Posted by: ginki0 | April 13, 2012

Give Mama a Break Day

I told Daddy when he came home for lunch that it was “Give Mama a Break Day”. This was after I hadn’t gotten enough sleep last night and was very tired, and we had gone to get some groceries, and Bugs and I were fists deep in the home made, from scratch, bread we were making. Daddy looked at me incredulously, with his face that says I am making things way too hard on myself. I imagine we looked quite a sight, with ingredients stacked on the counter, water boiling away for lunch, bread dough on our hands, and partial ingredients mixed for the gumbo for supper.

Sometimes I get a little too ambitious and I forget to take it easy on myself. This time, however, it worked out well! Our Kitchen Homeschooling is some of my Bugsy’s favorite times. He is getting very good at following directions, measuring, and keeping track of counting. Today even, and mind you this may have been a fluke, he announced “One more!” with no promoting at all after we had counted five of our six cups of flour. I was blown away. And when I called him to the table for lunch, he said “Not yet, I’m still doing dishes.” This, from a three year old who was voluntarily, with no prompting, from his own ideas, washing up a little from the bread while the dough rose.

Smiley kept himself busy playing with pots and pans and walking around with his train and playing with toys while we baked and cooked. Bugsy stayed attentive for an amazing hour without caring to stop working. We learned about how yeast is alive, as well as practicing counting and measuring and being exact and following directions and the importance of sequences. It was a hefty homeschool day for him, so I don’t feel guilty that he happily played games the entire rest of the day.

Daddy and I were just talking the other night about homeschooling. Like I told him, I think my favorite part is how relaxed our daily rhythm has become. No more rushing around and (me) getting frustrated and impatient with the rest of my family and worrying about being late for work or being tired for work, or what have you, only to work my tail off and then be too tired to enjoy my kids, just in time to put them to bed and then pass out myself just to start all over the next day. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter if I get to bed a little later than usual- or at least, it doesn’t matter as much. We hang out and enjoy each other much more than we used to be able to. No more hassling with daycare or forcing in a screaming and kicking toddler, only to run away so as not to give into his tantrum. Just good solid life learning and integrity building, along with a sprinkle of preschool each day. Some days it’s gardening that serves as preschool. Sometimes it’s the museum, or the library. Sometimes it’s something random that catches our attention, so we learn about it and talk about it. Other times it’s workbooks or games or art. And sometimes it’s Kitchen Homeschooling.

Whatever it is, Bugsy enjoys himself. The best part was when he told Daddy today, “I like cooking with Mommy.” Yay!!

I’m going to share the recipes we have made the last couple days. Yesterday we made Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal muffins to go along with our Stuffed Green Peppers. Today we made Homemade bread to go along with our Gumbo. And both days we made lots of smiles and laughs. What did you do today?

Gumbo, found through Epicurious

1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup (or more) vegetable oil
1 pound andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/2″ rounds
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and pale parts separated from dark)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
8 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cups 1/2″-thick slices fresh (or frozen, thawed) okra, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (preferably Crystal)
1 teaspoon filé powder plus more (optional)
Steamed rice

Combine 1 tablespoon salt and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle all over chicken. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Working in batches, sear chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Add sausage to pot; cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate with chicken.
Strain drippings from pot through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-cup heatproof measuring cup; reserve 1 cup drippings, adding more oil if needed to measure 1 cup. Wipe pot clean; return drippings to pot.
Heat drippings over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Whisk constantly until roux is the color of milk chocolate, 15–20 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in white and pale-green parts of scallions and next 3 ingredients. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Slowly whisk in broth. Add bay leaves, thyme, and reserved chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer gently, skimming fat from surface and stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
Stir in 1 cup okra, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Simmer until chicken is very tender and flavors meld, about 45 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 cup okra; simmer until okra is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly; chill uncovered until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm gently before continuing. Add 1 teaspoon filé powder, if using.
Serve gumbo over rice. Garnish with dark-green parts of scallions. Sprinkle with more filé powder, if desired.

Bon Appétit
January 2012
by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

Our version:


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