Friday, January 20, 2012

Beef Stew with Stout

Not surprisingly, it is a cold and rainy winter day here in Portland. Which means that it will be the perfect evening for something warm and comforting for dinner...beef stew. Instead of making it with red wine, which is also delicious, I decided to use the bottle of stout that was in the fridge. There is an earthiness that comes with using a stout or even a porter in a hearty beef stew.

I really just improvised this stew since I make them fairly frequently this time of year. Therefore, I did not work from an actual recipe. But, since many people, really do love to have some basic instructions to work with, I have tried to write down what I did. Hopefully, it makes some sort of sense and will actually work for you. Let me know.

Beef Stew with Stout

Serves 6
Time: 30 minutes prep and 3 hours cook time

2 lb beef chuck, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt (preferably kosher)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbs. fresh rosemary minced
2 tbs. fresh thyme minced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley minced
2 tbs. olive oil
1 medium or large onion diced
8 cloves of garlic minced
3 stalks of celery diced
2 cups of carrots chopped
1 cup of parsnips chopped
2 lbs. baby red or white potatoes quartered
3 bay leaves
1 (22-oz) bottle of stout
2 cups beef broth

1) Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2) Season the meat with salt and pepper, place in a large bowl, and toss with the flour.

3) Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or wide-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Cook the meat, in batches, until well browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes, transferring the pieces to a plate as they are browned.

4) Add the onion, celery, garlic, rosemary and thyme and sauté for 5 minutes. Drizzle in a little more olive oil if needed. Return the meat and any juices back to the pot along with the stout, beef broth and bay leaves. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.

5) Then add the potatoes, carrots and parsnips to the pot, cover, and return to the oven. Cook until the meat and vegetables are fork-tender, about 1 1/2 hours more.

6) When done, stir in 2 tbs. of the flat-leaf parsley and use the rest for garnish.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mending Clothes

It's been cold and dreary here in Portland for the last couple of days. And, I needed a little indoor domestic project to keep me busy so I decided it was time to mend a few clothing items that have piled up in need of repair. Let's just say that I have been procrastinating a bit on this since I'm not exactly a sewist (I think that's the correct term). I have taken a few sewing classes since moving to Portland but I am by no means anything but an absolute beginner. As you can see from the photo of the "mended" sock, my hand-sewing skills definitely leave a lot to be desired. But, the point of mending a few things was to make them usable again and not to show-off my skills or lack thereof. After all, the toe of that sock will be hidden inside a pair of Dan's boots. 

Most people would have thrown out that sock or tossed the two bras and the other sock that I also mended. We live in a throw away world. It's bad for the environment. It's bad for us financially. It's sad that we have stopped valuing quality and instead prefer quantity. So, in my personal effort to try and be a more conscientious consumer, I am trying to mend our clothes and make them last a little longer. In today's economy, being frugal and extending the life of your possessions, such as our clothes, is no longer looked as as being out-of-the-norm as it was just a few short years ago. I feel that is a step in the right direction and I hope it stays that way even when the economy improves. It is completely unsustainable for our culture or any culture to live in a world of disposable this and disposable that. So, I am just trying to do my little part and learn a few new skills in the process.