A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
I came late to the joys of crockpot cookery, but I'm a complete convert. Did you know you can make a passable carrot cake in one? Yep.
Anyway, today is a crockpot-and-cupboard cleaning kind of day. Sendik's on North has angus beef stew meat and mushrooms on sale, so guess what's simmering right now? I'm heading out to walk the dog, but I thought you might like a stew recipe reminder. Nothing is more forgiving than stew, as long as you cook it long enough. So get creative: use what you have. This recipe started out as Mom's Beef Stew in the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, which I got for $5 and change at Half Price Books in Brookfield.
Not Your Mom's Beef Stew
2 lbs or so of stew meat in bite-sized pieces.
Toss in a bag with 1/2 cup of flour, teaspoon of paprika (smoked from the Kavenaugh Street Spice Works is best), salt, pepper if you want but it kinda cancels the paprika). Shake off excess flour and brown in a tablespoon of olive oil. Or bacon fat. Set aside.
1 1/2 pounds or so each of potatoes and carrots, cut into biggish chunks (or use tiny expensive whole potatoes. Don't use packaged baby carrots: their texture gets weird when cooked). Peel if you must or don't. Or leave out the potatoes and serve stew later on a snowy mound of mashed potatoes, whatever you like.
Put these in the bottom of the crock pot; put the meat on top.
1 large onion and a pound or so of mushrooms, chopped. A celery stalk or two if you like that: I don't. If you don't like mushrooms, leave out. And get help for that problem!
Garlic cloves, minced.
Put another tablespoon of fat in the frying pan and saute the onions (and celery) for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms and saute a couple minutes, and finally add the garlic for just a minute or two: don't burn it or it tastes nasty.
Then add to the veggies the following ingredients or whatever you want to kind of juicy it up. Mix thoroughly while bringing to a boil.
2 cups beef broth (or beer, red wine, water: I used the last of the turkey juice)
1 small can tomato paste. If you don't have that, catsup will do fine. Or you can skip the tomato entirely if you don't like it.But if you ask me, the only reason to avoid tomatoes is allergy--the kind that swells your throat, not the kind you claim if you just don't like something.
Big splash of soy or worchesteshire sauce, big splash of red wine vinegar
A bay leaf or two: thyme, crumbled, if you like that flavor; a bit of sugar if you want; an envelop of dry onion soup if you want to get rid of it; anything else that grabs you for a sauce.
Pour the saucy concoction over the stuff in the pot, maybe poke around a bit so some of it seeps through to the bottom. Or not: it'll work its way through. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or so, high 4 hours or so, depending on your pot. When you're ready to eat, fish out the bay leaves and season to taste. If you like peas, throw in a small bag and just heat through.
Great food to fuel your personal snow removal efforts!