Something to Stew About

Yesterday the middle Blandings boy claimed, “My stomach hurts.”  He’s lean and fair with a face full of freckles so when he’s sick you can usually see it in the shadows under his eyes.  He seemed less bouncy than normal, but not a hint of that “look.”  “Are you sure?  Are you really sick?  I have a very busy day.”  Yes.  He was sure.  And dizzy.
Called the school, shifted some plans, settled in to a day at home.  “Can I watch TV?”  This is not the deal.  When you stay home sick at the Dream House and your symptoms are questionable there’s no electronics.  Still, it’s impossible to read if your stomach is upset.  “I suppose.”
On the agenda was red beans and rice for dinner.  No reason to modify the plan as I was now going to be home all day to simmer and stir.  My childhood was full of this kind of food.  The kind of food honest but poor folks ate in Oklahoma during the Depression.  (Mostly honest.  There is some speculation that my grandfather was a bootlegger, but no one knows for sure.)  But this recipe called for four pounds of meat.  This was more Blandings’ red beans and rice than my family’s.
I’m pretty sure my grandmother’s recipe called for a ham hock and nothing else.  When I took Mr. Blandings to my dad and stepmother’s for the first time my stepmother made my favorite dish.  As Mr. Blandings stood in the kitchen with a portion of rice and a portion of beans on his plate he turned and whispered to me, “Where’s the meat?”  “Darling, that’s dinner.  Mix it up.  Here’s the Tabasco.”

He blends well wherever he goes.  When he learned cornbread was part of the deal he was completely on board.  Anyway, the next thing I know I hear giggling from the sofa.  Pink Panther.  “You’re not sick.”  “Oh.  I thought I was.  I didn’t want to yack at school.”  “Sweetie, can you think of another way to say that?”  “Barf?”  Not what I was thinking.

I had to run out so Mr. Blandings came home for lunch.  “The beans just need to simmer.  I’ll be right back.”  When I got home he said, “I added beef stock.”  “Why?”  “It needed a little something.”  As a man who largely cooks without a recipe he mostly tastes and tweaks.  “The andouille, cayenne and Tabasco go in last.”  “Oh.  That should help.”  Sometimes he needs to keep his silver spoon to himself.  
The images, above, are Harry Hinson’s East Hampton cottage from Architectural Digest, March, 1978.  It is the perfect “stew” I think.  An excellent mix of classic chairs and case goods stirred up with updated fabrics and accessories that blend perfectly to create a soothing spot.  A timeless interior dated only by the flowers.  Jennifer Dwyer did a great post recently on “Spatter,” the pattern used in the dining area.  You can view it by clicking here.
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18 thoughts on “Something to Stew About

  1. his decorating really is timeless. and speaking of a perfect stew – your writing. i swear you should write a book – you’d be a modern day erma bombeck.

  2. I used to get “earaches” – impossible to detect without an otoscope. hehe

    my daughter gets “cramps” – even mid cycle ones! And migraines too!

    darling post, as usual.


  3. Oh, Mrs. B. – what memories. A Yankee transplanted to Texas in the 8th grade had the same shock Mr. B. did. When I was first handed red beans & rice, I was not happy. It's now quite a regular on our menu. Corn bread helps…

  4. Brought back memories of my son often spending time in the nurses office in grade school.Loved the attention. They even had a photo in the Westwood View yearbook of him laying on the little cot. Too cute.

  5. I would actually stick my finger down my throat to make myself throw up so I wouldn’t have to go to school. I remember it well! Anyway, it always seem to work. Ha!

    Hope the little fellow is back to normal today!

    Loved the pics of the lovely rooms, Mrs. B! So comfy and real!

    You are too funny, Mrs. B!

  6. Didn’t we all feign a little sickness from time to time! Glad he’s not sick. The red beans and rice sounds delish. And speaking of delish, Hinson’s home is one of my all-time faves.

  7. Aren’t you the sly one knowing how to cook such good red beans and rice (the national dish of New Orleans ha ha).
    xo xo

  8. Yesterday I was just thinking of making red beans and rice, since it’s such a great cold weather dish. I’d love to have your recipe, too.

    I was on 63rd between Wornall and Ward Parkway yesterday. Someone has little soldiers similar to yours by their door. I came to a dead stop about 2 houses past (fortunately no cars following me, although I didn’t check until I’d stopped) and backed up to see them. I’m getting the urge to try the skill saw…

  9. Thank you for sharing that funny story… It made me feel like I really need to step back and appreciate the little things in life… traditional homecooking and kids deluding sickness. I have two chickees at home too =)

  10. After 15 years here in Dallas — I still can’t “do” red-beans-and-rice! LOL! And still have trouble eating spicy food. Sigh. Growing up with a Scots mum — we would have homemade Scotch broth made with lamb, vegetables and pearl barley — with good Scotch “loaf” (a tall white bread) or “baps” (soft dinner-type rolls covered with flour) This kind of meal would cure many “ailments” Especially any tummy troubles!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  11. What gorgeous classic interiors! Can't believe they were done in 1978!
    LOVE red beans & rice!
    Glad the wee one is okay.

  12. Sara – I’ll scan it and post the link tomorrow – so sorry, this week has been unreal. But the recipe is worth trying!

  13. Ah, those days. Here at my own humble casa, we have the same "screen" rules…there's always a grey area though, and eventually, it will be found, and on the spot calls must be made.

    I grew up with red beans & rice / humble fare, too; my poor mother, who searched up such recipes, and now sees folks on tv being praised for their "discoveries"…fortunately, my dad was always praising her cleverness and ability.

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