- Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 -- 7pm
- Location: Charlottesville, VA
- Kitchen: Mike and Tim's House
- Fellow Chefs: Mike and Matty
- Dining Companion: Tim
- Recipe Rating: C-
My special gentleman and I visited our friends Mike and Tim in November. Mike has been a part of this project since the very beginning, cooking and eating lots of recipes with me. Now that I am near the end, he wanted to cook something together again. It was fun to cook at Mike and Tim's house in Charlottesville. They just got married this summer so they had a bunch of never-been-used cookware that they got as wedding gifts. They took it out of the boxes, and we got cooking! To start, we peeled and deveined a bunch of shrimp. I cooked the shrimp shells with crab legs, onion, carrot, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaf, salt, and water. I removed the crab legs when they were cooked and continued to simmer the stock. I then strained the stock. Meanwhile, my special gentleman removed the crab meat from the crab legs. Mike, my special gentleman, and I then made the roux. We cooked a mixture of oil and flour for 45 minutes, stirring constantly (that's when it is useful to have a lot of people in the kitchen -- it's no fun to stir constantly for 45 minutes!), until a dark brown roux was formed. We added onions, bell pepper, and celery and cooked it for another 20 minutes. I then combined the roux with the stock and simmered. I added the shrimp, then the crabmeat from the legs, then some lump crabmeat, then oysters. I stirred in scallions, cayenne, and salt, and served the gumbo over white rice.
This recipe was very disappointing. There were lots of things wrong with it. For one thing, the roux barely thickened the stock, so the soup was runny with no body. The seafood flavor was intense, but the dish had no depth of flavor to it. It was somehow simultaneously pungent and bland, as the flavor of the dish was strong but incredibly one-note (and that note was: shellfish!). Tim and my special gentleman dutifully ate it (although neither enjoyed it), and Mike and I both gave up on it after a few bites. It was sad to see so much effort and nice seafood go into a dish that was so lackluster. Mike seemed particularly offended by this gumbo, as he is from Louisiana originally, and has consequently eaten a lot of gumbo in his life! The dish certainly disappointed, but we still had a fun evening, cooking and eating together!
The recipe is here.
Only 7 recipes left to go!
With my surgery and the end of the semester, the last couple weeks have been hectic, to say the least. But things are calmer now, so I have time for some blogging (and even some cooking!). The surgery went very smoothly. As I mentioned, I was quite nervous about it. Here is a picture of me in the hospital, a few hours before my surgery, clearly terrified:
I got up to pee one last time before they hooked me up to the IV and whatnot, and my special gentleman took a picture:
Those fancy legwarmers I am wearing are actually some device designed to prevent blood clots during surgery. They hooked up to a machine, and massaged my legs to get the blood moving. It was an odd sensation!
Shortly after this picture was taken then put my IV in and got me ready for surgery. I don't remember anything after I was wheeled into the operating room. Presumably they told me they were about to knock me out, but I have no memory of it. When I woke up in the post-anesthesia care unit apparently I said over and over again, "I don't remember anything." It's true -- I don't. The surgery went well though. The surgeon removed about 90% of the wall they were trying to get out. The last 10% was blocked by some blood vessels that he didn't want to cut through, for fear that it would cause excessive bleeding. So he left it, but it shouldn't be a problem. Here I am a while after the surgery:
My face says it all. I wasn't feeling too great! The pain was bad that first day, but rapidly got much more bearable. My recovery at home was very peaceful. Some friends made me chicken soup and goat cheese biscuits (thanks Helen!) and brownies (thanks Kendra!) and my special gentleman made me many batches of Jello and rice with cheese. I laid in bed and watched terrible movies and even worse reality TV shows. My kitties took their jobs as nurses very seriously. They kept close tabs on me during my recovery. Here they are, both lying on my legs in bed:
I spent several days in bed, and my littlest kitty, Michigan, spent most of that time in bed with me. He knew I couldn't move very well, so he would climb on top of me and settle in for a nice nap. He loved it:
A week after my surgery they removed a balloon which they had put in during the surgery. Since then, I have been feeling good! I gave my final exam the day after the balloon came out so last week was crazy with office hours, meetings, exam writing, proctoring, grading, assigning course grades, etc... It was a little rough because I still wasn't feeling great but now I am officially DONE with the semester! I submitted my grades late Sunday night. My students did really well, which was satisfying. They were a great group, and I am going to miss teaching them. But I am still happy the semester is over and I have a few weeks before I start teaching again. I am also very thankful to be feeling good again. I no longer have any pain, and the nausea from the medication they have me on is now minimal. I am up and around and the last few days I have even been doing some exercise!
And somehow, it is the nearly the end of December and Christmas is only a few days away. A few weeks ago I announced to my special gentleman, "I am going to do a shit job with Christmas this year." He said in response, "You don't need to do anything for Christmas this year if you don't feel up for it." It was exactly what I needed to hear. I gave myself a pass. I didn't do my usual Christmas baking (No biscotti this year! Only one batch of cranberry bars!), I barely Christmas shopped -- buying only a few things for a few people. I didn't really decorate the house. I didn't have the time or energy to invest in the season like I usually do. But I am definitely feeling the holiday spirit. I am loving this Christmas season, even if it has been unusual this year, and I am excited to spend the holidays with family and close friends! Happy holidays everyone!