The Potato of Willendorf (and also a stew recipe)

I know I said I was going to blog about our incontinent clothes washer today, and I had fully intended to whine about how expensive it was and/or rhapsodize over our stupidity when it turned out to be a loose rubber stopper or something.

But it has become clear after the passing of the fourth hour of the window I was given with neither call nor knock, that the repairperson just isn’t that into me.  So I’m not going to waste any more space on the topic.

Except to say that since I was stuck in the house anyway, I decided to make my favorite stew.  And since I was stuck for a blog post, I’m gonna share.

First, turn to page 142 in the book to the right.  Can you tell that this is one of my favorite cookbooks ever?*

I bought this one when I was pregnant with Janie and was browsing the cookbook section with the vague idea that homemade, organic baby food was The One True Way.  Then I spotted this book called One Bite Won’t Kill You and remembered that I married into a family of the most stubborn picky eaters imaginable—and that one of the main reasons I was willing to give breastfeeding a try was that I didn’t have to do anything except eat more.*

You can probably guess the rest.

The recipe is a snap:  toss two pounds of stew meat, six sliced carrots (or a bag of the baby ones), one or two chopped onions, and a large diced potato into a dutch oven or heavy-duty, oven-safe, lidded casserole.  Or in my case, a crockpot, as my MIL is baking ginger-raisin cookies today and we do not interfere with Grandma’s Cookie Baking, or she might decide to stop.

Sprinkle in about a teaspoon of salt and half that of pepper (or suit yourself), a little oregano, a little bay leaf—you know, whatever samples  Penzeys sent you in that last shipment.***

Add a  10 or 11 ounce can of condensed tomato soup—I usually use Tomato Bisque, since that’s what the recipe actually calls for, but I’ve also used Cream of Tomato or whatever was on hand—and half a can of water.  If you’re really skilled—or really bored—sometimes you can coax the soup to come out in one cylinder.

No, please hold your applause, there’s more.

Mix it all up and give it a squirt or two of Worcestershire sauce, if you like it—this isn’t  in the recipe, and if you don’t have it on hand, it isn’t worth making a special trip to get it.  Seal up the pot with a layer or two of foil and put the lid on it.

Bake it at 275F for five hours or on the low setting on the crockpot for about six.  The house will start smelling like Pure Savory Goodness in about three.  You can check about halfway through to make sure there’s enough liquid in there, but I’ve never had a problem.

So what’s this about a will-something-dork potato?

Well . . . when I was rummaging through the potato bag looking for a few small taters to make up the large one we didn’t have, I found one with an odd shape, as you do.  This one had legs.   Not only legs, I discovered, but a rather distinctive, if not fetching, curvature on one side:

Potato got back.

So, in the tradition of Charlotte’s Web, if spiders were given to admiring pig derrieres—and it’s really not my place to say—I spared the potato’s life and plan to show it to the kids before tossing it back in the bag and letting it take its chances.

Hey, I have photos.  Way, way too many photos.

As for the Willendorf thing . . .

. . . I’ll let you all decide.  I have to check the stew—and I think I hear my doorbell!


*I know I’ve used this for other books, but it holds true here as well:  if I’m ever forced to send this book to the rubbish heap, it will, through the Velveteen Rabbitesque magic of being loved to shabby bits, become a Real Cook.

**Yeah, there was a bit more to it than that,  but only because I work outside our home in a place without on-site child care.  Since I didn’t have proximity, I had a pump instead.

***If you cook at all, or know someone who does, and you don’t already get the Penzeys catalog, order one now.  They are the Victoria’s Secret catalogs of the cooking world.


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