Monday, October 23, 2017

Deadlines and Cider Stew

Jan here, talking deadlines.

We all know about deadlines, right? It's when you've made a commitment and have to follow through, no matter what.

For an author, that means that your creative juices better start flowing, and keep flowing, all the way to D-day!

And we authors know that's part of the deal. We sign a contract. We promise to deliver a finished manuscript on a given day. We get to work.

But the thing that I don't understand is why we call it a deadline when it's really the beginning of something great! A new life for the characters that have been clamoring for their spot in a story!

I'm working on a deadline right now. My gracious editor has given me an extension to mid-November (thank you!), because life gets in the way sometimes. But even with the extra two weeks, I'm working almost non-stop to get the story down so you can all read it.

Here's a peek at what I'm working on: "The Sound of Distant Thunder" will be the first story in the Amish of Weaver's Creek series, and is expected to be released about a year from now. The story takes place in 1863 in Holmes County, Ohio, and centers around Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver. They plan to be married, but there is a war going on. You would think this peaceful Amish community isn't affected by the American Civil War, but it is. I hope you'll join me as this series unfolds!

Meanwhile, I don't want to feed my poor husband peanut butter sandwiches every night! So I'm very thankful for my Instant Pot. It's the perfect appliance for my deadline-addled brain!

You don't need an Instant Pot for this recipe, though. It works in the slow-cooker, the oven, or on the stove. :) Just give it time to work all these delicious flavors together....

Cider Stew


2 pounds beef stew meat
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme, crushed
oil for browning meat

2 cups apple cider or apple juice
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon vinegar (apple cider vinegar, if you have it)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced

First, coat the meat in the flour, salt, pepper and thyme by shaking everything together in a bag or covered bowl.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, frying pan, or in your Instant Pot (on the saute setting). Add the coated meat and cook until brown on all sides.

Add the cider, water, and vinegar.

If you're using a Dutch oven - bring to boiling, then cover. Simmer on stove or bake in oven at 325° for 1 1/2 - 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the vegetables, then simmer or bake for another 30 - 45 minutes.

If you're using a slow cooker - add all ingredients - including the vegetables - and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

If you're using an Instant Pot - pressure cook the meat and liquids for 20 minutes on high, then release the pressure naturally (will take 20 to 30 minutes). Once the pressure is released, add the vegetables and stir. Pressure cook for an additional 10 minutes on high, then let the pressure release naturally again. At this point, the stew is ready. You can serve it, or change the settings to slow cook mode until it's time to eat.

*Note - In this recipe, using the Instant Pot requires more steps...but I forgot to mention that the directions are the same even if you forgot to thaw your meat! Believe me, for someone who regularly forgets to thaw dinner, this is a life saver!

I've been making this recipe for years. I found it in the copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook I received for a bridal shower my first stab at this recipe was in the fall of 1982, after we had been married for only a few months.

I made it on the stove, until I bought my first slow cooker. That became my appliance of choice until I started experimenting with my cast iron Dutch oven. I love both methods! But I have to say the Instant Pot is my favorite method of all. The pressure cooking blends the flavors like it's been simmering over an open fire for hours...

You'll have to give this stew a try. There is nothing like the apple cider flavor winding its way through this dish...

Have you ever tried cooking with apple cider? How did it turn out?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:


  1. Jan! I love the premise of those stories, set in conjunction with the war.... and so much sadness abounding. :( What a great idea!

    Cider Stew is a must try. It sounds deliciously wonderful, a hint of sweet with savory. I've got cider and a big, frozen chuck roast that might offer its life for this! Not this week, my nights are full, but next week when cool weather raises its head in the WNY region... (who would think we'd be wearing short sleeves in October???) I must try this!

    1. The more I work on this story, the more I love it. I'm forcing my characters to act based on deeply held beliefs, and even in the same family those actions are widely varied. Each one of the characters has to sacrifice something, though, whether they choose to or not.

      We've been having roller-coaster weather here - today is chilly and windy. And on the western plains, when you say windy...well, it's a pretty stiff breeze. 30 mph sustained, with gusts up to 55 mph.

      And then by Wednesday we're supposed to be in the mid-70's for a day before plunging back down to the mid-40's for a couple days.

      No snow in the forecast though. :(

  2. Jan I believe I know someone who LOVES this stew. Who am I kidding I don't think he complains about any of your cooking and that is why I sometimes hear about how his mother does it a certain way when I do things different hehehe. I believe I heard how much you love that pot last night. Your love for it keeps making someone else tell me how we should get one, but where would I store it since I can't part with any of my crock pots?

    1. LOL! Yes, he does love this stew, and it is great in the crock pot.

      BUT - since the Instant Pot has a slow cook setting, it can take the place of one of your crock pots. I gave one of mine away to a bachelor son after I got my Instant Pot. :)

    2. I have to get past getting rid of part of my collection! The goal is one of every size. Maybe I can part by the time the last son of yours moves out. Then I will have someone to give one to.

  3. Jan, I was thinking of digging in the freezer for some meat and using my Instant Pot today! My cousin is in town and we're having her over for dinner. It's a dreary, rainy day, so stew sounds perfect!

    1. Stew IS perfect for a rainy day. Pair it with some crusty artisan bread from your favorite bakery and you have yum!

  4. I think authors should start calling deadlines lifelines based on your keen observations! And I'm eager to get reading another Amish series by you. I don't think I've ever read one set during the Civil War so that will be especially intriguing.

    I have to admit to cooking with apple cider only once with disastrous results! But I think the cider was off...I just thought those chunky bits were supposed to be there. Shudder. What a waste of ingredients. So now I see the words 'apple cider' and I want to heave...though I'm sure your stew is absolutely lovely. LOL

    1. Maybe your apple cider had turned... My dad used to call that "hard cider," but I wouldn't dare drink it unless it had been fermented under controlled conditions rather than in the back of the refrigerator!

      And I hope you enjoy this series! Not many authors write Amish historical fiction, but there are a few of us. I think I might be the first to tackle the Civil War years. :)

  5. Apple Cider Stew... Jan, I never would have imagined this. With pork, maybe, but not beef. Does the cider give the stew a sweet taste?

    A deadlines. Kind of a love/hate relationship, huh? I know you'll get 'er done, though. And without hubby surviving on PB&J.

    1. Yes, it has a kind of sweet/tangy flavor. Delicious. :) And I should try this with pork! That sounds wonderful!

      Deadlines. Without them, would I ever finish a book???

  6. I have just the cider donut to go with the cider stew, Jan! Good luck with the deadline.