Easy Tasty Send-Off Stew

When my dear friend Daniel Holland set off to return to his home in Lake County in Northern California this week, I wanted to give him something to stick with him as we traveled in the blustery St. Louis weather via MetroLink to the airport and then he flew home.

Improvisational cooks know the best strategy is to have ingredients on-hand for quick assembly. It’s like being your own under-chef (sous chef) in a restaurant kitchen. I pulled out these ingredients to pull together the Send-Off Stew for Daniel.

–sautee onions (but, of course!)
–sautee mushrooms
–cooked bulk Italian sausage
–polenta (yup, the kind that comes in a tube)
–mufaletta mix (olive tapenade often used for sandwiches)
–Stephanie’s cranberry chutney (homemade…someday she’ll share her recipe)

I cut up the polenta into cubes. The polenta gives the stew a soft comfort food texture. The mufaletta mix brings the sour/pickle into it while Stephanie’s cranberry chutney brought in a sweet note…complementing the savory of onion, mushroom, and sausage.

That’s it…just throw it all in a skillet and scramble it around until you’re satisfied.


My Uncle Willard, a hoboe, visited us when we were young and the entire family was down with mumps. He introduced us to 7-day stew, and I guess the idea stuck with me. After Daniel left, I ammended the above recipe as follows:

–substituted shrimp (cook a mess of frozen) for the sausage
–added green beans
–Lost the chutney for this rendition…feeling it might overpower the shrimp.

In improvizationtional cooking, you are assembling tastes and textures through assembling ingredients.

When I began to paint in the 1990s, I’d go into an art trance as I painting large-scale banners on cloth. Before I went into studio time, I’d cook for a morning, making sure there was bountiful nutritious food in the refrigerator so I’d have something at hand to eat when my body was ready. For me, it’s as if I have a personal chef on staff.


A sous chef (pronounced soo chef) is in charge of the production, or actual preparation and cooking of food, along with continuously supervising the staff.

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One Comment

  1. At our house it’s called Wreaking Havoc and we’ve come up with some tasty combos just throwing stuff together. True or not, I love the story about how French Onion Soup was devised…. surely just a happy result of using up bits and pieces of leftovers!

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