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I am a simple country girl who loves life and lives it to the fullest. I cook for one of the greatest families ever. Cooking is my passion and I consider it as well to be my gift.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Cold weather calls for a pot of beef stew simmering pleasantly on the back of the stove. The stove can be either electric, gas, or wood burning. It will not matter which one, what will matter is your patience. A hearty, sultry, beef stew requires temperance of spirit, and I am not just talking about the red wine that will help give it its depth of flavor.

Start out with a couple of pounds of trimmed stew beef, the toughest you can find, because the muscles that are used the most, are not only the toughest, but are also the ones with the most flavor, and normally the most inexpensive. Cut the meat into medium-size chunks, if they are to small they won't require as much cooking, and the long slow cooking is what gives the dish its marvelous sultriness.

Wash the meat and dry it on paper towels. Now, the most important step of the entire recipe, use a heavy-bottomed stew pot. The meat will only simmer if not given the proper amount of heat to caramelize it. Coat the bottom of the pot with a layer of canola or vegetable oil. When good and hot add a layer of the meat, floured or not, I have cooked it both ways and think one is at good as the other. Here is were the patience part comes in, brown each side of the beef well, don't burn it, but get it good and brown before removing to paper towels. Add more oil, which is usually necessary, and continue frying the meat in batches.

Add to the remaining oil and tidbits in the pan chopped carrots, celery, onions and garlic; usually about equal volume amounts to the meat. Saute, stirring, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Work it well, this helps to brighten the flavors.

Now comes the good part. Open up a bottle of robust red wine. Pour a generous amount into the pot, stirring up the veggies and all of the particles stuck to the bottom of the pan, this is were the good stuff lies. Add the beef then enough red wine, beef stock, and water to just cover the meat. You don't want to give it enough room to go swimming, just enough to cover it well. Season it with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, then turn it to a simmer, cover with a lid, and allow to cook until the meat is tender enough to cut with a spoon. This normally takes about an hour and a half.

At this point it is time to add hearty chunks of potatoes, carrots and onions. You may also add turnips, parsnips, whatever you like. Add some more red wine also if needed and pour yourself a glass while you're at it. Cook for about 30 minutes more. The first batch of veggies will have dissolved and flavored the stew and the second batch adds sustenance and eye quality to the finished product.

Your home will smell like heaven, the wine you have drank will mellow your attitude, and the stew as it slides over your taste buds will enliven all of your senses! As always...Enjoy!

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