Wow, some storm yesterday! Last night we watched our big trees do the hula, and all night we listened to witches screeching around our eaves. Waking up this morning to peace and quiet was very weird. The moon was shining bright through our bedroom window, and there were stars visible.
Yesterday morning we went shopping before it really busted loose, picked up some groceries and some garden supplies. The gutters and parking lots were flowing. As we pulled our car into the garage, it really started coming down. I decided to stay inside and cook all day. I made a pot of rice right off the bat – always nice to have a pot ready for whatever at dinnertime.
Mardi Gras is less than two weeks away – according to the official website, it’s 9 days, 16 hours, 53 minutes, and counting. Mardi Gras, which means “fat Tuesday” in French, is an old pre-Lent festival, falling on the day before Ash Wednesday. I’m not Catholic, but I know what Ash Wednesday is – the Mexican kids would come to school with a smudge of ash on their forehead, and the older kids would tease them – if they rubbed that smudge off, the Devil would get them! As a small child I was afraid of Satan, and I felt unprotected, so my girlfriend Loretta one day offered to share some of her smudge – talk about friendship.
I think Lent is a good idea, although, I don’t attach a lot of morality to it. I just think it’s a good opportunity to take stock of your life, physical, mental, spiritual, and see if there’s anything you can tweak around for the better. The first thing I always think about is my physical health, eating and exercise.
My husband is of like mind – he gets to feeling slumpy this time of year. Yesterday he craved some fresh greens, so we went out and stocked up on plenty of vegies. We even bought tomatoes, just for the mental boost. They tasted fine on our salad last night. At this time of year, the lettuce starts to get ugly and expensive, so we stocked up on cabbage and carrots, celery, nice crunchy stuff. I like to make a salad that will last a couple of days in the fridge, so we can take it out whenever we want.
Cold rice is good on salad. It’s nice with an oil and vinegar marinade. Chopped green onions and bacon are nice to add. Throw it on a bed of cabbage and carrots for a very satisfying lunch.
My husband bought some nice bell peppers yesterday too. He wanted a nice colorful meal in one pot. He throws garlic and onions in an oiled skillet, adds some cut up boneless chicken breast, and when the chicken is browned on the outside, he spoons on some of the cold rice, vegetables, and then adds whatever sauce – two cups of any liquid, including chicken broth, pineapple juice, a little soy sauce, tomato sauce, whatever your pleasure. Then put on the lid and simmer for 10 minutes, it’s a meal. We added four of those frozen jumbo shrimp, washed and peeled, with the chicken. Mushrooms can go in with the onions and garlic, add hard vegies like carrots with the chicken, and then soft stuff like broccoli and asparagus can go in when you add the water and put on the lid. We had red and green bell peppers and some green beans, very pretty.
I don’t know exactly how to make Gumbo, but I like to fry some shrimp, add the rice, then pour in a cup of chicken broth and a cup of tomato sauce, add some sugar – tastes great.
It would be really nice to get a bunch of crawdads – ever eat a crawdad? They are as good as lobster but it takes a lot more to make a meal. They are the traditional center of a good batch of etouffee – ay-too-fay. We used to catch them in the irrigation ditch when I was a kid, but eating them was considered “trashy.”
I don’t know exactly the difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya – but they both look like a fish and rice stew. I’m sure the spices tell the story.
I think it’s just fun to say words like that. And, these dishes make the house smell good and cheerful at this time of year. And they all start with a pot of rice.