2015 started off kicking my butt and I’m trying to catch up

I have been less than impressed with how 2015 has started off and I had set  pretty “low expectations” for the year. Diana the peke is out of pain mostly but she will need more treatment as she drops back down quickly after the pain killer/anti-inflamitory wears off. I think she may have a bulging disc in her spine and we should try a steroid injection and a course of pills to shrink the swelling. I hope we can get this taken care of as I can’t afford surgery for her and I will have to have her put down if she is in pain and can’t have a somewhat decent quality of life. It does not have to be perfect as long as she can get around and be happy I’ll keep trying with her!

Between the weather, inversions and getting Mom moved I have just felt terrible.  So I have not tackled the new faucet in the big bathroom. I added a copper pipe cutter just in case the valves are soldered rather than compression fittings.  As long as I have the right sized valves every thing should go together easily.  That has not happened on most of my plumbing jobs so I’m a bit skittish about turning off the water main because I know living without tap water is a lot of work. I went to Lowes last week and the guy working plumbing spent over an hour with me trying to make sure I had everything I may need to fix the pipes. He was great and told me to check out some other stores as he did n’t have some of the stuff I needed in stock. I stopped by my local True Value store and right in front in the valves was the part I needed and in the size I wanted.  I am having better luck getting what I need and assitance at my local True Value than the big box stores.

I tried out a modified recipe for shrimp gumbo using dehydrated onion, garlic, red pepper flake and dehydrated celery rather than fresh veggies and it turned out pretty good.  I did much better at making the roux and letting the flour cook enough rather than having that sort of pasty flavor if you under cook it. I got a great deal on some large 16/20 count raw shrimp though you could use canned shrimp, chicken or even fresh fish for the dish. I cooked up a bunch of rice the night before to use so it was a quick one pan meal when I made it.

Prepper Gumbo:

  • 2 Tbsp of butter or oil
  • Approx: 1/4  cup of flour
  • 1 Tbsp of dried onion
  • 2 tsp of dried garlic
  • 1 tsp of dried red pepper flake
  • 1/2 tsp. of celery seed or a 1 Tbsp of dried celery
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Hot sauce or seasoning of your choice
  • 1 14-15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of vegetable, fish or chicken broth
  • 2 cups of precooked rice
  • Approx. 1 pound of shrimp, crayfish, chicken or fish depending on what you have on hand

Melt the butter/oil over med. heat and slowly sprinkle the flour stirring constantly to make the roux. Add the dry garlic, onion, red pepper flake and celery. The butter/oil will rehydrate the dried veggies some in the oil so be aware you may have to add a bit more fat/oil if it gets dry after you add the flour. You will want a med. brown color approx. 4-5 minutes.  When the roux is cooked add the can of diced tomatoes and bay leaf along with your hot sauce and or additional spices. I get a great New Orleans chicken and seafood spice from the local dollar store I like to add at this point. Add your stock, cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the cooked rice let it simmer about 3 minutes then add the raw shrimp and cook until raw shrimp are pink or cooked shrimp is heated thoroughly, approx. 3-5 minutes. About 4 servings depending on your appetite.

This is a modified “yankee/prepper” gumbo as I don’t add okra. I like cooking rice ahead of time as it makes a good accompaniment to meals from a quick stir-fry to beans and rice. If you don’t care for white rice because it get a gluey/gummy texture, rinse it a few times in cold water before cooking and I think you might be amazed how much better your rice tastes.  If you store white rice, now is the time to learn to make good rice that you want to eat!  Add your own spices and don’t be afraid to experiment with the basic recipe. You might make a few mistakes but you probably won’t make anything so vile tasting it won’t be eaten if you test as you cook. There is always the compost pile or trash can if you really screw up a recipe. I have “screwed the pooch” on some recipes from making bread that could be used for bricks, and BBQed severely scorched meats to spices I have added that were just wrong and quite possibly a crime against nature.  Live and learn, and as you learn more, you do tend to get better at baking and cooking from scratch. My Thanksgiving Turkey was by far one of the best chunks of meat I have ever BBQ-ed. But it took a bit of practice on the creating the recipe for the brine as well as basting it with beer or wine and trying out new things.

I know it can be scary to try out new things, as you can create a monstrosity and end up dumping the whole thing in the trash.  It is best to learn now while things are still economically okay and you can replace any bad experiments. Rather than waiting when the SHTF and try to figure out how to cook on a grill or with all those grain and bean buckets. Food fatigue is very real and while you may think you will eat anything if you are hungry enough. It is best to learn to make good and tasty meals now with your food storage rather than try and learn things at the last minute when the SHTF. Life has a enough stress already, no reason to add in a lack of skill in cooking with your food storage!

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