Grandpa Jim(bo)'s Gumbo

Grandpa Jim(bo) varies this every time he makes it, so use this as your starting point. It can be made a little thinner for a soup to be served with crusty bread or freshly baked sourdough rolls, or a thick stew (then you can call it Jim(bo)'s Jambalaya aka Jimbolaya) to serve over either rice or grits (if adding shrimp). Amounts for each ingredient vary according to your mood for the day. Best served when there is 2-3 feet of snow on the ground, roads are blocked, and the wood-burning stove or fireplace is on full blast. Preferred beverage is a full-bodied red wine.

Cut up a stick or two of celery, a small onion, and ½ green pepper and sauté in a little olive oil with some mustard seeds (approx. 1 Tsp) and crushed garlic clove until the onions and celery have cleared.

Add a standard 303 size (approx 14.5 oz) can of no sodium added diced (we prefer petite) tomatoes and a bouillon cube of your choice and a can or two of water (depends on how many other veggies are added and whether or not this will be stew or soup—also note comment in several paragraphs below about replacing water with V-8®).

Add freshly ground black pepper (the most underappreciated of the ingredients—remember this was the stuff for which Columbus was searching), a few sprigs of saffron (make sure it is real saffron—Trader Joe's has a reasonably priced cute little jar with a cork top of it), a bay leaf, about ½ tsp of ground mustard (Coleman's® is the best) and cayenne pepper (amount depends on your tolerance for heat—also note that Tabasco® is added just before serving). For variety replace cayenne with either smoked paprika, ground chipotle, or smoked hot paprika—you make the call.

Veggies to add according to your preferences: Amounts vary, depending on your mood or what you have on hand.

Add water (or low-sodium Spicy Hot V-8® in place of water) if needed and simmer for several hours, even up to ½ a day. Keep an eye on it, stir occasionally, and add liquid if it becomes too thick. After it has simmered for a while, let it cool (leaving it in the refigerator overnight is the prefered way if you have refrigerator space and the time), then heat again and add final ingredients before serving.

Protein things to add according to your taste or what is available: Our favorite combination is the sausage with shrimp and scallops.

Things to add in the last ½ hour: juice of a slice of lemon, several shakes from the Worcestershire sauce bottle, a tsp or so of gumbo filé, and a spash or two of Tabasco®.