We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
All it took for Hungarian cowherds to add to their stewpot was ground chili pepper - Paprika. Thus it was just plain stew until the Spanish brought peppers to Europe from the New World in the early 1500s.
Whenever we went to Romania we would pick up paprika in quantity, loose from the market, and bring it home in our own containers. On our third trip, a hospital lab tech who stayed back at the clinic and did not venture out into the market smiled mildly and said "I wouldn't look at that stuff under a microscope if I were you."
Assistant Village Idiot
Growing up our family's fortune/misfortune was iffy a lot of the time. My father worked in construction and on the carnival in the warmer months. It was not uncommon for us to make meals entirely from our garden with rare visits to the markets. The local A&P would put out old produce to be picked up by a truck to feed pigs in a local farm. My brother and I would get there mid morning after the grocer had cleaned up the vegetables to be placed for sale but before the pig farmers truck arrived. Bananas, oranges, lettuce, cabbage, potatoes, everything your hungry stomach could desire. They would also set out their wooden crates (that oranges were shipped in) nearby so we would fill up a crate with our 'found' groceries and take them home to mom. After we had high graded to groceries it was rare that our mother would reject anything so we would add it to the menu. That was over 60 years ago and I still have trouble passing 'free food' when I see it.
As a poor kid growing up we had lots of meals based on throwing whatever we had in a pot - what we called goulash could be distinguished from stew by the addition of tomatoes. (A boiled dinner was stew with cabbage and turnips in it.) It wasn't until I was older that I found out the distinctive ingredient was supposed to be paprika. I don't think we ever had much paprika to hand, tomatoes we grew in the garden.
Saturday night supper was "goulash" - a hamburger-rice-tomato dish served with coleslaw (and served as we listened to Hockey Night in Canada - no TV) but sans paprika (came via a Swedish/Norwegian neighbour). Still serve it. Would like, however, an authentic version.
After you your last post on goulash, I read about and devised my own recipe using my crockpot.
I put a couple tablespoons of bacon fat or butter in the bottom of crockpot. Then add thin sliced onions, packed in till I can just get the top on with some salt mixed in. Then cook it for near a full day on low heat, till the onions are browned and near completely dissolved. I've never had to add any water, just using what sweats out of the onions. Toward the end, I throw in a couple tablespoons of beef soup base. For the last hour, I add some cube beef, round or chuck. Then at the end add 3 tablespoons or so of paprika. Some black pepper if you like. At the end, I pour off all the liquid into a skillet and reduce it to a glaze, where you can pull a spatula through it and the trail is slow to close. Then mix it back in the pot. Adjust to taste with salt.
Makes a good rich beef/onion mix. Better after it has cooled and reheated. I eat it with a bit of sour cream on a flour tortilla to make goulash "tacos"? roll-ups?
No Hungarians in our family but Goulash was a regular in our house. Last year in Budapest nothing would do but my wife and I make a long trek to the market for "real" paprika. She bought several packages from one vendor and seemed happy until we had walked 50 feet then decided she needed more from another vendor. 2 more packages later she was happy again. That lasted until she noticed another vendor with smoked paprika. We now have enough Paprika to eat goulash for the rest of our lives and still leave some to the kids!
I grew up poor, too. Father was a freelance artist, and we could never be sure what would appear on the table: one night it would be beans, the next night spaghetti, the next night pastafazool. (I know, pasta e fagioli.)
The thing is, we never felt like we were poor---we never really realized how poor we were, did we? We felt like we were eating like kings. Let's hear it out there for all those devoted fathers (and creative mothers) who always managed to put something on the table for us.
Re: creative mothers. A family story/tradition is the cream cheese, egg and olive sandwich. One day my mother looked in the fridge to see what she could make for lunch for four hungry kids and all she had was two eggs, half a package of cream cheese and half a bottle of green olives. She told us later she sat down and cried. But she got up and hard boiled the eggs and cut them up and mashed them into the cream cheese. Sliced the olives and put them in there too and spread it on bread. We loved it. After that when she asked what we wanted for lunch we asked for this specialty. We were poor but everyone I knew was poor and the times were poor and we just never knew it. We were lucky, we lived in a house with our two parents, our two grandmothers and three aunts. The house was full of love and laughter my entire childhood. What more could you ask for?