Brunswick Stew

Original Brunswick Stew potThe best Brunswick Stew I ever had was cooked out over an open fire at a Mennonite fair in Virginia. It tasted smoky and the meat had fallen apart until everything was thick and totally yummy. I got the original version of this recipe from a WW cookbook almost 20 years ago. It no longer bears much resemblance to the original – I added the smoke and started using the blender to replicate that Mennonite stew of long ago. More vegetables helps it stretch.

Feel free to tinker with it yourself or use fresh instead of frozen, though you may need to add a little bit more liquid if you do that. I’m lazy and the frozen ones are faster. This isn’t really spicy, but it’s thick and one of the staples of my winter menus.

Crockpot Brunswick Stew

Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
Yield: 6 servings @ 5 points/serving

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, Cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes [use 1 with chilis for a little extra zing]
1 can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons liquid Smoke flavoring
1/2 Cup White cooking wine
1 tablespoon Better than Boullion Chicken Base
1-1/2 C. frozen corn kernels
1-1/2 C. frozen green beans
1-1/2 C. frozen lima beans
1-1/2 C. frozen sliced carrots (optional)
Red pepper flakes to taste
3 bay leaves

Spray crockpot with cooking spray.

In the crockpot, combine onion, chicken, Worcestershire Sauce and Liquid Smoke until chicken is thoroughly coated. Add other ingredients, mix gently, and cover. Cook at low heat for 10 hours.

Using a measuring cup, remove some liquid and chunks to a blender. Pulse on “puree” setting until color changes and contents purees. Return to pot and stir. Repeat until the stew is thick with chunks of chicken and vegetables. Base should NOT be clear liquid.

Serve in bowls. Freezes well.

Note: this is also really good made with lean boneless pork chops instead of chicken. I thawed the wrong thing once and made it anyway, and it was great. I’ve often made it with 1/2 chicken and 1/2 pork.

Flying When Obese

AirplaneIt started innocently enough: an article at MSNBC.com about airline travel over the holidays. Not that I’m planning to fly anytime soon, mind you, but it was interesting to read about airlines hiring more people to improve the customer service to help alleviate the stress after months of not-on-time departures and overcrowded flights. So far so good.

There were a bunch of links to other articles about airlines and I read them all. Then I followed another link to view all articles and spotted one with the catchy title, Size Matters: Olive Oyl, Where Are You? which naturally I had to read. I was hoping there would be some tips on how to make the process less stressful, since much as I like to travel, I hate squishing myself into a seat that’s as wide as a computer keyboard when my body certainly is larger.

From there I followed another link to a message/discussion board responding to the article. Big, big mistake. There are 57 pages of comments and by page 3 I was in tears. The vitriolic words from so many anonymous writers cut deep but I found myself continuing to read, hoping for some kind of voice of empathy or additional ideas. Finally by page 6 I made myself get out before I couldn’t see from the pain.

I know that obese people are generally despised on planes. All it takes is one look at the people in a waiting area who are checking me out. You can see that they are hoping I’m not going to be near them, spilling over into their real estate and hogging their space. I hate it. I always try to sit on an aisle or on the single-seat side of a small plane, so I have somewhere to lean out of their way. It’s still very close.

I need to get a seatbelt extension, which is humiliating, although the flight attendants are pretty discrete about giving it to me after I ask. The days of hoping for an empty seat next to me are a thing of the past now that all the planes are little and packed on every flight – and there really aren’t that many “off peak flights” anymore. I’ve thought about even getting a first class ticket but the little planes don’t HAVE anything except sardine class. Maybe I need to consider buying two tickets, though I’m too miserly to think that’s a good plan.

Reading the message board, even just a little bit of it, makes me not want to fly anywhere. I don’t want to be despised for trying to just do what everyone else is doing – travel from one place to another. I wish Chicago was close enough to reach by car or more easily by train. I would feel less of a weirdo.