Mixed Seafood Gumbo

 Mixed Seafood Gumbo

 Yesterday (22nd April) was Good Friday. Easter is falling very late this year. I heard someone on the radio explaining why Easter Sunday is a movable feast. I'm going to list the key words rather than give an explanation: ecclesiastical full moon, astronomical full moon and vernal equinox. You do the maths. For the last twenty-two years or so I have made a simnel cake for Easter - just in case people weren't getting enough calories from their chocolate eggs. My favourite part of the cake is where the marzipan in the middle melts into the cake batter around it. I felt very organised yesterday: I put out all the listed ingredients, lined the baking tin, made the batter, rolled out the marzipan circle, put half the batter in the lined tin, put in the marzipan and topped it with the remaining batter. The oven was warm, I opened the door, and what did I see on the work surface? The unopened packets of sultanas and currants! Too late to rescue it, I put the tin in the oven and hoped for the best. It was fine and the melted marzipan was as delicious as usual.

But this is a soup blog and yesterday's soup (my sixtieth from The Soup Book) was Carolyn Humphries' mixed seafood gumbo. The word gumbo reminds me of the Carpenters' song "Jambalaya" and a scene from the film "Angel Heart." Don't worry - the ingredients don't include dead bodies. You'll need onion, garlic, celery, canned tomatoes, okra, fish or chicken stock, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, green pepper, chorizo and seafood cocktail. Shopping for the okra (or ladies' fingers as they were known in my childhood home) and seafood cocktail was interesting. I wasn't sure where I'd get okra - you don't see them very often in Dublin - but there is a Middle Eastern grocery near Portobello Bridge which sells all sorts of food stuffs that I grew up with: ghee, curry pastes, Indian sweets (the pre-packed sort), just to name a few. A few weeks ago a soup I made required urid, which I hadn't heard of before and so substituted something else, and there were urid galore in that shop! My shopping list also mentioned seafood cocktail but the pre-packed selection I found contained smoked coley and "white fish." I stuck to my orginal plan which involved using frozen prawns. Sorry about that, Carolyn.

My mother-in-law "Juno" came around for dinner yesterday. It was a peculiar menu: gumbo followed by simnel cake. The older offspring was out and about, so it was left to Juno, the spouse, the younger offspring and me to sample the soup. I ladled it out on to a layer of long-grain rice and we supped. It was very good. The spiciness of the chorizo permeated the sauce. Delicious.

As I mentioned above, this was my sixtieth soup from The Soup Book. My methods of recording the soups I've made are evolving so to celebrate sixty soups I have prepared a graph showing the different types of soup and number I have made of each different type. I'm not sure whether I should be proud of this accomplishment or not. You can see from the graph that I've a lot of ground to make up in the Summer Vegetables section.

Honey-Dipped Points

As I've been writing this week's blog entry, I've been listening to a radio programme about Irish produce. Honey has been mentioned a couple of times. Neven Maguire talked about serving porridge with cream, honey and an Irish liqueur on the side, and someone else referred to the growing success of Mileeven honey. During the week a radio advertisement for an Irish book shop has used bees, bee-keeping and honey to attract attention ("Tom Harris is into bees"). Further afield, a famous international icecream company is running a Help the Honey Bees campaign.

The older offspring sent me this link during the week. True bee lovers, you have been warned that you may find the content offensive.


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