Table Talk: Eternity Stew
Let me show you how Eternity Stew saved us during the freak winter storm here in Texas. The Crock Pot was my best friend!
Texas is known for many things – great people, amazing food, beautiful sunsets – but NOT for our winters. Winter is a time for stews and comfort foods. Our winters tend to be mild. On occasion we will get a dusting of snow that will more than likely melt before it hits the ground but is beautiful while its happening. This year, however, we got a surprise. First in January, we got a snow that stayed on the ground overnight! That got us all oooh’ing and awwww’ing. But then February happened!
It started with a hard freeze. No biggie. We have bottled water and the pipes will thaw… Then we get drizzle and sleet. We got this! We cheered each other on. We’re Texans. But then the weather man said something odd. He said, be prepared for blizzard-like conditions. I laughed it off, to be honest. That just didn’t happen here.
But it did! And a day earlier than expected. Now you must remember that at this point, we are in about day 4 of the hard freeze with a combination of the sleet and rain. This combination insured that there was no thawing of the pipes in sight. No one around me had flowing water and we were buying up every disposable eating vessel the stores still had on their shelves. Thing is, I ran out of clean pans by then. I was in a panic.
Stewing on Things
Luckily for my guys here, I had pulled out my crockpot and had started a chicken soup that morning. It smelled delicious but I knew the rest of the week wasnt going to be any better out there. Roads were impassable, trees were falling everywhere and powerlines were going down. I had to think ahead.
I remembered my grandmother telling me that sometimes she would keep supper cooking for days (the old Peas Porridge Hot scenario) even if she had to put it on a fire outside. She was very resourceful. I hadn’t tried it before but we were struggling to get warm, much less stay warm. I wasn’t going to let going hungry add to it.
This is how the idea blossomed until that horrid week was over and the weather returned to its own unpredictable Texas style.
I put 4 boneless chicken breasts in the lined crockpot and filled it 3/4 of the way with chicken stock. With the crockpot set on low, I cooked the chicken for 4 hours then added frozen vegetables, a chopped bell pepper and large onion, and a can of mushrooms. After it cooked another 2 hours, I removed the chicken. I cut the breasts up into chunks and put them back in the pot. I added salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, parsley and a dash of cayenne.
When everyone was done eating for the night and bundled back up, I put the crockpot on warm and left the Eternity Stew overnight. I did this for each of the following nights as well.
Tip: Do not add pasta into the mix until the last day. The noodles will keep cooking and break apart until they are mush.
The next morning I added stew meat, a bag of baby carrots, a bottle of water, mesquite seasoning and a can of Rotel tomatoes. I set it on low and slow. At this point the crockpot was running off the generator and I was determined not to lose the precious foods inside my fridge and freezer if I could help it.
We went through the freezer and found a pork loin I had cooked for a future meal of pulled pork. Wasn’t sure how long the freezer would keep things without power so in the crock pot it went! With it was added more onion, a bottle of water, a few cut up potatoes, squash and baby spinach.
I set the crockpot on low. Since the pork was precooked, supper was early that night. It just needed to heat through and cook the potatoes. I shredded the pork in the pot and re-seasoned it as needed. This crazy Eternity Stew idea was actually working!
On the fourth day, I didn’t add more meat, but I did add frozen mixed vegetables, bottled water and penne pasta about halfway through the day. It only takes 2 hours on high to cook pasta in the crockpot.
Idea I should have tried for a day 5: Add 1/2 cup of half-and-half or cream. Using a hand blender (I still use my trusty Bamix), blend all the ingredients remaining into a delicious cream soup!
The day after the “blizzard” started (really! I thought the weatherman was joking!), our power went out so for 40 hours the crockpot had to run on a generator. Scary for us. I know that up north people are used to this sort of thing but we just weren’t equipped. If it wasn’t for Eternity Stew, with the combination of the sub-freezing and, at times, sub-zero temps, my family would have had to “bug-out”. I am so happy and grateful we were able to stay home.