So last year I got all up on an old hambone we’d frozen to make green gumbo, a variation on the classic. It was good. I was feein’ it again. But it was still Lent. So, meatless it was.
I got it all green up in there, with green onion, regular onion, and bell pepper.
Plus, yknow, actual GREENS.
Did all my gumbo spices
Got the onions and pepper and spices sauteed for a base of flavor
Tried to get all my greens to cook down, which despite putting them in my hugest Le Creuset pot took for-EV-er. And at a certain point just seemed impossible, like around this moment:
But I persevered, and lo and behold they fit in my crockpot.
Then I made my all important roux, and added, rather than water with a hambone to infuse it, some vegetable stock. Broth so made, it went in the crockpot too.
Threw in a can of black eyed peas for protein and Southern cred. Tried various things to incorporate the saltiness and meatiness of the missing hambone, most notably this:
Mushroom soy sauce. Mushroom, I hoped, had the umami flavor that could approximate meatiness, and soy sauce of course is a sodium goldmine.
I plated some up with rice and a sweet potato biscuit (which is its own story!), and took a bite.
Um…. the crockpot went back in my fridge. For the next almost week. Til it wasn’t Lent anymore and I had a whole bunch of people to feed for potluck.
You know how to make vegetarian gumbo taste good?
Add some sausage.
Two farmer’s market chicken and red pepper sausages later, and the gumbo tasted good!
It was actually an unusually MEATY potluck. I said, in the weekly facebook invite, that I was serving gumbo so those that wished could keep to a Southern theme (but were also welcome to *not*, to, for example, bring vegetables that weren’t cheese-drenched or batter-fried).
My eco-conscious boyfriend had a hankerin’ for pig, so he went to Whole Foods and got some ham, to make this truly luscious casserole.
Ham and spaghetti, drenched in a sauce of sauteed mushrooms, milk, chicken broth, cheese, and other deliciousness. Steve amped up the healthfulness by putting a few spears of broccoli on top, hahaha.
Not really Southern but completely delicious? David’s broccoli and black beans with lotsa soy sauce. Yum!
Everyone was all excited that it was warm enough for my awesome deck to be back in commission for potluck. We started out there with wine and appetizers.
I think this picture was taken by accident but isn’t it sort of cool?
With a Citronella candle for bug prevention, here was some of the spread:
With some of my Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips (on sale! I really adore these), and Erin’s addictive spicy Indian snack mix, Erin also made the best kale chips ever:
The times I’ve tried making them they’ve been a total bust, but hers were diviiiiiiiiiine. She got the olive oil/salt/dryness/temperature alchemy just right!
So, nibbling away, we waited for Ryan and Patricia. When they arrived, oh man.
Patricia brought curried barley, which I thought was delicious.
But Ryan went kind of nuts and arrived with two giant bags of ingredients. And kind of took over my counter.
He made batter after batter…
He preheated an extraordinary amount of oil and got to frying…
… to make that classic of Southern awesomeness, HUSH PUPPIES WHOO YEAHHHHHHHH!
Oh em gee.
I had a serving of gumbo and platesie of everything else.
Steve’s casserole (which was extremely yummy- can you go wrong with mushroom cream sauce?- but I am just not a huge meat person so he happily got some of my unwanted ham); a hush puppy (the first of many), barley, and broc.
But Ryan was just going NONSTOP in my kitchen. We ended up kind of abandoning him alone in there as he cooked in a wordless frenzy.
Along with that megabatch of hush puppies, he then got started on CORN FRITTERS.
They were to die for.
Evening concluded with hookah and acting games on the deck.
Ryan made inquiries about cocktail sauce for dipping the hush puppies in. Obviously I thought that was an awesome idea. We didn’ have cocktail sauce, but I had ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and black pepper. So I whipped up a mighty tasty one, if I do say so myself. Dippage was excellent.
Then we enjoyed, pictured next to that cocktail sauce, Carolyn’s hilariously obscene looking dessert:
Chocolate covered bananas, baby!