Lost in Gumbo Land
As cooks go, I’m one who often breaks the rules, or worse, makes my own (as my editor often reminds me). However, that doesn’t prevent me from comparing myself to others who cook for blogs, cookbooks, and of course, television.
And so today, as I sat immersed in recipe writing and testing for book three, I found myself contemplating roux and feeling the pressure of doing it right. Of course, I “should” know how to do this, but there are much bigger issues other than the fact that I have no formal culinary education. Traditionally, roux is made from clarified butter…or bacon fat or some other animal fat that I don’t cook with. Then there’s the all-purpose flour…that I don’t cook with. All combined to make an authentic gumbo…that I wouldn’t eat anyway.
So why all the fuss?
I can’t explain just why I caved and got caught up in this challenge, but I did. Out came the pots, the oils, the non-gluten flours…and one after another, I made roux all morning long.
The results surprised even me.
Yes, I eventually made a pretty decent roux so I have that to put on my resume from this point forward. But that’s not really what’s important here, because somewhere amidst all that whisking, all that fat and flour, I found myself. That’s when I remembered that my goal is not to master traditional cooking techniques, but rather to create delicious recipes using the healthiest ingredients and cooking methods I know. My goal is to break the rules, so that others can make recipes that are quick, easy, healthy and delicious! And to that end, heating that much oil for that long a period definitely does not qualify. Not only don’t I want to encourage anyone to whisk flour into fat for 20 minutes, but I certainly don’t want to encourage them to eat it!
And so, in book three, I’ve made gumbo in winter because that’s when I craved it, even though okra won’t be available for months. And instead of a traditional roux, you’ll find a delicious gumbo-style soup that’s been seasoned with love and thickened with amaranth…
because that’s the way I eat clean and live well!