Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cold Weather Cookin'

Let me just start by saying, that we are praying for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. If I had my way, I'd be housing all of you who had to get out of harm's way and filling your bellies with good food. But alas, Texas is a bit of a drive. So our prayers will continue.

Things were a tad cool around our parts this weekend. I can't tell you how happy I am to have weather like this. No, not as cold as some of y'all up north, but for us, it's heater weather.

Are you like me? Do you cook differently when the weather turns, be it cold or hot? I'm sorry, but when the temp drops below seventy (okay, sixty) I do not want a salad. However, a nice bowl of soup or stew might be just what I'm craving.

Saturday I really wanted some warm comfort food. On the other hand, I wanted something that wasn't too labor intensive. After all, college football runs all day :-)  And what says warms comfort food better than a nice bowl of stew?

For starters, you're going to need  2 - 3 lbs. of stew meat. I watch for it go on sale. Sometimes, I'll snatch up a nice cut of meat that on special and cut it up myself. But this day, I was looking for easy. Now sometimes the stew meat can be a little chewy, so the first thing I do is dump the meat into a zip-top bag and add about a half a cup of Worcestershire sauce. Zip that puppy up and let it sit for an hour or so to tenderize.

Drain off the sauce/juices and place meat into a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of flour and stir to coat meat.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven and add meat and stir until browned. I know, this looks kind of gray. But it stills smells yummy.

Mix a packet of Beef Stew Seasoning with 3 cups of water.

Pour mixture over beef. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

While the meat is simmering, cut up 5 cups of whatever veggies you might like in your stew. I went for the standards--celery, onion, carrots, and potatoes because it's what I had on hand. Sometimes I'll add mushrooms and I wished I'd had some parsnips to add to this batch.

At the end of the 45 minutes, add the colorful veggies to the beef mixture and stir. Cover and simmer one hour.
While all this simmering was taking place, I had a loaf of bread going in my bread machine. I know, Ruthy...sacrilege. But I was not in the mood for any kneading. Just dumping and going. Letting the machine do all the work. And let's face it, fresh-baked bread is yummy regardless.

Boy, oh, boy, were my taste buds and tummy happy campers. And while this did take a bit of planning and time, I put forth little effort. I guess about the only actual work I did was cutting up the veggies. And that took me all of 15 minutes, maybe.
Best of all, we had leftovers. Enough for dinner on Sunday. Whooo-hoo!
So how does your cooking differ from summer to winter? What do you make that signifies the changing of the seasons?



  1. Ohhhhhh, yummy!!!

    And that tip about the Worcestshire sauce is very helpful....

    That makes me want stew in a big way. But that would cause a crisis in my house. So, Maybe I'll make posole!

    1. Virginia, posole sounds good too. Do y'all not eat beef? Or just your husband?

    2. Oh, Mindy, you must have missed my posole post. :)

      It's all about the carrots.

  2. YUM! I've never heard of using Worcestershire sauce to tenderize, either. Would be so tasty! Mindy thanks for sharing. Now I'm dying to pull out my ancient bread machine. I don't think I've used it in 10 years.

    I made soup on Sunday as the temp dropped. I felt chilled to the bone all day (it was in the 50's after having been in the 70's for quite a while). I'll be sharing that recipe on Friday. :)

    1. Missy, sounds like y'all got the same front we did, except 36 hours later. I hope we have a cold winter this year. Last year we just went from summer to fall to spring. Very depressing. Plus, we need a good freeze to kill off all the bugs. I'm convinced that last year's mild winter is why there were so many west Nile virus cases this year.

      As for the bread machine, go for it. I even found--Ruthy, do not read this--a really good bread machine mix which is what I used that day. It was a Krusteaz brand. Very tasty. I love most of the Krusteaz mixes. They always have good flavor/results. The bread mix had everything I needed, including the yeast. All I added was water.

    2. I have a friend who SWEARS by Krusteaz pie crust in a box. Says she's never found a better one!

  3. I change up the menus quite a bit depending on the weather.

    Warm weather calls for easy recipes, and not too hot. Things like salads, anything wrapped in a tortilla, anything cooked on the grill...

    When fall comes, though, out comes the comfort food. Casseroles are big with my crowd of 6 foot tall guys. I also use my crock pot. A LOT. Stews, soups, roasts, etc. etc. And I bake a lot more bread.

    Speaking of baking - my new oven was delivered yesterday! Would you believe I was able to bake a casserole until it was done on the inside without burning the top? And the temperature went up to 350 degrees and stayed there! Wonder of wonders :)

    And for an added bonus, all four burners work. Sigh. I think I'm in heaven.

    1. YAY for new ovens!!! My dad got us our oven and he got a flat top range. It's great except my husband uses a cast iron 'calendor', or tortilla warmer. So, it sort of made marks on the top. :O

      Oh well, still very pretty!!

      Post pictures!

    2. I cook with cast iron all the time - the trick is to keep from sliding the pan on the glass top.

      Of course, this new top is soooo pretty, I spent extra time cleaning it last night after the pasta pot boiled over...and now it's pretty again!

    3. Jan, it's those simple things in life that make us happiest. Like an oven that works right :-)