Saturday, November 01, 2008

It's a Brunswick Stew day ...

Whenever company is in town ... whenever it's autumn with cool days and nights ... whenever there is a crowd ... I often make Brunswick Stew. Unfortunately, it's not cooked over an open outdoor fire like my grandparents made it. They had the huge seasoned cast iron kettle that hung over the fire, and had a wooden ladel about six feet long that was used to stir to prevent it from scorching.

Mine is made on the stovetop in a large kettle and, often, I will transfer it to a crockpot or two where it stays warm throughout the day and night so anyone can help themselves whenever they want a cup of stew. On cold nights there is nothing better.

My recipe comes from the Virginia Hospitality cookbook put out in 1975 by the Junior League of Hampton Roads. My mom gave it to me. Inside the front cover is written in her hand, "To Lynn from Mom with love ... Christmas 1978."

Inside, the Junior Leaguers had written, "Hospitality in eighteenth century Virginia gained the state her reputation as 'the land of hospitality.' The colonists in the English custom displayed pineapples as a sign of welcome on doorways, gateposts and gardenwalls. Fresh pineapples were used as the center of table arrangements and as a main feature of Christmas decorations. The tradition of warm hospitality is cherished and continued by today's Virginia hostesses."

You've heard of the Velveteen Rabbit? You know ... that children's classic about the stuffed bunny that was so loved by its owner that it was worn and tattered and, thus, became synonymous with a well-loved item. This is my "Velveteen Cookbook." It is dog-eared, worn, stained where I dripped water or spices on it over the years ... recipes are marked and checked with notes written in the margins.

The Brunswick Stew recipe is on page 50. I have made changes to it over the years but that is the basic recipe ... and it is gooooood. I've served it for years and never had a complaint.

So with out-of-town company here for the weekend, today is a Brunswick Stew day. After dancing with the mountains and touring the area, it will be waiting, hot and delicious, in the crockpot this evening.

Gotta love that Virginia hospitality....

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