Sundays I cook double… in order to negotiate a week of kids extracurricular activities, a full time job, being a member on two different community food initiatives (three if you still count my depressingly little contribution to slow food), squeezing in some form of physical activity to counteract said sedentary job (this blog isn’t helping)[wife edits: deep breath], I cook enough on a Sunday to help me limp along through my weekly steeplechase.
I’m just trying to cross the finish line – you can see it can’t you? That’s me, rising out of the wet depths of the ditch obstacle looking like a deranged lunatic who’s been pulled through a hedge backwards. I’m wearing a headband in the style of Bjorn Borg. I’m singing that song, “everybody’s working for the weekend” you know, by Loverboy, as I fling myself across the finish line. I’m the one lunging toward the nearest cocktail shaker, I mean trophy, I mean, participation ribbon. Oh, it’s an oxygen tank? Whatever. I’ll take it.
I’ve just commissioned my dad to cook on Thursdays. And my mother in law cooks on Fridays. Their cooking is the sound of angels singing. And the pop of corks lifting from the wine bottles they offer could split universes.
“It really smells bad”
The Gearhead’s referring to my beef stew. So what if it perfumes the house with dead fish? It’s organic grass fed angus beef! The farmer probably sprinkled fish fertilizer all over the meadow. It’s been wonderfully chomped, absorbed and transformed into flesh sacrificed for the benefit of our dinner plates – kind of like Jesus and the many multiplying loaves of bread and wine – sort of – [wife edits: better brush up on that]. The cow was absorbing the ocean; channeling the sea! I even added Guinness! [Gearhead edits: I think you’re losing it. No, you’ve lost it.] [wife edits: Where are you going?! You can’t just walk away from an argument!][Gearhead edits: It still smells disgusting. Open a window. I’m going outside.]
There’s no greater piss off than getting all geared up for a good argument and then not having one. It’s like the opposite of an orgasm.
“Mooooommmm!!! It really smells in here!!” Thanks for the screaming repetition Goes to Eleven, I wasn’t sure I got it.
Well, for what it’s worth, here’s the recipe for beef stew that I’ll be feeding the family, like gruel, cause frankly I think it’s worth three days of meals damn it.
Beef Stewed in Guiness
2 lbs (1.5kg) stewing beef cut in 1 inch (2cm) cubes
2 medium onions, chopped
a few slices of bacon (I used 4) – if this is smoked, it’s better
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped to 2 inch (5cm) chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped (may have to slice to same size as carrots)
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 can Guinness or other dark stout “molassesy” type beer
2 cups beef stock (maybe a bit more)
3/4 cup (180g) prunes
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
3-4 medium potatoes, peeld and cut into large chunks
2 bay leaves
leaves from 2-3 springs fresh thyme
Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the beef cubes and saute until the cubes are well-browned – in France this is called dore – or to make golden. For good reason – this is an essential step in flavour development. You may have to do this in batches. Remove the beef cubes to a bowl and set aside.
Add more oil to the pot and suate onions, celery, carrots and bacon until soft. Add flour and cook, stirring for a minute or two over medium low heat.
Add the Guinness and the beef stock to the pot, mixing well as you do so.
Add the beef, along with any juices, and bring to the boil. Add in the prunes, parsnips, mushrooms, bay leaves and thyme. Cover and cook over very low heat for at least 2 hours.
Postscript: “this is delicious” – wise words from the Gearhead.