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Recipe: Oyster Stew in 15 minutes

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I remember loving oyster stew since I was a small girl. Frankly, it's kind of like mother's milk from the Earth and Sea. I know that sounds weird, but that's how I felt about it today when I ate three bowls right before a long nap. I actually don't like oysters very much. I prefer to swallow them whole. Chewing them is just too gross. But fresh oysters are essential to give the stew its oceany goodness. A few bowls and a few swallowed-whole oysters and I am one happy woman. My kids love the stew, too.

For some reason I remember oyster stew as a Christmas food. The most essential ingredient, however, is something you can't make yourself. It's O.T.C. (Original Trenton Crackers) Oyster and Soup Crackers (since 1848). They are hard little balls that you have to crack between your palms. If your palms aren't red from cracking these crackers after three bowls of soup, then you haven't added enough crackers. The crackers give the soup its thickness. Otherwise, it's just the consistency of warm milk.

Oyster Stew

Ingredients:

1 stick organic butter
1 pound shucked raw oysters, with their natural juices
4 cups whole organic milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and brown ever so slightly.

2. Add the oysters and cook for a few minutes, until their sides are ruffled.

3. Add the milk, salt, and pepper and heat up until hot.

That's it! I buy my oysters freshly shucked from the seafood counter. I guess if you have to shuck them yourself, this might take longer to make.

For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.