It’s the “Best Of” time of the year. While TV and newspapers are bombarding us with the Best of 2013 lists, I’m stepping back in time and writing about the Best Southern Living 1981 Annual Recipes. This particular volume features gumbo recipes and leads with the Combo Gumbo recipe from my friend Julie DeMarko, a marvelous Pensacola cook and poet.
When I featured a photo of Julie in an October 27 blog entry she surprised me with a hardback copy of the book and the fact that her recipe won third place in a Pensacola gumbo cookoff in 1981. (I can’t imagine anyone who could beat her cooking so I must have misunderstood!) After the contest, Southern Living called and asked to reprint her winning recipe. For years she stocked up on the books at garage and estate sales to give to friends.
I’m delighted to be a recipient of this edition. It includes seven prize-winning gumbo recipes – hers is on page 198 if you happen to have a copy in your cookbook collection. The recipe has some surprising ingredients including molasses. It’s definitely combo gumbo: it includes crab, chicken, shrimp and ham. This volume also includes recipes for chicken and oyster gumbo, chicken gumbo with smoked sausage, dove and sausage gumbo, ham and seafood gumbo, shrimp gumbo, and crab and shrimp gumbo.
It’s interesting to note that in all the hustle and bustle of e-books and online recipe sites that Southern Living still publishes their annual recipe collection in print. The Best of 2013 is already out. But I don’t need it. A good gumbo recipe is timeless.