Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cooking for Pleasure

I have this unfortunate need for gainful employment.  The last two years have not been kind to the business my husband and I own and run together.  We've been working very hard and I think we will pull through.  In addition to a long week, we worked on Saturday too.  I was planning on cooking for pleasure last night but didn't get home soon enough, so the Queen of Casseroles whipped something up quickly and we watched a movie.  But today, Sunday, I planned, insisted actually, on a few hours to do as I please, which included painting some furniture and cooking.   My December 27 post talked about my visit with my mother and the pleasurable day we had making Julie Child's Beef Bourguignon.  I had been thinking that it had been awhile since I made a good old American beef stew, so that is what I set out to do.  I've modified a recipe I have.  This is not original.

Beef Stew Chez Osborne
In my largest kettle, I browned about 2 1/2 lbs of stew meat in 3 T. Olive oil seasoned in 1 T. Salt and quite a bit of fresh ground pepper.  When each piece was browned on the outside but still uncooked on the inside, I removed them to a plate, got rid of the juices they gave off and wiped out my kettle. 

Now 1/2 a medium onion finely chopped.  Onion is a sensitive issue in my house.  Husband doesn't like it.  Sorry dear, Stew has onion in it, please forgive me.  And 3 cloves of garlic minced. 

There is a pleasure of all the sense in cooking for me.  I want to take the time to touch things, smell things, as I go.  I grow my garlic.  My October 31 post showed my crop from the summer.  In my climate it is harvested in late June and hung to dry.  I still have a bit.  It isn't beautiful, but it is very lovely to cook with. This it about half of my remaining stash, so I'll be buying it from the grocery store before the next crop comes in.  What a bummer. 

Return the meat to the pot once the onions and garlic is cooked.  A little can of tomato paste (that's probably too much, but I can't stand to waste it.)  A 1/3 c. flour sprinkled over that and mixed.  Then an entire 32 oz carton of beef broth. 

Checked the furniture for dryness then out to my greenhouse for herbs.  The winter has not been kind to several things in  my greenhouse.  I'm a bit embarrassed.  The starts of kinnikinnick I was going to winter over and plant in the spring are not looking good.  The oregano and mint looks good.  The chives plant didn't winter over well, but it should be alive.  We'll see what it does.  Here is my thyme plant. 

The leaves are still fragrant and soft, although the plant is quite lopsided.  Took a moment to sniff and feel good.  I tasted it and decided to use it.  Don't worry little friend; spring is coming!  Snipped some and back to the kitchen.   I don't have a bay leaf plant, although I would very much like to.  I think they are Mediterranian.  I wonder if they would winter over in the Pacific Northwest?   I'm out of cheese cloth, but no worries.  I had fun cramming the Thyme and 3 dried old crinkly bay leaves into my tea ball.  I really need to look into the bay leaf plant!

Into the pool little tea ball.  I suspect that Emeril would not approve of this procedure, but it is really cracking me up.  Slowly simmered this one for an hour.

5 carrots and 2 celery stalks.  American stew has potatoes in it.  Five small red skinned potatoes, peeled.

And into the soup.  Where's the tea ball?  Oh there it is.  Okay this isn't exactly the recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook, but I'm not really a turnip girl.  Husband comes by, like he does every evening, to tell me it smells good and kiss my neck.

Cook the whole thing at a low simmer for another hour.  About this time, I poured myself a glass of wine and turned on the television.  This should be a nice night.  My favorite sou chef, the golden retriever, is Hoovering (As in vacuuming the floor for crumbs) at my feet.

Osborne Cheese Bread
There are two full time residents of this house, but many visitors. 
Husband likes cheese bread, but if it's just us, the french bread loaf gets dry.  I'm going to make cheese bread out of the remaining loaf and freeze part of it.  Will that work?  It should.

Slice the pieces, spread with butter.  Then a pinch of garlic powder between my fingers and sprinkle it over all pieces and the same with Italian seasoning.  Then spinkle with mozzarella cheese.  We'll only eat a couple pieces, so I'll freeze the others and pull them out another day. 

Remember to feel good.  And have courage.  A better day is coming. 

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