Whatcha Got Stew

Challah Bread
Challah Bread

I make beautiful braided challah bread every Friday. It takes all morning to make because it requires several risings, so I begin making it as soon as I wake up in the morning. It did not rise as well this morning as it usually does, but I have discovered that challah bread is almost impossible to mess up. When it doesn’t rise well, it is very delicious. When it rises as it is supposed to, it is beyond delicious.

While the bread was rising, EJ and I went to a nearby town to pick up a few groceries. EJ found some steak on sale, so we put that in the shopping cart along with the other things.

After we left the store, we stopped at the Farmer’s Market, which is set up every Friday in the hospital parking lot. We arrived as the vendors were setting up. Since we just started visiting this Farmer’s Market, we are not sure what time they are set up and ready business. We arrived just before 10:30 a.m., so maybe they are open at 10:30? or 11? We came for some eggs, which we can get at half the price we can get at the grocery store. We bought two dozen and then left for home. I had to braid the challah bread and get it rising again.

EJ insisted on cooking the steak, so I worked on the other parts of our meal: potatoes, peas, and cucumber slices. I put the cucumber slices in vinegar water with onion slices, something my Mom used to make when I was a kid, and which both EJ and I really like.

I love that EJ likes to cook. When I am sick or tired or get in a rut with cooking, it’s nice to have a husband who can cook. EJ says I am a good cook, but I see myself as merely adequate. EJ is actually a better cook than I am. I see food as necessary fuel to live. He sees it as an art form. I follow recipes, he invents them. If I were rich, I’d have a chef so I could do what I most love to do: study and learn, walk my dog, look at the stars, work in my garden. If he were rich, EJ would garden, invent things, and cook. He says he can totally relate to this scene from the movie Ratatouille. He says that is how he sees food:

One thing EJ really enjoys making is “Whatcha Got Stew.” He pulls all the leftovers out of the fridge–no matter what it is–and combines them in a stew. If I tried it, it would be an awful mess, but EJ has a sort of magical touch and his stews usually turn out to be surprisingly delicious. 

I will never forget EJ’s most delicious “Whatcha Got Stew.” I like to brag about it because I like to watch people’s funny reactions. When I describe what EJ put into it, people always say, “Oh, YUCK!” I, myself, thought it would be a horrid mess as EJ was making it. I cannot convince anyone to believe how really wonderful, terrific, unbelievably delicious it really was. Are you curious about it yet?

01_ratatouille_blurayThat day, EJ put leftover spaghetti and leftover stir-fry in a pot. He added a piece of strawberry shortcake. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE???? You’ve got to be kidding! As he pulled leftovers out of the fridge, I started getting silly. I said, “Here’s a half a Burger King Whopper. Are you going to use that?” Into the pot went the Whopper. “How about this piece of mincemeat pie….” That went in too. Yuck! But using his incredible cooking magic, EJ made the most wonderful stew I have ever eaten. Go back and watch the Ratatouille video above. THAT is how that “Whatcha Got Stew” tasted. Hmmmm.

Because of that stew, I will always try anything EJ makes, no matter how weird the ingredients. Always.

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