Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gumbo Practice

In two weeks is the State Championship Fiddler's Frolics and BBQ Cookoff.  My family has been cooking in this competition since the beginning between my uncles and my dad, mom, sisters and now my husband and brothers-in-law and our various friends.  So a few years ago, my mom had a first place win in the Jackpot Gumbo Cookoff.  We've been trying to match her win ever since.  So I did take a stab at it last year with my mom's supervision.  She kept telling me that my roux wasn't dark enough, but I totally chickened out and made a blonde roux which made my gumbo beige and boring and bland.

This year I'm taking another stab at it.  I've been reading as much as I can about roux and okra and file and all things gumbo.  Here is my first attempt at roux.  It could probably be a little darker, but I didn't want to take a chance at it burning and then having to start all over.  I think it looks like milk chocolate which is one of the descriptions I read about.

I used a combination of bacon fat and vegetable oil.  Next time I think I am just going to go with straight vegetable oil.  I think I will get a cleaner and more consistent roux.

Next was the trinity...celery, onion and green bell pepper...I added it to the roux.

I cooked this together for about 10 minutes which softened the vegetables.

Then I added the stock.

I simmered this mixture together for about 30 minutes before adding my bay leaf, sausage and shrimp.  Cooked this together for about 15 minutes, removed the bay leaf and added salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  I decided that I didn't want to add the okra since the roux did a great job at thickening it.  I may buy a little file to sprinkle on top to make it more authentic.

And voila.  With a little rice, and some scallion for garnish, the taste was awesome.  I got two thumbs up from both James and Kiley.  I'm going to take a sample to my neighbor who is from Louisianna for one more little taste test.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My brain feels like mush...

So I know that my mom knows that she has FTD, but I don't know if she knows what that means. She does know that it is dimentia and that it is affecting her behavior. She just can't control it all the time. At one point this weekend, she said her brain felt like mush. At another point she asked Donna what her name was and then later said that her biggest fear was forgetting her kid's names. It is getting harder and harder for her to control her behavior and sometimes she just lets it all go.

I love my mother so much and wish I could have her back the way she was five years ago.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Howard's Brain

This is a really entertaining video recorded by an FTD patient to raise money and awareness about FTD. I hope you take a moment to watch it.

Howard's Brain

To learn more about FTD and Howard see these sites:
National Institutes of Health:
The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration:
Howard’s Blog:

Bill's told by his son.

An interesting video about a father and husband who has FTD. Bill Fehon was an avid bow hunter. His son is creating a documentary about his father's life. This video was taken at the annual bowhunter's meeting. There are some videos within this video of Bill Fehon and of his wife that show the disease in the early stages. The early stages can last many years. The final two stages go pretty quickly.

The two links above are just two different ways to get to the same video.

Words of Encouragement

I receive the AFTD newsletter and saw this article in it about a husband who has FTD and the wife's experience. I am reposting for your reading.

From Catherine Montgomery

Finding Companionship in a
Silent World

The hours when there is no communication between my husband and me make
me wonder if this is what it is like to live with a deaf person. Robb,
however, is not deaf. He has FTD--Frontotemporal Degeneration--a
dementia that that has taken away his ability to converse. I call it
living in a vacuum. As the dementia has progressed, one by one, the
many and varied interests of his have dropped out of his memory. The
creative gifts have also disappeared. First the gift of surgical talent
was stilled, and then it was his ability to design and create stained glass
pieces. All memory of that artistic era has disappeared. He used to be
full of ideas and had opinions about many subjects. Now I guide him
through the day with a simple routine of sleeping, waking, eating and
dispensing medicines. We do watch TV, and he chooses music to play on a small
DVD/CD player. The one outdoor activity, which marks each day, is
feeding the birds. He no longer can tell me the names of the birds or
identify the calls as he used to do. There is one thing he can do well
and that is to beat me at Gin. We slowly play several hands after
dinner, and he continually outplays me.

Recently Robb was asked, "How did you decide to become a
podiatrist?" Unable to recall his decision, he looked to me to answer
the question. Listening to me as I related the events, which led to a
discussion of his life's work, it was as if he were hearing it for the first it was a story about someone else.


As I do not see the situation improving in Robb's condition, I must make a
friend of the silence. There have been times as a young mother, raising six
children, when I would have welcomed some quiet. Little did I know how
a day without sociable conversation would make me work to keep engaged with
the world around me...trying to interpret what Robb struggles to say takes
all my concentration and sometimes we just give up.

I am really glad that there are activities that I can do to fill the hours of
quiet. It has allowed me to take a renewed interest in planning and
preparing meals, to write to family and friends, and to begin painting once
more. We have family and friends who come to visit, and even though Robb does
not contribute to the conversation, he is a part of the group.

As our children come to visit us, Robb no longer struggles to keep back tears
when they leave. The first time this happened I asked him, "You
don't think you will see them again, do you?" He nodded yes.
Then we both cried. Tears are really helpful, and we do not hold them
back. One of the precious moments we share now is tears. I would
never have expected this to have the meaning it does.

I share these various ways I can help my beloved husband with the hope that I
may help someone else who will walk along the same path.

--an exerpt from Memory is a Fragile Thing
- Reflections of my life experiences from childhood to the present. ©

If you have Words of
enCOURAGEment that you would like to share in upcoming issues of The Gateway,
please email them to with "words of encouragement" in
the subject line.