Feeding the Traveler, Or, What Do Eloping and Chili Have in Common?

Once again, I couldn’t decide on the better title so I put them both.

Mom always said you should have something ready to eat for when the travelers arrive. It didn’t matter what time of day or night they arrive or how long it took them to get there, they would be hungry, she said.


In 1998, I took my new husband home to Florida to meet mom and dad. (Key words “new” and “meet.”) I met Bill, and six months to the day from when we met, we were married. We started planning a wedding but mom was ill with cancer and the thought of putting her through travel and a wedding was too much for me to think of. So, Bill and I eloped at 5 p.m. the night before Thanksgiving. It was an elopement complete with a wedding Mass, two priests on the altar, and some surprise guests who showed up at the historic Old Post Chapel at Fort Meade, Maryland. (Word apparently leaked out about something special happening at Mass.) A few weeks later, I took my new husband home to meet the parents. It was a done deal, mom and dad, so you better like him!

We traveled from Maryland to Florida. Mom was not doing well but you can guess the rest. We arrived and she had a meal ready for us. Bill remembers the menu to this day: her homemade chili, corn bread, tortilla chips and all the toppings. Dessert was a store-bought cake but that’s okay mom, you were not the healthy mom who baked all those wonderful goodies for so many years.

They loved Bill and Bill loved them. She lived long enough to hold our newborn baby boy, Patrick, now 12, born in October 1999. Some say she died happy because of that.

Mom was my teacher in the how and why you fed others. Food for the traveler just makes so much sense. It’s more than just the nourishment. It’s sitting together over food to get acquainted or re-acquainted. It breaks the ice. It says, “You are welcome here.”

Good Foods for the Traveler

Sometimes you don’t know when people will arrive, so food that keeps in the oven or on the stove, or even a well-prepared cold-cut plate, are good options. Chili or homemade soup paired with a salad and bread works well. Grilled cheese is great for late-night arrivals. (Assemble the sandwiches ahead of time and put them on the griddle when people arrive.) Other options are crockpot recipes. These will keep warm as long as you need them to without the meat getting tough. Plus, all you do when people arrive is serve the food, no need to fuss with the prep so you can focus on the ones who traveled to see you.

Pot Roast – A Great Choice

Chipotle Pot Roast in Slow Cooker

A pot roast is typically a chuck roast which is cooked slow and long to make it tender. Its nature makes it a good food to have holding for the arrivals. It’s not a cut of meat you would put on the grill and enjoy like a steak. For more on Beef 101, here is an informative blog by the Frugal Dad.

And, below is a succulent crockpot/pot roast recipe from my sister, Susie. She says it’s a “McKinney family favorite.” I cooked it and I can see why. Maybe it will become a favorite of yours too.

What do you like to make to welcome your travelers?

Chipotle-Seasoned-Slow-Cooked Pot Roast

  • 2 packets (1.25 oz each) Ortega Chipotle Taco Seasoning Mix (use one packet at a time)
  • 1 boneless chuck roast (about 3lbs)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 jars (16 oz, each) Ortega Garden Vegetable Salsa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound small red potatoes
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into two-inch lengths
  • 1 large onion, quartered

Rub one packet seasoning mix over both sides of roast.

Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat. Add roast and sear both sides until browned. Transfer roast to slow cooker (crockpot).

Combine salsa, water and remaining seasoning mix; pour into slow cooker to cover roast.

Cover and cook on high for three to four hours. Turn roast over. Add potatoes, carrots, and onion. Cover and cook on high for one hour longer.

Remove roast and vegetables to serving platter. Let cooking liquid stand five minutes to allow fat to rise. Skim off fat and discard.

Make the sauce: Pour two cups cooking liquid into saucepan; cook and stir over medium heat 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Serve with roast.

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