Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cabin Fever.... and Stew

I was feeling a little trapped today. Between the never ending cold temperatures, the mega quantities of snow that won't melt because of those temperatures, the extra inch or so we seem to get nearly every day, Yogi dying suddenly which was just plain wrong, having to think of yet another thing to cook for dinner and then actually cook it, walking the dogs 3-4 times because they don't seem to think once a day is enough, the chicken popping in their water dish every day (and because it's frozen to the ground I can't raise it up!) and the fact that I have too much crap/junk/old clothes/furniture in this house and I'm over weight.... well, I just wanted to chuck it all and sit down with a bottle of wine and drink the whole thing myself today.

I'd say I'm ready for spring.

The other day I found an old venison rump roast buried in the freezer. It was only a pound and more than a year old but it was sealed in one of those vacuum packs and looked and smelled fine. I was going to do my usual thing which is rub it in oil, toss some spices on it and roast it in the oven till just pink inside. Boring. I always do that. But what else do you do with a roast? I know there are all sorts of roast recipes but the whole idea of yet another roast with whatever seasonings just annoyed me today. It would annoy me tomorrow. It annoyed me yesterday which is why I made scrambled eggs for supper.

Hal took pity on me and did a web search for new and interesting and EASY things for me to do with a rump roast. He does this occasionally, most recently finding a hassenpfeffer recipe for one of the rabbits he's acquired this winter. It turned out to be excellent. I'll have to write about it soon, after all it was so good I took a photo. But today he told me how much he liked stews. Hunter's stews to be precise. I grew up with one stew. The standard beef, potato and carrots. I hate carrots. I hated a lot of vegetables as a kid though I grew to love many since then. But I still hate carrots. 

Hal doesn't care for them much either, at least not cooked. I don't like them no matter what is done to them. My paternal grandfather liked to tell me they tasted just like candy. As a kid I thought he was nuts. Heck, I even tried baking them in butter and tons of brown sugar. They still tasted like carrots. Just really, really sugary. So I don't make stews because if you don't put in carrots, what do you put in... green beans? That's weird. Okra...? Then I might as well make gumbo. Too complicated. Peas? Well, I've actually used peas in some stew-like dishes but I don't like them either. I do it for Hal. He thinks they're great.

But back to the stews. He said to think of it more like a casserole. I like casseroles. I have 3 slow cookers and really need to use them more. He started reading different recipes to me and while they did sound interesting, the thing is, I would have to cut up the rump roast into pieces.

My 5, 7 and 3 quart Slow Cookers
Sacrilege! One simply doesn't cut a roast into chunks! That's what stew meat is for. That's why when we cut up a deer we make separate piles of meat to package and freeze in 2 person size packages; a pile for burger, a pile for stew meat and a pile for roasts. (Very few if any steaks, I'm not very good at cooking steaks, I'm a roast person after all.) But the more I thought about it, as Hal continued talking about this recipe and that, what is the point of cooking the roast as a roast if it's just going to make me unhappy, annoyed and toying with the idea of large quantities of alcohol?

So I cut up the roast. It was easy, it was quick and it browned up nicely in the olive oil with the onions and garlic. Then it all got tossed into my smallest slow cooker with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and some spices that are supposed to turn this into a Greek stew, called stifado. I'd never heard of it before, but it sounded tasty, and there are no carrots or peas anywhere to be seen. No potatoes either, though I suppose I could make some as an accompaniment, or rice, I love rice. And green beans on the side. I love those too (hated them as a kid, but they were always out of a can, can you blame me?) 

It's all happily in my pot doing it's melding of flavors thing and as the author of the recipe and experience has suggested to me, it will taste better tomorrow. That's what is so brilliant about slow cookers. It can cook slowly and be even better tomorrow.

So tonight we're having pizza, homemade, so I need to get out my bread machine and get to it.

And I feel much better now. As soon as the bread machine is doing its thing, I'll take the dogs for another walk. Number 3 for the day.

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