Saturday, March 22, 2014

Paula Deen Beef Stew

The sun is shining and I can see some grass in the backyard.

The temperature is 15 degrees above zero.

Yesterday it was near 40 degrees.

It seems like a bad joke to have days fluctuating so much!

My feet are cold and I am just chilled so I decided to cook.  That always warms me up.

I grabbed package of frozen beef stew meat from the freezer and started to thaw it.

After a quick search on I decided to make Paula Deen's Old-Time Beef Stew.  It was absolutely delicious!  Here's how to make it.

2 pounds stew beef
2 T. vegetable oil
2 cups water (I used 3 and could have used one more)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. paprika
Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
Better Than Bouillon (this is my addition to the recipe)
5 small potatoes (another addition I made to the recipe)

I always start cooking by filling my sink with hot, soapy water.  Especially with raw meat, I want to be able to wash my hands quickly and easily.
Assemble the ingredients you'll be using.
My stew meat was slightly frozen.  I've learned from experience that partially frozen meat going into hot oil can be dangerous.  Make sure your meat is thawed!
In a large stock pot, heat 2 T. vegetable oil.  When heated, add the meat to brown it.  I stir it all the time to keep from sticking too much to the pan.  You just want to see brown on all the pieces as you aren't cooking it all the way through.

Add the water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika and allspice. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the bay leaves and garlic clove.

Add chopped carrots, celery and I also added potatoes.
My secret ingredient is the Better than Bouillon beef flavoring.  About 1 t. is enough.  Add it now.
Cover the pot again and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer.  You can add cornstarch to some of the hot liquid (in a separate bowl) and re-add to the stew if you like it thick.  With the addition of the potatoes, my stew was plenty thick with veggies.

It was delicious and the perfect meal for a chilly March day!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jury Duty, Cockroaches, Missing Airplanes

My thoughts are all over the place this morning, just like the subject of this post.  What do jury duty, cockroaches and missing airplanes have to do with each other?  Or better yet, why would I write those words?

Well, I am on jury duty.  For the next two weeks I am to be available in the event a jury is needed.  It is really a weird sensation to block and protect my activities in the event I am told to report in. Each day for the next two weeks I am to call after 4:30 pm to listen to a recorded message that will say "no jury is needed tomorrow" or "please report in".  At work I am not sure how I should plan to handle my projects.  I don't know how many times last week I found myself saying, "do I schedule this meeting for next week or not".  It is interesting not knowing what "tomorrow" may bring.

A famous man addressed this very topic.  In a great book of wisdom and guidance you will find these words:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Good words, right? 

Now onto the cockroach topic.  On one of the several trips to Mexico I've made, I stayed with a family in their home.  They didn't speak English and I didn't speak Spanish.  Our attempt at sign language and hand gestures would've made the game of charades look easy!  I was so blessed in that this home was one of the nicest homes in the area.  And there were cockroaches in the bathroom.  I showered with the cockroaches.  Those little pests were a part of their life.  I think that trip prepared me, somewhat, for the cockroach that fell from the vent above my desk, ticked my shoulder and then started scurrying across the floor to my co-workers open bag (on the floor).  I wasn't scared but just so surprised.  In a split second I stammered "bag....bag....PICK UP YOUR BAG" to my co-worker.  She reacted just as quickly scooping up her bag and then she saw the critter and screamed.  As she jumped up on her desk.  Meanwhile I was up and out of my chair to stomp as hard as I could on the over-an-inch-long invader. 

All of us in that office were moved to that building in mid-January.  We found out that the basement is infested with cockroaches after we moved.  Fumigating monthly is a common occurrence.  Really?  In Minnesota!  Well, we have been creeped out a little and none of us returned to the office on Thursday and Friday.  Over the weekend I think there will be fumigating again so next week, if I don't have jury duty, I'll need to report back to the bug office.  Again, I'm not scared of them but it is a little creepy knowing they are crawling above me and in the walls. 

Where is that airplane missing from Malaysia?  I do not know why I am so haunted by this but I find myself continually checking CNN's website for updates.  My heart does ache terribly for the family members wondering where their loved ones are.  I guess that is the driving force behind my obsession. 

All of this brings me to my knees.  In prayer.  I have learned how much I take "tomorrow" for granted through this jury duty unknown.  I have today and I need to enjoy today.  And for that I thank God for the reminder! 

For the cockroach situation.  I am praying that the pipes freeze in the basement of the building.  Okay, okay...some of you are shocked that I would pray such an expensive thing.  Well, the facilities people told our office that the cockroaches are living in the sewer and the adjoining building owners don't fumigate.  So this problem is going to continue forever and ever until everyone takes responsibility and goes after them.  Or unless the pipes freeze and have to be reconnected (they are the original sewer lines from the wagon train days) to the new city sewer lines. 

My prayers for wisdom and revelation to the searchers of the missing jet continue.  That they may be guided to where this plane is quickly.  This is crazy, isn't it? 

I remain, So Amazed, that God has everything in control.  I know He does.  I have seen His hand in all areas of my life for years and years.  His hand will be in my tomorrow.  His hand will be with the cockroach problem.  And I know His heart is broken over the people in the missing aircraft.  May He give wisdom and guidance to the search teams and peace and comfort to the family members.

Enjoy your "today".