World Traveler….. Beef Guinness Pie and Mole Verde

I probably shouldn’t have started a blog if I wasn’t going to update it. But I didn’t know I was going to get pregnant, and I didn’t know that I would be traveling around the world pregnant and the toll that would take on my body.

So where have  I been and what have I brought back? (other than a nasty strain of some sort of bacterial yuckiness)

I started my summer in Ireland!

Ireland is lovely, with the kindest and most hospitable people I have encountered. We ate a lot of pub food and it was great! I asked the barkeep what pregnant women drank in the pub, he laughed and said, “Guinness of course!” Here is a recipe for Guinness Beef Pie. Granted, this is usually made with pie crust or potatoes. For PCOS eliminate the crust/potatoes and eat as a nice stew.

Beef and Guinness Pie (from Gourmet)

  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons drained brined green peppercorns, coarsely chopped
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Instructions:

    Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.

    Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and enjoy!

    Ok, so I returned for 5 days, in which I helped plan a bridal shower and then jetted off to Mexico! This is my 5th time in this area so it wasn’t much of a new adventure. My sister was getting married and we stayed at a resort, which doesn’t count much for traveling….
    “Toursits don’t know where they have been and Travelers don’t know where they are going.” Paul Theroux-
    I figure I am in the Travelers category.
    My favorite little known Mexican recipe is for Mole Verde. Give yourself plenty of time to make this, and don’t be surprised if you eat the whole thing in one sitting.
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    Mole Verde (from Rick Bayless)

    1 large white onion, sliced
    4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
    1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
    Salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
    1 good-size (3-pound) chicken, cut into quarters
    2 bay leaves
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
    A generous 1 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) hulled raw pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
    12 large sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
    3 small romaine leaves, roughly chopped
    Hot green chilies to taste (roughly 3 serranos or 2 small jalapeños), stemmed and roughly chopped
    1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

    Instructions:

    1. The chicken: In a large (6-quart) pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add half of the onion and garlic, all the carrot, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the chicken back (if you’re lucky enough to have a separated one), neck, heart and giblets. Skim off any foam that rises after a minute or two, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Add the dark meat quarters, skim again after a couple of minutes, then add the bay, thyme and marjoram, partially cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the breast quarters, skim when the liquid returns to the simmer, partially cover and cook 13 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the chicken cool for a few minutes in the broth. Remove the breast and leg quarters from the broth and set aside. Strain the broth, discarding the solids, and spoon off any fat that rises to the top.

    2. The pumpkin seeds: In a large (10-to 12-inch), heavy skillet set over medium heat, spread out the pumpkinseeds and toast, stirring regularly, until all have popped (from flat to rounded) and turned golden (no darker); once they start popping, the whole process shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes. Spread out on a plate to cool; reserve a couple of tablespoons for garnish.

    3. The sauce: In a blender, combine the cooled pumpkinseeds with the remaining half of the onion and garlic, the cilantro, romaine,
    and green chiles. Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and blend to a smooth puree. Heat the oil in a large (4-quart), heavy saucepan over medium. Add the puree and stir constantly until very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the broth (you’ll have about 4 cups broth left over for soup or another sauce), partially cover and simmer 20 minutes; the sauce will look coarse at this point.

    4. Scrape the sauce into a blender, loosely cover and blend to a smooth puree; if necessary add a little extra broth (or water) to give the sauce a medium consistency. Rinse your saucepan, return the blended sauce to it, taste and season with salt, usually a 1/2 teaspoon. Add the chicken and warm (but don’t bring to a simmer) over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes.

    5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a warm serving platter, then ladle the sauce over and around it, decorate with the reserved pumpkinseeds and cilantro sprigs, and it’s ready to serve.

    After returning, I had a stomach virus and a head cold. I blame it on the airplane flight. It has been 2 weeks since I have returned and I still need to be close to a bathroom. Hoping to one day eat normal again!

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Home-made Swedish Meatballs

I was perusing a blog that I look at occasionally and they had taken pictures of real frozen dinners, with the boxes.

This looks nothing like the picture on the box, and truly looks inedible.

The ingredients are as follows:

BLANCHED MACARONI PRODUCT (WATER, SEMOLINA, WHEAT GLUTEN), WATER, SKIM MILK, BEEF AND PORK, ONIONS, 2% OR LESS OF MODIFIED CORNSTARCH, DEHYDRATED SOUR CREAM (SOUR CREAM (CULTURED CREAM, NONFAT MILK)), SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, ROLLED OATS, SOYBEAN OIL, MUSHROOM BASE (SAUTEED MUSHROOMS, SUGAR, SALT, CANOLA OIL, MALTODEXTRIN, ONION POWDER, 2% OR LESS OF POTATO STARCH, HYDROLYZED WHEAT GLUTEN, MUSHROOM JUICE CONCENTRATE, CARAMEL COLOR, NATURAL FLAVORS, GARLIC JUICE CONCENTRATE, ONION JUICE CONCENTRATE, SOYBEAN OIL, XANTHAN GUM), SALT, BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, RICE STARCH, FLAVOR (MALTODEXTRIN, SALT, YEAST EXTRACT, SOY SAUCE (SOYBEANS, WHEAT, SALT), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% BEEF EXTRACT, BEEF FAT, FLAVOR, TAPIOCA DEXTRIN, THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE), DEHYDRATED ONIONS, CARAMEL COLOR, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE (VINEGAR, MOLASSES, WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, ANCHOVIES, TAMARIND, SPICES, NATURAL FLAVOR, CARAMEL COLOR, ONION POWDER, GARLIC POWDER), GARLIC PUREE, SPICES, SUGAR, YEAST EXTRACT, XANTHAN GUM, BEEF, DEHYDRATED SOY SAUCE (SOYBEANS, SALT, WHEAT), DEHYDRATED GARLIC, NATURAL FLAVORS, CULTURED WHEY, BEEF STOCK

Although most of those ingredients are recognizable, you generally wonder…. just what is Thiamin Hydrochloride?

(Thiamine hydrochloride (Betaxin) is a (when by itself) white, crystalline hygroscopic food-additive used to add a brothy/meaty flavor to gravies or soups. It is a natural intermediary resulting from a thiamine-HCl reaction, which precedes hydrolysis and phosphorylation, before it is finally employed (in the form of TPP) in a number of enzymatic amino, fatty acid, and carbohydrate reactions.)

In case you were wondering.

But why not know all the ingredients? Why not make it yourself? Why does our culture rely so much on convenience and cost over good for our bodies and peace of mind? We all work with people that pop these in the community microwave and mindlessly ingest them, maybe we are one of them. We all are short on time, or short on money. But what are we willing to sacrifice? Our health seems like a dangerous tradeoff.

I have the ability to  make a batch of 30 fantastic meatballs that I personally know what the ingredients are and where they came from, all for less than 10 dollars. Check it folks, that is 33 cents a meatball, in addition you get the added bonus of not having to make two extra meals because you would have left-overs. (Although be forewarned the recipe below is extremely addictive and doesn’t last long in our house)  In the picture above there are 5 meatballs…. that is $1.65 and it is mostly noodles, which automatically turns into body fat for those of us with PCOS. That just doesn’t seem right to me.

I encourage you to take more care, take joy in creating the food that will nourish you, know all of  your ingredients.

Swedish Meatballs with thimbleberry jam  (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

Can be served with egg noodles or mashed potatoes, but who needs em?

INGREDIENTS

Meatballs

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • 16 ounces ground pork
  • 1 small onion , grated on large holes of box grater (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 16 ounces 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon packed brown sugar (can be omitted, especially if you are watching your gi index)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  For the Meatballs: Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in panko and set aside. Meanwhile, in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. Using fork, mash panko mixture until no large dry panko remains; add mixture to mixer bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as necessary. Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary. Using moistened hands, form generous tablespoon of meat mixture into 1-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.
  2.  Heat oil in 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.
  3.  For the Sauce: Pour off and discard oil in pan, leaving any fond (browned bits) behind. Return pan to medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add brown sugar and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.
  4.  Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Metformin Makes me Sick

Literally. I was so sick on Friday I thought I was going to have to go home. Being a teacher and being sick are two things that do not mix. On Tuesday I upped my dosage to 1000mg a day, 500 in the morning and 500 in the evening.

So yesterday morning I ate yogurt and blueberries and when I got to work took my pill. About 45 minutes after taking I became dizzy and unfocused. Everything seemed to be spinning, and the kids idle pratter didn’t make any sense. I felt better when I sat down, but the nausea started. I tried to eat something, although what it was escapes me…… I had a massive headache.

I sat in my corner and directed my class from afar, luckily they are good kids and don’t really need me once they know what to do. At lunch I gave in and bought school lunch, chicken sandwich (mystery giblets, cartilage and white bread) over cooked carrots and frozen blueberries with marshmallows? Seriously, no wonder our kids don’t want to eat at school. And half a candy bar. As soon as my blood sugar rose my headache cleared and I felt fine. I don’t understand how I am supposed to make it through the day feeling so terrible. My low carbohydrate snacks did nothing for me.

when I came home the daily camera had an article on the best pho in the area, and so J. And I went out for dinner. I do believe that pho might just be one of the worlds most perfect comfort foods.

http://www.dailycamera.com/ci_19767275

as you might notice homemade pho is sort of a pho-cking nightmare to prepare, so you might as well anti up the $8 and go out.

5 pounds beef knuckle, with meat
2 pounds beef oxtail
1 white (daikon) radish, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 ounces whole star anise pods
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 slice fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 1/2 pounds dried flat rice noodles
1/2 pound frozen beef sirloin

TOPPINGS:
sriracha hot pepper sauce
hoisin sauce
thinly sliced onion
chopped fresh cilantro
bean sprouts (mung beans)
sweet Thai basil
thinly sliced green onion
limes, quartered
Directions
Place the beef knuckle in a very large (9 quart or more) pot. Season with salt, and fill pot with 2 gallons of water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 2 hours.
Skim fat from the surface of the soup, and add the oxtail, radish and onions. Tie the anise pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns and ginger in a cheesecloth or place in a spice bag; add to the soup. Stir in sugar, salt and fish sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat for at least 4 more hours (the longer, the better). At the end of cooking, taste, and add salt as needed. Strain broth, and return to the pot to keep at a simmer. Discard spices and bones. Reserve meat from the beef knuckle for other uses if desired.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Soak the rice noodles in water for about 20 minutes, then cook in boiling water until soft, but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Slice the frozen beef paper thin. The meat must be thin enough to cook instantly.
Place some noodles into each bowl, and top with a few raw beef slices. Ladle boiling broth over the beef and noodles in the bowl. Serve with hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce on the side. Set onion, cilantro, bean sprouts, basil, green onions, and lime out at the table for individuals to add toppings to their liking.

Ethics and Pot Roast

This summer I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I picked it up because I was fascinated with the idea of living off the land for a whole year, not that I could ever imagine doing it myself. As I read more and more I had this odd sense that Barbara was preaching to me, nagging me and admonishing me for not being like her and her family. Her tone carried this “I am better than you”  attitude and I began to resent her condescending words.

I find myself in the unique position of having many opportunities to provide myself with healthy and local sources of food. I realize that not everyone can have backyard chickens, or plant their own garden, or visit their local famers market. But I can only tell my story as it unfolds and the choices I make, and hope that I always come across as grateful and humble.

Whew, now that is out of the way…. J. used to work for a big “beef company-who-must-not-be-named” here in Colorado. He worked in their corporate offices. We had a first-hand look into the world of meat processing and packaging. It totally changed the way I felt about beef and my relationship to it. I couldn’t continue to buy into this corporation that produced such mediocre product and filled the cows with corn, hormones and anitbiotics (neither of which are good for the cows or you and I).

So we made a choice that I recognize is not available to everyone. We bought a 1/4 of a cow from a ranch located just 15 miles from our house. In the late spring we drove out to the ranch to meet the people who were raising the cows in their pasture. The cows were peacefully roaming the through the grass, a beautiful stream with spring run-off rushed by the cotton wood trees. No feed lots, no cows crammed into small spaces with manure and mud. When the time came the cows would be taken to slaughter and the meat would be aged for 21 days. The meat was then packaged by a USDA inspected company and hand delivered to us by the lovely people who own the ranch.

I can honestly say you can taste the difference, and not in a Boulder Hippy Organic Yoga way. The beef is richer, more tender, intense in its texture and flavor. It is a win-win situation. Not only do I help out a small family farm in my local area, but in return I get beef that has been raised humanely and tastes far superior to anything I have ever had. (To my vegetarian friends and family I understand your concerns and convictions, and I respect your choices)

If you find yourself with the opportunity, I highly recommend supporting your local rancher and community by buying locally.

This weekend I made a pot roast from an English Roast that was part of our 1/4 cow purchase. It was amazing.

Published November 1, 2010.   From Cook’s Illustrated.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1(3 1/2- to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast , pulled into two pieces at natural seam and trimmed of large knobs of fat
  • Kosher salt
  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2medium onions , halved and sliced thin (about 2 cups)
  • 1large carrot , chopped medium (about 1 cup)
  • 1celery rib , chopped medium (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1cup beef broth , plus 1 to 2 cups for sauce (see note)
  • 1/2cup dry red wine , plus 1/4 cup for sauce
  • 1tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1bay leaf
  • 1sprig plus 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1tablespoon balsamic vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. Sprinkle pieces of meat with 1 tablespoon salt (1½ teaspoons if using table salt), place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  2. 2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat butter in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add carrot and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup broth, ½ cup wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme sprig; bring to simmer.
  3. 3. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season generously with pepper. Using 3 pieces of kitchen twine, tie each piece of meat into loaf shape for even cooking.
  4. 4. Nestle meat on top of vegetables. Cover pot tightly with large piece of foil and cover with lid; transfer pot to oven. Cook beef until fully tender and sharp knife easily slips in and out of meat, 3½ to 4 hours, turning halfway through cooking.
  5. 5. Transfer roasts to cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Strain liquid through mesh strainer into 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Transfer vegetables to blender jar. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then skim any fat off surface. Add beef broth as necessary to bring liquid amount to 3 cups. Place liquid in blender with vegetables and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to medium saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat.
  6. 6. While sauce heats, remove twine from roast and slice against grain into ½-inch-thick slices. Transfer meat to large serving platter. Stir chopped thyme, remaining ¼ cup wine, and vinegar into sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon half of sauce over meat; pass remaining sauce separately.

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps

Today I went to the grocery store, and as I was picking up my receipt the coupon machine spit out a coupon just for me: Pamper Diapers. Now I have never ever bought anything close to a baby item, not even baby powder. So my nose did a scrunch as I tried to figure out just how they think they can pin me so well. We live in a strange time.
Originally this recipe calls for a pork loin that you cut into chucks and process in a food processor. But this summer J. and I bought a quarter of a cow and with it came 37lbs of ground beef. So I am always looking for interesting and fun ways to incorporate the large amount of ground beef we have. There is a tad bit of sugar and rice, but it is nominal and necessary. I also included Cellophane noodles (made from mung beans) to give it some texture . You can omit this if you want. This recipe was quick, easy and had just enough heat to spice up this cold January day.
Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
  • 1lb of ground beef (preferably grass fed organic)
  • 2 1/2tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 oz. package of dried Cellophane noodles
  • 1tablespoon white rice (see note)
  • 1/4cup low-sodium chicken broth (or water)
  • 4 scallions sliced
  • 3tablespoons juice from 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1head Romaine lettuce , washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole

Instructions

  1.  Heat a sauce pan of water until simmering. Turn off heat and drop in noodles and let set for at least 20 minutes. Drain noodles.
  2. Heat rice in small skillet over medium-high heat; cook, stirring constantly, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, blender or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).
  3.  Bring broth to simmer in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring frequently, until about half of beef is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon rice powder over beef; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until remaining beef is no longer pink, 1 to 1½ minutes longer. Transfer beef to large bowl; let cool 10 minutes.
  4.  Add remaining 1½ tablespoons fish sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons rice powder, shallots, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, mint, and cilantro to beef; toss to combine. Serve with lettuce leaves.

Hungarian Goulash

Day two at school, the kids came in today. I already feel behind and overwhelmed, but I guess that is how it goes. My student won a contest, but I had to go get a W-9 and notarize my signature. But I made it home in time to make dinner. This is one of my husbands very favorite. You can serve it with a bit, and I do mean a bit, of whole wheat egg noodles but not too many if your are trying to watch your carb intake.

Hungarian Goulash (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt
  • cup sweet paprika (we use spicy paprika, but it is REALLY spicy)
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 large onions, diced small (about 6 cups)
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick rounds (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup beef broth, warmed
  • ¼ cup sour cream (optional, although I double it because we like the creaminess)
  • Ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle meat evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and let stand 15 minutes. Process paprika, roasted peppers, tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons vinegar in food processor until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.

2. Combine oil, onions, and 1 teaspoon salt in large Dutch oven; cover and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften but have not yet begun to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. (If onions begin to brown, reduce heat to medium-low and stir in 1 tablespoon water.)

3. Stir in paprika mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions stick to bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add beef, carrots, and bay leaf; stir until beef is well coated. Using rubber spatula, scrape down sides of pot. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until meat is almost tender and surface of liquid is ½ inch below top of meat, 2 to 21/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Remove pot from oven and add enough beef broth so that surface of liquid is ¼ inch from top of meat (beef should not be fully submerged). Return covered pot to oven and continue to cook until fork slips easily in and out of beef, about 30 minutes longer.

4. Skim fat off surface; stir in remaining teaspoon vinegar and sour cream, if using. Remove bay leaf, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve.


Dinner in Half an Hour

New York Steak with a garlic, scallion sour cream
Oven baked sweet potatoes
Salad with Oranges and Citrus Tarragon Dressing

Today was the first day back at school. I had a meeting until 4:30 which meant that dinner needed to be fast and nutritious. It is always good to have reliable recipes well memorized in such cases.

In our house we use some virgin coconut oil. You can find this oil in most natural food stores. Coconut Oil has a bad reputation and the jury is still out on it health benefits, but it seems as with most things, a little moderation is a great thing.

Sweet Potatoes (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1teaspoon coconut oil plus 1 additional tablespoon
2pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), scrubbed
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the oil on each of two rimmed baking sheets. Use a paper towel to spread the oil evenly over the entire surface and place both sheets in the oven.
2. Cut each sweet potato from end to end in eight thick wedges. Toss the sweet potatoes and the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large bowl to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss again to blend. Carefully remove one baking sheet from the oven and place half of the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet cut-side down. Spread them out so that they do not touch each other. Return the baking sheet to the oven and repeat the process using the second baking sheet and the remaining sweet potatoes.
3. Bake until the cut side of the sweet potatoes touching the baking sheet is crusty and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove each baking sheet from the oven and carefully turn the sweet potatoes, using a thin metal spatula. Bake until the second cut side of the sweet potatoes now touching the pan is crusty and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Use the metal spatula to transfer the sweet potatoes to a platter and serve the oven-fried potatoes immediately.

In our house we never ever buy salad dressing. It is too easy to make your own:

Citrus Tarragon Dressing

a little bit of orange juice
olive oil
salt
pepper
tarragon

Mix all ingredients vigorously

Steaks with garlic scallion sour cream

Salt and Pepper the steaks

Fry the steaks in coconut oil, and make the sour cream.

A few scallions diced, and a bit of diced garlic, add to sour cream.

Cook steaks to desired doneness, serve on a plate.