When given the choice between a vegetable in its “normal” color or the same vegetable in a strange color, I’ll almost always go for the strange color. And I love it when the farmers market has something I’ve never seen before. Hence, I had a quart of red okra in the refrigerator all week that I needed to deal with last night.
I think I like it even better than green okra! It’s a beautiful color.
Okra is neat.
Obviously I had to make gumbo, but making a nice, dark roux for gumbo can be time-consuming, and I didn’t have any vegan sausage prepared, and moreover it was late and we were hungry. I decided that instead of trying to be remotely traditional, I was going to mix random things – I was so incredibly busy this week I didn’t even have time to cook and there was a lot of vegetables from last weekend’s market I had to get rid of – in a pot, season it with Creole seasoning, and call it gumbo. If you want a more traditional gumbo, run to the always amazing Kittee – I’ve made her gumbos before and she much more an authority than me. But if you are lazy and in the mood for something gumbo-ISH, this wasn’t half bad.
I was going to use tempeh as my protein, but there was so much going into this gumbo that I was worried Mark, who only likes tempeh in small doses, would complain about (squash, okra) that I decided to switch to tofu to make it more inviting for him. Surprisingly, he was completely fine with the okra and didn’t even seem to notice the squash, so maybe I could have gotten away with the tempeh, but I do think he liked it a lot more this way than he would have otherwise.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups vegan broth (I used “beef” bouillon)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 small squash, chopped
small handful French beans, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped okra
1 lb extra-firm tofu, chopped
2 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
as much Creole seasoning as you can stand before it gets too salty (I used Tony Chachere’s)
Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
I should have taken a picture of my roux, but I wasn’t planning to make a post when I started cooking. I actually got a somewhat decent color faster than I thought, but in the interest of time, I decided to only go as dark as I had time to while prepping everything else. So I got a big cast iron Dutch oven out, put it over medium heat, poured in the oil, then with a wooden spoon, stirred in the flour. Then I kept stirring as frequently as I could while prepping everything else. It was definitely a lazy person’s roux, and a bit dangerous (it’s easy to burn if you don’t stir constantly), but it turned out surprisingly well.
While working on the roux, I chopped all the vegetables. In a smaller cast iron pot, I sauteed the onions, celery, and bell pepper until they were soft. When everything was chopped and the “holy trinity” was soft, I slowly and carefully added the broth to the roux (it will immediately bubble up) and stirred until there were no lumps. Then I added all the other ingredients except the Tabasco and let it simmer until everything was cooked through. Finally, I adjusted the saltiness (you can add regular salt if it needs some but you don’t want to over-Tony Chachere it) and added a little Tabasco, saving the rest for individual servings.
Just after adding all the ingredients:
I served it over rice (which has soaked up all the broth in this picture, it’s really a little soupier than it looks).
We have a lot of leftovers, but it keeps well and makes a nice lunch.
I’ve been trying to attract hummingbirds to our yard. We have a ton of birds, many of them very beautiful, such as cardinals, blue jays, and woodpeckers:
And this guy:
But I also wanted hummingbirds. So I’ve been putting nectar out all summer. I saw a single hummingbird at the feeder early on, but then a long period of nothing. Part of the problem was it was so hot this summer that I had to change the nectar about every other day or it would be gross, but it was hard to work up the motivation to keep making nectar, dragging a stool outside to get the feeder down, spilling sticky, bug-filled nectar on myself, and replacing the freshly cleaned and filled feeder when I was never rewarded with hummingbirds. But over the last couple of weeks, possibly because it’s been a little cooler (like in the upper 80s/lower 90s instead of 100+) so I’ve been more regular about replacing the nectar, I’ve started seeing hummingbirds frequently. Today there was a constant parade of them! Of course I wanted to photograph them, but this proved harder than I’d hoped. First there was the fumbling around with the camera and tripod every time, until I gave up and just left the tripod and camera set up, lined up for the shot and even pre-focused. Then the hummingbirds started doing “fly-bys”: they’d fly by the feeder – sometimes when I already had my face behind the camera, ready for the shot! – but then see there were too many other birds there (our bird feeding station is very heavily used) and keep on flying instead of stopping for a drink. I guess I should buy a separate pole for their feeder so they can have some privacy but I am on a major spending ban following a couple weeks (or lifetime?) of excessive spending.
Anyway, I FINALLY got some pictures, just before the sun went down, but it was already really too dark and the pictures are crap. But I’m excited nonetheless because Mark told me I couldn’t get hummingbirds, and he didn’t believe me when I told him a week ago that I HAD gotten them…until he saw one with his own eyes for the first time today. I don’t know why he doubted me because I can attract any animal I want. Raccoons appear out of nowhere wherever I am, and our (suburban!) yard is a haven for raccoons, skunks, foxes, turtles, snakes, deer, bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, and opossums. Okay, enough suspense. Here are my crappy pictures of hummingbirds! I’m sure I’ll get better ones soon.
This is actually the sharpest picture I got, which is a shame because he’s half hidden.
Look at that beak!
Leaning in for a drink: