My Mama’s Okra Gumbo

My Mama’s Gumbo.

This is my mom.
My mama.
My mommy.

My mother depicted in a painting circa 1968.

She’s here for the holiday, and I love her. Love her, Love her, Love her.

But. . . . .

Somebody (who rhymes with mister, is related to me, and called me horrible things when I was younger) and looks like this. . . .

 took a really ugly picture of her and posted it as my mother’s Facebook profile picture.

First of all, where is she? And then if you can find her, it looks like she’s shooting daggers at the camera person. Maybe she is.. . . . .

For lack of a better word, the picture sucks.
It’s boo to the “tay”. BOO-TAY.

I’m not trying to be cruel, but I share this because I love my mother. And clearly, I am the better picture taking daughter. I will always shoot her in the best light, and I’ll never let her go out like that in public.  I think she is the most beautiful woman in the world. And this picture does not do her justice.

So, in a valiant effort to remove the tarnish off my mother’s Facebook reputation to her 14 friends (we’ll work on that later), I have decided to take as many pictures of her as I can, so that the FB world can view her as she really is. Beautiful, fun, energetic, brilliant, and non-dagger shooting.
So now my sweets,  please get comfy in your chair as I post our final selection of pictures. And if you wouldn’t mind,  please help us decide which one she should use. She can gather up the rest, and change it up every now and again to show her true fabulousness.

Imagine this picture less pixelated. And her teeth smaller. Maybe we should move on.

Look! I’m fun, cute, and loving!


Mmm. I don’t know. She look’s a little sleepy. And there is that beach bag in the corner. Moving on. . .

Sweet. Watching the Independence Day Parade. Happy. Content. Festive.

Resourceful. Handy. Serious. Focused. I’d want her on my team.

What I want to be when I grow up.

How I see her in my dreams. Perfect. With the sun hovering over her shoulder, and the pink in her cheeks slightly flushed.

Hold Up! Who is this vision of loveliness? Somebody call the zoo. They let out a fox!

I’m a thinker. Or maybe there are birds flying in the sky. Or a plane flying by?

So now, my sweets, won’t you do us the honor of helping to pick out my mother’s profile pic. My vote is for number 7. 

PS Mommy – I’m not not saying I’m the better daughter. . . .but I think I deserve some brownie points for this one.

– – – – – – – –  X – – – – – – – – – – – –

My Mama’s Okra Gumbo

First of all, she might tell you, “Her Facebook picture is not that bad.” And you might chuckle.

Second of all, she may tell you, “This is NOT my gumbo.” And I’ll chuckle because, OF COURSE IT IS, it’s just a  little   different,because I’ve changed a few things.  Very minor, but I’m an adult, I’ve got to spread my Gumbo Wings. My mother does not make a traditional roux, and I do.  So you can skip that step if you like, but it’s cathartic to me, so I include it. Everything else is basically the same EXCEPT, sometimes, when I have more time and I’m especially lazy, I boil the chicken rather than cooking it in a skillet. So sue me. She’ll forgive me. I’m her kid. It’s her job.

BTW- I also sometimes add celery.  Sometimes, I don’t. My mother doesn’t like celery. She’ll  never add it. But either way, it comes out great, and she eats it, so I’m not really sure what her problem is.


Canola oil
30 oz. of frozen okra, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Seasoning Salt (I use Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning)
Garlic Powder
1 small chicken (or pieces), about 3 pounds
13 cups of water, approximately
1 very large yellow onion, diced about 1 – 1 1/2 cups diced
1 rib of celery, diced (optional)
1 bell pepper, diced
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp cayenne
12-14 oz of andouille or smoked sausage (I like Holmes Pecan Smoked), sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch 1 thick slices
1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

Cooked rice, for serving

For the Roux (optional) :
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1/4 cup flour


1. In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet (with a lid), place 2 TB of oil, and heat to medium high heat. Pour in 1/2 of the frozen okra. Sprinkle with seasoning salt and garlic powder. Cover. Allow the okra to thaw out, for 3-5 minutes. Remove lid, and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until the OKRA IS NO LONGER SLIMY. This is the key to your Gumbo, so don’t slack. The okra will begin to turn brown around the edges, and become slightly crisp. My kids love to eat it right out of the pan this way.  Remove okra, and set aside. Repeat process again with the other half of the frozen okra.

Starts out looking like this. . . .

Ends up looking like this!

 2. Step 2 can be done in 2 different ways. Each resulting in delicious results. I’ll give you both scenarios
A.) Cook the chicken in a skillet – Add 2 TB oil to your skillet on medium high. Brown the chicken for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, flip the chicken over, cover with the lid, and cook for another 15 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove from skillet.

B.) Stew the chicken (boil) – In a large heavy pot, place the chicken, water, onions, celery, bay leaves, salt, and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes then, reduce the heat to medium and cook partially covered for about 1 hour until the chicken is completely cooked, and tender. Take the chicken out of the pot, and set aside.

3. Remove the skin from the chicken, while pulling the meat off the bones. Tear into large bite size pieces, and add the chicken back to the pot with broth. If you cooked your meat in the skillet, go to step 4. If stewed your meat (boiled) go to step 6.

4. Make OR Don’t Make the Roux (this step can also be skipped, if you don’t want to bother with a roux, move to step 5)  To a large heavy pot on medium high heat, add 1/4 canola oil and 1/4 cup flour. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously until the mixture becomes a dark chocolate color. This will take about 15 minutes. If the mixture is too difficult to stir, add a little more oil until the mixture is more fluid. Continue to stir constantly.

5.) Once the roux is made, add the 13 cups of water to the pot on medium high heat. Stir until completely incorporated. Add, onions, celery (if using), bell pepper, bay leaves, salt, and cayenne.
6.)Bring the mixture to boil, and then lower to a simmer. Add cooked okra and chicken. Simmer in pot, partially covered for 15 minutes.

7.) Meanwhile, take out your skillet again 🙂 Place your sausage in the pan and cook on medium high heat until crispy on both sides, and some of the fat is rendered into the pan.

Remove meat from skillet, place on paper towel to remove excess oil, and throw sausage in the pot with the okra and chicken.  Test for seasoning. This is the point where you may want to add more salt. Do it slowly, but don’t be shy. It may need quite a lot more depending on your taste, how much you seasoned your okra, what type of meat you used, and whether or not you boiled your chicken.

8.) Add the shrimp to the simmering pot, and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Retest for seasoning. Remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes before skimming the fat that has risen to the surface.
Serve over rice.

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24 thoughts on “My Mama’s Okra Gumbo

  1. after you work on her 14 friends can you work on mine? I was going to say crop the one with the umbrella in the background to where all you can see of the background is the red and blue but then all the ones after that are so good… hm.. no clue. but your momma has good genes.

  2. You really are a home guru- or at least a recipe guru.  I am constantly here- stealing your recipes.  But it isn’t stealing- because you share them.  And i give you credit.  Always.

    As for the photo—- your mom is wonderful and lovely and you are the better picture taker.  There. I said it.  And I vote #4.  I love it. Period.

    1. Oh my love. A misconception many have. Not all gumbos are made with a roux.
      Gumbo Ya Ya is not. Okra sometimes is, sometimes isn’t. The thickness and
      flavor comes from frying the okra in the pan, mad powerfully good.

      1. My maw maw is from outside of Beaumont, and she always made a roux.  Although, my cousin’s backwoods husband made gumbo with ROUX in a JAR.  We almost disowned him, before we all remembered we’re too country for wills.

        Innnnnteresting.  Very very interesting.

        1. It’s probably a regional thing. I know some people even add tomatoes to
          their gumbo. My mother would shoot me dead if I tried 🙂 And don’t even let
          me consider corn . . . .*slices throat*

  3. Oops…I’m supposed to be working and I got completely sidetracked by your love for your mommy and how awesomely cool it is that you’re preserving this for your daughters.  They will be completely able to make their “grammy’s” Okra Gumbo and pass it along for centuries WITH PHOTOS of not only the recipe – but their beloved ancestor!  Well I guess I could stretch it and say i really AM working…since I’m a documentary filmmaker. Your comments make me LOL (do you think people will ever say the whole 3 words again?)  I’m giving you 10 Brownie points from my stash and voting for #7 although I also LUV her and her g-baby in #3. 

  4. Your mother is beautiful! So are you and your sister and daughters! They say a beautiful young woman will age into a beautiful older woman and your momma’s proof of that! Lucky you, you got great genes! 🙂 and that gumbo looks delishious too!. 

  5. Oh, your mom is lovely!  I can’t decide between #4 & #8 … both are great shots and her joy comes through the lens.

    You’re killing me with all these recipes … you know that, right?  Every time I visit your site I seriously drool!  This looks delicious!  I don’t know if I could recreate it into a vegetarian dish but … might have to give it a try.  It looks unbelievably good!  🙂

    1. Oh, I think u could. Use a vegan sausage, maybe add a little liquid smoke, more okra, definitely do the roux, and maybe add a hearty green like mustards, they are lovely in gumbo!

  6. OMG, it looks like I copied ‘Small Footprints’ but I didn’t. I was going to say exactly the same – either number 4 or number 8. They are really natural shots and your mother looks absolutely lovely.

    P.S. Can I come and live at your house? Your food looks to die for!

  7. I like #2, #4, #6, #7, and #8 the best.  Your momma is so beautiful!  Her wonderful light shines through just like yours does.  You both radiate beauty from within and have a gorgeous glow of health, happiness, and love.  Any picture she has on FB would be fine.  And of course, having beautiful Bella in some of the photos puts that double whammy of gorgeous in the pictures!  Now this rhymes-with-mister person could take a photo tip from you now and then, because every photo you take of food makes my tummy growl.  😉

  8. Oops!  It’s 1 o’clock in the morning.  I typed beautiful Bella, but I meant beautiful Soli with the unfairly long gorgeous lashes.  Shelbi and Pheobe are gorgeous too!  I would love to add them to all my pictures for some added beauty!  Maybe they could just stand in front of me and I can peek my head around them.  That would work.  😉

  9. Okay. I love your mom so much!!  She’s just so wonderful and kind and beautiful and patient, and loving.  I love all of the pics, but I think number 3 looks like a good profile pic.  I also think you should throw all of these pics up on her page!

  10. Although she looks great in all her pictures, I do like #7 the best. And, now we are probably going to have gumbo for dinner tomorrow cause it looks good but it’s too late to start cooking it now.

    Love you Tia

    Glad to get the good news about Johnny – will continue praying or him.

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