Chicken Sausage Gumbo

Every Christmas our son and his girlfriend return to Western Massachusetts from Denver to visit family and to celebrate the holiday.

Susan and I always prepare a special dinner for the two. One year we made their favorite; Chicken Piccata. Another year Pasta Putanesca. And once, Piccadillo.

Here I am at the stove making the Roux for the Gumbo. The recipe says to Stir, Stir, Stir. Do not stop stirring until the roux is the color of chocolate milk. This might take 45 minutes! And when you have a sore right shoulder it is work. At one point I did stop stirring, walked to the fridge, grabbed the container of chocolate milk so I could compare its color to the color of the roux. Close enough.
Chicken Sausage Gumbo.

Days later Susan and I had the leftovers for lunch.

Here is recipe upon which I based my Gumbo. Note: I baked two chicken breasts and once cooled cut them into bit-size pieces. I cooked bacon first, set it aside, and used the fat instead of oil to make the roux. I also used local Polish Kielbasa. And I added a can of chopped tomatoes to the dish. I didn’t have a green pepper so I used two seeded and chopped jalapeno peppers.

All Or Nothing At All

Susan and I recently watched the Alex Gibney documentary, “Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All.”

It is a two-part documentary and I recommend it. Great footage. Great music. Fascinating story.

Sinatra grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey, and from an early age he was passionate about singing–and someday singing in New York City.

This passion, and dreaming of singing in the city across the river, has inspired me to look at my 35mm film negatives from when I lived in Hoboken and worked in New York City.

Here is a photo of people from my archives on Washington Street in Hoboken:

This is one of many that appear in my book Famous People Famous Places, forward by Lucy Sante. (Wikipedia entry) I am looking for a publisher for the book.

Here is a favorite photo from Hoboken, which I believe could have been taken when Sinatra was growing up in Hoboken or when I lived on Washington Street.

A Time To Bloom

A New Year. New Resolutions. New Alterations. A Time To Bloom.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
~Some of the most quoted words of the Bible are from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verses 1-8

Reading from Unity:

This sacred list from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 represents all the seasons and the important changes of our lives. Some are happy times, others sad; some are productive while others seem wasteful; some inspire peace and others bring pain.

All of them are necessary for us to learn, grow, and evolve as spiritual beings. Their appearance is not by accident. If we look closely enough, each experience reveals a loving, divine purpose that we can learn to trust.

You can read about the lessons of these verses here.


Christmas Day 2021

Woke to light snow covering the ground and trees. Snow enough to warm our hearts and delight the children.

Before heading to our daughter’s home, Susan and I took our Rapid Covid tests; both negative. Everyone attending the Christmas dinner took a rapid covid test. Sign of the times.

As soon as we arrived at the party, our granddaughter ran out of her house, a new camera in hand, and exclaimed, “Pops! Santa gave me a camera!” Here she is camera in hand:

Here are a few other photos from the day:

Christmas Eve 2021

A blessing it was to host our traditional Family Christmas Eve Party a few short weeks ago. Last year we were unable to have our traditional Family Christmas Eve Party because of Covid.

Here is our menu:

Here are photos from the party (Click on photo to enlarge.):

Left to right: apple cranberry crisp by Susan; jalapeno corn muffins by Susan; Daryl looking at 2022 calendar of Rocky Mountain National Park photos by me; Julia and Daryl; Kate, Lauren and Owen opening presents; kielbasa; Lauren; Lauren and Owen looking at book of NYC photos by me; Owen and Lauren; Picadillo; sweet and spicy nut and pretzel mix; shrimp cocktail; Susan holding present from Julia and Daryl; new vinyl from Daryl.

A blessing and joy it was to get-together.

The Work of Christmas

Susan and I received our first Christmas cards of the season yesterday.

Inside one card was this beautiful message:

The Work of Christmas 

When the song of the angels is stilled, 
When the star in the sky is gone, 
When the kings and princes are home, 
When the shepherds are back with their flock, 
The work of Christmas begins: 
To find the lost, 
To heal the broken, 
To feed the hungry, 
To release the prisoner, 
To rebuild the nations, 
To bring peace among others, 
To make music in the heart. 

~~Howard Thurman 

Croque-Monsieur Breakfast Casserole

A family Thanksgiving tradition: Before Susan and I head over to a relative’s home for a wonderful Thanksgiving family get-together and delicious dinner, we host our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren for breakfast, gift-giving, watching the Macy’s Parade and the dog show.

“Is that present for me?” one of the grandchildren asked.

In years past I have made quiche, frittata and sushi. Susan found the recipe for the casserole online and suggested it would be extra special and delicious. And it was.

Reading from The New York Times:

“This French classic needs little introduction, but if you haven’t had it in baked form, you’re in for a treat. Think upscale ham sandwiches drenched in egg custard and cheese, melted to a deep golden-brown. There are no tricks here, save for the addition of two extra yolks for maximum French-toast tenderness. Serve it warm, or at room temperature — a fitting breakfast feast that’s welcome any time of the day.”

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • 1 (10- to 12-ounce) day-old or stale baguette, sliced 1/2 inches thick
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 ounces French-style or thin-sliced deli ham
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (packed 1/4 cup)
  • Parsley, leaves torn, mustard, and cornichons, for serving (optional)

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees and generously butter a 9-by-13-inch (or 1 1/2- to 2-quart) baking pan. Butter the slices of bread on one side and spread a thin layer of mustard on the other side. Arrange, shingled, over the bottom of the pan, buttered side up; you may not need all the bread. Drape evenly with ham.
  2. Whisk together milk, half-and-half, egg, egg yolks and pepper. Pour evenly over the bread and ham. Sprinkle with Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses, allowing the ham to peek out in places. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (for the bread to sop up the milk) or up to overnight. Bake until the custard is set, and the bread and cheese are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to set 20 minutes before scattering evenly with parsley. Scoop and serve warm or at room temperature, with mustard and cornichons.

Here is our Thanksgiving Breakfast table:

Here is a closer look at the Morning Glory Muffins.

And here we all are:

Here is the menu:

Friday At The Park

The Burning Bush.

“The tragedy of our wilderness experience is not that we have to go through grief and suffering- but that we often miss the blessings from burning bushes—the things through which God speaks…”

~Jamie Buckinghamhttp://jamiebuckinghamministries.com/