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Mumbo Jumbo, I Love GUMBO!

I was recently told by my acupuncturist that I needed to add more okra in my diet.  Aside from having it with pasta, I was inspired to try to make my very first gumbo!  It just so happens that it’s just in time for Fat Tuesday as well.  I grew up on my mom’s jambalaya, but have never made gumbo.  I never knew the difference before either, but I’m guessing it has a lot to do with the roux.  According to http://www.chowhound.com, jambalaya is more of a rice based dish, while gumbo is more often referred to as a soup or stew with okra.  Apparently, jambalaya is the African word for ham with rice and gumbo is the word for okra.  Here is the recipe I found on http://www.allrecipes.com from user: dailyrecipedoctor.

Good New Orleans Creole Gumbo

Original recipe makes 20 servings
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bacon drippings
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
  • 3 quarts water
  • 6 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco®), or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend (such as Tony Chachere’s®), or to taste
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons gumbo file powder (Sassafras powder) I didn’t have this on hand 😦
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen cut okra, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 pound lump crab meat
  • 3 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons gumbo file powder

Directions

  1. Make a roux by whisking the flour and 3/4 cup bacon drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown color. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

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2. Place the celery, onion, green bell pepper, and garlic into the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse until the vegetables are very finely chopped. Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

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3.  Bring the water and beef bouillon cubes to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Stir until the bouillon cubes dissolve, and whisk the roux mixture into the boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of file gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

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4.  Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Mix in crab meat, shrimp, and Worcestershire sauce, and simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of file gumbo powder.

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I must say that this recipe was quite amazing; I am a fan 🙂 .  I’m sure that it’s blasphemous to not have the gumbo file powder, but I think it worked pretty well without it this time.

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Enjoy!

Lauren

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Madmen and Lollipops shoot

Lori Curole of Lollipop Art Productions was looking to update her website with a current fun and funky portrait of herself. She wanted to incorporate the ’50s style of her art along with the namesake of her company.  We went all out with huge lollipop cardboard pieces and confetti.  Watch out!  We managed to still keep it down to earth with the styling of her hair, makeup, and wardrobe as well as incorporating her own artwork. It’s fun to take two very different themes and put them together to see how they fit, kind of like music mash ups.  I’m very pleased with the outcome and I know Lori is too.

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Testimonial from Lori Curole of Lollipop Art Productions

From the moment I met Lauren Lear, her bright smile and can-do attitude instilled confidence in me. Her background in theater & obvious photographic talent had me intrigued.
I was in the process of re-designing my website & re-branding my message for my business Lollipop Art Productions.  After a few emails back and forth with Lauren, we had a direction…Lauren would acquire some giant Lollipop props and I would find a vintage outfit, as I wanted to look classic.  I wanted a fun, playful and light looking picture…
I wanted to look different enough from my everyday self, yet still recognizable. I came to Lauren’s home studio on a Sunday and felt an instant rapport with makeup artist Caylee Patenaude.  I was open to creative suggestions but trusted Caylee & Lauren. Even down to false eyelashes to open what Caylee called my perfectly almond shaped eyes (who knew?) After some amazing makeup, bright pink lips right out of the 1950s with my hair in a timelessly classic style.  A quick wardrobe change and I was ready.  Lauren staged the giant lollipops in a red room which gave the shoot a really great backdrop.  Lauren is a pro, she has all the right tools to make you feel relax and smile big, but maybe what did it most for me was the confetti that she had me throw during the shoot…it was just fun, hard to not smile.  I love the result of my photo shoot and the new classically vintage me that Lauren and Caylee created.  I’m looking forward to using the photos for my website and marketing materials.

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‘Til next time,

Lola

Super Bowl!

Superbowl XLVII was our first Super Bowl at home.  We usually hit the sports bars for the food, drink, and company.  Alex and I have no care whatsoever for sports, but we do get excited for the Super Bowl- mainly because we like to celebrate- anything.  I was especially excited to make many of the football staple foods and experiment with some new ones.  There were potato skins, buffalo chicken bites, guac and chips, and brownies.  The two crazy new recipes were the cheesy jalapeno cornbread poppers and the buffalo cauliflower  “wings”.  They were both awesome!

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Cheesy Cornbread Jalapeno Poppers

from  www.ohbiteit.com (check out her recipe here and below)

12  Med/Large fresh Jalapenos

1 Box of Cornbread Mix (I used the Honey variety for the sweetness)

1 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar (1 cup for the batter..1/2 cup for sprinkling)

1 Cup Corn..fresh OR canned is just fine

Directions:

Slice each jalapeno down the center and carefully remove all the seeds and veins..set aside

In a medium bowl, mix up the Cornbread batter according to the box instructions, add in the Corn and 1 cup of the Cheddar.

Fill each Jalapeno half with some batter!  Eh-hem, don’t over fill them!

sprinkle them all with the remaining 1/2 cup of Cheddar.

Place them on a baking rack & sheet pan, bake them at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, or until the Cornbread is firm and cooked through.  They will be puffed and cheesy too!

Let them cool cuz they’re HOT!

Here are a few more pics of the spread 🙂

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It was a pretty interesting game.  We chose to root for the 49ers since the Ravens kicked out the Broncos, which made the game all that more exciting.  This was the first Super Bowl in my life that I actually watched all the way through- normally I’m milling about between commercials.

Not to mention another great highlight of the evening was entertaining Rick Parker, or I might say he was entertaining us.  He drew the Beavis and Butt-Head comic series in the ’90s.  Alex interviewed him for The Forecaster and they became fast friends over their mutual love of comics.  So, of course, they had to get a pic in Alex’s infamous Man Cave.  You can find Alex’s interview with Rick here .

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Excelsior!

Lauren

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