Monday, February 1, 2016

I Am So Going To Blog About This - Red Wine Beef Stew for the Crock Pot

Sunday - To the Rolling Fat Man in BJ's Warehouse on Osceola Parkway today around 1:30 PM: I'm not sure who pissed in your Post Toasties this morning but that was quite a performance you put on there. The ease with which you shot up and out of the seat on the motorized shopping cart, and the gracefulness with which you propelled yourself towards my husband, threatening at the top of your lungs to beat him up; convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were not really disabled, just FAT. Really fat, unattractive sloppy lazy fat, with those wobbling butt cheeks flopping over each side of the seat. 

What you didn't know is that I'd noticed you even before you went into that fugue state during which you channeled the souls of unrepentant psychopaths. I was trying to come up with something to write about for today's blog post, and after getting chased around by an inflated number of fat people wielding motorized carts, I'd decided to discuss my opinion of that whole phenomenon. I was trying to figure out a way to sneak a picture of you from the back so I could use it in the blog. I was fishing for my iPhone when I realized that a checkout line had an opening and I shifted direction to head that way. That is the only reason your ass isn't on public display.

And that's when you went loco in the coco, right in front of your kid. You bumped into me from the back with your fatmobile. Nothing terrible, a minor clipping on the calf. I turned around; you apologized; I acknowledged your apology and turned back to my cart. Which is when you started hollering and accusing me of cutting across your path. Which is when my husband walked over to respond to your verbal howling, and you threatened to beat him to a pulp or some such sophomoric blustering.

And then I, fearing for your physical welfare summoned up one of my reasonable voices (the one I learned from listening to hundreds of social workers over the years) and said, "oh no, you do not want to start with him." I said that, fatass, because my husband is a third degree black belt in taekwando who was awarded a world championship for sparring in 2007, and who has been studying the even more aggressive martial art of jiu jitsu for 2 years. You might have 200 - maybe closer to 225 pounds over him - but you'll never really get close enough to fall on him, before he caused you some real, painful damage. And be assured, he would not have pulled the first punch. 

You were still bellowing "do you know who I am?" when the accomplished staff at BJ's gently and professionally intervened, separating us, sending you off to wherever your wife was shopping (probably hiding behind the beef jerky) while getting us checked out and on our way. Rob and I still can't figure out what set you off on your path of shrieking revisionist history, but I don't really care at this point.  Fat-assed fathead. Yes, you.

So I'm not sure, but I can't help but think this little episode stole some of my spoons - it takes effort and energy to hold yourself back from whacking a repulsive miscreant with one's walking cane. As a result (and we also did a lot of shop-hopping today), my cooking spoons are gone. The much-anticipated Burgundy beef stew remains but a dream.

Monday - Did you know you need an ID to give your blood to a lab? But not to vote, eh? Never mind; I'm at Quest Diagnostics, ready to give blood and other bodily fluids for the testing ordered by the rheumotologist.  I have an appointment, but I'm still waiting. I don't mind a reasonable wait, and they are usually reasonable here.  Zip! I'm out of here.

Before I left the house I started the Red Wine Beef Stew and put it in the crock pot to cook. I decided to rename the recipe because I've only used burgundy wine once in the 40-plus years I've been making it, and I didn't especially care for it. Any red wine works, and I use what is in the house - everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Russian semi-sweet. We have an extraordinary supply of Russian semi-sweet reds, courtesy of one of Robert's long-time clients, who also always brings some Russian chocolates with him. Nice man. When I've had to buy wine for this, it's almost always a Merlot. Occasionally a Pinot Noir.

The timing on this really depends on the cut of meat you are using. Today I have a 2 pound piece of beef shoulder, which ranges in toughness from long-cooking stew quality to tender London broil. You will know when you press the beef in its package. This was fairly tender, so I knew I had to cut back on time.  My rule of thumb - 4 hours of crock pot to each hour of conventional stove top cooking - would have had me leaving the meat in there for 6 hours. I knew that would be too much, and cut it back to 4 hours. Perfect. The house - and Robert's accounting office - smell delightful.

This recipe was cooked in a 6-quart crock pot.            

6 slices bacon, cut crosswise in 1 inch pieces
2 pounds of beef shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
small amount extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced (not too thin)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste (from tube)
kosher salt
black pepper
Emeril's Essence
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
granulated garlic
granulated onion
1 1/2 cups red wine
water to just cover the beef
2 small bay leaves

1 tablespoon reserved fat
2 tablespoons butter
3 small yellow onions, sliced into rings
8 oz. sliced white button mushrooms

In a large, deep skillet, fry the bacon until crisp; remove to paper towels and set aside.

Working in two batches, cook the beef in the hot bacon fat just until lightly browned.

Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of the crock pot. Place the onions on top of the oil, and in order, add the garlic, tomato paste, salt, pepper, Essence, thyme, granulated garlic and granulated onion.

Then, using tongs to let excess fat drip off, add the browned beef.

Pour in the wine and just enough water to barely cover the beef. Add the bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until the beef is tender (do not overcook). Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet, and set the skillet aside.

Taste the cooking liquid and adjust accordingly, using 1-2 teaspoons of Wyler's instant beef bouillon, a few shots of Worcestershire sauce, and any of the original seasonings except the salt and Essence.

Melt the butter in the reserved skillet and cook the onions and mushrooms until the vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes over medium heat.

With a slotted spoon, add the cooked onions and mushrooms to the crock pot along with the reserved bacon, stir to combine, cover and cook on low for another 30 minutes. Check your seasoning one more time and add salt if needed. You can serve the stew immediately, or refrigerate overnight and reheat for tomorrow's dinner.

The Magic won at home over the Celtics last night, breaking an 8 game losing streak. Very happy, and pleased for my boys and especially Coach Scott Skiles. They play the San Antonio Spurs tonight, which will give them a chance to start a whole new losing streak. (I'm just being realistic. The Spurs are 39-8 while the Magic are 21-25.) I know they're not playing tomorrow, at least not at home, because me and my boys are going to Amway Arena to see Barry Manilow. BARRY MANILOW!!!

I received some very sad news via Facebook this evening, just as I was getting ready to publish the post. One of the young women I worked with (she and her family relocated out of state just before she was due to deliver her second child) suffered the worst loss of all - her third child, a little girl, passed away just two days after birth. My heart is broken for this mother, her husband and their sons. Sing with the angels, Baby Karis.

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