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!

1 comment:

  1. This was exactly what i had in mind. I shopped and thought i should check the internet in case i had missed anything. This recipe met my precise list! I am roasting beef bones for stock, spot on! thank you. James, Bend, Oregon.