Stewing Outside the Box

Yesterday I feel like I officially began my training for the half-marathon.  It wasn’t that I started running, most of you know I’ve been doing that for a while.  It’s that I added in special drills designed to increase core stability and leg speed.  I bounded, I pushed up, I crunched, I sprung, I sprinted, I even skipped and today I hurt.  I could barely get out of bed.  I actually like this.  It gets me excited and makes me feel like I’m really doing something that will help.  Running 13.1 miles will take me somewhere around 2 1/2 hours.  It requires a stamina that running shorter distances just does not.  You probably could do it without the strength training.  I just don’t understand why you would try.

Something that is making running so much easier is the change in weather.  I have difficulty running in the heat and humidity.  This was the biggest reason that I took the summer off.  This morning it is a brisk 52 degrees.  A perfect morning temperature, if you ask me.  Long sleeves and pants feel good, the boys need a jacket before heading to school.  Just perfect.  Yesterday was also the first day this season that the temperature didn’t make it out of the 70s.  Being outside was just glorious.  I organized the camp gear for a trip planned for this weekend and then decided that it was a perfect day to make beef stew.

Beef stew has long been one of my favorite fall dinners.  It’s hearty and easy and just delicious.  Since the camp gear was out, I even decided to make it outside on the Coleman stove.  The aroma wafting from the pot filled the air with the smell of fall.  Friends and neighbors were drawn in.  It turned an ordinary dinner into a fun fall evening.  And the dinner that followed was perfect for the cool autumn night.  Sometimes it’s fun to think outside the box, even when it comes to a “normal” family dinner.  If you have a coleman stove or a Dutch oven, try it in your driveway sometimes.  You’ll enjoy the looks from the neighbors and may even end up having an impromptu great gathering.  Sharing cooking experiences is fun.  Here is my recipe for this super-simple one-pot beef stew.  Perfect for cooking outdoors or in your own kitchen.  I’ve included measurements for simplicity but you could do this without measuring at all.  A little of this, a little of that.  It’s not an exact science.  Today is another cool one. Give it a try!  And do it outside.  You might draw a crowd.

Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2-1 cup red wine

4 cups beef broth (I used water and beef bouillon)

2 teaspoons dried parsley

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

4 baking potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1 1/2 onions, chopped

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons cold water

Salt/pepper to taste

Place flour, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper into a ziplock bag.  Add meat and shake well to coat.

In a stew pot, add vegetable oil.  When it become hot, add meat and brown well.

While stirring, add red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all of the stuck bits (fond, i.e.  the good stuff).  Add broth, parsley and rosemary.  Cover and simmer for an hour.

Add potatoes, carrots, celery and onions.  In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with water and then stir into stew.  Cover and simmer another hour, or until potatoes are cooked through.



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