Tuesday: Almonds, Lemons, Beer and Blogs

     Tuesday was a great day.  Even though I was scheduled to work at my paying job, I wonderfully and unexpectedly got the day off.  I was thrilled due to the fact, well I wouldn’t be at work, and the prospect of sleeping in.  One of my guilty pleasures.  After some glorious sleep I awoke to a craving for peanut butter.  I love having it in the morning on a crusty slice of bread or english muffin.  Knowing we didn’t have any on hand I decided to use the whole almonds I had and a bit of industriousness to make some homemade almond butter.  Recently discovering the fabulous blog Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef  I came across this how-to for said almond butter.  I mixed in a bit of cinnamon and honey to mine. It was delicious and oh so easy!
     The day progressed like any other; working around the house, reading, giving Eric a much needed hair cut.  Also on my mind were the preserved lemons that I had eaten from Eric’s Indian pupil.  After a few quick google searches I discovered many recipes for preserving them and also realized how versatile they can be in recipes.  A few days ago we purchased two bags of beautiful lemons from our local Aldi’s.  Rubbed with salt, the lemons were then quartered and packed into a quart jar.  It was an aesthetic experience that I enjoyed. The fresh scent of the lemons, their oils releasing as they were packed into the jar.  It was a thing of beauty rotating lemons and salt intermingled with spices.  Found on The Kitchn preserved lemons with cardamom appealed to my sensory organs of smell and taste.  Eric and I both love cardamom for it’s unique aromatic qualities and exotic flavor.  I imagine the many spice traders carrying this in their satchels enticing buyers with its heady fragrance.  Even today it is much sought after and one of the most expensive spices.  We had a bag of green cardamom that was just right for this recipe.  I added a few extra than what the recipe called for along with a cinnamon stick.  More on this in a month when my lemons are preserved.    
     After all these new recipes, albeit easy, I still needed to figure out what we would be having for dinner.  Looking around the refrigerator, I found carrots and three-fourths of the roast that Eric had left after using it to make beef tacos.  We had garlic, onions, red potatoes, a sprig of rosemary taken from my mom’s giant plant at home, stewed tomatoes, homemade canned pureed tomatoes, and a few porters.  I decided on beef stew.  I actually have never made beef stew but having eaten it I figured I could throw it together on my own.  Using the crock-pot, which is an underused appliance in our kitchen, it turned out better than divine.  I love adding beer as the liquid ingredient to soups, particularly chili and stews.  The dark beer helps to tenderize and flavor the meat, giving the stew a unique taste.  I used canned (purchased) stewed tomatoes because it was want I had on hand.  Also the canned crushed tomatoes that I used where homegrown from the shared garden we have with my parents.  They were a labor of love infused with fresh garlic and herbs from our herb garden.  Use what you have and herb it up as you desire.  Here is the recipe.

My Beef Stew print

  • 1 pound roast cut into chunks
  • 1-14 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 1-12 oz bottle Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter or similar dark beer
  • 1 quart homemade canned crushed tomatoes
  • 4 to 5 smallish red potatoes washed and chunked
  • 3 medium sized carrots thick cut on the diagonal
  • 2 medium sized red onions peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed and diced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 tsp crushed sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. With crock-pot setting on low, add stewed tomatoes, prepared vegetables and garlic.
  2. Add prepared beef and season liberally with salt. Season with fresh pepper if desired.
  3. Pour porter over beef and vegetables.
  4. Add rosemary and sage.
  5. Cook over low heat until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Lastly add crushed tomatoes, this helped to thicken my stew and was the final addition about 10 minutes prior to serving. (I didn’t use flour in this stew and the beer can be gluten free if needed.)
     One final word on those crushed tomatoes, I originally had not planned on adding them but my stew was not the desired thickness since I did not first coat the meat in flour and then brown it.  But it did the trick and added another layer of flavor. Next time I will probably just add it at the beginning. That was my tuesday this week, I had an extra day off work but accomplished a lot in the kitchen.  It was just want I needed and Eric enjoyed it too.
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