Thursday, April 18, 2013

Marcy's Travel Blog- The Story Behind "Hobo Stew"!

When the weather is cold or gloomy, I often make a family favorite called "Hobo Stew". The recipe for this was handed down to me from my step-father. Years ago he told me the story behind this stew. I'm sure that there are other stories out there- but this is what he told me.  I can't help but be awed by the will to survive and the sheer determination of this man, who lived to be 97 years old.

 The story my step-father, Bob Garlinghouse told me as I was growing up:

 My step-father was born in 1910. He was around 20 years old when the Great Depression started. Born and living in the tiny town of Marcus, Iowa- he decided to ride the rails out west to look for work. As many of you may have read, jumping on a moving train and riding it became a common occurrence during that time.

One big concern  for the men who rode the rails was what to do for food? Dad said there was a group of them- about a dozen, I think, that were all headed for Washington State. They got together and developed a plan. At each town they stopped at, they would spread out to the different neighborhoods and look for work. Whether it was chopping wood or doing some other chore, they would ask for a bit of food as payment. They had agreed that they didn't want to just beg for food.

So, at each stop, that is what they'd do. They would agree ahead of time what they would ask for, be it a few potatoes, vegetables, or a bit of meat. Once in a while they would also ask for a loaf of bread, or  baked goods. As the sun would go down, they would meet back at the camp site and survey their days bounty. Dad told me that one of them had a big black kettle he carried on his back pack. Most often they would throw all their ingredients into the pot, and that would be their "Hobo Stew".

From that experience, my dad developed a recipe of sorts. And in truth, it's a bit of this and a bit of that! Since it's not an "exact" recipe, one can add or delete to satisfy your own particular taste buds.

Ground meat (you can use ground chuck, ground pork, or a combination)
potatoes, cut into pieces
onions, chopped
a few cloves of garlic, chopped
onion soup mix
V-8 juice
beef broth
all the vegetables you want. (I get a couple of bags of frozen mixed vegetables)
chunky style salsa
rutabaga, chopped
Stewed Italian tomatoes (canned)

Brown the meat.
Drain the extra fat
Throw in all the other ingredients
Bring to a boil
Turn down to simmer, stir from time to time

I make sure the liquid (V-8 juice and beef broth) just covers the ingredients. That way it becomes a stew rather than a soup.

Serve with chunks of French bread and perhaps a salad. Enjoy!

Life is an adventure! And "Hobo Stew" came from an adventure from over 80 years ago!

1 comment:

Susan Lois Metler Henry said...

oh that makes me hungry!!
What a wonderful story to share!