In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.
Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Gumbo over Spaetzle, or How this family LOVES Cajun Food
Our German-Swedish-American family LOVES Cajun Food. Since they were toddlers, the kids have been eating their Gumbo and Jambalaya (maybe that's why they're not picky eaters -- they got used to complex flavors early on...)
For us, one of the big feast tradition is to have "Gumbo and King Crab", like on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. I admit that it's actually very "easy" (therefore stress-free on an otherwise crazy day) in the sense that I don't cook it from scratch that day. Rather, the big gumbo-making (which is a HUGE undertaking since we make a giant quantity from the left-over turkey after T-giving & Xmas) was done previously, and cleaned up previously, and the gumbo was frozen in meal-sizes.
As you can guess, gumbo is not exactly something we brought over from the Old Country, but it has become a firm tradition in our German-Swedish-American Melting Pot family --come to think of it, I could serve Gumbo over Spaetzle!
Here's how easy it is to fix that special occasion meal: GUMBO and KING CRAB dinner Defrost the gumbo, reheat in sauce pan Cook brown rice Heat baguette in oven Melt butter in microwave (for dipping the crab) Steam the king crab Light the candles!
I know this is cheating, because I'm not actually giving you my husband's secret gumbo recipe. But he does make the real deal -- from scratch, with a real roux. It takes an entire afternoon, but then the freezer is full of the most delicious "fast" food you'll ever know.
Next is a quick every-day meal: Clean-out-the-frig Jambalaya (this too is not exactly a recipe: I never make the same twice)
Olive oil onions, chopped celery, chopped, bell peppers, chopped garlic, minced jalapeno or other hot peppers cajun spice mix (I make my own: paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, mustard seeds, cayenne, etc) bay leaf rice (I use brown basmati) stock or water (2x the volume of rice) tomato paste Andouille or other spicy sausage left-over chicken or turkey shrimp or other shellfish more vegetables (that don't fall apart) -- if they're somewhat fragile, add at the very end (peas)
I usually start by cooking the sausage, then saute veggies. Add spices & cook a little. Then add rice, and coat well with oil and spices, cooking a little before adding the liquid. Turn down to low and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add fragile stuff at the end: peas, leftover chicken, shrimp (can saute shrimp first, or let cook in the last 5 or so minutes).
PS: one of my favorite quick meals with leftover jambalaya is the heat it in a non-stick pan, then make hole and fry an egg in it! PPS: In principle, my Jambalaya is not all that different from a Spanish paella, and that's Old Country!
Borealkitchen is a blog by an amateur-- I simply enjoy cooking a variety of foods. I was inspired after we started getting a weekly CSA box last winter, which forced me to plan ahead more. This blog is my way of organizing menus and recipes, sharing my family's experiences, plus reflect on food-related issues. I also grow a garden, shop at Farmer's Markets as much as I can, and there's even a little bit of wild harvest as well... Philosophy: Good food, wholesome, mostly. My approach is more product-based than recipe-driven. By this I mean that I try to find something to do with what's in season: this week it might be an abundance of beets, cabbage or collard greens -- then I start searching for meals to incorporate them... I think of recipes as "starting points": when I start cooking, I just start improvising...
My RECIPES are rarely precise: I often just list ingredients ("Bah-humbug" to measuring, except for baking!). If I list recipes from a cookbook, I give the source and variations I've made. If a recipe came from a website, then you'll need to follow the link to the source for the "nitty-gritty" details of that recipe.
Feel free to comment or ask questions. Thanks for visiting!
I call Alaska home, but am originally from Germany. I'm incredibly lucky to have a job as a naturalist, teaching and hiking the great outdoors. My family:
The Prof (my husband);
Eldest (flown the coop);
Wolfman (teenage son);
Liesl (youngest pixie).