Dauphin Island Crab Gumbo

Dauphin Island Crab GumboSome places hold on to your memories and you tell tale after tale about them. Dauphin Island is one of those places for my mother. When we were young, she spoke of summers there. I pictured my summer vacations at Virginia Beach–but somehow Mama’s vacations were better. In my head, she stayed right on the beach and ran wild in the summer heat and swam all day. As I got older, the stories changed a bit and she would have a dreamy look in her eye as she spoke of dates with my father where they went to Dauphin Island.

I wish I could recall those stories better. I should pay attention when she shares them with my children. They sound different though. Is it her age and memory loss or is it my perspective as an adult that makes them sound different? I don’t know.

I do know that whenever Dauphin Island is hit by a hurricane, a flood or is otherwise in the news, Mama fusses. Some part of the landscape of her youth is wiped away with disaster, since she hasn’t been there in probably forty years or more. It stays frozen in her mind like the times she spent there.

This recipe makes fine use of the culture and the seafood of Dauphin Island. My mother and great-grandmother have several versions of it in their collection of recipe cards. I suspect this one was clipped from the Mobile paper.

Dauphin Island Crab Gumbo

2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
Minced parsley
3 tablespoons bacon drippings
3/4 cup sifted flour
2 cups raw crab meat
2 cups canned tomatoes (or fresh peeled tomatoes)
1 cup cut okra
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Paprika (optional)
hot sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon gumbo file (find it in the spice section of your store or at your local spice house or favorite mail order)

Saute celery, onions, peppers and parsley in drippings in covered skillet until soft. Remove from pan. Brown flour in drippings, (I hate that part!I have no patience but it really is worth it and the only way to make gumbo) add to vegetables. Add three quarts water and crab, then cook for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes, okra and seasonings; simmer for one hour. Remove from heat; stir in file.

Serve over rice.

Note: If cooked crab meat is used, add 10 minutes before removing from heat. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

S’chee: Russian Cabbage Soup

Russian Cabbage soup probably makes for nightmares in this house. Denise is still recovering from the tortellini soup. This recipe contains all the super thrifty things that a family on a tight budget will love about it though.

You can use vegetable broth and make this a meat free dish. It also lends itself well to crockery cookery–so throw it in the crock-pot if you would rather.


1 head cabbage, cut in wedges and stalk removed
2 carrots, scraped and diced
2 stalks of celery, cut in pieces, leaves and all
1 turnip, peeled and quartered
6 cups beef bouillon
1 can Italian tomato paste
salt and pepper
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons bacon fat
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
Sour Cream
Fresh dill and fresh parsley, if available

Simmer the cabbage, carrots, celery and turnip in bouillon. Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Simmer 2-3 hours. Saute the onion and garlic in the bacon fat and add to the soup with the potatoes. Cook for 1/2 hour longer. Serve with bowl of sour cream and dill and parsley on the side to sprinkle on top. Serves 6 to 8.

From The Peasant Cookbook, Marian Tracy, 1955

Beer Soup

Since the last recipe wasn’t a hit for some mysterious reason. Creamy + Liver + Ball seemed to strike a discordant note with some–we will go to Wisconsin now for a recipe! Now this one I am sure will be a hit because I keep hearing on the radio that no football party is complete without beer. Of course, the combination of beer + soup = Denise won’t eat it. Oh well, what’s a retro cook to do when it comes to recipes from a region?

Beer Soup

1 pint beer
1 cup water
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
salt and sugar

Add water to beer, let come to boiling point, season with salt, sugar, and nutmeg, if desired. Beat yolks well with a little sugar and flour mixed. Add milk. Stir until smooth. Stir all together in the hot beer mixtur, let come nearly to boiling point, fold in beaten whites, and serve at once with toasted bread cubes.

From: America Cooks–Favorite Recipes from the 48 States by The Browns. (pre-1958)

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Spinach Tortellini Soup

Did you click “like” on Facebook on the BlogHer page in the last week or so? If so, BlogHer Community Manager Denise Tanton had a spoon of soup for you. If you don’t already express your like for Blogher on Facebook, you should still go ahead and do so. Denise won’t be eating any more soup–but BlogHer rocks so you SHOULD support them by liking them.

There is video proof and photos of the soup eating in this post “I Ate Soup for BlogHer and Survived.” Denise does not like soup. At all. Despite her complaints and the fact that she felt a bit ill after 105 spoons of soup, this soup really is quite tasty and easy to make. If it wasn’t soup–she would have probably liked it a lot. The rest of us did.

Here is the recipe:

Spinach Tortellini Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 box sliced mushrooms (ok 1 8 oz box minus a handful was used)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (32 oz) cartons vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1 tsp sea salt (or regular salt)
1 8 oz package cheese tortellini
1 bag (12 oz? 14 oz) frozen spinach

Parmesan cheese or Feta Cheese or both for garnish (optional)

In a stockpot, heat the oil, add the onion and mushrooms and saute until onion has softened and become translucent. You can actually add the mushrooms later, I did because I didn’t think about them at first, but I suspect sauteeing them first would be helpful. Add the garlic. Add the broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and Italian Seasoning and spinach. Bring to boil over high heat. Add tortellini, reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally until the tortellini are tender but firm to the bite–about 10 min if you are using the dry tortellini (which I did) about 3 min if using fresh.

Serve hot, garnished with cheese if desired.

Another thing about BlogHer to love–they have made it possible for you to win a  $100.00 gift card by sharing your better choice for the New Year on my review blog from Jimmy Dean and BlogHer. This is the last week to enter–so don’t miss out!

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