My Family's Flanagan Stew

3 huge black kettles in the yard & 3 wooden paddles
a slew of chopped chickens
everything you can carry from the garden
a bunch of hot sauce

On a nice Sunday morning, you get Uncle Ben to fire up the kettles with firewood. You put in the chopped chicken to boil for a while. You can add a little hot sauce to one, a bunch of hot sauce to another and no hot sauce to the third.

When the family starts to arrive with all kinds of garden fresh veggies, you instruct them to distribute in the kettles. Then the grand uncles continue to stir the pots with big wooden paddles. Never mind what else falls into the pots. It will all taste good in the end.

By the time church is out and all the desserts have been set on the tables under the trees, the stew should be done. You stand in line and punch your cousins while you wait for the wonderful tasting bowl of stew. You may add crumbled crackers to the bowl if you are a kid (or a kid at heart).

By the time you have finished off a bowl and a few pieces of your aunts' pies and cakes and you feel like you will burst, you see your grandpa doing his soft shoe dance on a piece of cardboard sprinkled with salt or sugar. Then the other uncles pick up their instruments to play a few tunes while your aunt Lela does her buck dance.

By 4:00 pm, you should start loading up the car and getting your share of the stew that's left over to take home. Wave goodbye to your cousins that you won't see again until next year because they live in the big city. Now it's time for a nap.

--Penny (Flanagan) Fortune