Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Manna From Heaven

I was going to post a picture but I ate it. The subject of the picture - not the picture. REWIND

My wonderful visiting teacher brought some soup and homemade bread in for supper on Monday night. I knew she was bringing soup and I was praying it wasn't chicken noodle soup. REWIND

When I was on the outskirts of Sickland last week, looking down on the Jungles of Misery, a big, old pot of chicken noodle soup sounded wonderful. And so I made a pot or a batch or a vat full of it. And it did hit the spot. And it seemed to hit the spot for Amber on Thursday. Then Friday night hit and my nausea worsened every time I opened the fridge. Not just with the smell of the chicken noodle soup but the leftover tatortot casserole and the one or two or three-day-old steak Alan hadn't cooked for himself yet and the bran muffins. Everything that occupied the shelves of my fridge had taken on an odor all it's own and then when outside air whooshed in and forced it all out into the open in one giant ODOR, it was more than I could handle. Hence, I prayed mightily that my visiting teacher would NOT bring chicken noodle soup.  FAST FORWARD

So my wonderful visiting teacher brings some soup and homemade bread in for supper Monday night. Brave soul. The house was pitch black. She came in the basement door, gave a few hasty words of instruction and well wishes, put the food on the stove and left. The aroma of that soup was nose-ticklingly seductive. I hurriedly checked to make sure she hadn't just used some different spice or herb with her chicken noodle soup. But, no, the broth was reddish-brownish and there were a million different things floating around - celery, onions, black beans, peas {okay, maybe not all of the floaties were wonderful}, corn, potatoes, macaroni, beef, carrots. Collectively the sum total of the contents of that pan have become known as my Manna. Supper that night was very satisfying.

So, Alan ate the last of my Manna for his lunch the next day {wasn't there like a law against doing that in the wilderness? Thou shalt not eat the last bit of someone else's Manna?} Ok. I confess. He asked my permission first. And I gave it. After all, I think there was another law that said you weren't supposed to hoard Manna. Anyway, by evening I was in dire need of more of my Manna so I perused the Internet looking for a recipe that looked like it would be somewhat close to the Manna of my memory. Luckily, the first recipe I opened promised results as close as I was going to get given my limited time, ingredients and energy.

Another thing was in my favor. We were planning a feeding frenzy for work on Tuesday (12/21) and I was in charge of making a stew. I'd gotten ambitious Friday morning before I began my journey through the Jungle of Misery, Chasm of Death and the Plates of Woe {yeah I had an Ice Age Marathon one day} and put some meat in the crock pot for like ten (10) hours and then stuck it in the very back of the fridge. At the time the placement was strategic to keep Alan from thinking it was up for grabs before I got a chance to explain its purpose to him. However, I think I was psychic at the time {I often think this about myself - that I'm psychic - no, not psychotic}. Being clear in the back of the fridge with plastic wrap and a lid saved it from falling victim when the Waves of Nausea took a nosedive. Point is . . . my beef was already cooked and tender and all that stuff.

I just thought I would share my recipe for Manna. After all, if you're not interested, you can quit reading anytime. It's a free world.


by Janis


3 cups beef chunks {not that kind - the kind that's cooked and cooled and then cut into cute little square shapes}

4 quarts water or appropriate liquid {it helped that one of my quarts was some of the juice from cooking the beef}

1 quart tomatoes {diced, halved, quartered - however I happened to put them up last season - or whatever year it was I'm using from}

1/3 cup coarsely chopped red onions {more or less depending on if your husband can handle onions or not}

2 tablespoons dried parsley {age doesn't matter here, I hope, as I really had to dig to find some}

1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules

1 tablespoon Italian dressing seasoning mix {the dry, powdery substance in the little packets}

1 tablespoon Ranch dressing mix {the dry, powdery substance not the gooey stuff for dipping}

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups baby carrots, halved, thirded, quartered - you can choose

4 spears celery, sliced

1 can black beans {more or less depending on whether or not your husband can handle beans and if he really did eat the last of your Manna or not} I actually used about 1/3 of the can

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni {I had a canister left over from Grandma Christensen's and they were huge! Kinda reminded me of my elbows with the bat wings hanging down after they [the noodles - not by elbows] were cooked. I think next time I'll maybe try some whole wheat ones - maybe they'll maintain their girlish shape a bit better}

*Everything is approximate. Nothing is exact nor will it be the same again. That's just the way it is.


1. In a large stock pot combine the beef, liquid, tomatoes, onions, dried parsley, beef bouillon, Italian dressing seasoning, Ranch dressing seasoning, celery salt, garlic powder, black pepper, baby carrots, celery, black beans, potatoes and macaroni. Yup, pretty much everything.

2. Stir it all together and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce to simmer and let cook until the vegetables are done the way you like them.

4. VERY IMPORTANT STEP:  Add an additional tablespoon of beef bouillon. Alan will tell you that's the magic ingredient in perfect Manna every time!

5. Even though the original Manna was not supposed to be saved over to the next day, this Manna is an exception. I say it's an exception because it's wet and not dry and if it fell from the sky, well, anyone would be hard pressed to collect it for even one meal once it hit the ground. This is actually - if it's possible - better the next day.

6. A handful of Oyster crackers make it even more amazing!

Now if you're ever in a quiz show and they ask you for the ingredients in Manna - well - all I can say is I would expect a small percentage of your winnings. After all . . .


  1. I thought you put it in the back of the fridge so it wouldn't get eaten before you had a chance to use it in the crockpot. I'm sorry you're sick and that even the smell of food is nauseating. Get well soon!

  2. You're right, Sharon, that was the original purpose for putting the meat in the far back of the fridge and I've clarified that now. Hope you have a great Christmas!

  3. Hello Friend! I am sorry to hear that you were deathly ill! I never check blogs anymore, but yours is always one when I do check! Hope you had a merry Christmas free of sickness and chicken noodle soup! Thinking of you!

  4. I put a wreath on the outside of the house and called it my Chevy Chase version of whatever movie that was that was so funny. Plus the neighbors across the street put up lights, reindeers, etc. so we had a nice Christmasy view without all the work. Thank you neighbors.