Turkey Tracks: December 22, 2021
Rain and Ice, But Warm and Sweet Inside
The warm and sweet includes a beautiful beef stew, which I made Sunday.
I’ll tell how I make a tender beef stew in a little over an hour below this message.
Friend Rosie Pilkerton’s Christmas card came yesterday, and as is her sweet habit, included was one of her Christmas stocking ornaments. I have many from her over the years, but these four are handily available and I will keep them nearby for the holidays next year. (I went through the Christmas decorations last summer and isolated the special ornaments in boxes that are now in dry storage upstairs—and the rest of Rosie’s stockings are up there.)
My friend in town who sends me pictures of the wild life critters that come into her yard, which backs up to the Mt. Battie woods, sent this picture yesterday. (Remember the fox pics from yesterday?) This beautiful deer was eating her junipers. Deer have been a real problem for me this past year as well. And it is early for the deer to be eating shrubs like the junipers—which usually happens in the extreme cold and lots of snow that *used to* come in January and February.
AC and I ventured out in the light fluffy snow yesterday as we both needed exercise and fresh air. AC’s chasing of his ball in the snow turned out to be really fun for both of us. We both had to watch really carefully to see where the ball landed as it would go ”plop” into the snow. That action produced a mystery for AC that he delighted in solving until he found the ball.
While at the Snow Bowl athletic field we also saw a cherished neighbor and had a little visit.
And now, we have passed over the Solstice, and the light will begin to return, ever so slowly, but it will return.
I use an Instant Pot to cook the beef and savory part of the stew.
I cook the small whole unpeeled potatoes and carrots separately, and I cut up the potatoes into bite-size pieces when they are cool enough to handle. How you cut up the carrots is up to you. You can cook both potatoes and carrots in the same big pot if you like. The carrots will get done before the potatoes, but you can just dip them out when done.
The cooked potatoes and carrots go into a bowl big enough to handle the whole stew, and when the beef part is done, I just pour it all over the veggies and mix them together. What ever green veggie I add is also cooked separately. BUT, as the warm dish sat in the bowl and after I had eaten one meal, I thought it would be good to add some frozen peas, which I did. And, yes, they were a nice addition. They more or less defrost in the warm stew, and if they need it, they cook more when one reheats one’s portion of stew for the next meal. I don’t reheat the whole stew when I want to eat some—just the portion I want for my meal. (I also froze about half of the stew for other meals.)
For this stew I sautéed 2 small onions, one celery stick, and 6 thin leeks (about 1 inch thick—so just under 2 cups?) in leftover lamb fat in the Instant Pot. (I don’t use veggie oils for this step as they—except for coconut oil—are too fragile and many are not healthy fats. Beef tallow would be a good choice too.) Add some herbs and salt. That first sauté does take a bit of prep time—maybe 20 minutes—I sauté and stir occasionally while I do other tasks until I start to see bits of brown in the sweated veggies. I remove those onto something like a plate, add a bit more fat (this time I used some ghee), and put in the cubes of beef that I had dried well in paper towels. Add more herbs, chopped garlic, and salt. As the beef sautés in the Instant Pot it will exude a fair amount of liquid. You want to cook down that liquid a little, which will begin to let the beef brown a little.
When the beef is ready, I add just under a quarter cup of thickener. I used sprouted brown rice flour as I can’t eat wheat. Mix it well with the meat. Add about 3 cups of water or stock and the savory veggies. I set the Instant Pot for 35 minutes and when it has stopped, I let it sit for 15 minutes before I release the steam.
The rest is easy—just pour the beef mixture over the veggies, mix them up, and serve up a bowl of your beautiful beef stew—knowing you have LEFTOVERS and some to freeze.