Friday, January 9, 2009

Baby it's cold outside

Today it is beef stew to warm our cold bellies here in MN. It is a nice place to live; we have amazing lakes and forests, campgrounds and outdoor activities, along with more hip things like theater, great museums and many venues for live music. It gets cold in the winter. I think there is a misconception as to how cold. Many joke that we are the icebox of the USA, but it isn't below freezing everyday from October to May. I remember the first few years we were married we barely had any snow and a lot of our friends were selling their sleds (snowmobiles for those in the south). Our oldest was born at the end of February and I have videos of us out in the driveway moving the street rods around and we have on jeans and sweatshirts. And then there is this winter. It has been cold and snowy and I have been miserable. Could it be age that is making us less appreciative of the changing seasons? I always loved the changing seasons. I don't mind the snow except when I have to drive in it because everyone seems to forget how to drive in it. Now the hubby and I look at each other as we leave for work each day and ask "and we live here why?" But soon, the robins will return and the crocuses and tulips will start to emerge, the grass will be green..........and then the mosquitoes come!!

Okay, on to the beef stew. I'm not a big fan of pre-cut stew meat. It is expensive and I often need to buy two packages for our family. I usually find a larger cut of sirloin and cut it myself. It has more flavor as I leave some fat on for just that reason. I don't know if I can call it stew as it doesn't get really thick, so maybe beef soup?

Beef Stew:
1-3 pound loin steak, cut in 1 inch cubes
1-1/2 to 2 pounds red potatoes, cut so all are approximately the same size
4 carrots, peeled and chunked
3 stalks celery, washed and cut in pieces
1 onion, sliced in rings
Worcestershire sauce, depends on how much you like it
tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 box of beef stock (not pictured as I already put it in the slow cooker)
spices-I use whatever sounds and smells good on that day. I love Penzey Spices as they taste wonderful, and have a lot of blends, so I can use one jar but have many flavors. I used Beef Roast and Chicago Steak Seasoning for today

Cut beef into similar size pieces, around an inch square. Sprinkle seasonings on cubes. Fire up a hot skillet. Place beef, seasoned side down and sprinkle with seasonings on top. Add some Worcestershire sauce to pan; it will give the meat a nice deep color. While meat is browning, peel and cut veggies. In slow cooker, pour in a box of beef stock and some tomato paste. I use the tube stuff for things like this when I don't need a whole small can. Stir in about 3 TBSP of the paste into the stock. Place onions and potatoes on bottom of the slow cooker, then toss the carrots and celery on top of those. I like the potatoes on the bottom as they take longer to cook. When meat is browned, place on top of veggies. Sprinkle the top with more Worcestershire sauce and the seasonings, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. I like to serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread. Since we don't have an oven at work, I had to settle for Italian bread toasted with some butter.

Warm for belly. Tasty for the belly. Maybe I should have stuck my cold fingers in the bowl? Nah, probably not-that is what the Dude's for, warming my cold appendages!


Pam said...

We love beef stew - there's nothing better on a COLD day. It looks really tasty and comforting.

I never buy pre cut stew meat either.

noble pig said...

Living in California my whole life I long for a good changing of the seasons. We do get cold here and the leaves fall off but no snow. I would love to try it.

The stew sounds like the perfect meal.