Sunday, October 18, 2009


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Autumn food!

So A) I need to remember to not use my BB camera, and that good lighting never hurt anyone trying to take a picture.

But B) Since it's now October, I felt like making a nice warming beef stew to celebrate the season. I was not going to let the little facts like "I live in the tropics now," and "it never changes season here," and "it was like 75 degrees all damn day long" get in the way of culinary tastiness.

My recipe is largely cobbled together from a bunch of different places, based on my shepherd's pie filling. I have no lamb, and finding lamb in the tropics is apparently impossible. I assume this is due to the fact that tropical lambs would die with all that wool. The ingredients (roughly estimated, I don't really measure anything) are:

4 rashers of bacon, chopped small
1 lb stew meat
1 lb ground beef
1 yellow onion
1 lb white mushrooms
1/2 lb crimini
1-ish lb red potatoes
about half of a big chunky carrot that I broke in half
cup of beef broth
probably a cup of marsala
a cup and a half of merlot

Render the bacon, remove to bowl. Brown the stew meat, remove to the same bowl. Add chopped onion and ground beef (my beef was frozen, so I just let it rest on the pile of onions and defrost in the pot), and brown as well. Add reserved meats back along with some garlic, and raise heat. Add potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms, all chopped into bite size pieces (quarters for my buttons, halves and wholes for my tiny criminis, carrots into 1/52ths of the original chunky carrot chunk, potatoes into 1/8ths, generally).

Add the broth, and about a cup of the wine (maybe half and half), and then add maybe a cup of water to cover. Bring to a boil, stir around so everyone is mixed, and then cut the heat down to a nice simmer.

This is where the seasoning stage hits. I added thyme/rosemary/sage with a bit of basil. Salt & pepper. I also added a can of tomato paste, as that helps thicken more than simply adding a tomato or two would.

With everything in the pot, it's now time for the fun four hour wait while it simmers. I added the remaining wine somewhat randomly over this time, corrected seasonings, etc. You can't really skimp on this either, since stew meat is generally crappy chewy cuts that need the four hours of simmering to become tender. In order to promote thickening, I used a tea ball full of flour to sprinkle flour around everytime I stirred.

I attempted to make cottage pie, so my mash was made by baking a potato and three cloves of garlic for a few hours, mashing with some water and cream. Since I didn't boil the potato (baking is lazier and easier, and gives better garlic flavor), the mash was a bit dry, so I didn't smooth it over the stew, instead going for the island look that's vaguely visible in the picture above.

The end result was delicious, as you'd expect, since that's the end result of simmering just about anything in broth and wine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Kitchen

Looking towards the right from the doorway (the pink is caused by my camera being old and cranky).

Looking towards the door from in front of the oven.

Pretty much the only counter space I have to work with. For reference, a large object (such as a KitchenAid Stand Mixer) would occupy about the same amount of space as the dutch oven on the counter.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Oh, Guy de Maupassant

"Then, suddenly, I must, I must go to the bottom of my garden to pick some strawberries and eat them, and I go there. I pick the strawberries and eat them! Oh, my God! My God! Is there a God! If there be one, deliver me! Save me! Succour me! Pardon! Pity! Mercy! Save me! Oh, what sufferings! What torture! What horror!"

Dude, they're only strawberries. You don't have to make a big deal of it.