Meet the Sullivans: Lenten Promise 2014 + a Gumbo Recipe

March 5, 2014

Lenten Promise 2014 + a Gumbo Recipe

It always sneaks up on me, Lent. This year should have been different since it's a little later. For the last couple of years it had started before the end of February, which I remember because my sister can never eat cake on her birthday because she almost always gives up sweets. In years past I've gone along with my husband's sacrifice of giving up desserts, which is very hard, but I'm kind of tired of that. Not tired of giving it up (although you know I looove dessert), but it became too easy. I've been skipping it most nights recently anyway, so it feels like a cop out for me to give that up for Lent. This year I wanted to challenge myself more. I don't want to just go through the motions of what it means to be a good Catholic, but I want to actually revel in my choice and sacrifice.

No dialing in Lent this year.

I've decided to forgo buying things for myself. Can I do it? I'm sure it won't be easy. It's something my dad always gave up, in addition to trying to give up cigarettes and alcohol (that never worked for him), and in a way it will also be a homage to my very Catholic late father. And my friend Natasha gave me the final push I needed this morning when I read she was doing it too. It feels better to know you're not alone in it.

So back to the no spending on myself. I think I probably spend more on myself than I think. No lattes out, no new clothes / shoes / etc., no pedicures, no bottles of wine picked up during a grocery run, no new books, no snatching up that great deal today on Zulily. I think I'll learn to be better about controlling my impulses. I'll have to be happy with what we already have. I'll learn to be thrifty, which I've never been. Target runs will be hard, turning down lunch dates and all the other fun things that will inevitably come up will be hard too.

As soon as I finalized and committed to my decision this morning I began making "exceptions" in my head. I remembered that I have a hair appointment in a couple weeks (going to cancel it), that I can't think of a single thing that I already have that I can wear for Easter (I'll have to make it work, or gasp!! wear what I wore last year) and what about my beloved pedicures (not until Easter)? There will be no preemptive exceptions made. I'm sure I won't be perfect at this, but I am going to stick to it. There will be moments of weakness, and in those moments my Promise and sacrifices will be tested. I keep reminding myself that there will be nothing that I can't live without, and life will go on, and that by the end of Lent I won't still be thinking of that missed latte or the Girls Night I had to turn down. 

In other Lent and Mardi Gras news... 

I made Paula Dean's Gumbo last night and it was divine! One of the best things I've made in a while. I think I cook a lot of good food, but this really knocked it out of the park!

Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp GUMBO

3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons margarine
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
4 cups hot water
5 beef bouillon cubes
1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
2 cups frozen sliced okra
4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of margarine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.

2. Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons margarine. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley.

Owen wouldn't even try it, but he is totally missing out! I'm drooling just thinking about my leftovers for lunch today!


hello erin said...

i LOVE this idea. 40 days you can so totally DO IT!! it's going to be hard. . . but i have complete and total faith in you!

Courtney said...

I think what you are doing is going to be a recipe for success. Sitting down and predicting those moments where you might be tempted to give in and thinking about what you would normally do and changing how you will do it this year instead. You can so do it. I'm really proud of you!

Camille said...

Ugh I feel your pain. I'm giving up cheese and I'm already hating myself for it. I did it last year too and promised myself never again. Except, that's why it was necessary to do it again... because it is so hard to do. Good luck!
Also, this gumbo recipe looks amazing. I definitely want to try it. Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth [Chasin' Mason] said...

You don't even really think of how much you spend until you write it down like this. No coffees, no bottles of wine at the store (its for the husband?? look at me, bad influence!), no books, no nothing. I didn't even think of half the stuff until you wrote it down and then was like "oh yeah...". I have total faith in you though! I know you can do it!

Jess Norden said...

I love that you ladies are doing this!! I was going to give up Facebook or something silly, but I think I am going to join you. I think it's more important to focus on what you have and say no to things that not everyone can enjoy. I am also getting rid of stuff - donating, trashing or selling things I don't use that are just taking up space! I can't wait to hear about your results!

Sarah @ The Not Quite Military Wife said...

We had Gumbo for mardi gras but it didn't have shrimp in it. Now I'm worried I missed out!