Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A crazy holiday weekend

Do you realize that last weekend was not only Valentine's day, but also Chinese New Year, President's Day, Olypmics Opening Weekend and Mardi Gras? That is an epic combination.

We had a lot of festivities, so by Tuesday afternoon, I was already feeling like I needed a weekend. So we invited some friends over and made creole food and watch Olympics. Red beans, black eyed peas, king cake, corn bread, and my personal favorite, gumbo.Our king cake actually turned out pretty good. Though due to a lack of small babies or other innocuous plastic objects, the special piece had a slice of carrot in it.

And in proper King cake fashion (this is French, not Creole), we had the smallest person call out who would get each piece from under the table, so the cake-cutter couldn't snag the carrot/baby for herself.

I spent a few months in China in 2008, but have lost most of my Mandarin in the intervening months due to lack of practice and motivation. So I started going to a Chinese-English language corner this semester and learned a few important things.

1.) There are no half-assed Chinese people in Boulder. At Minnesota, there were a lot of second generation asians or half-asians or otherwise locally grown Asian-enthusiasts. Thus, the Chinese Student Group at the U of M had very few "real" Chinese people. In Boulder, there are no local Chinese people. I have yet to meet an Asian person born and raised in Boulder. As a consequence, the Chinese Student Association here is far more Chinese and disorganized. Not that Chinese people are disorganized. But you know what I mean.

2.) I can actually still speak Mandarin a little. Enough so, that the CSSA president asked me to be one of 4 MC's for their Chinese New Year celebration this weekend. It was pretty crazy. There were two Chinese MC's and two American MC's. The event was held in a large, very awkardly shaped hall, and the performances featured some adorable small Chinese dancers and some pretty outstanding kung-fu.

I also spent 4 hours making cookies with Erin on Saturday, which will be described in full in the next post (I may have to get a nice camera to replace my 5-year old point and shoot. . . )

Back to Mardi Gras. I've never made gumbo before, but it involves a very dark roux that imparts a dark, rich flavor.

The roux after flour is added

After 10 minutes
At 20 minutes, it looked eerily like melted chocolate.

Creole Gumbo
adapted from the New Best Recipes Cookbook

  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, shells removed and reserved
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sale
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into rings
  1. Bring the reserved shrimp shells to a boil in the 4 cups of water. Simmer for 20 minutes and set the strained stock aside for later.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high in a dutch oven until hot (1-2 minutes). Reduce to medium and slowy add flower, stirring it in with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the mixture's color is between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Make sure it doesn't burn or get black in any places.
  3. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, thyme, salt, and cayenne to the roux and cook until veg is soft, about 10 minues.
  4. Mix in 1 cup of the shrimp stock and bring to a simmer. Add remaining stock and simmer for 30 minutes. If it starts to get thick, add more water.
  5. Stir in the sausage pieces and cook for another 25 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until they're cooked through.

And look! I remembered to take a picture at the end.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, we just had gumbo, too! And king cake! I'm not sure a slice of carrot would be quite as satisfying as a plastic Jesus, but you'd certainly be less nervous taking a btie...