Very Bastardized Étouffée, Very Bastardized Start

This site was supposed to launch the first week in January. But here we are, on the threshold of Spring and my first post looks nothing like what I had envisioned. 

Are y'all familiar with the concept of tightening? It's when we become less forgiving of ourselves over time in regard to certain habits. I experience it severely in my work as a stylist. When I began conceptualizing this site last Fall, I felt like I needed to replace my formica countertop with rubberwood so I'd have more space to shoot in my kitchen. Okay, reasonable enough.

Three months later, I'm waking up in the middle of the night thinking about how I need new wallpaper, new backsplash, new plates, new silverware, new tablecloths, new napkins, and new dish towels before my site could launch. Then last week I caught myself trying to style my wardrobe to match my new brand. Worse yet, I haven't actually purchased any of these things- not because I'm a procrastinator (I am), but because I'm a freelancer, not a millionaire. 

There's an old folk hymn that goes:
If you tarry 'til you're better / you will never come at all

The Christians get a lot of things wrong, but that ain't one of them. The time has come to get going, "better" or not. 

It's frustrating how subjective that word is, isn't it? I especially dislike when people use "better" as a synonym for "healed." I'd like to think that we're continually getting better, instead of hitting a stopping point with no room for improvement. "Better" has been my life's theme and my life's work over these last few years, which have been notably different than the preceding 27. My friend Lisa told me that 28 is the year you become who you are, who you were meant to be- and she couldn't have been more right. 28 was another moment in time when I said, TO HELL WITH TARRYING! It was the year that I found myself with a surplus of food and decided to give it away to anyone who asked. And that changed everything.

We'll talk more about that in posts to come, but let's get one thing straight: I'm still a huge shit, and completely bananas, too. I can't be on a bluff without immediately thinking about how good it would feel to jump off and this comes up a lot because my parents live on a bluff. In the presence of a very sharp knife, the veins in my left wrist practically gyrate. I last put all my clothes away sometime around 2007. At least once a day, I find myself wondering, what in the fuck must Alien David Attenborough think we're doing right now?? And I have a half hour conversation with myself about the nature of our entire civilization every time I deposit a check. Last week, I drove by an old man who had fallen over next to his cane, said "I wonder if he's okay?" aloud and kept driving. 

I say all this because in the future, when I talk about faith and grace and miracles, I don't want y'all to think I'm one of those put together, productive, stable, clean, bubbly people. In my experience, that makes the whole shebang far less believable. And believing in shit is hard. One time I was run over by a semi in my Subaru and for no logical reason, I lived to tell the tale; I didn't have a single scratch on me, not even whiplash. Instead of believing that was a miracle of the divine or science variety, for two whole weeks I suspected that I actually was dead and walking around in some sort of Lost-style purgatory. I mean, what was I supposed to do- run around saying, OH MY GOSH Y'ALL EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON!!!!!!!!!!! I really would rather die. 

I'm more so one of those people who throws leftover bhindi masala into a pot of etouffée and has faith that it will turn out well. Is that the smallest and most insignificant act of faith of all time? Yeah, probably. But small things have a way of snowballing, once you get going. And you can't get better until you get going. 

Very Bastardized Étouffée
-serves six, adapted from this charming recipe

1 pound crab meat
3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 large yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 orange pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 ribs celery
3T butter
4T flour
2 cups crab, fish or good chicken stock
cayenne pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, salt
vinegar-y hot sauce such as Frank's*
about 1/3 cup bhindi masala**
a crap ton of green onions
rice to serve

1. Chop all your vegetables except for garlic very finely, preferably in a food processor because you're lazy like me. 
2. Melt butter in a large pot and stir in flour. Cook roux over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it's a shade of brown that's sort of like almond butter.
3. Add the chopped vegetables (still not the garlic!) and stir them around until they've softened a little, which should only take a few minutes.
4. Slowly add stock and bring to a boil. Throw in spices and fresh garlic- I'm gonna say you should start with 1/8t cayenne, 1/4t white pepper, 2t garlic powder and 1t kosher salt, then add more to your taste. You'll likely want a good deal more garlic powder and salt, but it depends on your tongue and your stock. 
5. Lower to a simmer and let it bubble away for about 30 minutes.
6. Take a moment to really get into that real crazy lady head space. Add crab meat and masala. Taste it and add the vinegar-y hot sauce if you feel like it needs a little brightness. Let simmer another minute or two before serving with rice and green onion.

*Or rice wine vinegar if you got one of them sensitive tongues. 
**IF you don't have leftover Indian takeout in you fridge (why would you?), you don't have to use it. This recipe is great without it as long as you use really good stock and plenty of hot sauce. I'd imagine you could also try sautéing something like 2t mustard seeds, 2t cumin seeds, 2t coriander seeds and 1t dried turmeric in with your roux. Email me and let me know if you try that!