Beef Stew. And Legos.

In CategoryCooking

Here on the Oregon coast, it’s windy and rainy. This kind of weather puts me in the mood for soup, stew, and hot noodle-y casseroles.

You know, comfort food.

Today it’s beef stew.

Step One: Get kids settled with a mountain of Legos.

Step Two: Crank up iPod.

Realize for the eleventy-hundredth time that you really should download the clean versions of Holla Back Girl and Hey Mama.

Step Three: Assemble the ingredients.

Onion, Butter, Flour, Tomato Paste, Beef Stock, Stew Meat, and half a bottle of Shiraz leftover from the last time I made beef stew.

Step Four: Chop an onion –

if you have an Onion Paranoid Husband whose mother scarred him by putting giant chunks of onion in everything she ever made and he developed an annoying onion-related gag reflex that has been vexing you for the last 18 years, then do your usual mental eye-roll at your mother-in-law, get out that choppy thing and chop the crap out of the onions. Actually, if I was in my old kitchen, I would have put them through the Magic Bullet. Mmmm….onion puree.

– and saute them in a half a stick of butter in your knockoff Le Creuset dutch oven that you got at Sam’s Club for $40, but which makes you feel fancy nonetheless.

While the onions are sauteing, mix a couple or three tablespoons of flour, the tomato paste, and the wine in a bowl.

Admire your daughter’s Alien Disco.

Admire Squidman especially.

Take a picture of your silly family being Squid People:

(yes, that’s a crib sheet doing duty as a tablecloth. It’s effective and classy. I am, in fact, known far and wide for my fine linens)

Step Five: When the onions are soft, or when you are sick of waiting around for onions to soften, add the meat (about 2 pounds) to the pot, season liberally with salt and pepper, and pour in the wine/flour/tomato paste mixture.

I realize that you could go a lot of different ways with this. For one thing, you could brown the meat before you cook your onions, and if I had felt like hassling with it, I might have done that. But I didn’t. Also, you could put lots of other veggies in it – carrots, celery, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, etc. I might have done that on a different day, but today I am craving meat, so I didn’t. You can do whatever floats your boat, people. Cooking is an art, so there’s no need to get all imprisoned by things like recipes.

Down with the tyranny of exact measurements!

Add beef stock, a little water, and toss in a bay leaf. I used one of those 20-ounce boxes of beef stock and a cup or so of water, reserving the other box of stock to use if the broth gets too thick.

Step Six: Cover and cook in a 350 degree oven for 3 or 4 or 5 hours, or until the meat is falling apart tender. Uncover for the last hour or two so the broth can thicken.

Serve over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

The color in that picture looks off. Huh. Oh well. It’s yummy, that’s the main thing.

Happy cooking!

Leftovers freeze well, if you are so inclined.

This post is linked to Mouthwatering Monday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the TableReal Food Wednesdays, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Foodie Fridays, Food on Fridays, and anywhere else I can think of. 

Cue the Post-Christmas Bickering

In CategoryNavel Gazing

So naturally, after all the bounty of Christmas, wherein Santa brought every Lego under the sun to our house, we had to have a big, tear-filled conversation about Sharing and Not Being Selfish and People are More Important Than Stuff, and so on and so forth ad nauseum.

We seem to have this conversation all the damn time around here, which makes me sigh internally and roll my eyes and think to myself “we covered this already! Quit being selfish, love your sister, and share your crap! Learn It, Love It and let me get back to Pinterest for crying out loud!”

Little, of course, has many typical little sister qualities – like when Big hates broccoli, Little can’t wait to declare her undying LOVE for broccoli; and when Big gets in trouble for not sharing, Little can’t WAIT to share and be a perfectly generous angel. I remember some of this behaviour from experiences with my own little sister, who would blink innocently while pinching me under the table. I was an idiot who would turn around and smack her in front of everybody and get in trouble. Subletly has never been my thing.

One time, my sister carved MY name into my mom’s sewing machine. My mother actually believed that I had done it, in spite of my protests that I surely would not be stupid enough to carve my own NAME if I was vandalizing something.

Anyway. That’s not relevant.

Character training makes my brain go all fuzzy. I’m never sure if I’m doing it right. I’ll figure it out, though. I want my kids to have a life-long closeness. To be best friends forever. To celebrate birthdays and holidays and be there for the births of each other’s children and all that stuff. I don’t have that with my own sister, and I wish I did.

Blurgh. I need another cookie…


Random Monday – New Toys Edition

In CategoryRandom Monday

• Last week, my son made some kind of Lego army. He was trying to get across to me that it was an ancient battle they were fighting. He said, “you know mom – it was back in olden-lego times.”

• On Saturday, my daughter perused the stack of presents under the tree and asked me gravely if perhaps I had made a mistake and weren’t some of the ones labeled “Big” really meant for “Little?”

• I love all the planning and whispering and gift buying and secret keeping, and cookie making eating that comes with Christmas, but I’m pretty much over the big dinner. For one thing, the kitchen where we are staying is minuscule; and for another, I’m tired of being the person who frets over gravy while everyone else is playing with new toys or napping surreptitiously on the couch. I decided food requiring a large oven or gravy-making skills was out, but was paralyzed with indecision about what was in. PARALYZED. I didn’t get any cooperation from my family in talking about it, either.

Finally, I screeched told them that if no one wanted to talk about Christmas dinner, I would be dipping Cheetos in a can of frosting and they would be on their own.

We eventually went to the grocery store on Christmas Eve, where I bought fixings for about three different kinds of hot sandwiches, fruit, and marshmallow fluff to make fruit dip, which has to be the most delicious food abomination ever. Jim bought stuff to make pie.

It was fine. And frankly, no one around here cares about the big dinner. They might when they are older, but for now, setting food on the table where they can dash over and stuff a bite or two in their mouths before racing back to the action works for us.

I did have Jim make some mashed potatoes, because scrounging leftovers at 9 o’clock in the darkened kitchen by the light of the refrigerator is my favorite part of the day. Last night for Second Dinner, I piled my potatoes high with meatballs, sliced tri-tip and jus, and was content.

• Happy It’s-Over-Let’s-Relax-Finally Week, internet! I love you guys!

Best. Present. EVER.

In CategoryNavel Gazing

This is what I got my sister for Christmas.


It’s a chicken hat.

You’re jealous.

Admit it.

(probably you’re also jealous of my mad photography skilz, too. I mean come on – a chicken hat posed artfully on a partially used roll of paper towels? You don’t see that every day.)