“Further down Main Street, off a side street, Desmond sat in Miss Ellie’s house, one of his housebound church members. He breathed deep. The house still smelled of onions and savory beef.”
Nothing makes a home more warm and inviting than the smell of stew or soup. That has always been a big staple in our family. Whatever meat I have on hand and whatever veggies I have in the fridge makes for a nice big meal for everyone who drops in. However, after years of feeding a large family, I still find it hard to cook for just two or three of us. I always make too much. Do you ever notice how hard it is to make soup for two or three?
When I wrote the chapter about Pastor Desmond going to visit Miss Ellie, I didn’t think about why she’d be making a big pot of stew. She lives by herself! But that’s Miss Ellie. So I didn’t write it, but she probably sent home a Tupperware full of leftovers with the Pastor.
My husband loves it when I tell him to call friends to ask if we can bring over a meal of whatever I made for dinner. I’m so thankful we can share and that they enjoy my cooking. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case! You can ask my eldest sister. She’s a fantastic cook, who always helped our mother with family holiday meals. After our dear mother passed, hosting the dinners moved to my house. I love to entertain, but cook? Not so much. So my culinary skills had to improve, and fast. Thankfully, my big sis recently said, “Kathy, I’m so glad you learned to cook.” Me too, sis. But nothing beats yours or Mamas.
Anyway, back to sharing meals. Our friend is so thankfull whenever we deliver a meal, but it’s us, who recieves the greater blessing. He is the full-time caretaker for his wife and although he always jokes about his lack of cooking skills, he makes me so happy that we can share a home-cooked meal. He and his wife are so grateful and give such thanks to God for His provisions. The joy that emits from their countenance amid their hardships is heartwarming, much like Miss Ellie.
Everyone knows a Miss Ellie, right?
Our friends, both husband, and wife are Miss Ellie. Until recently, it was almost a decade since I’d seen our friend’s wife. She was always a bubble of excitement—an effervescent spray of joy at church. But over the years, her health spiraled, and she sadly disappeared. Her husband was still able to worship with us but left soon after services to take care of her. Like many churches, we went online during the pandemic. Unfortunately, when we finally reconvened in person, he wasn’t able to join us. He’d become her full-time caretaker around the clock as her health worsened.
In fact, during the pandemic, I feared losing her when she suffered multiple Emergency hospital visits. Not the big C, but other health issues compounded by aging. However, God’s grace through her husband’s faithfulness in prayer and joyful nurturing brought her home. The fascinating thing? She’s meeting us on her front porch now when we come to visit. I can’t even begin to express my joy when hugging her again after all those years of absence. And the most exciting thing? She couldn’t wait to show us her new Study Bible. It’s huge. She’s such a little woman that I was surprised she could hold it in one hand. Her health is a tiny bit better, but her love for Christ has grown, and she’s glowing. My heart leaps when I see them. Each time we visit, we are so inspired by their faithfulness through challenging times. They genuinely love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength.
So, who is she?
Miss Ellie? Well, she is an elderly woman who lives alone, in the rough part of Bay Town. She’s a faithful follower of Jesus but housebound. Pastor Desmond tries to enlist the local Police Chief in rendering her rides on Sundays, but it’s also an effort to get Chief Bert to church. My critique group loved the chief. He’s a fun but strong character that I enjoyed writing about. Still, it’s the quiet strength of Miss Ellie that I hope inspires you. She’s only in a short passage, but her sweet, simple trust in our sovereign Almighty brought me encouragement.
I promise you’ll read much more about her in another book, but in this particular scene, Pastor Desmond’s visit coincides with the night of a harrowing incident down the street at the Bayou Bar. But back to the visit. I don’t go into detail, but Miss Ellie mentions her grandson, Trevor. A handsome young man who lives ‘up north’ with his white daddy. Miss Ellie is an African-American with deep roots in Bay Town. One of the future Bay Town books is about Trevor and another young woman mentioned in Shattered Guilt.
The Secret Ingredient
Back to cooking. I make soup so often that I have friends asking me the secret. Google is my friend, and the best tip I’ve found? After your stew or soup is finished, turn off the heat and add some acid. By acid, they mean vinegar or lemon juice. Just a splash, but it enhances the flavor like you wouldn’t believe. I clarify ‘acid’ because I could have used a clarification about ‘oil’ once. When I was a new bride and taking instruction to season a cast iron pan with ‘oil,’ I could have used a little elucidating. My husband still accuses me to this day of trying to kill him! But that’s for another story.
Savory Beef Stew Recipe
If you’d like a copy of Miss Ellie’s Savory Beef Stew, please comment below or email me at email@example.com. Just make sure you have 64 oz. of vegetable, chicken, or beef broth on hand, and the rest you’ll find in your freezer, fridge, or cupboards. I’d love to share., so just drop me a line. God bless your day, and when the opportunity arises to share a meal, do it. I’m sure you all do! A nourishing meal and a thoughtful visit just might bring you the joy you need. It definitely will to whom you’re sharing, but most importantly, God is glorified!
I almost forgot! Check back tomorrow for Charlene’s Apple Cake. It’s amazing!