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If you haven’t been around the blog for long, you might not know that my relationship with cooking is what one might called complicated. Perhaps I’ll explore that history in the future, but for now, I’ve decided to share with you some of the things that I can cook that actually turn out well. And so, Feed Me Friday is born.

Today’s recipe is Crescent Moon Gumbo, adapted from a New Orleans recipe. I’ve made a lot of gumbos in my day, because it’s hard for me to screw up soup. This one is a keeper though. Contrary to its name, you do not have to make it at said phase of the moon (though I could said you did if I wanted to be all witchy). Some may argue that this is not actual gumbo because the recipe does not call for file powder. But I don’t like file powder, so it’s not in there. The roux and okra serve as fine thickeners.

Before we get to the heart of the gumbo, here are a few things to know about making this:

  • Have everything prepped, chopped, measured, and at hand before you start. I mean everything. I’ve learned this the hard way.
  • Spice amounts are always approximate. I seldom measure spices unless I’m futilely trying to bake something, and even then it’s anybody’s guess if I’m going to measure or eyeball it. My dad was a wonderful baker and he always doubled any spice he was using because he said most recipes were written for American palates which preferred their food bland (think pilgrims and puritans).
  • If you don’t have something, feel free to substitute. That’s the thing about gumbo — it’s very forgiving. For example, right now, there is literally not a shrimp to be had within 30 miles, so I substituted bay scallops.

Enough preamble. Here you go.

Crescent Moon Gumbo

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (I just used diced roast chicken today, but raw chicken breast is fine too)
  • 1 lb. turkey kielbasa, cut into thin quarters (I used a 13oz. turkey smoked sausage today, because it’s what I had)
  • 2 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 1 c. chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 1+ tbsp. minced garlic (I use the stuff in the jar instead of fresh, but you do you)
  • 1.5 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 5 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 16 oz. cut okra (I use frozen)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 tsp. olive oil, diced chicken, and kielbasa and sauté until browned. Remove from pan. Sauté onion, bell pepper, and celery in dripping for 4 minutes. If it seems too dry, add a little chicken broth to the pan. Add garlic and all spices to the pan and sauté until the onion is tender. Remove from pan. Add remaining oil to the pan and lower the heat. Add flour, whisking constantly, until you’ve made a light brown roux. Gradually add broth, whisking constantly, until there are no lumps. Add the chicken, kielbasa, and onion mixture back to the pan, along with the okra, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. Add shrimp and parsley and heat through. Makes 6-8 servings. Can be served over rice. Enjoy!

Because I don’t take good food pictures, here’s a cat picture.

We should all be this content.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Sweet peas sprouting by the mailboxes
  • The lone deer sitting under the pines in the cemetery
  • Presents for people I love
  • Cooking plans

And his name is Pharaoh. Maybe I should say there’s a new cat god in town. This is our late son’s Maine Coon, who’s been living with MKL. Yesterday, we shifted him up to the Retreat. He’s settling in well. He’s very attached to MKL though, so as much as he likes me, I’m a little nervous about how we’ll do when MKL goes back to civilization tomorrow. He’s super smart, can open most closed doors, and lives up to his breed’s reputation as “the dog of cats”. But it sure was nice to have him snuggle in my lap for a couple of hours. It’s been too long.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • A lovely day
  • Successfully cooking dinner
  • Cats
  • Coach K’s 100th tournament win
Roy. Mostly blind and deaf but still adorable in his stroller.
These two lovelies. The one laying down first attracted K’s attention and as we turned to ooooo, the second leapt into the scene, and we eeeeekkked.
Dee Dee. She loved being loved.
How much is that doggie in the window?
I would totally have bought this for my dear friend A, who adores Great Danes and has one and blessedly saved her from the fire that destroyed their home.

Las Vegas was a very dog friendly town, which automatically raises its esteem in my and K’s eyes. I was unable to get a picture of the little Yorkie at FrankieAnnTiques, as it kept tip-tapping behind the counter. I was also unable to get a photo of the best Bichon-mix boy who sat and stood and sat and stayed alongside his Dad as they waited for his Mom to emerge from Plaza Antiques.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Blue skies
  • Lemon ginger tea
  • Flexibility
  • My Amazon delivery guy who trudges through the snow to leave a package on my porch

A sad day today and a storm coming. Perhaps my mood fluctuates with the barometer. Perhaps I am the barometer. But a high point of today was speaking to a friend of my heart who turns 93 on the 27th. I was getting concerned that I hadn’t heard from him after my last letter, particularly with how cruel this year has been for so many. So that, and a gorgeous sunrise, are today’s gratitudes.

I had a happy experience with fuzz balls this weekend, and photos of them are always worth sharing.

Daily gratitudes:

– A lovely day
– Getting the new stovetop installed at the Retreat, so I have more than two burners

A few months back, I tried rebranding the blog. I understood why I tried it, but I’ve come to realize that it didn’t work. It just didn’t work for me. No matter where I am, I am exactly who I am — Seasweetie. I am always a work in progress (or road construction on a Colorado highway – the same thing). Earlier this year, I wrote to a friend that I thought I might be having a midlife crisis. Their response? ‘I’ve known you for 16 years and you’ve thought you were having a midlife crisis the whole time.’ That gave me pause. After much contemplation, I recognize that there is no midlife, because we never know how much time we’re blessed with on the swirling blue ball, and that any crisis is usually something we psych ourselves into.

I’ve long said that the only thing certain in this life is change. “Crisis” seems to emerge when we either don’t want to own our choices (or pretend they never happened) or won’t take the time to examine our lives with a modicum of peace on our shoulder, acknowledging our triumphs, our mistakes, the lies we’ve told ourselves, and the love that drives the life we’ve created for ourselves. Up here in the stillness of the Retreat, I’ve had time to sit with my choices as the sun rises to wake me and as dusk falls on pines, as I listen to the music of the creek at night and the birdsong in the morning. There’s a lot to think about. There’s no particular conclusion to reach. I’m just loving getting to recognize myself in this moment in time, all the while knowing that everything could change tomorrow. All I have is now. And the beautiful anticipation of the future.

What does the future look like for me? I only know a few things, a few plans. I know that the unpacking will continue, as everything in the house — including me — finds its place. I know I’m about to check something off my Bucket List in a few weeks. I know that I’m finding myself, my heart, my courage, my joy, my impishness, my sensuality, my nurturing soul, all of which feel like they’ve been somewhat MIA lately. I know that I still have my depression demon, and that sometimes I can’t quite keep it at bay, so today’s positive post, while sounding a bit Pollyanna-ish, doesn’t preclude the feelings that accompany a visit from that special breed of darkness. But that’s not today.

Today is about peace. And joy. And finding the write words.

Daily gratitudes: (It was BIG DAY for gratitudes!)
Not hitting the stag in the middle of the magic highway this morning.
Seeing A BEAUTIFUL ROUND BROWN BEAR by the side of the magic highway this morning.
Listening to MKL and K’s voices in my head telling me not to stop the truck to get out to get closer to said bear.
Seeing a small herd of antelope (my shamanic cohort) with babies in the dry field this morning.
Making plans for me, my truck, and my camera.
Nice words from someone I respect.
Kenny Chesney’s music.
My house hippo (pictured below).

The only thing better than baby goats snuggling each other is me snuggling baby goats. We have photographic documentation of that somewhere, courtesy of MKL.

IMG_1136.JPG
Berthoud, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” — George Orwell

Daily gratitudes:
Distant thunder
Clean dishes
Snuggly Mr. Man
My Peak Challenge
My new weight bench

 

Well, not exactly, but the blues are singing a song of me today, and kitties always seem to help, whether it is images on a screen, or the real thing sitting on my heart. Mr. Man does have a tendency to lay on whatever part of me isn’t feeling up to snuff. He’s a wise healing kitty. It was a lovely Thanksgiving, and I hope you all enjoyed it or at least kept family disputes to a minimum. I know it can be a tense time, especially this year.

For me now, we enter into a strange chrysalis-like phase that often lasts from after Thanksgiving until after the anniversary of my Mother’s passing. It will be ten years this year, and seems like yesterday sometimes. Two friends have lost a parent in the last week, and my heart goes out to them. It alters the character of the holidays when a loss is associated with days that the rest of the world associates with a certain celebration.

So for now, kitties.

img_4554
Littleton, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Daily gratitudes:
A lovely day
A lovely yesterday with MKL
A Downton Abbey marathon
A long talk with Kelsea
The East Simpson Coffee Shop

Why? Because some days just call for alpacas. Nothing else will do.

IMG_7872

Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat, with an indolent expression and an undulating throat; like an unsuccessful literary man.” — Hilaire Beloc

Daily gratitudes:
Joy’s graduation
Talks with Nina
That Kelsea’s team did well today
Art Buchwald’s baked potato
Storm clouds

June 2022
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