Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Late night stew

There are multiple reasons as to why it is 11PM and I am only in the first few steps of making a homemade beef stew. Andrew is sleeping but the smells are wafting through the house and even when I was taking a shower I could smell the bubbling stock creeping in under the door.

1) I feel guilty about going to a fancy, 3-course, late-night work dinner tomorrow leaving my husband to eat frozen pizza. Not that he can't/doesn't cook, but he cooked tonight and we try to lighten the load on each other.

2) I got my first pick-up of my CSA share which was a bounty of carrots (still white, not very flavorful), celery, soybeans, radishes, bok choy, and rainbow chard. Knowing that the next few nights are busy, I feel very pressed to make use of the fresh veggies ASAP.

3) I'm feeling very wired from my 6:15 spin class. Not sure why, but sometimes exercising at night makes me very awake instead of exhausted.

4) The cold, misty rain of October has crept in on us after a second Indian Summer and I was struck by the instantaneous desire for stew.

Beef stew is so hearty and full of nostalgia. There's both Chinese beef stew and then the more European/Americanized version of it that my mother used to make on cold Autumn nights. I love both but tonight it is the heartier, beefier, thicker Americanized stew that evokes feelings of being some pioneer man coming home from tramping around in the snow, knocking the snow off his boots, and sitting down to a steaming bowl of stew that was cooked over the fireplace. Or, that is, at least what I used to pretend when I was a kid.

I still have no idea how Mom made her stew and I don't attempt to recreate it. I just remember it was so delicious and full of onions and big chunks of beef and carrots. She would toast bread and slather butter on it (one of the few times we were really into butter) and we would dip it into the stew, letting the butter melt and slip off a little while the bread got soaked.

One Halloween Mom served me and my friend the stew before we headed out for trick-or-treating. I don't remember what I was dressed up as, but my friend was a witch. She had terrible table manners and I remember seeing her look up at me with her witch's hat, a ring of reddish-brown broth stain around her mouth, and a big, happy grin as she wiped her mouth with the back of her witch's robe sleeve.

Tonight's stew (tomorrow's dinner) has the following:
Beef (top layer chuck??), cut into chunks
Carrots -- two stalks diced, the rest chopped
Celery -- two stalks minced, the rest chopped
Potato, chopped
Onion, chopped, with a handful set aside
Garlic, crushed
Parsley (fresh)
Oregano (dried)
Rolling Rock canned beer
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Soy sauce
Black pepper
White pepper
Corn (??)

1. Heat olive oil, throw in onions and garlic, sauté for 5 minutes
2. Add beef, stir
3. Add a little Rolling Rock, red vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, white pepper
4. Add minced carrots, minced celery, parsley, and oregano
5. Cover and let simmer until beef tender

That's where I'm at right now. After all of that magic happens, it's just a matter of adding the carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions to cook. Then spice it up and ready to serve. I'm planning on adding some leftover couscous from last night's dinner and maybe some frozen corn. Not sure yet.

I'm also contemplating just finishing the "stock" now and then finishing the rest tomorrow morning. If I stay awake any longer I'm going to eat something regardless of how late it is b/c dang, my mouth is salivating. Those smells and memories are powerful!!

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