Sep 13, 2013 by Alagasco

Empowerment Week – Birmingham, Alabama

50 Years ForwardTo commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement, September 11-15 has been designated as Empowerment Week in Birmingham.

Energen/Alagasco is honored to be a sponsor of this historical week, which includes community events, entertainment, service activities and educational and historical panel discussions.

On Saturday, September 14, an international diversity street fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This free event will start at Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. (8th Avenue North) and continue through the garden walk between the Boutwell Auditorium and the Birmingham Museum of Art, onto 9th Avenue and into the South Meeting Hall of the BJCC.

The fair will have food, music, entertainment, a kids’ zone and a petting zoo. In addition, Birmingham’s traveling civil rights exhibit will be open.

For a full schedule of Empowerment Week events, click here.

As a special sneak peek, Good Heat Chef, Chris Vizzina, shared a preview of what he will be preparing during the diversity fair. “As a member of First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign designed to educate kids about food and healthy eating, I chose a vegetable gumbo and corn muffins recipe to demonstrate at Birmingham’s Diversity Fair. This delicious dish is full of healthy vegetables, rice, just the right amount of spices, and it is economical to prepare.  Top a bowl of gumbo with a corn muffin and know your kids will enjoy a nutritious meal that is not only appetizing, but satisfying, too,” says Vizzina.

Vegetable Gumbo
Serves 4  (¾ cup gumbo and ½ cup rice per serving)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium rib of celery, thinly sliced
1 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup frozen sliced okra
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium seafood seasoning blend
2 medium dried bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1½ cups water
¼ teaspoon salt
6 to 8 drops red-hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 cup uncooked instant brown rice

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the flour for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, or until it begins to turn light golden, stirring constantly. Transfer to a small plate.

In the same saucepan, heat the oil, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion, bell pepper and celery for 3 minutes or until the onion is soft and the other vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the tomatoes with liquid, okra, seasoning blend, bay leaves and thyme. Stir in the flour until well blended. Stir in the water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes, or until the okra is very tender and the mixture has thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the salt and hot-pepper sauce. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes for the flavors to blend. Discard the bay leaves.

Meanwhile, prepare the rice using the package directions, omitting the salt and margarine.

Spoon the rice into bowls. Ladle the gumbo over the rice.


Sweet Cornbread Mini Muffins
Serves 12 (2 mini muffins per serving)

Cooking sprayCornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
4 large egg whites
¼ cup canola or corn oil

Preheat the oven to 425oF. Lightly spray two 12-cup mini-muffin pans with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg whites and oil. Pour into the well in the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Do not overmix. Spoon into the muffin cups.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the muffins are just golden. Remove from the pan. Serve warm or let cool completely on a cooling rack before serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days or freeze in an airtight freezer bag for up to two months.


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