Sunday, March 11, 2012


I've made meatloaf a lot but I've never tried to make collard greens. Today was a first and they didn't come out bad - not bad at all! Have you made meatloaf before? What do you put in yours? I put in:

Diced onion, red and green bell peppers, one egg, ketchup and/or barbeque sauce, salt, garlic power, pepper and seasoning salt. Oh, and I grate one slice of bread into it, usually the heel or end slice.

In a medium sized bowl, drop in your ground beef. I only use a pound because its just me so it makes a small meat loaf, enough for dinner and a couple of sandwiches as left-overs. Chop your onion and bell peppers. I usually use just a few slices of onion (from a large onion), and about one third each of the red and green bell peppers. Break and drop in your egg. Grate one slide of bread or you can use bread crumbs. Sprinkle in some ground pepper, garlic powder and salt. Add some ketchup or barbeque sauce or a combination of both - maybe about 1/4 cup BUT don't add all because I'm not sure if that's too much. I add my sight. You just want to add enough to get it some of the taste in the meat but you don't want to saturate it with ketchup. Oh, a little soy sauce, worcestershire sauce or A-1 Steak Sauce can be added - about 4-5 shakes of the bottle. If you use these decrease your salt.

Now here's the fun part. Mix this with your hands. You can use a fork or spoon to blend it all together but you're going to have to get your hands into it anyway when you mush it all together and form your meatloaf in the baking pan. Bake at 350 for maybe an hour. I check mine periodically. You want it to cook until the juice runs clear. Depending on the fat content of the meat you buy you may have to drain the grease a couple of times while its cooking. You don't want it to swim in the oil while its cooking.

Now, as for the greens. This was a first for me and I already made it my own. I bought the bag of collard greens at the market (only one since its just me) and a small package of sliced salt pork.

After checking out a couple of recipes and talking to my sister I washed the greens and started them to boil in a large pot. In another pot I started to boil some water and put it in about half an onion and half a cube of butter.

When the greens begin to cook, like cabbage, they shrink and end up cooking in all this water. I drain some water as it cooks so that all of my seasoning doesn't go down the drain. When the water level matches the shrunk greens and the amount of water I want with my greens, I added in the butter and onion mix from the other pan. Season with garlic power, pepper, hot sauce if you want. My sister-in-law uses vinegar. I added a little to mine too, just enough to give in an interesting zing but not enough so that I think "Oh, there's vinegar in there." Do this by only adding a little at a time.

Occasionally stir your green, check the flavor and tenderness. One recipe said over 2 hrs. It will depend on how tender you like your greens. I was done with mine after about 1-1/2 hrs.

I hope I didn't leave anything out. Will also welcome any tips or suggestions on new ways to try either portion of this recipe.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The good thing about making Gumbo is that you can make it with whatever YOU like. I don't know how anyone else makes it so I'm sure there may be some who would say its not authentic, or that's not the way you do it BUT it has never disappointed and I've had Louisiana natives tell me it reminded them of home. So, on that note lets get started.

INGREDIENTS (for mine):

Chicken (boneless thighs)
Sausage or Hot Links (I've used Farmer John links, or Andouille Sausage or Hot Links)
Crab Legs
Garlic Power
Gumbo File

Others Have Used:

Green Pepper

(You can start with about half of this for a much smaller, first time try - like one pack of chicken, one pack of sausage, etc.)

I've never been one to keep track of what I've used for a recipe. Basically you're making a soup. You make your base and then add ingredients to it and as my mom once told me, you start with whatever takes the longest to cook.

Start with a pot large enough to hold your ingredients combined once cooked. I usually make a huge pot and use a family pack of boneless thighs, 1-1/2 to 2 lbs of large shrimp (pre-cook and already shelled), 2 packs of whatever sausage I use, one of those small pre-cooked hams that cost about $5-7 or two hams steaks.

In the pot I add about two inches of water. Boil. While its heating to boil I cut up my sausage and ham into bite site pieces. When the water boils I start a type of gravy base. To do this add flour. Start with about 1/4 cup. Its okay if its weak or too thick. You'll adjust as you add ingredients to the consistency you want. I like gravy flour because it is fine and doesn't clump like regular flour. Add some seasoning.

When the flour has mixed with the water add in your sausage and ham. This will generate oil and flavor. Feel free to add in some of the File. This is the start of your seasoning and flavor. Knowing that you'll be adding in chicken, you'll want to increase your base. I take a glass, put hot water in it and flour and mix. I add it to the base as needed. You may have to do this a couple of times. As you add and increase your base level, remember to add in your seasoning and taste.

I dice up onion, just a couple of slices but feel free to add more or less or none at all. Remember this is to YOUR liking. If you're going to add green peppers or tomatoes this would be a good time since it is the base. I've never used okra cause I don't like it so you'll have to judge for yourself when the best time is to add it based on how long it takes to cook.

When the base is seasoned as you like (garlic power, pepper, salt, onion, ham and sausage and any other seasoning you like), its time to add the chicken. It is okay and probably even better, if it is seasoned heavily at this point because you'll be adding in all that chicken and shrimp. While the base was cooking I would have rinsed the chicken and removed any excess fat I didn't want.

Add in your chicken to the pot. Cover and let it cook. Please check your cooking time for chicken. Stir the pot occasionally because depending on your pot sometimes things stick or burn on the bottom of the pot.

Because shrimp and crab legs don't take long to cook you will add those when the chicken is done. I will suggest that before adding the shrimp you taste your base again for seasoning. Add File according to your taste. The File gives it most of the color and your flour should absorb most of the oil from the sausage or links. This is the last time to check the thickness of your base and seasoning before the pot just gets too full.

Stir in your shrimp and place the crab legs on top. They usually just steam but when they get into the pot and soak up the base that's when they're really good!

Serve over rice.

Remember what I'll always say. Some cooking is trial and error. If you season to your taste even if you mess up it will still taste good. I don't think you can mess up gumbo. It's just soup and you put it what you like so how can you go wrong?

Also, as easy thing to do is buy a pack of pre-made gumbo mix and follow the directions. I never used it until my brother told me about it. Now, sometimes I will add some of it to my base so I don't have to worry about seasoning so much. The gumbo in these photos did not include it. I did it from scratch.

Happy cooking and good luck!