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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

One down

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the my father's death. I can't believe it's already been a full year. They say the "firsts" are the hardest, and from what I can tell they're right. Some days the pain is almost as sharp as when I first heard the news. So much has happened in just this one year that he missed. The Bad: two accidents, illness, surgery, a pile of stress. The Good: an engagement, a national award, a promotion, an eventual clean bill of health. I know that he is with me in a way, but I miss him so much, and my annus mirabilis/horribilis only served to underline how much I thrived on both his praise and support. But overall, I feel like I'm handling things pretty well now. Especially with the god-forsaken holidays behind me.

Not being sure just how to commemorate such a terrible event, I went into work and kept myself busy. What could possibly be gained from sitting at home? I couldn't think of any memorial gesture he would enjoy - he just hated all that stuff and thought that it was sappy. Instead, I decided to do something he wouldn't mind. I made one of his recipes, a stew that he would often make as his form of comfort food for us.

My dad was not a cook by any stretch of the imagination. His main meal ideas involved telling me or my mom what to cook. Or what to pick up. But he did make two things. The first was eggs and potatoes. The second was his storied "poor man's stew." Poor man's stew became a legend, mostly because my dad was prone to exaggerating its origin and tying it in to the Great Depression and the ingenuity of the American Spirit or something. We always knew the details were completely fake, but we appreciated the creativity applied to the dish's genesis story. So straight from Herm's stockpile of homemade recipes featuring convenience foods, I give you the recipe.

Herm's Poor Man's Stew
  • two cans Campbell's Chunky Vegetable Beef Soup
  • one can Campbell's Chunky Vegetable Soup
  • one cup of water
  • half a box of elbow macaroni (approximately half a pound)
  • one package of Ball Park Franks
Set eight hot dogs into a medium pot of water on high heat. Pour all three soup cans into a large pot and set the heat on high. Fill up one of the empty cans 3/4 full of water and add that to the soup. Pour in the elbow macaroni. Add salt and ground pepper to taste. When boiling, turn down the heat to medium and remember to stir every few minutes so it doesn't fuse with the bottom of the pot.

At about the time your soup gets into boil mode, you'll notice that your hot dogs are starting to cook. Boil them until they are on the brink of implosion. Take them out one by one, chop them into small pieces, and drop them into the stew pot. Be sure to share some of the hot dog bits with any children, pets, or adults who may be hovering nearby. Keep that motley stew simmering until the pasta is cooked and you are happy with the consistency. Pour into bowls and enjoy the wrongness.

Enjoy this with the ones you love enough to pretend to cook for. Cheers, Dad.

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  • A sweet tribute to your dad. I think you commemorated just right.

    And I'm all for a recipe that involves cooking anything to the "brink of implosion." Enjoy the wrongness? Oh yeah.

    By Blogger Cyn, at 4:47 PM  

  • I will attest to the tastiness of Herm's Poor Man Stew as I had the leftovers the next two days - in honor of Herm of course.

    By Anonymous spencer, at 10:29 AM  

  • When I read this recipe it made me laugh, because it was not at all what I expected to read, and also because it's so purely a "dad" thing. I could see my own dad coming up with something like this.

    By Blogger Grace, at 6:46 AM  

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