With fresh okra and fresh tomatoes and peppers from my local farm market it is time to make gumbo. I found a recipe that I have used before and it is tasty so I send my husband to the store for Andouille sausage on his day off.
But first… I have been reading a book that describes the French kitchen and ordinary cooking. The food does not look simple to me but has an appeal because of the fresh vegetables, cheese, and meat that is part of the everyday food lives of the French people. This book talks about the mythical or real French grandmother who taught or showed the family generations how to cook. The striking part to me is how this is “making do” cooking using what is seasonally available and what are pantry staples. Maybe when I retire I will live in a town where I can walk or bicycle to a local bakery and farm market daily and find farm fresh eggs and chickens to feast on. New Hampshire?
So although I am going to tell you about making gumbo with mostly fresh ingredients and pantry staples I do not usually make this fussy of a meal. And in reading that book it occurred to me that I would like to just make food without fussing over the particular ingredients or methods. But I want to make good food. Food that is satisfying and filling and healthy and nutritious. And on occasion do fussy! This is how my mother fed us. My mom collected recipe clippings all the time. She made few of them. I think she wanted to be more adventurous in cooking and baking but she struggled with obesity and the need to please my father in losing weight. She had to be economical as well so she made do with what were pantry staples and what grew in their garden. I did not get the green thumbs of my mom and dad like my sister and brother, but I did get her “make do” spirit.
This gumbo is an adaptation of a Better Homes and Garden recipe. I am using the recipe as a guideline for ingredients and amounts. I am putting in more of the vegetables and am adding tomatoes. I am using 3 cups of homemade chicken broth that I have in my freezer. I have chopped 5 plum tomatoes which is about two cups. The okra is about 1 ¾ cups sliced. Four cloves garlic, freshly ground black pepper, 2 bay leaves, and a pinch of red pepper flakes is all the spice that is used.
First everything is cut up and then I make the roux. I suppose one does not have to make the roux but it makes it more classic. The roux is made with 1/3 cup flour and ¼ cup oil. Why I chose to stand over the stove and stir for this long I am not sure.
Now add the mire poix. It’s not traditional because it lacks carrots but it serves the same purpose. The garlic is in this addition. This is cooked for a few minutes , 3 to 5, before adding the broth, and then the meat and okra. This is when I add the tomatoes as well. Bring to a boil and add bay leaves and simmer for 15-20 minutes.