After the zucchini, tomato and leek salt fiasco you read about in Katie’s story this week, I was happy to try something that was emblematic of Crock-Pot cooking. Something I knew I couldn’t mess up: beef stew.
My mother has made Crock-Pot beef stew for as long as I can recall. I remember looking forward to this meal as a child, sitting in the aroma-filled kitchen doing my homework eagerly waiting for the tender and tasty bits of meat, potatoes and carrots. It is the ultimate comfort food in the fall.
I began my hopeful voyage to my own aroma-filled kitchen by chopping carrots, potatoes and onions into bite sized pieces. I placed the veggies into my slow cooker, only to discover that my machine had shrunk! The veggies were spilling out of the sides and I hadn’t even added the meat. With no other option, I split the recipe and refrigerated half of the veggies.
Next, I got the huge slab of beef out of the refrigerator and began to butcher it.
I browned the meat and then poured beef broth into the pan to deglaze it. I next threw everything, broth included, on top of the vegetables. I was proud of myself at that point, marveling at how easy the recipe seemed. I then checked the cookbook for its cooking time and discovered I had missed what could be a crucial step: coating the meat in flour before browning.
Curse the Gods! Is flour really that important of a step? Why is getting this “cooking” thing right so difficult? What creature can possibly do what Katie and I are trying to do… plan meals, cook decent food and work a full-time job day in and day out?
Oh wait, I thought. My mom does all of that and more. She worked full-time, had an hour commute each way and still found time to make dinner most nights of the week for my father and me.
I guess I just need to get the hang of this “routine” thing, and learn when it’s OK to skip steps to save time and make things easier. My beef stew wasn’t exactly like what my mother makes, but both are wonderful. My mom is, too.