Monday, May 28, 2012

Pagan Blog Project-G is for the Magic of Gumbo

Pagan Blog Project- G is for the Magic of Gumbo
I love autumn, it is the most magical of all times for me. Temperatures have dropped and hibernation has started. Here in Louisiana, this is what we call Gumbo Weather and it is greatly anticipated.

Cooking is more than just a household chore. For the kitchen witch it is a magical process indeed. The witch uses her surroundings and tools that are available to create something special for herself or loved ones. The process of cooking is not to simply mix ingredients and stir until done. The kitchen witch will add her/his own special flair and energies to make something truly wonderful.

Cajuns love cooking and celebrating life. We do not eat to live, but live to eat. We live by one of our creeds, "laissez le bon temps roulez", let the good times roll. And here, good times always include great food.

Our food integra
tes many different cultures including French, Acadian, Spanish, German, Anglo-Saxon, Afro-Caribbean and Native American. Gumbo comes from a combination of our French, African and Native American roots.

Gumbo is a mix of a stew and soup. The ingredients can vary, but will usually be either seafood or chicken and sausage. I do need to note that this article deals with Cajun gumbo (southwest region) and not Creole gumbo (New Orleans area). There is a difference, mainly in the ingredients used and the consistency of the “soup”. For the purposes of this article, chicken and sausage gumbo is our goal. The ingredient include chicken, smoked sausage, roux, onions, bell pepper, garlic, parsley and file as a thickener.

Food is not only a celebration for the Cajuns it is also a comfort food. At this time of year, temperatures can drop quite a bit, causing problems for us humans. Gumbo helps to keep our bellies full as well as keep us warm from the cold outside. It is also a crowd pleader and can serve a large gathering at a minimal cost.

This time of year was very difficult for our ancestors. This was the time when meat was scarce and fields were dead, so they had to use whatever they had on hand to survive. Gumbo was a perfect solution to this problem. A gumbo is for the most part, a collection of whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Since this time of year is also when we remember our ancestors the most (Fall/Winter) this dish can be used for an ancestor feast. Feasts help us to remember our loved ones with loving memories of celebrations past. It also helps us to reconnect with our past and deepen our connection to our roots and who we really are.

The ingredients used in this recipe make it also a wonderful protection potion. The ingredients used are:

1 large chicken (for good health)
1 pound smoked sausage (pork is good for grounding)
2-3 onions (more if you really like them) ( protection)
1 small bunch of green onions (protection)
1 green pepper (protection)
1 small bunch of parsley (wisdom/communication)
1 clove garlic (protection, repels negative energy)
salt/pepper to taste (purification, protection)
6 cups hot water (if you find that the gumbo is too thick, just add more water as needed)
For the Roux:
¾ c flour
1 cup oil

Fry the chicken in oil, remove and put aside. Make the roux: melt the fat (if you use lard), stir in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until dark brown. Be very careful not to burn it!) Or you can used already made roux in the jar. The brand I use most often is Savoies. Once the roux is ready, add the vegetables and saute on low heat just a couple of minutes to soften them. Then add the water. I prefer to bring the pot to boil and let the roux completely dissolve before adding the rest of the ingredients. Add sausage and chicken and simmer for about 2-3 hours. Serve over cooked rice.

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