Jammin' Out Jambalaya

 Our latest Cook the Books Club pick has been (you all have til June 1st to join in) The Feast Nearby, by Robin Mather.  How she lost her job, buried a marriage, and still found her way, living on $40.00 a week, eating locally, keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, and bartering, in rural Michigan.

Still, all things considered, eating locally is one thing in Michigan and another on an island in the Pacific. Besides which, we each have our own priorities and my #1 priority is that whatever I put in my mouth would be healthful, without pesticides, preservatives, hormones, etc. etc., whether or not it was raised by a neighbor.  Although, when possible I do make an effort to buy locally....  Maybe not enough.

Short of shooting a wild  pig myself, gutting, breaking it down, hiking out of the woods with the meat on my back, then making the bacon, we wouldn't have any.  However, having said that and reconsidering things, I have decided to make more of an attempt to buy my chicken, duck, pork roasts, and sausage from a friend who actually does all that darn hunting stuff, as well as raising chickens, rabbits and ducks, and making sausage.  He's a very self-sufficient guy.  With a huge garden.  Quite inspiring.  As was this book.

I especially enjoyed the moments with Pippin, Robins's very clever parrot, having had no idea that some varieties of parrot were so intelligent.  He understands and answers her.  Amazing.  Overall, the book is geared to locales with freezing winters, getting the summer harvest into storage by canning, dehydrating or freezing.  We have a year-round growing season here in Hawaii, though preserving what we grow is still an excellent thing.  Using fruit that is abundant beyond what can be eaten out of hand, to prevent waste and save money.  Just think of all the wine I don't have to buy, because I grow the fruit and make it.

The book is divided into 4 overall sections, based upon the seasons, with recipes appropriate to each.  It was hard to single out one dish, from Baked Acorn Squash with sausage and maple syrup to Cardamom-coffee Toffee Bars, Lamb and Apricot Tagine, and Cheese Souffle with greens, all sounding delicious, but what especially called to me was the Jambalaya.  I do love a good Cajun-Creole Jambalaya.

In the past I have made it with shrimp, but this time used left-over roasted chicken along with some really excellent Pederson's Jalapeno smoked sausage.  Both organically raised, by the way.


makes 4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (I used 1/2 that amount and 1 cup chopped roast chicken)
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 pint diced tomatoes, with roasted green chiles (I just added minced fresh green chiles)
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled  (I used fresh herbs from my garden, and tripled the amounts)
1/2 teas. freshly ground black pepper
1 /4 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf, broken in half

 Add the oil to a large, heavy skillet over medium heat; heat for 1 minute.  Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic, and cook, stirring until the onion is softened and translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the smoked sausage and cook, stirring, until the sausage begins to brown slightly, about 5 minutes.  Add the rice, stir to combine, and cook, stirring until the rice is well coated with oil and becomes slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes and stir to combine.  Add the chicken broth, herbs, salt and pepper; stir to combine.  Bring the mixture to a boil; cover and decrease the heat to the lowest setting.  Cook for 25 minutes.  If you are adding shrimp or roast chicken, add for the last 5 minutes.  Uncover and stir.  If the rice has not absorbed all the liquid, continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until it has.  Remove the bay leaf halves, and serve immediately.

What a fantastic dinner that was.  The contributions from our garden were my fresh herbs, and from things preserved, Lemon Mead to accompany the meal.  I am totally looking forward to the left-overs.  But, not tonight.

Tonight we are having ahi with Mather's Moroccan style Roasted Beets with cumin and olive oil.  I made it yesterday, but will be adding a bunch of fresh mint, toasted pine nuts and some of my salted preserved lemon to it.  Lovely served on red lettuce leaves.  Just needed a bit of something extra.  Occasionally you need to tinker a little to make recipes your own.

Next I'm looking forward to trying the Seffa Medfouna (saffron-braised chicken with steamed vermicelli), and after that...   so many yummy things to try.

Will also share this with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking link-up.  Check it out.


jama said...

Mmmm, I love jambalaya and that recipe looks delicious! I admire people who are as self sufficient as your friend. I don't think I would actually want to eat anything I killed myself, though. It was traumatic enough as a child to see a chicken's head cut off at my grandmother's house, and then have fried chicken for dinner (which I refused to eat).

Claudia said...

Jama, we kept ducks for awhile, and believe me, though they are very entertaining, you would not mind offing the totally obnoxious males. So mean.

Tina said...

I haven't ever killed anything to eat it but I would like to be more self sufficient. Someone needs to take me hunting and teach me!

Love the jambalaya. This was a book I had been meaning to pick up so I could participate. Sounds like a good read.

Kay said...

Yummy indeed! I love jambalaya and most Cajun foods. Your other food plans sound really good too.

Beth F said...

I love jambalaya too!

I live in an area of small farms and many hunters, so I've had very fresh and very local foods. I'm not sure I'd want to grow absolutely everything I eat, though. Farming / homesteading is exhausting, never-ending work.

Carole said...

Oooh, some jambalaya would be fab! Cheers from carole's chatter

Claudia said...

Beth, I wouldn't either, just the small amount of gardening/farming I do is quite enough.

Laurie C said...

If I had to kill my own meat, I would be a vegetarian or pescatarian for sure! Your meals look delicious!

JoAnn said...

Oh, this sounds and looks wonderful! I love jambalaya:)

Alba Forcadell said...

I love the look of that jambalaya, I'll have to give the recipe a try.

I'm a city girl so no place to grow my own things, although I moved I would like to try my hand at gardening and try growing something.


Joanne said...

What a big bowl of comfort that jambalaya is! So many layers of flavor.

Debra Eliotseats said...

The round up is posted, Claudia!

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

Jalapeno Smoked Sausage....be still my heart!!!

Rachel said...

Glad you enjoyed the book. Your recipe photos look so tempting. And my heart was stilled by "Lemon Mead"!

Delaware Girl Eats said...

I just love jambalaya but have to admit I usually revert to getting it from a New Orleans style takeout nearby. Great looking recipe

Amy said...

Oh yum! This looks amazing!

Simona Carini said...

I also was intrigued by Pippin. Your garden is gorgeous and no amount of literary gift would make me choose Michigan over the Big Island.