Southern Gumbo (Gluten-Free)

I’ve been craving a really good bowl of gumbo. The ones that I made in the past all had wheat flour as the base for the roux. I decided to experiment this weekend and try making it gluten-free.

I am so glad that I did. And so was my family who got to eat the results.

Here’s what I have come up with.

Southern Gumbo

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour mixture (I’ll share mine at the end of the post with a separate recipe)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 onion diced

2 ribs celery diced

3 cloves garlic

 1 28oz. can whole tomatoes with juice

2 cups sliced okra, fresh, frozen, or canned, just not battered

1 tsp thyme

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

hot sauce to taste (I used 5 drops and it was mild but tasty, perfect)

2 pounds shrimp ( or chicken, sausage, ham, fish, scallops, or any combination of any of these)

2 tbsp file powder (this is ground sassafras leaves. You can find it in the spice section. If you can’t just leave it out, but to use it is authentic and lends that something that just makes gumbo)

A good gumbo begins with a good roux. This is the base and foundation of all the flavor and you can not rush it. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and you have to stir it constantly. It will be worth it. I promise.

Melt the butter in a heavy dutch oven over low heat. Add the flour mixture and whisk constantly. The point here is to brown the flour until it is the color of brewed tea. A dark caramel brown. Do not stop stirring. Do not leave for a moment. If you go past dark brown into burnt, throw it out and start all over. This is the most important part of the whole dish.

Once your roux is dark caramel add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, okra, and garlic. Continue to saute over low heat stirring 4 or 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and give up some of their liquid. Add the tomatoes to the pot squeezing the tomatoes to begin breaking them down or processing them in the blender with their juice before adding them to the pot.

Add thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. If using chicken or sausage add it now.  Cover and simmer over low heat 45 minutes to an hour.

Add the shrimp and file powder if using.  If using fish or other seafood add it now. Simmer 5 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through. You don’t want to overcook the shrimp. Just pink and then you’re done.

Serve over white rice with file powder and hot sauce at the table.


Gluten-Free flour mixture

This is a good all purpose flour mixture. Use it where you would use plain all purpose flour in the same proportions.

24 ounces brown rice flour (I make mine in my blender)

20 ounces cornstarch

22 ounces potato starch (not potato flour)

24 ounces tapioca starch

6 teaspoons xantham gum

Mix until well blended and store in an airtight container. Can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.


March 29, 2010. cooking. Leave a comment.

A Vist to the Orthopedist

 I injured my ankle a few weeks ago by stepping into a hole that the chickens had made to wallow in.

This morning I went for a follow-up appointment to the orthopedist. He reviewed my MRI results and them we talked about my options:

1. a really painful shot in my ankle

2. a cast for 4 weeks (uh, no)

3. exploratory surgery with no guarantee of finding the cause of my continued pain (once again, are you kidding?)

Seeing as how #s 2 and 3 are not going to happen unless I have no other option I went for number one, a really painful injection with a really long needle directly into my ankle via the top of my foot.

Let me just say this, if I had to choose between the cortisone shot and having my tooth drilled, I would truly have to give it some serious thought first.

I am hoping that this works and that I can return to a normal life in 3 weeks. That’s when I get to go back and see if I can come out of the orthopedic boot that I have been wearing for everything but showering and sleeping.

Wish me luck.

March 15, 2010. Notebook. 2 comments.

Post UFE Menstrual Cycle 2

I know that I said things would get back to normal around here, but then I went and broke my ankle and pretty much the wheels have fallen off anything and everything.

I also promised that all the girly-talk about body functions and such was done, but I need to share just a little more about how things are going post ufe.

I had my second menstrual cycle this week.

It started with almost no cramping prior to the big event. So much so that it actually crept up on me. I actually went to the calendar and started counting because I just knew that it was too early for this to be happening, but it wasn’t.

Before the UFE I would cramp and spot for at least 2-3 weeks before the beginning of my period. This month I had mild cramps that started the night before and lasted less than a day.

Before the UFE I would spot heavily enough to need protection. This time, no spotting AT ALL.

Before the UFE my period would be heavy enough to require changing my super or super plus absorbency protection within an hour for at least the first 3 days and then the same level of protection was needed for 2 more days that was changed every 4 hours or so. Regular absorbency was only used during the last “spotting” days of my period. This time regluar absorbency was all that was required for the entire time. I started with the supers, only to realized that I really didn’t need them except for the first night for overnight.

The improvement has been amazing. I hoped for a lot less than this. The interventional radiologist said that I can expect to see improvement for 6 months after the procedure. I would be satisfied with the level of improvement that I have achieved to this point. If things get better than this, I really don’t know how.

I am soooo glad that I decided to give this a try before resorting to a hysterectomy.

March 13, 2010. Notebook. Leave a comment.

The Things Kids Say.

We went to dinner the other night with my girlfriend and her family to celebrate my son’s 15th and our exchange daughter’s 16th birthdays. They share the same birthday only a year apart.

Over dinner my friend shared a story with us.

She walked into her 4-year-old son’s room the night before only to see him throwing a ball around.

She asked him, “What have I told you about throwing balls in the house?”

Without missing a beat he looked her right in the eye and replied, “You have to catch it?”

Y’all Come Back Now.

February 10, 2010. Home and Garden. Leave a comment.

Post UFE-Menstrual Cycle 1

I finally had my first menstrual cycle following my UFE procedure last month.

I was both dreading and looking forward to this event. Dreading because of my fear of how bad it might be, and looking forward to it hoping that a relief from the constant cramping (like you’re about the start your period) would finally end. I had been experiencing cramps similar to those I get right before my period pretty much ever since the procedure and was hoping for relief in a big way.

The good news is that my period was lighter and less painful than in the past. There is no bad news. I cramped for the entire time, but once my period was over the cramps have gone with it. Yay!

I can already see a difference. This is good news. My cycle was still long, but I didn’t expect that to change really. I mean that part is controlled by hormones. But having a lighter, less painful cycle is already starting to happen.

I will keep you informed as the months go by as to my progress.

Now, hopefully, I can get back to trying out new recipes and blogging about our homeschool experiences and get off all this bodily function content. : )

Y’all Come Back Now.

And don’t forget to leave a comment or suggestion about things you’d like to read about or recipes you’d like to have from down here in the Deep South.

February 10, 2010. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Post UFE-3 Weeks

So, it has been exactly 3 weeks since I had my UFE done.

Things are almost back to normal. No more bleeding of any kind. The bruise on my leg is fading into an almost memory.

The worst thing is that the pain is not completely gone. It is just down to a dull ache, like I am about to start my period. It has pretty much been at this level for the last week. I did call the doctor and get something for it. I explained that I needed to have something non-narcotic as I would be accompanying nursing students on their clinical rotation later in the week and couldn’t take anything that could affect my judgement at all. They called in Toradol which is an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen only stronger. That has taken the pain down to a tolerable level.

I have to admit that I am ready for the pain to be completely gone. Even I thought that by this time I would be pain-free. Maybe when my period starts soon that will help.

I promise to keep you posted. If you have any questions that I am not answering, just drop me a comment and I promise to be completely honest when I answer, no matter how personal. My goal with these posts is to give people a personal account of how the procedure and recovery truly are. When I was researching this procedure, there wasn’t much in the way of real people talking about their experiences out there for me. I hope to remedy that situation.

Y’all Come Back Now.

January 27, 2010. Notebook. Leave a comment.

The Kind of “Help” a 16-year-old is Willing to Give.

The other night the girls and I were on our own for dinner. Hubby had to work late and that meant I was not going to make a huge fuss over dinner because the girls had a snack while we were out shopping that afternoon.

Anyway, I was thinking of something light and easy to make for dinner when crepes occurred to me. I love crepes. You can stuff them with something savory and make a hearty dinner or something sweet and make desert or something light and make a perfect light meal.

So, I go into my 16-year-old’s room to ask if she would like to help. She has been complaining a lot lately that I haven’t shown her how to cook. I knock on the door and ask her if she would like to help me cook the crepes.

Her response, “No, I don’t want to cook crepes.” Long pause. “But, I will eat some.”

She says this like eating them will be a great deal of help to me.

I laughed so hard I had to wipe tears from my face.

Once more, I love my kids. I don’t know how else I would amuse myself.

Y’all Come Back Now.

January 20, 2010. Notebook. Leave a comment.

So That’s What She’s Doing….

One of the great joys of being a parent is getting to see the world from a child’s point-of-view.  They go out into world and try to make sense of it and then come back and share.

I love the sharing part.

Yesterday was our semi-annual trip to the dentist for cleanings and check-ups.

My youngest daughter has been to the dentist every 6 months from the time she was born. I made sure that she saw us sit in the chair and have out teeth cleaned for years before it was her turn.

When she was 2 she got her first check-up. Summer (our favorite hygenist) was very patient with Boogie and worked at her pace, letting things advance as Boogie was comfortable. The first year she actually cleaned and polished her two front teeth and then Boogie declared that was enough.

6 months later Boogie progressed to having all of her teeth cleaned and polished and has been going strong in the chair ever since.

I thought that she understood exactly what was going on every time she sat in the chair to have her teeth cleaned.

Yeah, I know, I should have known better.

Yesterday, after our appointment, we get into the van and Boogie shares her thoughts.

“Hey, Mom, I think I figured out something.”

“Really, Boogie, what’s that?”

“When Summer is carving my teeth, she must be making room for my permanent ones.”

It is such a perfect image. In her little mind this woman, petite and sweet as she is, has been carving at my little ones teeth every six months for the last four and a half years.

What kind of love and trust must it have taken for her to believe me when I said that it was okay to sit in the chair and let Summer clean her teeth all these times?

I love my kids.

Y’all Come Back Now.

January 19, 2010. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Post UFE-2 Weeks and Counting

My procedure was done 2 weeks ago today and I thought it was time for an update.

I am still having some crampy pain, but things are finally starting to ease off. I no longer have any type of bleeding.

The worst thing right now is my leg. I guess that I bled a good deal after the procedure and the bruise that I have makes my whole right thigh sore. The bruise is beginning to heal, but at the current rate I will probably have the bruise for at least another month or so. I was finally able to wear jeans this weekend. Until then I had pretty much lived in sweats if I went anywhere or pajama bottoms at home. The first I wore jeans lasted about 20 seconds. It was the day of my one week follow-up. It hurt so much that I just couldn’t bear the idea of wearing them all day, much less sitting down in them. It was actually the thought of sitting down that caused me to change into sweats for my appointment.

I put jeans on, and was able to keep them on, for the first time on Friday. Imagine my surprise when I took them off that evening to discover the design of my seam in negative on my bruise. The blood under the skin didn’t really have anywhere else to go. I have pretty skinny legs and the jeans just sort-of pushed into the bruise and where the seam was there was no blood. I have worn jeans everyday since then and now I have a void in the bruise in that shape. My hubby freaked out a little the first time he saw it. Of course we are talking about the man who got a little woozy the first time he saw my leg after the procedure and still shudders every time he sees it.

I am still slightly bloated, but that could be because it is the second half of my cycle. I couldn’t tell you exactly when my period is due because they are so irregular, but I can tell you that I am on the downhill side of the month. I started my last one right after Christmas so I expect the next one anywhere from the end of next week (fat chance) to 3 weeks from now. Somewhere in between is probably the saftest bet. Maybe around the first of February? Anyway, I’ll let you know.

I feel like I am pretty much rehashing the same stuff. Yeah, I still hurt, but it is getting better. Yeah, I am still sore, but it is getting better. Yeah, I still get tired easily, but I am gettting better. It seems like it is taker a longer time to get back to 100%, but then again, a part of my body is having to heal in a way I can’t see, only feel. All the literature and the doctor say that I am right on track, a textbook case if you will. I just wish the textbook has less chapters.

Y’all Come Back Now.

January 19, 2010. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Post-UFE 1 Week Follow-up

Today I went back to see the interventional radiologist who performed my Uterine Fibroid Embolization last week.

We went over the course of my recovery for the last week. The doctor asked about my first night home and how well I was able to handle the pain with oral pain medicine. I explained that knowing that the pain would be so intense the first 24 hours, I felt more able to handle what happened.

The doctor and I discussed the rest of the week. He asked about any discharge that I was having. I explained the type and amount of discharge (slight mucousy-bloody discharge that sometimes contained small clots). He stated that a small amount of discharge was normal, but that if the amount increased or continued for more than a week I needed to call the nurse and let her know. The doctor also asked about the level of pain that I am continuing to feel. I explained how over the weekend and for the last 2 days I have continued to experience pain that required prescription strength pain medicine. The doctor reassured me that this was normal for the course of recovery and that I should start to improve soon. After our conversation the doctor asked the nurse to turn down the room lights and actually showed me the radiologic video of my procedure on a screen on his wall. It was very interesting to see. I actually got an idea of how the fibroid filled my uterus and why exactly I was having pain in the specific locations that I am.

All in all, the visit did make me feel reassured about my recovery. It is a 45 minute drive each way to the hospital. The drive itself was physically exhausting and did cause me some pain in my right leg (the site of the catheterization).  I did stop by Wal-Mart on the way home for a few things. I also had to stop by the drug store to fill the prescription the doctor gave me for pain medicine. It is the first time I have left the house since the procedure last week. I was gone for a total of 3 1/2 hours and it was enough to sap my energy. I hope my hubby is ready to cook dinner for the kids again tonight because I don’t think I am ready to resume that duty yet.

My next appointment with my doctor is in 5 months when they will repeat the MRI to measure the reduction of the fibroid.

Over the next few days I will keep you updated every few days to let you know how it is going.

Y’all Come Back Now.

January 12, 2010. Notebook. Leave a comment.

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