Contributed by: Cajun Clark
Whether you realize it or not, Caj has valued subscribers all over the world. Da ol' mon ain't braggin'... just statin' a fact. Every continent is covered, except for Antarctica and that's a bummer. The point being that some folks reading this are getting ready to plant their summer or winter gardens, while others are beginning or ending their harvest.
Now, all this said, you can reduce your food cost and enjoy better quality fruits and vegetables if you have a garden, or buy directly from the grower/farmer. Which is what Caj does, because it's easy to do when you live on a dead-end road in the country.
Every year when Caj's favorite onions are being harvested it's time to buy a bushel, that's about 40 pounds. Now the fun, more like work begins--it's onion peeling time. Out comes the cutting board, chef's knife and sharpener, huge bag for the throwaway stuff, freezer bags, vacuum sealer and dehydrator.
So far so good. But it's decision making time. Freeze or dehydrate? Slice, chop, halve, quarter? Sauté, bake, boil? Seeing as you have a bushel to work with, guess you could probably prepare some each way. The method(s) da ol' mon uses depends on how lazy he feels when facing those 40 pounds. You can bet you're bottom dollar that it will take several days to empty the box. Yep, no doubt about it.
But here's the best part. When all is said and done, the onions are 'put up,' whatever the methods used, Caj will be finishing up the last of the onions just about the time the next harvest comes in. YES!
Remember, there's more to life than onions. Like bell peppers, squash, peppers, nearly any thing you can name. Fruits are great too. Caj likes to dehydrate apples, bananas, and pears since these are his favorites. While friend JB goes the canning route. She puts up the best figs in the Parish. Hint, hint.
Okay, enough's enough. Way past time for a couple of recipes.
Sandy's Chicken Gumbo or Chicken & Seafood Gumbo
The choice is yours!
But here's what you'll need:
Salt and Pepper to taste Boil and debone chicken; retain broth. Put vegetable oil and flour in skillet; mix and cook on low temperature until dark brown. Stir constantly, you're making a roux.
Add chopped vegetables; cook until tender. Add mixture to large soup kettle. Add tomatoes, strained broth from chicken, and a little water. Simmer 1 to 2 hours. Add chicken meat and herbs/spices. Cook approximately 10 minutes. YOU MAY add seafood at this time; like shrimp, oysters, crab, etc. Serve over rice in a soup bowl.
Note: If filé is available you may want to add it over gumbo after gumbo has been put over rice in bowl. FYI, the bottle in Caj's pantry says, Cajun Chef's Louisiana Gumbo Filé, and the only ingredient listed is ground sassafras leaves.
As you may recall, da ol' mon asked that if any valued subscriber wanted this next recipe, to send him an e-mail. Two folks did, so here it is by popular demand. Ah shucks, you knew it would be here sooner or later. But maybe a little explanation is in order.
Caj has been known to go to the pantry, get a can of pork and beans, open it, pull out a spoon, and enjoy. Yep, straight from the can. If the truth be known, he's not alone. Fact is, this is considered a staple by many good folks. With all this being true the time had to come when da ol' mon wanted to make his own.
Searching the Internet was no help. Many of the recipes called for taking a can of white beans, draining 'em, then adding ingredients to make pork and beans. Nope, this is not the way to go, not if you want to use a pound of dry great northerns. So it was time for experimenting in the kitchen, creating a recipe from scratch. And what follows is the result of three attempts.
Remember, the proof is in the pudding. What does it taste like one or two days later when you take it out of the refrigerator and take a bite without warming it up? Does it pass the pork and beans taste test. Caj thinks it does, but the final decision is YOURS.
Caj's Pork & Beans
Note: Please forgive da ol' mon for using some of the verbiage from the last Fortnight. Sometimes, not often, Caj is at a loss for words.
Beans: One Pound Dry Great Northerns. Soaked overnight, drained, fresh water added to more than cover.
Onion: chopped. Probably about a cup, can't tell exactly because the amount added only stopped when it looked "right" to da ol' mon.
Bell Pepper: chopped. Same story as to how much.
Garlic: one heaping soup spoon out of the jar of minced garlic. Powdered, granulated and mince work too. Remember, it's your taste that has to be satisfied.
Meat: the first time hog jowl was used, it was okay. The second time, pork loin and it was okay too. However, wanting to be even truer to the canned variety, salt pork, rind removed, cut into bite size pieces, won out. How much? A whole lot; more than you'll ever find in a can of pork and beans! Caj's philosophy is, When it looks like there's enough, add a little more.
At this point, da ol' mon puts a cover on the pot, the pot on the stove on medium heat, and waits for it to start to boil. When it does, it's time to turn the heat down and let it bubble for an hour or so. While stirring the contents from time to time even though a non-stick pot is being used.
When the beans are becoming tender Caj adds: 1 tablespoon of hickory liquid smoke, more or less, for a smoky flavor. Again, remember, it's your taste you have to satisfy.
2 cans of Campbell's condensed tomato soup.
Now is the time, because da ol' mon always has too much liquid, that the top is removed, and the heat is once again turned down. Experience proves that when the tomato soup is added the consistency changes and not as much heat is required to keep the bubble going.
After cooking for awhile longer, it's time for another taste test. And this is the time when you add, slowly, very slowly: Brown Sugar.
Add a little, cook a little, stir some more, taste again. When you have the taste you want, the beans are tender, turn the burner off, and put the top back on. Let it sit for awhile so the flavors can meld, and this delectable dish to cool down enough so you don't have to blow on every spoonful to cool it off.
Well folks, that's all there is, ol' Caj is wrote out for this Fortnight. Hope you enjoy the tips on fruits and vegetables, Sandy's Gumbo recipe, and Caj's Pork and Beans. Have a good one, and Bon Appetit!
Cajun Clark's monster 659-page eCookbook is no longer available. His second cookbook in the series, with nearly 500 recipes is Sweet & Sassy! http://www.cajunclarkssweetandsassy.com You can grab a copy of Cajun Clark's Selected Freebies at http://www.1001Recipes2Send.com/Free/
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