Gumbo Z'Herbes for Eat Joy


Our current Cook the Books Club read has been Eat Joy, Stories and Comfort Food, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, and this December/January round hosted by fellow Hawaiian co-host, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen

Of course, with any compilation of essays, by various authors, there are going to be some you love, some you really like, a few you don't get all that excited about, and some you might skip over, if not actually dislike.  There were enough here to make for an enjoyable read, to open up a door of understanding with uncomfortable subjects, some new information, and a bit of just good humor.  The first story one I read, No Alzheimer's in India, by Antoine Wilson,  definitely came under the category of humor, as well as new information, which, when I did some research, was actually backed up by medical science.  We all need more turmeric in our diets.

Lovely to have variety and a bit of spice in our reading as well as eating, something to nibble on in between times is a good palate cleanser.  It must be said, many of the recipes were included as illustrative, not meant to be especially wonderful in themselves.  From the Publishers: 

"This collection of intimate, illustrated essays by some of America’s most well–regarded literary writers explores how comfort food can help us cope with dark times—be it the loss of a parent, the loneliness of a move, or the pain of heartache 

Lev Grossman explains how he survived on “sweet, sour, spicy, salty, unabashedly gluey” General Tso’s tofu after his divorce. Carmen Maria Machado describes her growing pains as she learned to feed and care for herself during her twenties. Claire Messud tries to understand how her mother gave up dreams of being a lawyer to make “a dressed salad of tiny shrimp and avocado, followed by prune–stuffed pork tenderloin.” What makes each tale so moving is not only the deeply personal revelations from celebrated writers, but also the compassion and healing behind the story: the taste of hope."
"If you've ever felt a deep, emotional connection to a recipe or been comforted by food during a dark time, you'll fall in love with these stories."—Martha Stewart Living

Choosing something from this collection was a bit difficult, just because there were so many ways you might go. I did think of making a curry with lots of turmeric, with a thought to encouraging that weapon in the war against Alzheimer's.  I made a frittata, inspired by one in the story by Laura Van Den Berg, Comfort with Eggs, and put together a dish of General Tso's Tofu, which we both enjoyed, but finally decided to post, based on the last suggestion in the book, a yummy pot of Gumbo, from The Boudin Trail by Natalie Baszile.  Mine is a Gumbo Z'herbes, more greens and herbs than meat, loosely based on the recipe in Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin.  Reviewed here.  As she mentions in her book, this green gumbo is thickened with a low, slow simmer, not a roux.  I'll just try to remember here what all I did.

Gumbo Z'Herbes

Ingredients (for 5-6)

1 good sized bunch collard greens, or sweet potato greens, spinach, etc.
1 small bunch mustard greens, watercress, chard, turnip greens, kale, or the like, washed, stemmed and chopped
2-3 tablespoons bacon drippings or olive oil
1 cup small sausages, cut in half
1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped roughly into a dice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 minced chili pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic 2-3 cloves)
1 tablespoon finely chopped Puerto Rican (tropical) oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teas. thyme
1/4 teas. file powder
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon 

Melt the bacon fat over medium heat, then add the onions and sauté until softening, add the garlic and give it another minute or so.  Next add the sausages, bell pepper, celery, chili pepper, and green onions and sauté until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the thyme and oregano, then add the stock and bring to a boil.  Add the greens, chicken, file powder and bay leaf and simmer until all the greens are very tender.  About 45 minutes.  After 30 minutes taste and adjust seasoning, with a good amount of salt and pepper, lemon juice, extra fresh thyme and the parsley.  Serve with fresh bread or hot cooked rice.

Just what I did.  You can vary the basic recipe to your hearts content.  To me, this was true comfort food, just utterly delicious and so full of flavor!  Redolent with all the various greens and herbs adding their individual notes to the whole symphony.  Throw some torn basil leaves on top if you like.

This post is my contribution to our Cook the Books Club Round-Up, which will be up next week some time.  Linked also to Heather's Foodie's Read Challenge, and with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marge, The Intrepid Reader.  Be sure to pay a visit and enjoy lots of  good food ideas and books to read.


Beth F said...

Sounds like the kind of book I'd really enjoy. And now I'll probably be adding turmeric to everything. LOL. Your gumbo looks delish!

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

Sounds like an interesting book and I love the colorful cover. Since I've discovered Beyond Meat Sausage, I'm able to try recipes that include sausage. I love the idea of the greens- will give this recipe a try.

Laurie C said...

I wrote about this book for a Weekend Cooking post early in the pandemic last spring. I loved it! It made my favorite list for 2020. I think I read it just when I needed it!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! said...

I do love essay books! And I agree wholeheartedly, some you love, some you like and some are just so-so. But I have never read one where I did not come away with another lesson I needed to learn.

Tina said...

That's a nice bowl of comfort food. Looks filling and I love the ingredients, all of it.

Debra Eliotseats said...

Yours is a very versatile recipe. I enjoyed the stories told. Glad you did some research on the turmeric.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

This book sounds so interesting, I enjoy many of those authors.

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

Great choice of recipe. I enjoyed most of the stories in this quick read.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I realized I didn't stop by your post yet. (Not my first or worst mistake this round!) I love this gumbo--it looks so herby, savory, and delicious. Yum!

Camilla M. Mann said...

This looks delicious! We have been eating more plant-based in this house. I will have to pull Tipton Martin's book back off the shelf and look this one up. Thanks for hsaring.

Delaware Girl Eats said...

I just adore Cajun food and gumbo is right up there among the favorites. Normally I get it as takeout from a New Orleans leaning place in our area because I find making a roux too much trouble. Yours looks great.!

Simona Carini said...

Indeed, there were so many options to choose from and you chose an interesting recipe, Claudia :)

Radha said...

I too liked some author's experiences and some didn't appeal so much. but yes, there are quite a few inspirations from the book. I liked your idea of making gumbo. Your gumbo looks delicious and like the amount of greens you have added and its color.

Amy said...

I love a comforting soup in the winter!