don’t know who the guy was who got on the bad side of her in her sleep at a crowded skating rink one morning, in the middle of the night. This weaselly little guy was knocking people off their skates, and a little girl almost got hurt, so Peg reached hard and grabbed him by his shirt. She started yelling, “I got him! I got him!” The guy tried getting away and started yelling back, “Let go, let go Peg! You’ve grabbed a handful of my skin!” And it hurt, too…a little bit.
   She meets all kinds of people in her sleep. Some of them must be complete idiots. She had to keep informing one of them in no uncertain terms—and loudly, that what they were holding in their hand, “It’s a towel…it’s a TOWEL…listen to me, it. is. a. TOWEL!!!”
    The night the bear got in, though, was pretty disturbing, momentarily. It happened just after I had staggered to the bathroom around, I guess
it musta been around 3 a.m. Here I am in the middle of my business when she starts screaming, “It’s a bear…it’s a BEAR!!!” I’m on the other side of the house, on the toilet. Now why…or how, or what in the hell would a bear be doing breaking into our house at this time of night and I’d heard no windows break or wood splintering. Sighhh…so, just this time I decided to let the bear get ‘er. She was sleeping…she wouldn’t know I let the bear get ‘er.
   I don’t know what happened, but by the time I wobbled back to bed, she musta had him subdued, cuz she was sound asleep. Probably snatched his nose off something. Maybe scared him by barking like a dog, but I didn’t hear her bark like BeauxBear and I did one night. She said she was in the driveway and BeauxBear was running for the front door, followed by a pack of coyotes. He made it into the house, so to scare off the coyotes, she started kicking at them and barking like she was a bigger dog than they were. Well, all her barking and kicking not only scared off the pack, but it woke her up, too.
None of us, neither BeauxBear or I could breathe there for a second. She slowly pulled her foot back in under the blankets and laid there all quiet. Finally, I just hadda ask, “What was that?” A simple question.
 She whispered(?) “Oh, did I talk in my sleep again?”
  “Nooo,” I answered, “You barked…like ‘ROOOF WOOOF-WOOF!!! scared the HELL outa me an’ Beaux…he jumped about a foot off the bed an’ scratched my leg when ‘e landed! I couldn't figure out for the life of me what YOU would be barking at. 3:30 in the morning--that's the dogs job.” 
   Now, there’s a lot more stories about Peg’s nightlife, but I’ll just leave it here, I guess. Now, I try not to wake her up unless she’s got a really bad dream goin’ on that I think is really scaring her, so I wake her up before she gets ta going too bad, where one of us…meanin’ me, (or “Joe”) might get hurt. I do have to say, I think I did “Joe” or whoever a favor the other night, tho’. It was pitch black in the room, I was sound asleep and was awakened by a very DEEP, LOUD moaning, “MUH-AH-HAH-HAHHH!!!” I woke up with a start, squinting to see anything, “this can’t be good,” I thought, “who’s in here…is somebody in here? Should I grab my rifle?” Oh wait…Wait a second…getting my bearings, I remembered that Peg does do a very, very deep voice sometimes. Letting out a slow breath, I gave Peg’s arm a little shake, “Wake up, Peg, you’re dreaming.” 
    I kinda felt sorry for whoever was her victim in there tonight. Getting a “muh-ah-hah-hah” could be very bad for them. I figure I’m their hero tonight, saving them like I did. I hope they got some sleep outa da deal, anyhow. As for me an' my dawg,..well, I don't know about him, but I’m sleepin’ with one eye open.



Our First Attempt at Making HomeMade Beef Sausage

  Over the years we have occasionally made our own home made sausage, and if you have read our blog you've probably seen several posts about our various attempts. Lately, as the cost of store bought sausage has gone up and the quality and quantity of the sausage has gone down, we decided to just go ahead and make our own more often.
   It's a fun project for us to do together, and also, because of Peggy's celiac condition, we can have control over the ingredients we use, making sure no wheat or gluten is included that can make her very sick.  
  With this in mind, we went out to Cabelas and bought us a 5 lb. sausage stuffer. Then, while shopping at the "Pig", (Piggly Wiggly) just down the street a few days ago, I saw they had 80-20% ground meat for less than $2.00 per lb. ! Well, alrighty then. 5 lbs. sounded just right for our sausage stuffer's first project.
We brought it home, and I dumped it into a stainless steel bowl,
 then added some creole chopped veggies consisting of onion, shallots, celery, bell peppers, parsley, and garlic.
To this I added 1/4 cup of our own Cajun seasoning spice and 1 teaspoon of pink curing salt. I added a li'l over a cup of water to help the seasoning permeate through the mix evenly, plus, the moisture helps the ground meat slide down and through the stuffer easier into the pork casings.
Our dear friend, Melissa stopped by to visit and kept us company while we stuffed the sausage into natural casings. This is something her family has done for generations, so Peggy appreciated her tidbits of helpful hints, as she is still relatively new to the process, but she's trying to learn how to do it without messing up too bad, while I was at the helm feeding in the meat and operating the stuffing part of the mechanism. Peggy always says, "There's always an angel when you need one," and today it was our cutie-pie, Melissa.
We had so much fun stuffing the casings with our mix and swapping stories with Melissa that, sadly the camera, which was sitting at the ready there on the kitchen island, got forgotten.  When Melissa left, later Peggy and I noticed the camera and were disappointed that we hadn't take more pictures of the stuffing process. 
So, I went out and took these two pictures of the sausage that we had made and bagged, in the freezer.

    Sighhh...oh well, maybe next time. 
    There was a little meat left in the stuffer that didn't get into casings, so we fried it up for a sample and no picture of that, either. But, anyhow, based on the taste of that, and in the opinion of our little dawg, too, it won't be long before we are making some more sausages!!  I expect in the next few posts, our meat creations of today's post will star center stage in our pots and pans, complete with seductive photos aka 'food porn', inspiring you to give it a try.
  And, we promise to have the camera filming all the details the next time we are operating the sausage stuffer, no hiding the sausage, 'cuz despite what people are saying nowadays, you DO want to see how the sausage is made...right?