Thursday, January 16, 2014

Best Beef Stew (no lie)


  • 4 pounds bottom round, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced 
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 pound potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 pound carrots (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf

  • Directions
  1. Coat the beef in the flour. Heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. Transfer to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Add the onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions; transfer to the cooker.
  3. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add to the cooker. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 7 1/2 hours, or on high for 4 hours. (I do the 4 hour method, it's perfect). 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wondering About Calling

In a search for new books I have come across several recommendations. I am pleased to dive into Notes from a Blue Bike soon and have peeked in on a few other recommendations... while searching I noticed a theme of books about purpose, calling and dreaming/living the dream. I read some descriptions (most of which start off with 'ever wonder why you feel restless/distant/dis-satisfied..." The women who write these books are Christians, mothers, writers probably with loads to do in their lives. So they write about women needing to find purpose in their lives - God's purpose.

I heard a sermon once where the pastor said, "I get young people coming to me all the time asking what their purpose is, afraid they can't figure out their calling. I tell them, start with what God has called all of us to do - serve, love, give, forgive... They don't like that response - they want something special and unique."

"Special and unique" may be the unspoken criteria to which we ask God about our purpose and calling. Maybe that leads to the restlessness... we don't like what we've been called to so we don't put our whole heart in it, we do things half-way, always wanting the special calling, the thing that will make us stand out. In a sense we want a calling that is going to make others look at us with admiration, respect...envy?

I admit I spend time thinking about that, too. Wondering if the time to do something special has passed. But as my husband and I were talking last night I really started to see roots form in the things we listed were really good about our lives. We live in a very small apartment the three of us, but it's a nice place, well maintained (mostly) and it meets our needs. I have to work full-time, but I get flexibility in my schedule and work with some good people. Hubby is in school and has to take care of our little one which means he has to shoehorn in study time most days, but he's doing well and our daughter is happy at home... I've thought of our time while he's been in school as "transition" until he graduates and works, but it's not true. This is it. This is our life. Breathe deeply, this is it. It's not some future state or future calling. It's now. We are not more than what we are, but we aren't less either.

We are not missionaries, world leaders, famous writers, but we are a family, teachers to our daughter... maybe not special and unique, but specific and real. I don't think God needs to call me to something really outrageous or even "special". Being a mommy is special, being a wife is special. It's not unique, but it is impactful. It's where I teach and learn and grow. It's where I can glorify God. Why would I want to trade that in for something else?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Best Carrot Berry Nut Muffins (no lie)

Carrot Berry Nut Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup mixed dried fruit from Trader Joe's (contains golden raisins, blueberries, cranberries and cherries). No need to re-hydrate as the moisture from the cooking process will plump up the fruit.
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. pistachio meat (sold without the shell at Trader Joe's)
2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
3 c peeled and grated carrots
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce

1. Preheat 350 degrees. Line and grease muffin pan lightly. Make sure the pan gets some spray, too as these are big muffins and you don't want the tops to rip off when you take them out just because they stick to the pan around the muffin liner.

2. Combine fruit, nuts and dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs then stir in carrots and oil. Add to dry ingredients all at once, stirring just until moistened. Then add your applesauce. It will look a little thick, you'll want to add water. Don't. They'll be all right.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops spring back when touched. Let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then pop them out to finish cooling on a rack. But do yourself a favor and eat one while it's warm. And then eat another. 

Been Awhile

I have thought about blogging, but have virtually abandoned it for months. Pace picked up in our life around early November and the back-burner got full.

Things that were a priority were my daughter turning one, celebrating my Dad's life on the first anniversary of his death, Christmas, Thanksgiving... all good things.

We are restoring now, planning on slimming down our lives (including my butt), listening to what our lives, minds, bodies are asking of us. Trying to fine tune ourselves to the voices that need to be heard (our daughter, each other, God) and letting the rest go.

Cooking is going to be fun. Cleaning is going to be fun. We're looking forward to it!