oh fuck

Jambalaya


I just moved again, my fourth time moving in the past four years. This is exhausting only because there's constant re-adaptation to a new kitchen, which is actually a real thing. I don't know how electric burners work?? Why does the oven light go on and off?? Just how cold IS my freezer? Also, because I've always lived with other people, everyone else always provided all the culinary hardware, which means that I've been getting inventive. 
Did you know you can actually shred cheese with a vegetable peeler? 


(Like a fool, I forgot to take pictures, so here is my brother and some nice pink skies.) 

Anyways, I made some jambalaya so fine that I thought I had been kidnapped as a baby because actually I MUST be Cajun.

This explains everything!

The real thing about jambalaya, is that you can adapt it to all your personal cravings.
After reading several recipes it appears that most people don't put shrimp in it?
But my mama always puts shrimp in her jambalaya, so I did too.
You can make it on the stovetop, or in the oven or both (I did both.)
You can add okra, or not.
You can add sausage or not.
You can make your own cajun seasoning or not.
It's great.



Mostly I liked making jambalaya, because it made me feel at home, and feeling at home is suddenly a rare and special thing. 
Lately, I find myself asking questions such as, do other people make a place a home?
Is home just where you feel safest? 

Sometimes, when these questions are too much, I sit in my small green bathroom, and watch a trail of tiny black ants crawl from the east end of my bathtub near the faucet to the west end where I keep my shampoo. 
I like the ants, because the ants are not concerned with questions of home or place or belonging. 
They just keep walking. 

The point is. 
This jambalaya is worth you time. It will make the air smell thick and rich and spicy. 
It will bring you back to the tactile, real version of yourself. The part of yourself that only exists in the HERE NOW.  
But mostly it tastes really good. And fills you up. 

You will love it. 

And I love you. 


XOXO



Jambalaya 
via AllRecipes.com 

These are guidelines, adapt as you please. 

2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
10 ounces andouille sausage, slices into rounds
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 cups uncooked white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Saute sausage until browned. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil, and saute chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

2. In the same pot, saute onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. (I actually ended up putting my Jambalaya in the oven at 375 F, for about half an hour because my electric burners didn't seem capable of cooking everything evenly for a long period of time.)


21


I started this blog when I was 16. 

I'm about to turn 21. 

I keep thinking about what I would tell my naive and dreamy 16 year old self, or what I would say to my future daughter, if I had one. What I would want those girls to know. 


I want to tell them: 

Be hungry. 
Do not be afraid to be hungry. 


Because being hungry for your next meal and hungry to live a full life, these are basically the same thing. 
Because food is connected to love and lust and happiness and depression and every emotion and experience, all the weddings and all the funerals. 
Because eating is tangled into the fabric of being human.

And yet. 


There are girls who are afraid to eat. 
Who exist solely on salads and cigarettes. 
Who only eat a meal and a half a day.
Who starve themselves, or throw up what they've eaten. 
Who don't eat in front of boys, because maybe the boys will figure out that they are not made of air. 
Who say they were "bad" because they ate a cookie instead of an apple. 

I have known all of these girls. 
Maybe even been one or two of them. 

And I just want to tell that future daughter of mine, or my 16 year old self, that there is no shame in having a real appetite. 
That there is no shame in being hungry and then eating until you are full. 
That no one actually cares if you are a little fat or a little thin. 
That eating and drinking and enjoying it, and really owning the hunger, goes so far beyond the table. 
Because there is no better way to be present in the here and now than to enjoy a meal. 
And being present feels like the opposite of being dead. 
And what is the point in being anything other than fiercely, rudely, gorgeously alive? 

That's what I would say.


So I'm about to turn 21, and that thought makes my stomach curdle a little bit, because adulthood suddenly seems like a very imminent, and very near reality. 

But I can't think about that. 
I'm too focused on getting from city to city, bed to bed, meal to meal. 
But sometimes, like right now, I stop and drink a coffee and write to you and stare out a window and try to appreciate the beauty. 
And I want to cry and I want to kiss you and I want champagne. 
Because it's all so beautiful, and I am still so young and so naive and so hungry, and because I just ate maybe the best sandwich of my entire life.


It was an inspired sandwich. 

So I'm about to turn 21. 
How incredible. 

I love you. 
I love you. 
I love you. 

xoxo