As school was approaching this Fall, 2011, a little lady name Hurricane Irene had better ideas about when summer would officially end. Once the electricity and cable came back on, my kids tried to become human zombies. Much to their chagrin, I implemented a no-electronics, reading and hobby day today. There was pouting.I’m pretty sure someone muttered something about me being the worst mom ever.

But, when they realized I wasn’t giving in, my 11 year old son got lost… ostensibly in a book, but I’m still not sure.  And with much coaxing (okay bribing) my 9 year old daughter got busy washing the dishes and loading the dishwasher.  Once she got her hands wet, and little dirty, she caught the “maybe we should cook something” bug. So, I sent her out to explore our summer kitchen garden. She came back with a bevy of garden stuff but no clue what to do with it. “We can make a ragout,” I exclaimed.

“A wha?”

Was it possible? Could this be a “teachable moment?”

I was full of enthusiasm. Probably way too much enthusiasm.

ooh…oooh I know ! The French term ragoût means simple “slow stew.” A savory meal cooked simply with love.

Eyes rolled.Maybe she learned a new word… RAGOUT. Pronounced RAGU, like the jarred sauce. Maybe she zoned out. Not really sure. Whatever.

So, here’s what we did with what we had.

This is what we had hanging out in our garden. If we had other stuff, we would have worked that in, too.

3 medium sized red tomatoes (rough chopped by 9 year old)

1 small eggplant  (diced by Mom)

3 super hot cherry peppers (seeded and diced while wearing latex gloves)

1 long Italian frying pepper (seeded and chopped by 9 year old)

2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced (by Mom)

Here’s what we grabbed from our pantry and fridge:

3 center cut organic Pork Chops (cut into 4 by4 cubes. I wished I had four chops, or a few chicken pieces as well)

1/2 large, white organic onion, rough chopped (by Mom)

1/2 cup or so organic whole wheat flour seasoned to dredge (or coat) meat

seasoned flour with dash of salt, shake of pepper, a little cumin, dehydrated shallots, tiny bit of garlic powder

dash olive oil, 2 teaspoons butter

3 tablespoons GourGanics Salsa

2 teaspoons organic chicken stock concentrate

1/2 cup water

1 can organic roasted green chiles (add great color)

After dredging the pork with the seasoned flour (this means just coat the cubed pork pieces), my daughter seared them 2 minutes or so per side in a flat, cast iron pan coated with olive oil. They were still very raw in the center, but this was great, because they picked up a lot of flavor and a little texture, yet the slow cooker  cooked them to tender perfection. So, we dumped everything in the Crock Pot/ Slow Cooker in this order:  raw onions, butter, pork, chiles, Spicy GourGanics, chicken concentrate, water, we mixed this into a slurry, then added the rest of our garden booty. We left the crock pot on high and took off to get haircuts, visit with friends, and run a few more errands.

The house smelled fantastic when we got home. Good thing, we were starved. So I admit it, I used a 3 minute microwave bag of organic jasmine rice, threw that in a bowl, added hunks of herbed chevre, but any cheese will do, dumped one large ladle  of the ragout on top. And a dash of GourGanics for garnish. It was delicious. Healthy. Lower cost for the level of quality. And my daughter was so proud, she ate seconds.

So, there you go. An amazing improv meal made (mostly) by my 9 year old with added zip from hot peppers and the zingy unique taste of GourGanics Spicy Salsa. Come on, you can do it, too!  It does take a little prep before you can walk away from your slow cooker. But we think you will agree, it is worth every savory bite!

LEFTOVER SAUCE?  Once we ate all of the meat out of the pot. I added fresh chicken breasts and thighs,  and a few other veg from the garden, turned the crock pot back on high and planned to serve it for lunch with Mom “MEM,” the next day.

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