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Brunswick Stew Three Ways

Brunswick stew is an amalgamation of vegetables, meat, and other stuff.  And it shall eventually be the subject of this post.

This past weekend, as part of our 27th anniversary celebration, my husband and I ventured westward out toward the Blue Ridges.  On Saturday we visited Staunton, Virginia (looks like “Stawn-ton” but pronounced “Stan-ton” by the natives), home of Mary Baldwin College, the Woodrow Wilson birthplace and library, and Blackfriar’s Shakespeare Theater.  We did not encounter Brunswick stew there.

The concoction was featured on Sunday, when we attended the 2017 Apprenticeship Showcase of the Virginia Folklife Program.  As per usual, one of the finalists of the annual Brunswick stew championship of Virginia, the Proclamation Stew Crew from, of course, Brunswick County, were there stirring their gigantic pot and offering generous helpings for $1.00 a bowl.  Who could resist?

This reminded me not only of the time the crew came to the 2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival to slave over their hot cauldron for hours, but also a recent and not nearly as satisfying encounter with a so-called Brunswick Stew at a barbecue concession in the Charlotte, NC airport.  It was pretty terrible, consisting I think of all leftover bits of barbecue meat and veg from the sides that did not sell the day before all mashed together.

Which brings me to the final version of “Brunswick Stew” that I once inadvertently concocted during my Camp Randolph cooking days (see earlier post, Lake Effects, Part Three).  The former cook of Camp Randolph apparently used to cook up a full turkey dinner every Sunday (in the middle of the summer!) for the residents.  I compromised at a roast of some sort every Sunday, with turkey being featured every other week.    Still, turkey leftovers were rampant and had to be addressed.

One Friday, I took bits of turkey and mixed them up with the leftover stuffing, some vegetables, and gravy and served it as a sort of, well, stew.  “Marvy Brunswick stew!” declared one of the residents, and I had no idea what he was talking about.

Till years later, when I discovered the authentic Virginia version.  Because, though Georgians also claim the stew was first created there, in my opinion the Virginia version reigns supreme.

 

Sound Memories I: Pop-Pop’s Song

Every now and then, I a little ditty pops into my head.  It is one of the few sound memories I have of my grandfather, Albert James Belanus, Sr., who died when I was about seven years old.  I remember him as a tall, slim Dutchman from Northern New Jersey with a shock of white hair and bushy black eyebrows.  He sometimes ate cold rice with milk and sugar.  He loved Christmas and he and my grandmother spoiled us rotten buying toys with their Christmas Club money.

Anyhow,  he used to sing a little song that I only figured out was a naughty song years and years later, after he was long buried.  I realized then why he got a twinkle in his eye when he sang it. I don’t think my sister remembers it, or maybe this was something between Pop-Pop and me.   It went something like this, in my memory:

A-sol, a-sol, a-soldier boy was he (repeat)

He had two pis- two pistols on his knee (repeat)

There might have been more, but that is all I recall, except for a sort of chorus that sounded to me like “And step, comarade, and step comarade, and step tra-la-la-la.”  Which led me to believe that maybe it was a marching song for actual soldiers, though my grandfather was never a soldier.

It never occurred to me to search for other versions on the internet.  (And I call myself a folklorist?)  But, here it is, and here, along with discussions about its origins and alternative versions.  (I can see now why my grandfather might have edited out some of the additional verses for my little ears.)  Seems as if it might have started as a soldier’s song and then made it’s way to the playground.  Where my grandfather learned it, we will never know.  But, it is so ingrained in my memory that I recall it more than 50 years later.

The power of music, the power of memory, the power of love.

Metal Meditations – One Walk, Three Observations

I’m thinking of launching a new weekly blog feature.  (Well, I guess when this hits my blog site, I will have actually launched it.)  The premise is, I go for a walk around the neighborhood with my cell phone camera handy, and notice three things and take a picture of them.  These three things need  a theme (sorry, I am a curator what can I say?).   So, my theme today is “things made of metal.”  20160331_164022

Observation #1 is a tiny metal car (probably a Matchbox) on the curb between sidewalk and road.  What wayward child left it there?  It is obviously well used, perhaps a favorite toy of this child.  Yet, he or she left it outside on the curb to the fates.  Or someone else found it in the street and placed it there in hopes its owner would find it?  Who knows.  But it is fun to speculate.

Observation #2 is the gate to the “mini-park” that our kid20160331_164131s (as in, the neighborhood kids since we only have one) used to play in when they were younger.  I never noticed, but this metal gate has the name of our neighborhood fashioned into it.  Who was the metal artist who constructed this sign and added it to the gate?   The same craftsperson who made the rest of the gate?  Nice job, regardless.

Observation #3 is a (partially) metal bird house.  (Or is this a bat house?  It doesn’t look like other b20160331_165407at houses if so!) There are actually three of them, that I saw at least, in the Thrifton Hills Park at the end of the streets I was walking down.  There is no explanation of why these are here; no markings indicating their intended inhabitants.  No clues whatsoever.  If anyone has any ideas, I would be happy to learn what sort of bird or other creature these are intended to house, and what benefits they might have for the neighborhood.

One walk, three observations.  Try it in your neighborhood, and watch this space for my next foray into the unknown and mysterious thematic material culture of Maywood, Arlington, Virginia and maybe some other places I might walk around in the future!

Cherry Blossom Chagrin

Well, here in DC it is cherry blossom time again, and yesterday evening my husband and a friend of ours and I went walking around the Ti20150412_130047dal Basin to see the blooms.   (Full disclosure, this photo is of last year’s blooms.)  We began to talk about all the things that make us grumpy while walking around the Tidal Basin during Cherry Blossom Madness.  These include:  Photographers who set their tripods up in the middle of the walkway.   Parents with double strollers hogging the sidewalk.   People jogging – really, you can’t find a better place to jog than a sidewalk clogged with tourists?  People walking multiple dogs.  Not just one little dog, but three medium to large sized dogs.   On long leashes that get tangled around people’s legs.  Oblivious people taking selfies with the trees.  Kids who pick blossoms off the trees for a souvenir.  Okay, so there are always too many people, not enough sidewalk, and things that are going to annoy you.  But, still, the cherry blossoms are gorgeous and despite it all, you have to enjoy them and share them with everyone, be they considerate or not.  The blossoms remind us of everything lovely and fleeting, soft and seasonal.

New Round Barn Press Site!

For those of you who have been following me on my Homestead site, I have finally taken the plunge into the world of WordPress.  It is going to take me awhile to learn this new platform (thanks to all my friends who already use and have been giving me pointers, as well as the You Tube videos that walk one through), so stay tuned while I figure this out.  I am sure once I get it figured out, it will be a whole new ball game.