Gumbo–that ubiquitous dirty-dishwater looking stew of whatever people throw in it, unique to Louisiana, happened in the Casa de Rurale recently. It could have even happened in Texas. Not quite what you think, and I ate it too. Read about how I made it, I ate it, and how it was somehow gluten-free and wheat-free thanks to a certain author.
Hi, Again, Dear Readers:
Do you idly flip through cookbooks and think about making something? I do. I think about how nice it would be to try this recipe, and how enjoyable it would be to have, and maybe how much I enjoyed making it for Miss Alice, or for a group of people. One day I did it, but it was for BF. But first, some news.
Little Japanese Cookies
So three of our Buddhist youth division went to Japan in February for a training course, and they had a pretty incredible spiritual time, from what we heard. No, there wasn’t any sake or karaoke involved (or they left that part out) and they brought back lots of stories. Well, one of them came to our district meeting and brought the cutest box of little cookies:
Kansai is a city in Japan where great things have happened, and one of the places they visited. I insisted that our district leader/hostess let me take pictures as she opened the box. Little things like that from Japan are just adorable. So, here we go:
The back of the box:
Then we cracked open the box to see:
They’re really tiny, no kidding:
I had to try one, this one being raspberry. Mildly sweet, crunchy like an amaretto cookie, and lightly flavored. I didn’t ask for a translation of the ingredients list. Again, so cute:
I have no idea what it says. I brought two or three home to BF, where he devoured them all in a quick bite.
On the way home, I made a quick stop at Whole Foods (I was only a couple of miles away) and noticed this in the parking lot:
No kidding, a charger for an electric car, and it looks to be free for Whole Foods customers:
Of course, the first thing I wondered was, “does anyone in Louisiana, let alone Mandeville, have an electric car that needs this?” California, sure. Arizona, maybe. Texas, probably with all the petrolheads. But Louisiana? No idea. But if you have one, well, you can charge up that the Mandeville Whole Foods. I don’t know about any other Louisiana location.
I’m sure it won’t be free forever.
Quick Note On Sourcing Ingredients
Finally, I realize that my new favorite online vitamin store also sells a myriad of healthy food products. Why didn’t I think of this before? Vitacost carries all manner of healthy foods and ingredients. I was looking for corn flour recently to make more of my favorite vegan cornbread from Babycakes. Nobody carried it, even in New Orleans. Finally I thought about ordering it directly from Bob’s Red Mill, but then I looked at Vitacost. Oh, yes–they have ALL that stuff, including their own brands of things like pink Himalayan sea salt and a three-pound bag of the sweetener Erythritol (the subject of an upcoming blog post) for a really good price. They may not have absolutely everything, but if you’re looking for something that’s hard to find, check Vitacost’s website first before giving up on it.
And of course, don’t forget Amazon’s website for hard-to-find ingredients, either. Remember the best part about both these merchants: they ship it right to your door!
Update On The Dishwasher
My fabulous countertop dishwasher is washing its heart out these days, but I discovered that the model I bought is currently unavailable. Why? Because Edgestar and Compact Appliance will be bringing out new models this summer. If you’re looking to get one immediately, check other online outlets to see if they’re still available. If not, give it a couple of months.
Also, I have a new client who asked me to write some “green” articles. Because of that, I’ve discovered that Seventh Generation powdered dishwashing detergent works really well in this dishwasher. I’m going to start buying so I can help us get a little bit greener. It’s a little more than the gelpacs I’ve been using, but I only use a tablespoon, so that box will last me quite a while. The previous powder was the Walmart brand, which I’d bought thinking it would work fine. Nope–it clumped and glued itself into the dispenser. But Seventh Generation doesn’t do that. I’ve got a big box, and will be returning the gelpacs one day soon.
Friend of the blog LK in Houston buys her, um, bathroom tissue from Amazon, and they deliver a 48-roll case to her front door. I think she has Prime, but I don’t remember. It may be a good option for us, too, since we’re. . .way out here. The mail lady and several other courier drivers have become very familiar with the Casa de Rurale since I started regularly ordering stuff online.
The Re-Education Of BF
Sometimes, I wish I’d never picked up cooking as a hobby. Especially with BF around. I get bored making the same thing, stuff that looks like a Swanson TV dinner. Sure, it’s easy to throw in the CrockPot, and I appreciate that part of the meat-and-potatoes dinner. But geez–can’t we eat something different sometime? Grass-fed beef if it’s on sale? It wouldn’t hurt to buy organic milk when we have the chance, either.
Last week we had to head over to Baton Rouge, and I twisted his arm to take me into Sur la Table. It’s a smaller store than Baybrook, and they don’t do cooking classes, darnit. When I told him about it, he kind of knew where it was, but had no idea why. Finally, after trying to explain “professional cooking tools,” and not getting through, I decided to take it to his level.
See, BF isn’t stupid or ignorant–but sometimes, he has no frame of reference. It’s not ignorance–that’s just not ever knowing what something is. Like a popular TV show that everyone else watches, but you’ve never seen it, so you have no idea what the other person is talking about. Happens to both of us all the time. To him, buying something at a pricey store is no different than going to Walmart for it. Finally, I thought on his level, and realized how to explain it.
“It’s Snap-On Tools For Cooks.”
THAT made sense! If you’re not familiar, Snap-On Tools are the high-end, professional grade mechanics’ tools that are coveted by car guys and gals everywhere. They work the FIRST time you put that wrench on a bolt. Sure, they’re expensive, but they’re professional grade and are made to last a lifetime, just like Le Creuset pots.
What did I need? A good potato masher. I make mashed potatoes for him a lot now, and so I needed one. I wanted a good one that would last a long time, and I got it. (It also doubles as something strong to whack him with if he starts messing around in the kitchen.) Of course, all he could think of was, “It’s overpriced.”
A Tale Of Two Salads
To give you an idea of the contrast between us, BF took me to a local seafood restaurant recently, where they have a salad bar. If you order an entree, there’s one trip to the salad bar. You can just have salad for one price with multiple trips. If you’re really hungry, order an entree *and* multiple trips to the salad bar. I make mine count.
As a veteran of places like Sweet Tomatoes, I look for the good stuff, and frequently pass on salad dressing:
Oh, yes. And those are raisins and dried cranberries, too. Not too many, but some for added sweetness. Now, when BF hits the salad bar, this is what he comes back with:
About a half-cup of lettuce, some cheese, red onion, 12 ounces of Thousand-Island dressing and several bread croutons. And yet, the lettuce gave him. . .gas. That’s what he says, anyway. He takes the hush puppies off my plate, too.
BF cringes when we go to restaurants, but thankfully, it’s not very often. I try hard to find the healthiest thing available, and I’ve been successful each time by asking questions. So you see what I’m working with.
Amy Makes Gumbo
Much as I’m *not* a fan of Louisiana food, I made gumbo for us recently. Why did I grow up in Louisiana, but don’t want any? Well, I’m done with it. And, Louisiana food is a lot of flour, hydrogenated oil and other unhealthy stuff I don’t want. So I dropped it years ago. Mexican food, yes, thank you, with lots of guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese and fresh salsa. But you can keep the rest of that stuff. Yuck.
Oh, and BF’s daughter made a gumbo for us once that used the base out of a packet. No. Everybody here has their own way of making gumbo, but. . .well, she bought a gumbo mix or something.
Admittedly, if BF decides to go for some boiled crawfish, I’ll gladly have some. Shrimp, of course, I love, as long as I don’t have to peel 150 pounds of them. (I’ve done that too.) I usually order shrimp in a restaurant, because I don’t have to mess with them. Crab, it’s been way to long. And oysters are only good if they’re deep fried in hydrogenated oil with high-carb cornmeal and flour, so I usually pass. But jambalaya and gumbo? No thanks. Until now.
Could It Be. . .Gluten Free?
Yes, indeed, it can, thanks to my accidental finding of a gumbo recipe in a cookbook a couple of weeks ago.
Now, I showed you the pictures from the gumbo cookout we visited at the holidays. (BF recently visited Mr. Calhoun at his place of business, the auto shop, for car stuff for one of his clients.) On one of those trips, BF had the occasion to have lunch on the road, and he got. . .gumbo. The “real” kind, from somewhere in Baton Rouge, I think. He texted me the picture:
And yes, he loaded up on crackers. No thanks. He actually didn’t finish it, brought it to his brother’s place of business, and his brother gobbled it up. Enjoy, guys.
I had a few cookbooks sitting in the kitchen, and I started flipping through one to find *something* else to make for dinner. I knew we had two chicken breasts in the freezer, but that gets real boring real quick. And then, I came across something in the Wheat Belly 30-Minutes (Or Less!) Cookbook: New Orleans Gumbo.
I went over the ingredient list, and realized that I only needed a few things to complete it. Andouille style sausage and a bell pepper. Carefully, I made plans to purchase these ingredients and wondered how I would get them into the house without him knowing.
He Found Out Anyway
Well, I told him I was making something *special* for dinner that I knew he’d like, but I wouldn’t tell him what. Finally, he wrestled the book away from me and saw it. “New Orleans Gumbo! Well, I’ll try anything you make.” That’s his rule, (and his standard answer), so he’ll have one bite of it. But if he doesn’t like it, well, it’s back to grilled cheese sandwiches or something.
So once the proverbial cat was out of the bag, I got busy with making dinner.
Of course, I left out one ingredient out of the picture, essential to the dish:
So let’s get on with it. Make your Cajun seasoning first:
Mix it and pour it into a storage jar:
At this point, you can get a pinch bowl for the teaspoon you need for this dish, set it aside, and stash this back into the pantry.
Heat your oil over medium-high heat:
Chop the chicken and the sausage:
Add these to the hot oil:
And let them cook for about 8 minutes. When they’ve cooked and browned, take them out with a slotted spoon, put them in a bowl, set them aside, then drop the heat down to medium.
Then You Make A Roux
If you’ve never heard of this, a roux (“roo” or “rew”) is the basis for a gravy. It’s done by cooking flour in hot oil on the stove, and it takes a while. You use a fair amount of it, and when you’re done, it’s all thick and brown and. . .gravy.
The Good Doctor has an alternate method.
Pour one cup of chicken stock into the pot, and add the coconut flour one tablespoon every 30 seconds until it’s thick enough for you:
The coconut flour doesn’t really add a noticeable taste to it. Once that’s done, add the onion:
Then the garlic:
Then the bell pepper:
And the seasoning mix and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes until they soften a little:
See how it’s thickening?
Ok, next–add the sausage and chicken back into the pot:
And then add the rest of the chicken stock:
Then just cover and cook it for 8 minutes more. The chicken should be completely cooked and the vegetables softened.
What About The Rice?
Don’t panic. I’ve got you covered.
When you get gumbo in a restaurant, it’s usually served with rice, or the rice is in it. That’s not low-carb, and I’m not sure about gluten-free, either. SO. . .I made rice for him and quinoa for me.
I used the last of the chicken stock for my quinoa:
And, of course, made some rice for BF.
And then it was time for dinner. You won’t believe what happens next. . . .
The Tasting And The Conversation
So I fixed his plate, and then mine, and we sat down to have gumbo on a Saturday night.
He takes a bite, and then another. He doesn’t say anything at first. It went like this:
“It’s pretty good.”
“OK if I make it again?”
“I feel like I want to yell at you for not making this before! Why haven’t you ever made this for me?” (He’s still stuffing his face with it.)
“I only found the recipe last night.”
“How long have you had that book?”
So, there we have it. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
It Really Is That Easy To Make
If you want to make this for yourself and/or your family, I’ve put a printable PDF copy on the Recipes page. You make the seasoning, and then make the gumbo. Doesn’t take too long, really. Healthy, tasty, and a great weeknight meal, with or without rice/quinoa.
Coconut flour is pretty easy to find these days, and I can get it here in my area (although I still get stuff at Trader Joe’s sometimes, too.) And as I said earlier, Vitacost and Amazon can ship it to your door if you can’t find it locally.
What are you waiting for? Make some and enjoy it.
Hello, Dear Readers:
It’s been a busy week. WordPress is once again telling me to get with it, so here I go. Just so happens I have a topic that I’ve never really written about before: the humble coconut.
You’ve seen them in the grocery stores, thinking about buying one even, but wondering about cracking it open and extracting all the tasty bits. But there’s more to it than that twiggy, fuzzy exterior and white flesh.
You might be familiar with the stuff you get in the baking aisle, too–but that’s got plenty of sugar in it, since it’s made for recipes like this one for Lamingtons, which, yes, I made many years ago. Know what? I gave my bud the GER some of them and I do seem to remember he enjoyed the heck out of them, as did the rest of the recipients. I do remember them being VERY tasty too. But I only made them once.
I’ve mentioned before my new favorite sweet, Mounds bars with dark chocolate (not Almond Joy, which has milk chocolate), but I can’t say that I consume a LOT of coconut. I like it, but I can get sick of it, too. For a while I was making some coconut “cookies” with unsweetened coconut, beaten egg whites and SomerSweet, but I soon got sick of those, particularly since they tend to soften and get gummy if you let them sit for more than a day. But the dried stuff keeps in the pantry pretty well.
This week, the esteemed Wall Street Journal ran a story on the benefits of coconut oil. The article called it “better than butter,” but really, that’s primarily if you’re allergic to milk, I think. I say that because both are healthy fats, and the only difference is lactose, or milk sugar, and the fact that butter must be refrigerated. So allergies not withstanding, what’s the difference, right?
I was first introduced to coconut oil about ten years ago when I was living at the GER’s house. I forwarded him an article about something and there was a popup ad from Tropical Traditions, an online purveyor of oil from The Phillippines. He didn’t read the article–he thought I was asking him to buy some, pulled out his credit card and bought a five-gallon bucket of it! Back then it was $65, now it’s doubled in price. But it has a very long shelf life and a high smoke point like olive oil.
Having read that it could replace butter, I, um, well, put it on whole wheat bread and sprinkled Splenda on top. (I know!!) But I got sick of the coconut taste very quickly and stopped doing it. Didn’t know I could fry with it, bake with it, all that, and when I moved out, all I took was a small jar to use on my hands. Not sure what the GER did with the rest of it, I guess he used it up. (I don’t have room for a five gallon bucket anyway.)
Tropical Traditions also makes a number of different personal care products, including hair care. I know this because I got some last time I went to Dr. Davis’ office in The Woodlands. Trust me, you do NOT need much of it! No odor either, so you don’t smell like a tropical drink.
You can also check out their recipe section for all kinds of ways to use coconut, coconut oil, and alternative versions of everyday foods. While I have not tried any of them yet, perhaps I need to go back and look at it again. I think it’s been a while. This one for flourless chocolate chip cookies looks good, but my guess is you’ll have to order the coconut cream concentrate from Tropical Traditions. Chocolate Orange Truffle Pie? That might be good. There’s even a section of gluten free coconut recipes. I need to go look at that soon, too.
Don’t forget, coconut oil features prominently in my favorite Yeast Free Brownies. That’s primarily why I keep it around! (SomerSweet works well in them, too.)
If you’ve heard about coconut oil here and there but don’t know if you want to try it, well, there are a number of factors to consider. This oil is solid when the temp goes below about 75 degrees–that’s why you can replace butter with it in many recipes. If you put it in the fridge for a long time, you can break a window with it. No kidding–if you’re going to cream it with sugar (or like I do, with SomerSweet), you have to let it sit out for a bit so that it’s not “frozen.”
This article really doesn’t tell a whole lot about coconut oil, just gives you a brief overview. But there’s so much more to coconuts.
Oh, and they’re not actually a real “nut.”
One thing you might not know is that coconut oil features prominently in Dr. Hotze’s Yeast Free Diet program for a couple of reasons. First, it’s plant based, so no milk sugar (lactose) to feed the yeast while you’re trying to kill it. Two, the health reasons stated in the article–medium chain fatty acids and all that. Third–something you might not know–is that coconut oil has anti-fungal properties that help with the killing of the yeast in your gut. (It also works in gluten-free cooking and baking, but more on that later.) So it’s healthy for a couple of reasons, not just the no-dairy thing.
I am not dissing dairy. Far from it. But if milk/dairy has you saying “shiver me timbers,” coconut oil can help you out. Yes, I know, unless you’re allergic to coconut.
If you’re interested in doing a yeast cleanse, you can find Dr. Hotze’s cookbook on the subject here. The book describes how and why to do a yeast cleanse, lists the prescriptions you need as well as how long to take them. You don’t need to be a guest at the Hotze Clinic to buy the book or do the program. The two prescriptions, Hypo Nystatin-A and Fluconazole, are readily available at pharmacies nationwide; you just need a doctor to write you a prescription. You’ll need a 90-day supply of the first, and 3 weeks of the second. (I had one doctor give me one month of the first and one week of the second; that’s like taking antibiotics just until you feel better, not the whole prescription.)
I’ve done the yeast-free diet many times. The first time had me swearing, because I was so hungry! But–that was because I didn’t have the instruction book and wasn’t ready for it. I know I need to do it when I start getting heartburn. I don’t GET heartburn from eating stuff like tomato sauce and chili. If you do have that problem, or other alimentary issues, consider it. And, actually, Dr. Hotze’s website has this quick primer on yeast overgrowth so you can learn more and see if it would work for you.
It probably can’t hurt. I say that as someone who has done a couple of rounds of yeast free successfully; those prescriptions aren’t harmful, either. Anyway. . . .
I can’t personally vouch for this, but there is a lady who began giving her husband coconut oil when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Mary Newport gave her husband coconut oil, and quickly improved. That’s not to say it’s a definite CURE for Alzheimer’s (or anything else, for that matter), but if you go to her home page and scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see her husband’s “clock test” and how he improved in 37 days from coconut oil. Unless you are allergic to coconut, this probably couldn’t hurt–but it’s a matter of using your own judgment.
Remember, I’m not a doctor/nurse/medical person, just a patient who reads and pays attention. I only present information, and it’s up to you to review it before use. I present info because there might be one person somewhere who happens to read it and it was the very thing they were looking for. Happened to me once or twice, too.
Anyway. . . .
I’d forgotten about Dr. Newport until I read the comments in the WSJ article, which are quite interesting. (No funny stuff this time.) However, be forewarned that many doctors still ascribe to the “all fat is bad” mantra, which explains many modern illnesses. Don’t get me started. I don’t follow the “healthy new trends” anymore because many are bogus and none seem to be particularly helpful. I’m someone who used to eat white flour pasta because it was “healthy and low fat,” OK? Guess what? Healthy, it ain’t.
Anyway. . .
Now, some time ago I bought a bag of coconut flour for one of the Babycakes recipes, and have only used it for a couple of things (including the infamous Pineapple Upside Down Cake.) One of my writer friends told me about a book specifically for coconut flour and gluten free stuff, called Cooking with Coconut Flour: A Delicious Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Alternative to Wheat by Bruce Fife. There is actually a second book by Bruce Fife, but I don’t yet have either one of them. However, the friend raved about it, since she’s also diabetic, and interested in solutions.
When I put the first book on my wish list, I also found this one, since I’m also a fan of almond flour. Oh, and there’s one by the same author for just cupcakes. I don’t have either one of those yet, either. One day.
Oh, wait–this wasn’t supposed to be a gluten free blog post. It was supposed to be about coconuts. OOOPS.
I have only once had a can of coconut milk in my pantry, used for a slow-cooker recipe from Everyday Food. It was a curry or something. Made it once, never again.
I have also seen coconut water, but I dunno what that is or what it’s for. There are so many beverages with all kinds of things thrown in that I don’t want anything but a cup of tea, for heaven’s sake.
Now, if you’re wondering about the cost of coconut oil, well, it’s not like Wesson’s hydrogenated oil, the trans-fat kind of thing. I was in HEB a couple of days ago and can show you this:
I’ve been buying LouAna’s coconut oil for several years. I called the company one day and it is NOT hydrogenated, although it has no coconut taste. When I started buying it, the price was, no kidding, $1.98 a quart. As its popularity has grown, so has the tab. I mean, overnight the price kept going up to where it is now. I’ve seen it as much as $7 a quart in Kroger.
Remember too that the one next to the LouAna is the kind that you get in a health food store–extra virgin organic, and all that. Central Market has its own brand, as does Kroger, but it may be repackaged Tropical Traditions for all I know. With more and more people looking for healthier options and alternate ingredients, it’s available in more and more places, as well as online. Even if you live out in the middle of nowhere, if you can get mail or UPS, you can get some.
And you thought coconuts were just for tropical drinks!
Now you know more than you did before on the benefits of coconut. Next week there might be a new weight loss pill made from coconut, but I’d rather just eat it.
Oh, I forgot about them coconut-breaded shrimp at Joe’s Crab Shack, too. Those were really good. (It was a long time ago.)
So there you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen, a quick primer on the various uses and benefits of coconut–beyond what the Wall Street Journal told you. It’s not just for candy and daiquiris anymore, so enjoy some when you can, if not for sweetness, for its health benefits.