Saturday, January 19, 2013

Putting good food to good use

I have read many different recipes on how to prepare food uncooked in large plastic zipper bags, ready to throw in the crockpot. I like crockpot food but not on a daily basis. I have always made large batches of food and then frozen them in smaller containers. This beef stew is a favorite of mine and my family. The only thing different is that this year, I added chunks of squash to the vegetable mixture with delicious results. Here is my step by step how to make a stew in the oven.

In a non stick heavy skillet, I have a titanium skillet, add a couple of good tablespoons of olive oil and then add the meat. The skillet should almost be on high heat, depending on your stove. You want to sear the meat quickly to lock in the juices. Season generously with salt and pepper, we like the coarser restaurant style pepper.  When browned on one side, turn the meat over with your fork and brown the other side. The meat does not have to be cooked through, just really well seared.

When I make stew, I always make enough to freeze. In this recipe, I used about 6 cups of stew meat. Once in the stew pot, I add an onion that has been coarsly chopped. The meat has to stew in liquid, so for this batch, I added enough water to not quite cover the meat and seasoned with Bisto gravy mix. The amount of Bisto depends on the person's taste. Some like more and some like less, we prefer less...I put in a heaping tablespoon of Bisto gravy has flour in it to thicken. At this point, the stew gets put into the oven for a couple of hours at 350F. This gives the meat time to stew and tenderizes the meat.

While the meat is cooking, I slice about a cup of mushrooms and fry them up in olive oil to brown them. These are set aside while I chop the remainder of the vegetables. It depends what I have on hand in my refrigerator, but I've found that the following veggies work best in this stew:  2 cups of carrots, cut in large chunks; 1 cup of turnip cut in smaller chunks; 2 cups of squash, cut into medium chunks; finally, I add a cup of frozen peas.

After two hours, the meat is taken out of the oven and the vegetables are added to the stew. More water should be added, but err on the conservative side as the vegetables will release some of their juices and you don't want to have your stew to boil over in your oven. Cook the stew for a couple more hours, covered in the oven at 325F.

All the vegetables were from my garden and the stew comes alive with my home grown veggies...there is no comparison between home grown veggies and store bought. 

We love to serve our stew with Yorkshire pudding. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

This blog has been kind of neglected for a while. I think I've gone into hibernation for the winter.
Even the dog is not feeling the "gardening" thing. She's usually the first out the door, but not today. 

January is always the time for garden catalogs and ordering seeds one usually cannot get in the stores. I love trying new seeds and plants. This year, I'm investing in a grow light for nicer, stronger plants. Even though I have large windows to the South of the house, my plants still go spindly. 

I'm also still on the hunt for the perfect growth container that causes minimal transplant shock. I have an idea, which I will share later this month. 

As for today, it's a lazy day and gardening is in the a couple of months away.

Happy New Year!