Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Green gumbo is controversial stuff. Ask any three people who insist they know what gumbo is and you’ll get at least four different definitions. It has to have okra; no, it has to have dark roux; no, it has to have filé powder; no, it’s … whatever my momma used to do. It’s like arguing about the nature of truth. My personal stance is that if you sound like you’re from Louisiana and you want to call something a gumbo, it’s a gumbo. Which is convenient, because my favorite is green gumbo — Miss Gumbo Z’herbes, if you nasty — and it really doesn’t look like any other gumbo at all.
What it is, though, is incredible: a subsistence-farm’s-worth of greens, between seven to 11 types, stewed together until they dissolve and all their flavors melt into one another. So it can be an interesting vegetarian dish, but you know that’s not how this is going to end up going down. This recipe is from the great Leah Chase, one of the great Queens of Louisiana Creole cooking, and taught to me by Sara Roahen, the woman who made me love New Orleans like it were my own home. Miss Leah’s gumbo z’herbes is a Lenten dish, eaten specifically on Holy Thursday to anchor a body for the Good Friday fast. And so, along with the seven greens, it’s got seven meats, so it really shouldn’t be attempted much more often than once a year. “Leave things be special,” Miss Leah said to Sara.
So as with many special dishes, this, dear friends, is going to be an all-day affair. But it is absolutely worth it — so complex, so bulky with ingredients, two bites are rarely ever the same: one minute it’s beefy and tender, the next it’s intensely vegetal and finishing with smoky, porky goodness and a hit of cayenne that warms the back of your throat. It is, I confess, a chore to make on your own, but it’s not actually difficult. With a couple of friends and some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, it’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon — cooking, laughing, smearing yourselves all over with chlorophyll, and trying to keep your nerve while cooking flour for your roux so hot it wants to set you on fire. Good times!
So this is technically a recipe, but I’ll give Sara a final word of advice before we start, from her marvelous book Gumbo Tales, “Gumbo z’herbes is not a precision project; it doesn’t matter if the bunch of turnip greens you buy in Salt Lake City is half or double the size of mine. Every batch is unique, dynamic in its own way. Mrs. Chase didn’t glance at the weights of the meats she bought when we shopped together … When I reported to her that the gumbo had reduced the judges to expletives, Mrs. Chase responded, ‘Well, you don’t need to curse at gumbo.’”
Green gumbo (gumbo z’herbes)
Serves 20-30. Seriously. Make some phone calls.
Adapted from Sara Roahen, who adapted from “The Dooky Chase Cookbook,” which was probably adapted from however Leah Chase felt like making it that day.
Between 7 and 11 of the following (traditionally an odd number, for luck):
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch turnip greens
1 bunch or bag spinach
1 bunch carrot tops
1 bunch arugula
1 bunch parsley
2 bunches green onions
1 bunch watercress
1 head romaine or other lettuce
1 head curly endive
1 bunch kale
1 bunch radish tops
1 bunch pepper grass
1 bunch basil
3 medium yellow onions, quartered
½ head garlic, peeled, cloves kept whole
1 pound andouille sausage
1 pound smoked pork sausage
2 pounds fresh, bulk hot sausage
2 smoked ham shanks (or 3 big, meaty ham hocks)
1 pound beef chuck, or other stewing meat
½ pound ham (we’re showing restraint here)
1 pound chicken (drumettes or wings preferred)
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons dried thyme, or to taste
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 bay leaves
Salt, to taste
½ teaspoon filé powder, optional
Special equipment: An arsenal of huge pots, a wooden spoon, and be prepared to improvise.
Serve with white rice.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.