Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Where is Everybody?

This is about how I'm feeling today. Where is my houseful? My brother and his family left yesterday afternoon. It was terribly sad to see them go. I already miss the epicurism taking place in the kitchen and the smells resulting from such love of food and preparation, I miss the sounds of the kids running through the house and laughter finding its way down the stairs from the kids giggling at something we probably shouldn't know about, I miss having my coffee made perfectly by my brother each morning when I finally made it downstairs after sleeping like a baby full with content, I miss the evening games of Pictionary which sometimes turned quite competitive because, of course, everyone wanted to win, I miss the smiles on mom's face when she was surrounded by so much love, I miss the music coming from each speaker as my brother chose his songs to cook with, I miss it all. I miss them all and having them here.

After dropping the family off at the airport (found out they had a two-hour delay only today), we made a beeline to the orthodontist office as the kid had a malfunction in one of his hydraulics in his mouth. After finishing with that, we came home and I kind of puttered, oiling the island, putting clean dishes away and such. My neighbor, freshly in from Los Angeles knocked at the door, and what a needed friend she was. The emptiness had already sunken in. We sat and drink my brother's sangria and talked. She invited us to go see Fred Claus at the theatre and we excitedly accepted. It was their birthday gift to the kid and I. They are just too sweet. I hardly ever go out and this was the perfect night to be out of the house and get my mind of my family leaving. The hub was working late, so I quickly threw together turkey fricassee, consisting of turkey and gravy thrown in a pan and served over warm toast. We had some green beans and corn casserole left over also. Voila. Dinner. Turkey night No. 4. I am still loving it.

We met with our friends and headed to the theatre down the road. OMG. I have never seen so many commercials in my life. Trailers are one thing, but 20 minutes of full-blown commercials is absolutely absurd. I enjoyed the movie though. It was cute. Of course, I got all weepy at times. I'm becoming such a softy in my old age. Thought I was supposed to harden, but it seems the opposite is happening with me! Geesh. How embarrassing when tears roll down my eyes at the movie theatre. Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti were fun and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kevin Spacey had a key part in it. I have always loved his acting. Anyhoo, big thanks to the R family for making my first night without my family here a fun one. I think the hub enjoyed the quietness of coming home to an empty house, eating his turkey fricassee and retiring with a good book. Perfect.

My brother Jim, in one of our many shopping expeditions while they were here, bought me my Christmas presents early. Of course, after Thanksgiving, we knew what the kitchen needed so while SIL was shopping, we snuck over to the Viking store. He got me another cutting board, a size smaller than the one I have, some oven mits (mine emitted lint when used--ew), some most excellent cooking tongs and the best cookbook since Betty Crocker's in the 50s--The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. I had first heard, or saw, America's Test Kitchen show when we were in DC last and the hub and I were there to clean mom's house out. We stayed in Georgetown and I flipped on WETA (the local public TV station) to see what was cooking. I forgot what they were making, but oh my. They gave you so many pointers and it was so refreshing to watch. When my brother arrived this time, he showed me his new cookbook. He says it is the the best cookbook ever. Coming from him, that means it is. And so, when we found a copy at the Viking store, of course he bought it for me. We scoured through them all week.


I was going to make the ATK beef stew last night, but I ran out of time since I was going out. And so today, I gathered all my ingredients and it is cooking as we speak! It is smelling the house up so nicely. Perfect for a chilly night.

And so, without further delay:

ATK Beef Stew
  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 C dry red wine
  • 2 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 T minced fresh thyme or 1 t dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes scrubbed and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 C frozen peas
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Dry the beef with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of the meat, about ten minutes, then transfer to a plate. Return the pot to medium-high head and repeat with 1 more tablespoon of the oil and the remaining beef.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the empty pot and return to the medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, thyme, bay leaves and browned beef along with any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer, cover and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook for 1 hour.
  3. Stir in the potatoes and carrots. Cover and continue to cook in the oven until the beef is tender, about 1 hour.
  4. Remove the pot from the oven and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the peas and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

8 comments:

Lori said...

mmmm mmmm sounds so good! i love a good beef stew and we are having just the perfect weather to enjoy a nice hearty bowl...

Motherkitty said...

I'm making it today. Thanks for the recipe.

Dianne said...

Oh yummy! I think we're going to be stuck having pasta tonight because I didn't get to the store. I don't like going out in the cold wind.

Vallen said...

Anything bubbling on the stove just says "comfort."

Motherkitty said...

I made it and WAS IT GREAT! Thanks for sharing the recipe which I've saved in my favorite recipes binder. Check out my blog.

PEA said...

Awww I can just imagine how much your missing your brother and family...the house always seems so deathly quiet when company leaves. Glad that you were able to get out that night and go to the theatre...I haven't seen that movie yet but want to:-) This week I rented Shrek 3, Santa Clause 3 and Deck the Halls...all three very good!! Oh yum that stew looks and sounds so good...it's very similar to a stew I make, complete with wine and tomato paste:-) xoxo

Artsy said...

I'll come eat at your house any day. MMM. Looks so good.

Beth said...

What a great cook book. So glad you got to get out and have a fun evening after having a empty heart when your family left. I want to see that movie too!
Lov Ya!!!

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