Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kinda Sorta Jambalaya

I'm sure a Southern native would laugh at my "jambalaya," but it's one of our favorite meals.  (Well, for my husband and I - the kids wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.)  Unusually for me, it involves a box mix.  Of course, I can't just leave it alone - heaven forbid I strictly follow the directions on the box!  If you like spicy food, you can adjust this to your preferred heat level.  I make it pretty spicy.  It's a great one dish meal - protein, fiber, veggies, and carbs all in one shot.

Laurel's Kinda Sorta Jambalaya

1 8 oz. box of Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix (available in regular, mild, spicy and low sodium - I prefer the low sodium version, which is at their regular spice level, but I can't always find it; obviously you can add more cayenne if you want extra heat)
2 lbs. bulk poultry Italian sausage (I buy mine at Wegmans as patties, but links work just as well; I prefer their "hot" recipe)
4 cups water
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 16 oz. bag Wegmans Frozen Southern Blend (a mix of diced onions and sweet red pepper, black beans and black eyed peas - you could probably substitute one small diced onion, one small diced red pepper, one can black beans and one can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup uncooked rice (I prefer to use brown rice)

Brown the poultry Italian sausage in a large, deep skillet.  Add all of the other ingredients and stir to blend.  Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for an hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You can add a little more water if you like it soupier, or use less if you like it stickier. Serves 6-8.  (It goes down really well with iced tea, too!)

Rumbly Weather, Green Green Grass

Today is the first really warm day we've had in quite a while - mid 70s and humid.  A few days of this and we'll have sprouts and leaves everywhere.  If it stays warmer, I'll have tulips open by next week - color!  Bright oranges and golds and white in the front yard, dark and light pinks in the back yard.  I'm looking forward to planting annuals in a couple weeks.  My winter sowing containers are filled with tiny sprouts.  Just a little longer, and I can plant out those vulnerable little babies.  Amazingly, they'll be full-sized plants by July, ready to bloom.  Winter sowing just blows my mind every year.

The little weeping cherry tree is in blossom, and the bees are in heaven.  They're everywhere, drunk on sweet flower wine.  It's cheerful to hear them at work again.  I love the delicate white flowers of this tree, and its coppery bark.  I wish it were fragrant.  We had a decrepit old crabapple tree in the front yard of our old house.  It was prone to black spot, stingy with foliage, and the fruit was tiny and hard.  But, every spring it bloomed magnificently pink, and incredibly fragrant - waves of the most powerful rose scent you can imagine drifting all over the yard.  Bees would swarm that tree by the hundreds, humming and dancing as they stored up its nectar. 

 The old crabapple tree in all its glory.

So far we've had a rather soggy spring, with more clouds than sun, more rain than rays.  Still, it's getting the lawn off to a happy start.  The grass is oh so green, and growing like crazy.  If it ever dries out enough for us to mow, we'll have a lovely yard.  We had some sun earlier, but now it's rumbling again in the not-so-distant distance, with more scattered storms to chase through this evening.  Soccer practice has already been canceled.  (Update:  I had to turn off the computer for a while as I was writing this - we had a nasty storm graze us, complete with a tornado warning.  There's more to come - I'm finishing this post between two red blobs on the radar. . . .)  My yard squelches when I walk through it.  I don't dare use the wheelbarrow to move compost, or to carry bags of mulch anywhere off the pavement.  Right now I don't dare walk anywhere in the back yard - I'd be up to my ankles in mud.  I was joking on FB this morning that I should go ahead and dig my long-dreamed-of koi pond, since I wouldn't have to excavate much at all to get a respectable water feature.  Hopefully it will dry off a bit over the next few days and I'll be able to get to some of the yard work by the weekend.

Daffodil 'Ice Follies,' with a visitor.

The kids are back to school today, and both seemed to have a good day and be happy to have their routine back.  Princess Yakyak is acting overtired and cranky now, and I can see an early bedtime in her future.  Safety Guy was quite pleased to tell me that one of the bullies that has been picking on him got a comeuppance in gym class - while jumping rope, his pants fell down.  Safety Guy says he didn't see it happen, but said he howled with laughter when his friends told him about it.  So in his book, it was a pretty good day. 

Daffodil 'Geranium'