09 February 2022 | St. Marys, GA
Cap'n Chef Andy | Chilly
I wrote the last blog post on the new operating system and it takes some getting used to. Just because I was not accustomed to it didn’t mean it didn’t work well. It was Ubuntu 20. I had used ubuntu some time ago and liked open source software, just download what you need, if it is wonderful you can give a donation to those computer code writers, coders. Unlike Microsoft Windows, things go easily, most of the time, and if there is a problem there is a solution on the internet. I like things like that.
We had chilly weather coming in and that caused rain. The Breezeway renter commented was I building a real kitchen there, so I removed quite a few items. We had had our beef stew with copious wine. My next dish, culinary, would be shrimp gumbo, and the renter was from Louisiana, a gumbo expert. But I had to go to the out of commission kitchen. It was terrible. Sink backed up, no one in their right mind would use it now. I used the sink faucet to get warm water to clean up the stock pot and other utensils. The water was taken outside and disposed of ecologically safely. I cleaned up a sieve that fits inside the stock pot and my plan was to use the recommended amount of water to boil/steam the shrimp, then lift the sieve out, set aside, clean the shrimp, saving the cleaned shrimp and throwing the shells back into the boiling stock pot. Save the cleaned shrimp in a bowl, let the stock build in the pot.
I biked up to the Breezeway to get containers for the shrimp and the stock but I had used them up on the beef stew. I went back and got a couple zip lok bags. The shrimp went into one and the hot stock, reduced to about 3 cups from 2 quarts, into the other. I rinsed out the pot and now the sink was almost completely full of foul water. The garbage stank, not having been emptied in quite a while, I would know, I was the only one who emptied it. No shrimp were contaminated, the shells from the stock were thrown away.
I continued to work on the laptop downloading software to edit photos and the Chromium browser. I posted the last blog post from that fetid kitchen.
The stock and shrimp were put in the fridge. Kaimu was as cold as a fridge. My trusty propane heater, which was not so trusty, needed some help to get going, just like me, I was lighting it with a barbecue lighter at the same time I was hitting the light button. Trying to get the release of propane from the heater’s orifice at the same time the barbecue lighter was lighting, or not, was a tenuous arrangement. Maybe it took about 5 times to get it to light. Sometimes it didn’t need help. So, I would try to light the heater using its own light button maybe a half dozen times, and if it didn’t light, I would cradle it in my left and trigger the starter, and holding the barbecue lighter in my right, click, click, until it lit.
We are going into February with mostly mild weather, while up North they are dealing with blizzards, power outages, and wishing they were down here, while we are wishing we were in the Bahamas or the Caribbean. Henrick said he loved it here, then launched and left, and then had engine problems and missed our Boef Bourguinon, actually a beef stew with merlot liquid refreshment. Henrick and Mariola are off and away and we will miss them, but we all will be off and away sometime.
My plan to make the gumbo stalled due to cold rainy weather. The shrimp and stock are ready, it won’t hurt to wait a day. Meanwhile I looked in the Flavor Principle cookbook to see what they say about gumbo, also in the Dairy Hollow Inn Bread and Soup cookbook. Holy Cow! They have a whole section about gumbo. They are located in the Ozarks just North of Louisiana and have many guests coming in from Cajun country, hence they have a whole chapter on gumbo. Exhaustive. I will try their process someday, but I’m going to follow my Alton Brown recipe this time. Here’s the Dairy Hollow Inn recipe:
1 cup oil
1 cup flour
1 stick butter
2 large onions chopped
2 green peppers chopped
1 bunch celery with leaves chopped
8-10 scallions chopped
8 cloves garlic
¼ cup worcestershire sauce
¼ cup tomato paste
1 Tbsp tobasco
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
6-8 grinds black pepper
16 oz canned tomatoes chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley coarsely chopped
Stock and Greens
6 cups stock, can be chicken, veggie, or clam juice
2 cups V8 juice
4 bay leaves
6 bunches of greens like: mustard, spinach, turnip greens, beet tops, collard greens, arugula, or watercress (no kale?)
additional 1 ½ cups V8 juice
Make roux in skillet, stir frequently, over low heat until gets nutty brown color
Saute onions, bell pepper, scallions, celery in butter till translucent and limp
Puree seasoning ingredients except tomatoes and parsley in blender till finely chopped
Coarsely chop tomatoes and parsley, add blender ingredients
Simmer julienned greens in stock for a half hour
whisk 1 ½ cups V8 into roux until smooth
Add everything together in the stock pot and simmer for 15 minutes
Gumbo using previous concoction and add:
6 cups concoction
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups diced chicken
1 cup cooked rice
1 ½ lbs andouille sausage sliced
6 cups concoction
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup cooked rice
combine both the above, ½ each
seafood gumbo as above with 1 ½ lbs shrimp and 24 oysters, can use clam juice as stock
As you can see it is extravagant but doable. You can make chicken gumbo, andouille gumbo, a combination gumbo, or seafood gumbo. There was also a vegetable gumbo which I glossed over.
On the horizon is a special soup made with Tom Yum paste:
Seafood Hot and Sour Soup
Serves 4 as a first course, 2 as a main dish
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
First blanch 1/2 lb shrimp in the chicken stock, clean the shrimp and boil the shell and heads in the stock, drain. Discard the solids and simmer the stock with
1-2 Tbs. Instant Tom Yum Paste, 1-2 tsp hot sesame oil (hot means seasoned with chilies)
Add 2 or 3 matchstick mushrooms, bring just to a boil,
Add 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tbs rice vinegar, and brown sugar to taste.
stir in heaping tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in some cold water,
Then bring just to a boil, add shrimp sliced to cube like pieces, stir soup to a steady rotation, pour a beaten egg mixture in a steady stream. Let it set for a minute, then stir. Check the taste and correct with black pepper, if necessary, rice vinegar, or brown sugar, don't forget soy.
In this recipe you can substitute balsamic vinegar for the other vinegars and brown sugar. It’s better to add the hot sesame oil in the soup bowl as it is served. A little goes a long way. I would use frozen shrimp that was already cleaned, clam juice as the stock, and sliced mushrooms. Matchstick mushrooms has a nice sound to it.
I went shopping after making 2 cups of cooked rice for the later gumbo and getting a shower in the cold building, unheated, hot shower water, but foggy in there and chilly. I stocked up on wine and breakfast items, bought a bag of frozen shrimp and some ingredients for seafood hot and sour soup.
I decided to try to use Kaimu’s galley to make the gumbo. I removed the teapot and skillet from the stovetop and put a cutting board there. I prepped onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic. The holy trinity of onion, green pepper, and celery is in a ratio of 2:1:1, and the determining factor was the green pepper, so I chopped that up first and put it in a zip lok bag. Next 3 stalks of celery produced the right amount, and a good sized onion provided the rest of the trinity. The garlic in the recipe was 2 tablespoons, so about 6 cloves were used. I had 12 oz of andouille sausage and the recipe called for half a pound, so of the 4 sausages I used 3, thin sliced. Every prepped item went into a zip lok bag.
My directions were to saute the sausage in oil and set aside. I skipped that. I began building the roux with half a stick of butter and equal amount of flour, as usual, and kept stirring. This went on for a while and the roux started to brown. The recipe said to saute the holy trinity, plus the garlic, in the roux, but I didn’t want to do that. I added a bottle (1 cup) of clam juice to the roux and mixed, it thickened. I took the shrimp stock, not sure how much was there, and poured it from its zip lok bag into measuring cup and added to the roux and continued stirring. The basic rule is you can add as much liquid as the volume of the roux, so in the beginning it’s just a little bit, but later it can be cups. I ended up putting about a quart of stock or clam juice into the roux, allowing it to bubble and thicken between adding. I needed the roux pot to saute the holy trinity and sausage, so dumped the roux into the big stock pot and dumped veggies and sausage into the sauce pot along with some butter, water, and a small can of crushed tomatoes. I covered the pot and let everything steam. In went some thyme, ground black pepper, garlic salt in place of salt, and 2 bay leaves. The mixture sweated down, wilted. I threw it into the stock pot and mixed it with the roux which had hardly cooled at all. I tasted and was surprised at the taste.
The stock pot was now on the burner and bubbling. I let it cook and scraped the bottom of the pot with a square ended bamboo chinese tool. I turned off the heat. In went the patient shrimp and about a tablespoon of file powder. I called Roughrider Lynn who was right nearby Kaimu, could she take me up to the Breezeway with the soup and the rice. They ended up giving me the car keys and I drove up, delivered the soup and rice. I had texted Eloisa to shut the Breezeway from the cold Northwest wind and turn on the pizza oven to warm the space up, but I got there before she did. I started the oven and closed the doors, she came in with Blue, her black dog, and drew a crystal goblet of wine. Merlot. I returned Lynn’s car and got the bike, biked back.
I had talked with Robert about making gumbo and I expected him to come and have some. MD Mike asked if he could have some and did he have to pay. I had had no lunch, again, and grabbed a bowl, put some rice in it, and then a ladle of gumbo on the rice. A glass, or as Webb would say, plastic, of merlot and I sat and consumed the concoction. I would say it was rough or raw, it needed to meld the flavors, but it was good. The recipe was from Alton Brown, and he usually comes up with good eats.
Helicopter Dave and Roughrider Lynn showed up and we had another bowl of this stuff along with them. Blue kept wanting to play and we took turns confusing him with fake ball throws and he fooled us a few times, he likes to play too. Dave has had a lot of experience with military cooking, like officer clubs and such, and he thought the gumbo was good. Eloisa said it was good but she didn’t have much experience with gumbo. Robert didn’t come off his boat to have any, and the Louisianan renter, who probably could be the best critic of it came to his door and said, no thanks, already ate.
The merlot morphed into burgundy. The stock pot ended up with maybe 2 cups of gumbo in it. The rice bowl had maybe 2 tablespoons of rice. We were shivering and huddled next to the pizza stove, valiantly producing heat that dissipated before it warmed, but it made us stay. I figured it would be so cold at night that the stock pot would be refrigerated by nature and we could clean up tomorrow. We went our ways.
The next day I used the fetid kitchen to get warm water to wash things and threw the waste water where it wouldn’t impact the environment. It was another chilly day. I made more rice and packaged the remaining gumbo in 3 tupperwares, gumbo and rice together.
I finished reading Poland by James Mitchener. It is typical of his geohistory books, 565 pages covering about a thousand years of Polish history. He ties things together very well but the history itself is very sad and the ending of the book is placed in the 1980’s. It is prior to the fall of the USSR. As we know now, there is contention in Eastern Europe involving Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. This has been a theme for over a thousand years.
The image is of a portion of Seafood Gumbo.