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I really cannot sum up my life in the last 24 months. It has been a rollercoaster. My son, my gorgeous, kind, funny, smart baby boy is now TWO!!! Where did the time go? I sometimes think to myself that I am trundling along, just about coping and then I have moments when I realise that I am in fact doing a great job and not treading water like I feel I am, but sailing along dipping my fingers into the waves as they splash up and feeling that life is good.

24 months ago, my second child Alexander was born. In a few weeks it will be the 2nd anniversary of my husband ending our relationship and my 2nd anniversary of being a super strong single mum (although I have been doing it on my own for a lot longer than this). I admit, I have had moments, more than a few, where I felt like I was sinking, and wanted to scream and cry. I was angry a lot (and yes I still have moments of this), I was heartbroken all over again and while I still feel the huge loss of my marriage, the loneliness and what I imagined my family being, I recognise that the family unit of 2 (myself and Alexander) are doing brilliantly. Somehow I managed to raise a kid who is thoughtful, kind and caring, funny and silly, smart, inquisitive and loves to learn. We have a wonderful support team in my mother, sister, father and friends, and I am eternally grateful to them for being there for us. One of my few regrets in the last few years is that I have not been as attentive to my cooking and sharing on my blog. It gives me so much pleasure to cook and write, but you do what you can, when you can. That is all you can really ask of yourself isn’t it?

My father is coming to visit! Alexander is super excited. He has been talking about his Umpy (granddad) for months and says “Umpy plane” and makes hand gestures soaring though the air when I tell him granddad is coming. In preparation for Umpy’s visit, I made a few meals for the fridge so we don’t have to worry about what to eat and shop for each day (I hate not being organised and planned). So I made a stew, some Bolognese, Quiche and snacks and stocked the fridge for the week. Everything else, I will leave up to my father to figure out.

My stew is a take on Julia Childs Bourguignonne which I have made many a time before and you can find the recipe hereΒ 

I didn’t quite have the time nor the patience to do Julia justice this time so I simplified it and made a yummy low salt version for us.

BEEF STEW

  • 600 g stewing beef, cut into cubes (not too small)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into chunks
  • 250 ml red wine (optional)
  • 1 ltr of stock (preferably beef stock, but I made my own low salt chicken stock for my fussy family)
  • 5 stalks of fresh thyme
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 500 g baby potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • salt and pepper

THE HOW

Heat the oven to 200 C (fan oven). Pat the beef dry between 2 sheets of kitchen roll.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy based dutch oven pan and brown the beef on all sides. Set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan over a medium heat, add the remaining oil, and fry the onion and carrots for 2 minutes. Return the beef to the pan, add the flour and stir well to mix the flour in, cook for a few minutes. Add the wine (if using) and let the alcohol burn off for a minute. Add the tomato paste, stock, garlic and thyme and stir. The stock should cover the ingredients fully, if not, add a little more boiling water and bring to the boil.

Place in the oven for 5 minutes uncovered, then turn the heat down to 160 C (fan oven) and cover. Put the timer on for 1 hour. After the hour, give the stew a good stir, and put the timer on for another hour.

Remove from the oven, add the potatoes and stir well. Discard the thyme stalks (the leaves will have fallen off by now) and place back into the oven for one last hour. Total time in the oven should be 3 hours, allowing the meat to tenderise and the veg to cook.

Can be eaten as is, or you can serve with rice or spaghetti (my son loves spaghetti with this).

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