The Mediation Center Staff spoke to Lydia Hinton, a long-time community member, about her experiences with food in Crown Heights and her family's favorite recipe: Creole Gumbo. Lydia's family comes from North Carolina and St. Kitts in the British West Indies. Much of the food from those areas is similar, she explained, but cooked or seasoned differently. Taking food from different locations, like New Orleans, Lydia's family members friendly compete and try to out-cook each other, adding different flavors and spices to make their own food distinctive. She makes her Creole Gumbo only a few times a year, as it serves quite a crowd. Lydia also stressed that you can substitute many of the ingredients based on your tastes and requirements. Those who don't eat shellfish can use any thick white fleshed fish instead, such as halibut, flounder, or carp. If making such substitutions, you don't need to cook the gumbo as long. Cooks can also use different types of rice (brown, basmati, etc.) based on their tastes. Here's her recipe, enjoy!
Serves a large crowd
2-3 dozen female crabs, remove shell and split
3 pounds of extra large shrimp, split (you can also use a pound and a half of prawns)
5 pounds of lobster tails
3-4 smoked turkey sausages, cut into cubes
10-12 chicken thighs, cut up and deboned
3 stalks celery
1 medium bok choy, whole bunch
5 carrots, cut up
2-3 medium green onion, sliced or diced
2 pounds of okra, chop ends off and cube
2 large cans stewed tomatoes, chopped
10 stalks of fresh corn or 5 cans
1 tablespoon of celery seed
4-6 chicken bullion cubes
1. Mix the vegetables with celery seed and bullion cubes in a large pot
2. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add 4 quarts of water. Cook over a medium heat until carrots are slightly tender, about 45 minutes.
3. Add the meat and cook another 15 minutes.
4. Add the seafood to the stock and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
6. Check to make sure meat is all cooked through. Season to taste and serve over rice with your hot sauce of choice.