Sunday, November 02, 2014

Just Like Home

It has been noted in literature that certain smells can instantly bring recall of past events, often in great detail. With the autumn chill finally here, I decided to make beef stew and used my Mom's recipe, with a few small changes. By the time the stew was simmering on the stove, my house smelled just like home when I was young. This made me happy and inspired a phone call to my Mom to tell her about it. That completed the circle I think, although maybe that happened when the finished stew was shared in the evening with friends. New memories rich with fragrance were created, keeping the feelings of warmth and comfort going.

Beef stew is a great dish to make a double recipe of, which I did. You end up with wonderful leftovers which often taste better a day or two later than the original stew did freshly made. This one is full of onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes and three kids of frozen veggies. You could do fresh veggies, but I like frozen and that's what I grew up with.

Mom would serve this stew with biscuits, but we had slices of baguette and some nice red wine. The perfect end of the week meal on a chilly evening.

Family Beef Stew

2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons fat (I used olive oil)
1 cup boiling water
3 cups beef broth
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
a dash allspice or cloves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 medium onion, sliced
2 stalks celery, washed and diced
6-8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1-2 bay leaves
6 each carrots and potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
leftover or mixed vegetables (I used frozen peas, mixed vegetables and corn)
flour and water (about 3 tablespoons flour whisked with 1/2 cup water)

Brown meat in fat. Remove browned beef to a bowl. Add more fat if necessary. Over medium heat, cook onion, celery, mushrooms until tender. Add boiling water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, allspice, thyme, and bay leaves. Add the beef back into the pot. Stir to combine ingredients. Cover. Simmer 2 hours.

Remove bay leaves. Add carrots and potatoes which have been cut into bite sized pieces. Cook, covered, until vegetables are tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add frozen or leftover vegetables if desired. Cover and heat through. Make a paste with flour and water to thicken the gravy. Add to stew and

simmer until thickened. Serves 6 - 8.

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