It Snowed Last Night

20217 snowIt snowed last night. In southern Louisiana, Snow is A Weather Event. Schools close. Children run outside. It’s strange and wonderful because it only happens every 10 years or so. If you don’t live in lands where snow is common, it’s A Big Deal.

There’s not a lot of snow. Just enough to cover the yard, the roof tops and cars in the neighborhood. I wrote a message on the back of my car this morning.

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A small, humble thing started 2000 years ago. Come, Lord Jesus!

The morning flurries made me think of something else that brings out the inner child. Christmas. I apologize if the sentiment is just too much for you, but I confess I love setting out the Nativity set each year. I like decorating the house and tree, too.

For everyone, there’s a gift. The gift of A Son is Born. I love all of that stuff from Isaiah and Handel:  Unto us a Son is Born . . . I love it!

Yet, at the same time, I’m old enough to know snow melts and turns to mud. The government isn’t on His Shoulders. I don’t care what Isaiah says. The Son doesn’t rule the World yet.

The advent of something wondrous started with the baby in the manger. It also means to look to the next Advent. Soon there will be a Second Advent when Jesus will reign. The government really will be on his shoulders. There will be peace on earth.

Everyone, Christian or agnostic, knows deep inside that something isn’t right. Whether it’s the weird weather, the even weirder politics, or the deep injustice we see, Some Thing Is Not Right. That’s why we hope for the next Advent.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Gumbo and Grace

mama dearest
Gumbo Queen

Finally! It’s gumbo weather in Louisiana.  Temperatures are mild, and the humidity is low.  Time to stir up a roux in a cast iron pot and get cooking. Even better, it’s a good time to ask my mama to make a gumbo.  When it comes to gumbo, I can’t think of any I have had that compares to her gumbo. Especially her seafood gumbo.

The roux is turned into dark brown.* The holy trinity is added. ** Stir in a tad of finely chopped tomatoes,  and lastly fresh shrimp and crab.

 

And best of all, okra. I love okra. Just the name, okra, makes me smile. It sounds southern and exotic at the same time. It’s a weird-looking vegetable, spindly and green on the outside. On the inside, it’s full of muokra and rouxcilage and seeds.

 

My mama is the Gumbo Queen in my mind. I didn’t know, until recently, that she feels she has spent a lifetime in pursuit of the perfect gumbo, and after 85 years on this earth, she hasn’t gotten it right yet. She’s always comparing it to her mother’s gumbo. She feels insecure mainly about her chicken and sausage gumbo.We figured it out maybe. Her mama used fresh chickens from the yard, killed the same day as the gumbo is fixed, as well as using her own lard, not oil in the base. The okra would have come from my grandfather’s garden, picked by one of her seven children.

I think she should allow herself a bit of grace. A store-bought young fryer chicken never will taste like a large hen from the chicken coop. Nor will frozen okra compare to the pods one can pick from the garden. I scarcely expect her to find fresh pig fat either.

Maybe her roux isn’t as good as my mother’s mom did it, but it’s good, no doubt. For me I consider it a success to not burn the roux.  There’s a trick to it, after all. Only the best cooks can get a smoky, dark roux just perfect without burning the oil and flour mixture. Too little cooking, and a light brown watery broth makes for a tepid bowl of gumbo.

My Cajun mama needs to give herself permission to have an excellent gumbo even if her mama had a better one. I need grace, too. Not just with gumbo. But with myself, with my family, and everyone else, for that matter.

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Grandma Adele in the 1950s.

 

*A roux is made from equal parts of flour and fat/oil heated over a low flame, turned constantly until the mix becomes dark brown.

**The holy trinity of most Cajun dishes are these three: celery, onions, and bell peppers.