I remember once going on a campout in which I made beef stew in a little covered pot, right over the campfire. Potato, tomato soup, onion, carrot, bullion, a few cubes of beef. It was the way I imagine stone soup to be, except that I used no stones. I remember winter beef stews of my childhood, served four or five times in succession, each time better than the time before it. I love that sense that things simmer and merge and join and generate a more flavorful brew than the previous serving.
So many "soul food"-related things involve a kind of taming of vegetables. Okra is deep fried, to place a crisp coating where rawness otherwise might be. Cooked vegetables are not lightly sauteed,but subjected to a full-scale cauldron assault. Hog jowls and black-eyed peas are simmered together for hours on end. There is no time when a beef stew is pronounced "done", but only times when the stew is all consumed. Sometimes this philosophy worked horrors, as with deeply boiled asparagus. But in a beef stew, it's hard to imagine anything better.
I sit here at my computer, waiting for a telephone call from someone in a foreign country about a topic too dreary to recount. But if I could, I'd be home browning some beef cubes, and dropping them, with potatoes, carrots, and bullion, into a large crock pot, to tide me over until Christmas.