Let’s just get it out there right away: I’ve never cooked a stew before. Not in all the years I’ve been cooking. Not even during my cooking challenge. Clearly, I needed to stop stewing over my cooking challenge and just make the darn thing.
Woe is me
Incredibly, like last month’s recipe, I was hit with yet another respiratory battle. This time, just your garden variety cold (sneezes, runny nose, cough, sore throat).
Maybe it was the month-plus tussle with bronchitis, but this cold proved similarly tough to banish from my system. I’m probably back to high 90 percentile, but geez.
As I’ve stated before, I’m a crummy sick person. While I don’t get particularly whiny, I do get angry that my body could possibly get afflicted with the weaknesses known to lesser mortals.
Fortunately, as I also like to point out, I live alone. So, mercifully, no one is around to see my infantile outbursts and I can easily portray a beatific and serene attitude to the family and friend calls.
Still, I had enough of stewing over my illness. I decided it was time to get stewing on my cooking challenge.
The internet remains my friend
As usual, I began browsing the ‘net for ideas. As stew has probably been around since Og made fire, there are quite a few options out there.
Generally, I pick two that I like and print them out (to put in my recipe notebook). Most people who cook and/or have cooked a stew know the process is pretty easy.
Of course, it has the dreaded flour as part of the recipe. Bleh. Flour, corn starch and the like. Messy and frustrating (for me). Fortunately, one of the recipes added the flour mid-cooking. Meesa like (ugh. sorry, no one should ever reference that film.)
The high price of oil
One thing that does get me stewing during my cooking challenge is oil. Specifically, cooking with it.
Despite having been cooking for all of my private home life, now closing in on 40 years, I don’t seem to be able to “master” cooking with oil. Or, rather, cooking without making a mess.
I mean, jeepers, this time I was heating the oil in a dutch oven. Those things are like 3 feet high (fine, about 10 inches). How the heck does the oil still spit out all over the stove top (and the counter)?
It’s not the temperature, that’s what the recipe asks for. It’s not the amount, that’s what the recipe asks for. Can someone please, please, for all that is holy in the universe, explain to me why I can’t cook with oil without making a mess??
Chunky vs. bite-size
Last to go in the stew are the carrots and potatoes. Looking at the recipes, I see that they want monster pieces of both. What’s up with that?
So, while I usually follow any recipe to a tee the first time I make the dish, this I could not do. Thus, my carrots get cut in half-inch rounds, not inch (or larger, in one recipe). And the potatoes become bite-size cubes, not quarters.
The cooking itself is embarrassingly easy. Just set the oven at 325 degrees, 2 hours for meat and onions, 1 more hour for potatoes and carrots.
Stewing over my cooking challenge
And voila! As you can see, it comes out nice and thick and…uh…stewy.
I had this nice plateful and…had to restrain myself from going back for more. I mean, it was tasty!
And, in one of those odd situations that probably shows up somewhere as a Murphy’s corollary, for the first time ever, I didn’t have enough left to feed twelve people. Wah!
So, I was left stewing over my cooking challenge for a reason never before faced – I didn’t make enough! But, yeah, boy, that was some good stew!