Rustic Chicken Stout Stew ~ A Betta Fish in a Sequined Bag

The problem with having a local business is that it’s often frequented by enterprising locals, all hoping to sell their wares.

Utopia was no different.

Now Sister Madly had heard tales of these free-range entrepreneurs but thought them as mythical as the Sasquatch- that is, until the winter when they descended upon Utopia in droves, pitching products from handmade jewelry to glass-blown bongs suggestive in their design, to local music unsuitable for human absorption. Sister Madly obtained an extraordinary amount of patience in those years, listening to horrific demos while dogs howled from the alley.

But even this did not quite compare to the brainchild of the wayward Fashionista, whose poorly executed British Accent* pitched her personal line of sequined handbags. These bags, each the size of a cigar box, seemed normal enough- that is, until the Fashionista flipped the purse around to reveal the small compartment containing a live, and rather surly, Betta Fish.

* Like many Americans attempting a British accent, the Fashionista could mimic nothing better than southern Alabama.

Now Sister Madly is all for chasing one’s dreams; she herself has aspirations that border the utterly insane- like one day eating a salad- but not one of those dreams include strutting along Bourbon Street with a Betta Fish in a Sequined Handbag. Clearly, her face reflected the WTF that she was thinking, as the Fashionista went on to emphasized certain selling points, including a self-contained LED light (with multiple twinkle settings) and the fact that almost any freshwater* fish from goldfish to guppy could be substituted for the Betta.

* This was blatant discrimination against all saltwater creatures- after all, what femme fatale wouldn’t want to tote a halibut with glowing pride?

Being a humble clerk, Sister Madly was no more authorized to make wholesale purchases than she was to dispose of bodies in the company’s dumpster- and she campaigned for both during her employment. In fact, Management rarely purchased anything local, preferring rather back alley transactions and mysterious shipments from China * to the dubious wares of the native psychopaths.

* Sister Madly eventually gained the confidence of Management, who assigned her the task of ripping the labels off all shipments from China in an attempt to conceal the identity of their suppliers. It was useless, really- the return addresses were written in Chinese.

After the regulation We-Don’t-Want-Your-Wares-Weirdo-But-It-Sounds-Like-You-Have-A-Chance Spiel (which Sister Madly delivered most diplomatically,) the Fashionista said something quite lovely in British-Alabamian, smiled in this same language, and sashayed her glamorous self out the door- leaving handbag behind as a ‘sample.’

Make no mistake, Sister Madly likes presents; she likes finding books on the side of the road, or lotion samples in the mail, and has been known to dine quite handsomely toothpicked meatballs at the market. But all these are a far cry from being saddled with a surly Betta Fish by a Fashionista with a bad accent.

Then again, if Sister Madly can properly care for a Betta Fish, she would be prepared for the day the Humane Society drops off a sample Corgi. She would be the first civilian sought to test-ride a luxury Zeppelin cross-country, and would be the prime candidate to care for the sample case of premium Hard Cider expected to arrive the following week. It wouldn’t be long before Sister Madly proved herself worthy of a galaxy or two, with unlimited dimension-traveling privileges.

In the meantime, Utopia now had a Betta Fish who, judging by its disposition, did not like the poky accommodations of the Handbag Aquarium- and Sister Madly knew all about the unhappy conditions of poky accommodations.

So she transferred the surly Fish to a shiny, new, Tibetan Singing Bowl.

But new digs meant little without nutrition in terms of survival; so Sister Madly took it upon herself to feed the Surly Fish and even went so far as to do it with a smile.

But what does a Betta eat? Aside from giving her the evil eye, it’s been rather uncommunicative, and try as she might, Sister Madly did not speak fish. Taking into account the dietary lifestyle commonly found in poky accommodations, Sister Madly assumed (quite correctly, no doubt) that a Surly Fish would enjoy the same fare.

So she bought the Betta two large pizzas and some olives, knowing her coworkers would assist in finishing what the Fish could not consume as to avoid unnecessary waste. Her coworkers were most resourceful when it came to all things edible.

She also bought a small canister of Fish Food- you know, just in case.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-6 chicken thighs, cubed
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1½ cups stout, divided (1 cup + ½ cup)
  • bacon, cooked and crumbled (opt)
  • pearl onions, peeled
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • carrots, cubed
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp sage
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • heavy cream (opt)

Sauté chopped onion in bacon grease/oil until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic; sauté 1-2 min
Deglaze with 1 cup stout; 2-3 min
Mix in spices; 30 sec
Add vegetables; stir to coat
Add chicken; stir to coat
Add stock, Worcestershire, and remaining stout; mix
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 1-1½ hour
Add cream (if using); simmer 10 min
Remove bay leaf; garnish with bacon before serving

THEME SONG: Dream On, Aerosmith


16 responses

  1. 🤣🤣🤣Your posts are always worth waiting for. Hilarious👍

    Liked by 1 person

    May 18, 2018 at 5:26 AM

  2. I smiled like an idiot ( the town idiot) at this one…. you crack me up…. thank you for waking me up along with my coffee this morning my dear. Hope you have been well.. big hugs my friend

    Liked by 1 person

    May 18, 2018 at 5:28 AM

    • The fish lady smiled like an idiot, too, now that I think about it.

      Now I’m suspicious… that wasn’t you trying to pitch that handbag, was it? In a past life, perhaps?

      Liked by 1 person

      May 18, 2018 at 11:47 AM

      • Couldn’t have been a past life… I am sure I was alive at the same time she was …. I’m pretty old ya know… 🙂 Must have be in drag… I’m still working on my British Accent… Think I will switch to Jamaican….. Hey Mon whatcha be all a bout …

        Liked by 1 person

        May 18, 2018 at 12:44 PM

        • All dressed in drag… multiple accent capabilities… even the ability to write in an accent… not to mention denial of the original incident.

          I know a spy when I see one!

          (Or would that be when I don’t see one?)

          Liked by 1 person

          May 18, 2018 at 1:39 PM

  3. Good thing it wasn’t a Grouper. We know how the use of the letter “U” is mostly eschewed below the 49th and that could have led to other issues that would have resulted in a weekend of sensitivity training with what serves as the “H.R.” department.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 18, 2018 at 6:35 AM

    • Writing the extra ‘U’ is a waste of precious time! Canadians must spend about 3 years of their lives writing these unnecessary letters… sleeping through a single weekend of sensitivity training can hardly compare.

      Actually, shouldn’t that be Grouuper in your neck of the woods?

      Liked by 1 person

      May 18, 2018 at 11:43 AM

      • You could speel eet thet y but then the prenuptiartion would be different, “GREW” “UP” “ER”.

        Do you know any grouupers?

        Liked by 1 person

        May 18, 2018 at 1:29 PM

        • I know a lot of people taller than me, if that’s what you mean.

          Liked by 1 person

          May 18, 2018 at 1:42 PM

        • Doesn’t have to do with physical stature…. you’re big.

          Liked by 1 person

          May 18, 2018 at 1:44 PM

  4. Pingback: Rustic Chicken Stout Stew ~ A Betta Fish in a Sequined Bag — The Sixpence at Her Feet | My Meals are on Wheels

  5. Fun post as always, and the recipe sounds yummy too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    May 19, 2018 at 1:30 PM

  6. I’m having trouble with the half cup of stout… after a few crunchy mishaps with a lump hammer and cold chisel, I decided to eschew ceramic in favour of a plastic cup.
    Sure enough, a chef’s knife heated to a dull red glow in the gas flame passes quite smoothly through such a cup (although I find it no longer cuts anything else nearly as well as it used to, and is in fact both permanently blackened and somewhat bent).
    Perhaps I should add that the cup needs to be empty for this to work, as turning stout to brown steam rapidly takes the glow off the average kitchen utensil.
    Never the less, with a little persistence and a lot of trimming I managed to obtain a fairly accurate half a cup – I even kept the half with the handle.
    Now I find however that my feet are wet, my floor is sticky, and I have run out of stout.
    Perhaps I have approached this from the wrong angle?
    In the meantime my chicken has been binge watching daytime soaps, and is becoming quite the urban socialite, and no longer rustic at all.
    What I really want to know is: How did she negotiate a cable subscription? I suspect I have been misled, and this is a technochic that just came for the free popcorn. Sometimes I’m sure that the next line will be “More cheese, Grommit?”
    Looks like I’ll be having bacon for dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 20, 2018 at 4:38 AM

    • Bacon isn’t so bad…

      An urban socialite chicken would make a fine substitute- not as tough as the rustic!


      May 20, 2018 at 1:12 PM

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