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Celebrating Fat Tuesday With The Taste of Creole From The Garden

PamelaWe don’t live in New Orleans but that didn’t stop us from having some great Creole-style food this weekend. Shrimp Creole was on the menu at my house and most of it came from my garden!

Snow is still covering the ground, but my 2014 garden lives on in my freezer, basement and canning jars.  

I adapted this recipe from a cookbook I bought when I visited New Orleans with my daughter a few years ago. It’s a dish served at the Court of Two Sisters restaurant in the French Quarter.

For the original recipe, click here.  

When I say that I adapted this, it’s because, while I love shrimp, I decided to decrease the amount of shrimp and increase the number of vegetables I used. I did this for a couple of reasons.

First, the original called for 3 pounds of shrimp. Three ... that’s a lot of shrimp. At about $13 a pound (if you can find a sale) ... that’s a lot of shrimp.

Second, I have tons of vegetables from the garden. I love vegetables, and they’re almost free since I grow them myself!

I also changed the amounts of the liquid ingredients so there was no need to add any kind of thickener to the sauce as in the original.

So here’s my version of the Court of Two Sisters Shrimp Creole.

Peel and devein 2 pounds of shrimp.

Peel and devein 2 pounds shrimp

I reserve the shrimp shells and boil them in a pan of water. I use this water to make rice to serve with the Shrimp Creole.

Chop shallots, onions, peppers, celery and mince the garlic.

Chopped veggies

Melt 1 stick of butter in a large skillet. Yes, I know it may seem like a lot of butter. But, I promise, it’ll be fine.

Melt butter in a large skillet

Add the chopped veggies and garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes. The only vegetable in this recipe I didn’t grow myself was the celery. Something to try this year.

Adding the Chopped veggies

Then add the bay leaves, tomato puree,

Tomato Puree

canned tomatoes,

Canned tomatoes

and simmer for 15 minutes.


For those who don’t know what tomato puree is, it’s just tomatoes that I have seeded and pureed in the food processor and then frozen.

Add shrimp and simmer another 15 minutes.

and simmering

Add lemon juice,

give it a squeeze

salt and pepper, and cayenne to taste and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

more simmering

Meanwhile, make rice with the strained boiled shrimp shell liquid.

Serve it up!

Serve Shrimp Creole over the rice.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup diced shallots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 pint canned tomatoes
  • The juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
  • Salt, pepper, cayenne

Melt the butter and sauté the onions, shallots, celery and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, tomatoes and bay leaves, simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the shrimp and simmer for 15 minutes. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne to taste, and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over rice. Makes about 6 servings.

And to think ... almost everything in this dish came from my garden!

I’m just gonna tell ya ... this is some good Creole!


No-Bake Energy Bars

PamelaHappy February!

So how are those New Year’s resolutions working out for ya? Many times by February or March, resolutions are becoming a distant memory. And Super Bowl Sunday is a diet devastator! Hopefully, if you decided to lead a healthier lifestyle, you’re sticking with it.

Last week my friend, Anika, and I were talking between cases at work, and the conversation drifted to the energy bar she was eating. I was curious as to what was in it as it appeared to be homemade.

Anika wasn’t able to give me a detailed recipe because she just throws ingredients in a bowl until it looks right. When I tasted one, I realized whatever she had done, she got it right.

Anika told me what ingredients were used, but it was now up to me to figure out the rest. So here’s what I came up with.

No Bake Energy Bars

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bars:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons flax seed (Anika used chia seeds)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup agave

Process almonds in food processor, add oats and flax seed and continue processing (I usually grind my flax seed in my coffee grinder for a more refined result).

Transfer to a large bowl and process chocolate pieces or chips in the food processor just enough to make smaller pieces. Add the processed chocolate and the cocoa powder to the bowl with the oat mixture. Mix together.

Add honey, agave and peanut butter to the dry mixture; combine well.

Once this is well-combined, press into a baking dish and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Cut into squares and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week. You can experiment with chopped dried fruit, different nuts and chocolate. Use your imagination!

Perfect after a hard workout!


Transforming a Way of Life

PamelaLast January, I made the decision to look a little closer at my priorities. It seemed I was working all the time but just getting by financially. Eventually, I ended up with three jobs and still felt like I was barely making it.

After an injury (which I actually healed from much faster than anticipated), I decided that there had to be more to life than working jobs that I'm not happy in.

I quit the two part-time positions but have continued on with my full-time job. I am a registered nurse. There really isn't anything wrong with being a nurse. It's a noble profession. We care for people at their most vulnerable moments. I enjoy taking care of, and interacting with, people and, we as nurses all want what's best for our patients. But after 29 years, and as the circumstances in my own life change, I see things differently than I did when I was a young nurse looking at health care as a career full of promise and security.

Actually, there really is security in nursing. People are always going to be ill and need healing. But, as I get older – I'm 51 and counting – my priorities are changing.

I have aging parents who require my assistance more than they once did. I have grandchildren who are growing up too quickly. I have daughters I would like to have more mother/daughter time with. Last, but definitely not least, I have My Tom, and neither one of us is getting any younger. Time with the people I care about can never be replaced.

All this came to me about a year ago when I had a little down time while I was healing. Hmmm ... down time ... sometimes a very dangerous thing!

So I decided it was time to make some changes. The decision to quit my part-time jobs meant decreasing the amount of money I was spending. What better way to decrease spending than to get back to basics, simplify my life, and in the process make better environmental choices? I was already doing some things right. I recycle even though I have to take my recycling in to a nearby town since it doesn't get picked up where I live. I have a programmable thermostat for my newer more efficient furnace and central air. I have a budget and I do try to follow it. However, I felt there was more I could do.

In 2014, I increased the size of my garden by almost double. That equals money saved at the grocery store and fewer chemicals in my food. I built trellises out of leftover 2x4s and clothesline rope to grow some of my food in the upward direction to allow for more efficiency with the space I had. 

garden trellises
Garden trellises for squash made from leftover 2x4s and clothes line rope.

My Tom and I built compost bins out of wood pallets. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

compost bins

Wood pallet compost bins made from free pallets.

I updated and repurposed furniture and used scrap wood I had in the garage to build outdoor furniture pieces.


Table I made from scrap wood and treadle sewing machine base.

I started making my own laundry soap, and baking my own bread. I can and freeze more produce than I did in the past. And I stopped buying so many convenience foods. Making more from scratch. All this in a effort to learn more self sufficiency and gain the benefits of a healthier diet.

In 2014, I only bought one loaf of bread, and, after getting used to how delicious homemade bread really is, was so disappointed that I haven't made the mistake since. Ironically, it was the same brand I had always purchased in the past. Proving that made-from-scratch is best!

This year, I have more goals to accomplish to stay on track. 

• I'm still looking for the perfect job. One that will allow more time to take care of my family, continue to improve my property and still pay the bills. 

• Doing more of the things I used to enjoy: playing the piano, spending time on the bike path in the summer, and hiking and snowshoeing in the winter. 

• After having a series of upsets in 2014, I am getting my exercise routine, that I so desperately missed, back on the priority list. I have been cleared by my physician to get back into running. It was only less than two years ago when I did a half marathon and was training for a full marathon. I am so excited to be able to set running goals again!

• My parents are high on the priority list with health problems cropping up more as each year passes.

• I'm working on being more financially responsible. I make this a goal every year and I think I do pretty well, but it seems each year I find more ways to improve.

• I have many projects waiting to be started. All of which revolve around a more environmentally responsible way of living. Turning my slightly less than 1 acre into a greener more efficient space.

It's all about taking those baby steps to make those goals attainable and sustainable!

So now, with the clean slate of a new year ahead, it's time to get busy!  

For more on living in my corner of the Midwest, drop by and visit my personal blog, My Turkey Hollow Twilight Zone.

And stay tuned as my projects begin to unfold here on!

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