Wednesday, December 17, 2008
A beef stew kind of welcome back
I'm back. And I have to say, what better way to celebrate a comfort food comeback than with beef stew (recipe here).
Last week, as I ate uninspiring salads and sandwiches while trying to figure out how to insert more kitchen time into my schedule, it suddenly dawned on me: I have a Crock-Pot. And my Crock-Pot can cook for me.
OK, so it's not the ideal solution. (The ideal solution involves a million dollars, a huge kitchen filled with shiny new cooking gadgets, and all the time and cookbooks and ingredients in the world.) While I'd much rather have a few hours each day to dedicate to chopping, stirring, smelling, tasting, and taking pictures, it all really comes down to the fact that I need a home-cooked meal after a long commute from the city every night. If that means sacrificing actually cooking the meal myself, well, so be it.
It was kind of fun, actually, sitting in my office and wondering what my beef stew was up to all day. Is the kitchen filling with warm, hearty aromas? Is the meat softening as we speak? How are the onions and peas holding up? These are the questions that floated in and out of my head as I waited impatiently for 5 o'clock to roll around. I couldn't wait to come home to my stew.
Of course, this was the night the Metra train decided to stop on the tracks for reasons still unknown to me. Perhaps it was the icy weather, or signal problems, or a slow train ahead. Whatever it was, it was keeping me from my beef stew. And as I got hungrier and hungrier by the minute, I realized that it was a perfect night for the Metra to run late. On any other non-Crock-Pot evening, I'd already be anticipating a mad dash for quick takeout upon arrival home. But on this night, this beef stew night, I could sit back and relax. Dinner was already cooked.
All it took was some chopping and setting out of ingredients the night before, and waking up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning (brutal, but I survived) to toss everything in the pot. The results: tender beef, soft potatoes, and, most importantly, a home-cooked meal ready for the eating as soon as I walked through the door. Success.