Monday, March 5, 2012

Dad's "Mystery" Barbecue Chili Stew Stuff

I see so many of the blogs by my favorite cozy authors have recipes and food articles as well as writing tips and book reviews. In fact some have devoted entire blogs to the food side of the cozy equation. Dana Stabenow's Feast for One and the Mystery Lover's Kitchen are my top two choices.

Maybe it's time to add a food article here... I published several of my "Food Memories" on, but my favorite culinary "Mystery" will always be Dad's "mystery" Barbecue Chili Stew Stuff!

Dad's "Mystery" Barbecue Chili Stew Stuff

Or Defrosted Delight

A brewing pot of leftovers which ended up looking like chili or stew or something like soup.I grew up in a small 3 bedroom ranch style home in North Charleston, SC. Dad was retired Navy and Mom got her cooking expertise from her mother whom we lovingly called Nana. I left home in '79 to see the world Air Force style so a large portion of my "food memories" are from the 60's and 70's growing up and eating at the kitchen table. We had the typical gas range, side by side fridge, and the obligatory deep freeze in the utility room outside under the carport.

My folks froze everything! That old freezer was filled with Tupperware and white freezer paper wrapped mysteries and morsels. Masking tape labels were applied, if we were lucky, with the contents and date frozen listed, but I think most of it was retrieved by Dad's memory.

My favorite times were when he had to cook the deer venison that was going to expire...... Grabbing this from the freezer along with some cubed stew beef or whatever other beef cut was about to expire, he would throw it all in the big stainless stock pot and start boiling. Most folks when they cook use timers or keep an eye on the clock but I swear Dad's timer was a can of beer!

After a beer or two he would add something to the pot, kidney beans, navy beans, whatever beans. Then the sauce--usually tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, hot sauce (Tabasco ™ or other HOT sauce he had handy), and a splash from the next can of beer.

After another beer or two, in would go onions and green peppers and the cherry tomatoes from his vegetable garden in the back yard.

He would taste it constantly. Adding a dash of pepper here and some salt there, garlic, oregano or Italian seasoning if he thought it would help the taste at that moment.

Finally, after simmering this concoction for 4-5 hours, he would declare it finished! Out would come the bowls and bread and crackers as we were each told to have some, it was dinner! And so we would..... Dad would be at his end of the melamine and stainless steel kitchen table, Mom would be at hers, my sister and I would be on the one side opposite the kitchen wall occupying the fourth side.

How was it? Well, what I described was the meat-based "Mystery" Barbecue Chili Stew Stuff version.  It usually turned out pretty good!  He also had a seafood version as well.

Once in a while he would perform the same "magic" with the catfish and crappie he had caught and frozen along with shrimp or blue crab from my Uncle's boating excursions. This was a seafood version that Mom liked better, but I got turned off by the fish bones or crab shell he would miss. He wouldn't change any of the other ingredients so it was still a brown tomato based "gumbo" or stew.

Oh, by the way, he would always make too much. So, out would come the Tupperware and masking tape, now washed and ready for reuse! To the fridge for a couple of days as "leftovers" and then the migration to the deep freeze!