Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A beef stew kind of welcome back

Beef stew

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.

Crock-Pot beef stew prep

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.

Crock-Pot beef stew (before)

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.

Beef stew

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.

Beef stew

3 comments:

  1. That sucks about Metra. But this stew looks like it made up for it. YUM!

    And I love how you fit it into your schedule, especially with it only taking 15 minutes of prep time. Brilliant!

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  2. stew in the slow cooker is a fave in our house--i still don't get a chance to make it as often as i'd like, but when I do--yum.

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  3. shanna - that stew definitely made up for the crappy commute. can't wait to make more Crock-Pot creations. :)

    mrob - all you need is 15 minutes for putting together the ingredients! get your slow cooker out this week!

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