A video and print story for The Sacramento Bee: https://www.sacbee.com/food-drink/article226814554.html

Sandy Holman sprinkled a dash of cayenne pepper into her simmering pot of gumbo, a traditional Creole stew usually containing a combination of meats, seafood, starches and vegetables. She stirred the contents of the pot as huge king crab legs and thick smoked sausages surfaced at the top of the broth.

“Everyone, make yourself at home! Dinner’s almost ready,” Holman said.

In November, as she hosted a gumbo party in her Davis home, Holman peered at the crowd of guests forming in the living room, which was adorned with lit candles and winter-themed decor. She waved at her visitors as they trickled through her front door, some old friends, some new faces, all of them ready to eat. A young girl in a bright yellow dress frolicked through the kitchen, inhaling the aroma of sautéed garlic and onion. Holman winked at the girl as she ran by, chuckling and pointing toward her kitchen counter, which was laden with herbs and chopped vegetables.

“There’s about five or six other things Mom put in there that are secrets,” Holman said, grinning. Her smile was accented with bright purple lipstick, and every time she reached for more cayenne pepper, her assortment of beaded necklaces jangled like wind chimes around her neck.