Today, in my neck of the woods, it was 73 degrees. Tomorrow, the high will be in the 30s. It just about kills me. I know some people love the cold and snow; I'm not one of them. Oh, I do like to see it snowing, but that's about it. Give me the snowy mountains or beach side in Barbados and I'll choose the beach every time. So, I'll just have to be content thinking about summer - gardening, warmth and the like.
This is my bay laurel tree. I've tended it since it was a 6" slip. It is now over 8' tall and still growing. I repotted it this past summer into the largest pot I could find and it seems to be happy. It is now residing in my barn until late April or the first of May.
I have a recipe for Gumbo that a friend from New Orleans gave me years ago that uses bay leaves. It is very very good and freezes well.
Make a roux with bacon grease and flour. Add 2 lbs. of sliced okra. Cook down about 20 minutes. Add 2 cups of chopped onions and also a bunch of green onions chopped. Next, add 1 cup of fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper and 1 TB. of minced garlic. Cook about 10 minutes more. Next, add 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes. Add 1 lb. of smoked sausage and mix thoroughly. Now, add 2 quarts of cold water and 1 cooked chicken that has been pulled from the bones and the following seasonings: 3 whole bay leaves, 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, 5 tsp. salt, 1 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. cayenne, 4 tsp. lemon juice, 10 whole allspice, 1 tsp. mace and 8 whole cloves. Raise heat slightly and bring mixture to a boil., then lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stir from time to time and scrape across the bottom of pan to prevent scorching. While still simmering, add 1/2 quart of water and stir. Remove pot from heat and let stand a few minutes before serving.
This recipe will turn out perfectly delicious. I must add here that I rarely measure anything, meaning, don't be afraid to put your own spin on this dish. Oh yes, and you can add shrimp toward the very end of cooking; crab too. I serve it in a bowl over jasmine or brown rice. I guarantee you are going to love this soup.