Winter, I and everyone I know are so over you. Getting to my garage requires traversing a slippery gauntlet of stairs and and flagstones blanketed by patches of snow daintily covering solid blocks of diamond-like ice. Ninny-Percy refuses to go far, and so the snow on my deck is now dotted with small mounds of poop and bright yellow splotches of pee. Lovely. I've abandoned both my compost and recycling bins because I brought them out to empty before leaving with Mom (my car was parked out back), parked in the front upon our return and can't bear to put my assorted Yeti-gear on to go fetch a non-essential. I detest being cold. ``````````` On another note, I would very much like to flip Jack off right now even though I know that is ludicrously immature. But really, sometimes it's hard to care that I am an adult and thus should act more mature. When he's been needling and needy, and I've been patient and understanding and all reading books, cooking a big dinner for him (dinosaur shaped pasta + pesto, thank you) AND concurrently making extra beef stew so he can have leftovers tomorrow after our dinner tonight, brushing his damn teeth because of the damn mouth wound and THEN he starts gnashing and wailing about how I don't ever feed him enough and clearly he's starving and might perish overnight, I do want to flash him the middle finger. Maybe with both hands simultaneously. And maybe scrunch my face and act just like the juvenile arse he's being.
Did I do that? I did not. I visualized it whilst ignoring him as he plopped himself down on the step beside me and said, over and over, how he would "NOT go upstairs until I feed him in the way he needs to be fed. Don't you know how HUNGRY I always am? Why won't you feed me enough?" Sweet baby jesus in the skies, I was definitely flipping him off in my mind's eye! Then I started taking away the iPad + dessert day by day. That got things moving.
``````````` The beef stew smells to the heavens and will be a marvelously tasty way to warm from within. I love to braise cubes of good beef. When marbled meat meets the face of a hot iron pot, the intensity of their sizzle lets me know that a caramelized patina is quickly forming. You've got to move quickly between turns with the tongs; the spit from the fat can really burn. And you cannot, MUST not, try to save time by crowding the meat; as with mushrooms, all you'll do is disgrace the essence of the beautiful food before you. Soggy fungi and gray meat are the antithesis of all each could be; if you're patient and gentle, you'll be rewarded with golden mushrooms whose earthy flavor is heightened and shiny cubes of ambery brown-black beef that looks as if it's been shellacked for posterity.
And that's only the beginning. As with any truly prepared braise, searing is but a critical step in a longer path to greatness. In that same iron pot, sauté some aromatics, salt everything well, stir some tomato paste in a hot spot until unctuous and then toss with the veggies and a generous cup of red wine. Beef stock, the beef itself, bring to a boil and then cover and cook in a slow oven for a long while. If you can, let things cool down, refrigerate the stew overnight, warm again and then serve. Once again your patience will be rewarded.