Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guinness, Beef and Butternut Stew

Hey, have butternut squash? Why, just add beer and beef! I was winging it the other day, and was skeptical about how my things would turn out, but wound up very pleasantly surprised.

It all started with getting the veg ready, including some fresh ginger, jalapeño and marjoram because I had it. I’m sure you could sub thyme for the marjoram, but I would definitely keep the ginger and some jalapeño or other chili – you don’t detect it outright in the final stew, but it adds a lot to the background.

Then I dredged the beef in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, seared it off in coconut oil and then dropped it into my slow cooker. If you want to make the dish in the oven, just sear the beef in a dutch oven removing batches to the side until you’re done, and then return it all to the dutch oven.

After each batch of beef I deglazed the pan with some water and scraped up the browned stuff in the bottom of the pan and then poured it over the beef in the slow cooker.

Once the beef was done I sautéed the vegetables in the same pan until softened, added tomato paste and then deglazed that with a can of Guinness. right?!

Vegetables, beer, a little coffee, marjoram and vegetable stock went in with the beef. If I could have tracked down my ever-elusive bay leaves they would have gone in too, but I couldn’t and they didn’t. Maybe I’ll go crazy and buy some more at some point.

Then, if using a slow cooker, you get to set it and forget it! After a few hours add the diced butternut and let it go another hour or so. Go outside and walk back inside the house so you can fully appreciate how good your house smells.

I also baked some potatoes. Slather with olive oil and coarse salt, wrap in foil and bake for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

And then we dined : )


Guinness Beef and Butternut Stew

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 3-4 hours

Total Time: 5-6 hours

great make-ahead football fare... enjoy over egg noodles, or mashed or roasted potatoes


3 lbs stew beef in 1-2” cubes
1 pkg or 2 cups sliced button mushrooms (or any other kind of mushrooms)
2 cups onion, medium dice
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 - 1 jalapeno cut into 3- 4 large chunks
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp ginger, fine dice
3 cups butternut squash 1” dice
3 Tbsp tomato paste
16 oz Guinness beer
3 cups vegetable, beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup prepared coffee (just save a little that morning)
2 Tbsp fresh marjoram or thyme
3 bay leaves
all purpose flour for dusting beef
coconut or vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste


- season flour with salt and pepper and heat enough oil to cover bottom of a large heavy pan
- working in batches, toss beef with the flour and once the oil in the pan is smoking, add beef to the pan and allow to sear. Once the first side is seared well (do not move it until it's seared), start to turn the pieces and sear all sides.
- Remove beef to your slow cooker or to a plate and return pan to heat. Add half a cup or so of water to the smoking pan and use a spatula or spoon to scrape up the browned business on the bottom of the pan. Allow to reduce a second and then pour over beef and continue with remaining raw beef.
- when beef is all seared add some more oil over medium high heat, and then the mushrooms and allow them to sear, 1-2 minutes
- add onions, celery, ginger and jalapeño to the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 5 minutes
- when the onion mix is softened add the garlic and cook 1 -2 minutes
- add tomato paste to vegetable mix and stir while it cooks down 1 minute
- turn heat up slightly and then add the Guinness, scraping up the good stuff, and then add to slow cooker
- add stock, coffee, marjoram, bay leaves and a teaspoon or two of salt
- put the lid on and set the slow cooker on high
- after 2-3 hours, add the butternut squash and cook another 1-2 hours

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Whine Before Wine and A Visit to Terembry Farm

me: I’m going to do a quick and dirty paint job on the unfinished stairwell so I can set up a wine storage wall, without calling in FEMA or my father-in-law. Aaand it needs to be quick so I have before/after pictures to send in an overdue thank you note for a generously given wine rack to help our currently pitiful wine storage.


… gets leftover ‘Toasted Pine Nut’ by Sherwin-Williams and starts painting

myself: This looks like crap. If Martha Stewart or Patrick O’Connell or my mother were here I would have to fabricate some story about wanting to achieve a charming-wine-room in Beirut look, and elaborate with tales of a brief but intense bb-gun shoot-out .

me:  Nice neolithic reference you 40-something, budding Daily Show writer. Is that Sarah Silverman calling? Beirut is a tourist destination at this point. Has been for several years.

myself: Fine, it’s a Tuscan sun settling on Flint, Michigan.

me: Stop it. Just stop it and get yourself together, there’s an overdue thank you note at stake here. This is going from bad to worse.

myself: You’re right. Sometimes you’re right.

me: Just put the Pine Nut down and start spackling.

… and so now this dust bowl. Thank goodness there was Sunday afternoon on the farm to break up my mess making.

It was a classically beautiful Virginia fall day and we (now I mean me and Brian) had a nice drive to Sumerduck where our CSA, Terembry Farm is located. And as serendipity would have it, this is also where quite a few Virginia wineries are located. So we enjoyed a wine tasting from Rogers Ford Farm Winery, a tour of the farm, and some great eating. And of course now we have more wine to store.

Terembry Farm has been left fallow for the last decade so that Sharon, intrepid Farmess, can pursue organic certification. This year she has used all organic farming practices and spent many hours working the farm and then tirelessly searching the inet for organic bug management solutions. Here are some red bean plants, chilies and Sharon showing us the farm.














Apollo greeted his fans warmly and gave me a red carpet moment. There were some other followers and the neighboring chickens enjoying a bowlful of tomato scraps.











Then it was time to retrieve the chardonnay from the cooler, nibble on goat cheese stuffed banana peppers, socialize and relax while John prepared a menu of pumpkin soup, tomatoes and veggies, pasta with pesto, pan roasted chicken and jalapeño corn pudding. We relaxed under the pecan and black walnut trees which have their low-hanging limbs because Sharon’s mother taught her they improve the trees’ yields.  What a coincidence, I love low-hanging fruit.








It was a wonderful fall afternoon on the farm with great wine and a wonderful and lovingly prepared dinner, including cheddar pecan roasted apples and freshly brewed coffee. Thanks Sharon, John and Emily for the hard work and hospitality!

I always enjoy some time on a farm.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Butternut Barley Risotto

Fall means butternut squash. Unfortunately today I do not have funny butternut squash anecdotes or witty banter. But here it is, butternut.

And a butternut risotto recipe where I worked in some wild rice which makes it very earthy and satisfying. First peel and small dice your squash. Toss with olive oil and season, then roast at 375 for 15-20 minutes until tender. I then put mine under the broiler for a minute to darken it up a little.

In a traditional risotto you wouldn’t want to get much color on the veg or the onion. But for this fall, barley and wild rice version, I like the toasty, earthy effect you get by caramelizing the vegetables.

So I sautéed the onion until soft and then allowed it to caramelize a little. Then I added barley and wild rice and sautéed in the oil, then I started adding hot veg stock. You have to stay in the kitchen, but barley cooks more slowly than arborio rice, so you can add the stock and do other things – you don’t have to babysit it quite so much.

About 50 minutes later, you’re cooked and you add the roasted squash, parm, and butter and dinner is served! Or of course serve next to roasted chicken or a piece of fish. We had ours with spinach frittata and it was excellent. Check out other seasonal and healthy recipes at food renegade.


Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


1 butternut squash, small dice
1 medium onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup wild rice
4-5 cups vegetable stock, simmering
3 Tbsp olive oil (use more if your waistline allows)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 - 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter
basil chiffonade, optional
salt and pepper to taste


- heat oven to 375 degrees
- toss squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and roast 15 - 20 minutes until tender; if it sounds appealing to you, toast under the broiler for 1 minute; set side
- heat remaining oil over medium high heat, add onion and sauté until soft; allow to keep cooking until onion caramelizes slightly
- add garlic and cook 1 minute
- add barley and wild rice and stir into oil and onions 1 minute
- add wine and allow to reduce by half
- add 1 - 2 cups simmering veg stock and reduce heat on barley to low
- allow the barley to slowly absorb the stock 5 - 10 minutes, then add another cup of stock. Continue until the grains are cooked and about 85% of the stock is absorbed
- stir in parmesan and roasted squash. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- finish with butter, serve and garnish with basil

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Charred Remains of the Damned

You know how you inadvertently wind up on mailing lists? I guess since Brian recently went through the whole hassle of registering, repairing and outfitting our golf cart for the county, he wound up ordering a headlight doohicky and a little side view mirror.

Given that the fire chief believes that possibly our never ever used seat belts could have caused our fire on Saturday night, I’m not so convinced about the safety of some of these measures, but it did land us onto a mailing list apparently, because we started receiving this yesterday.

Who knows? The fire chief said that he can’t confirm his theory without bringing out a forensics engineer who, turns out is not on salary to investigate my piddly golf cart. And anyway, Brian has his theory, which is that orange is such a hot color right now, that the cart spontaneously combusted out of sheer awesomeness. I’m hoping orange is hot today – Go Tennessee Volunteers!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Peach Pasta and ‘a glass of wine’

To say that my friend LB uses the term ‘a glass of wine’ euphemistically is an understatement. We wanted to meet up for happy hour to talk food biz for a bit when she suggested I go to her house to drink some of this velvet in a glass. Who me? A silky smooth California Cab? Yup, I’ll do that.

Now neither of us has money to buy a business. And neither of us has the energy left for the one to two-woman catering life that starts at 4 am and finishes with endless dirty dishes at midnight. So we discussed a couple of business opportunities; recalled nights that we haven’t been able to get out of our cars at the end of the night, or how for some reason you collapse on the floor rather than the couch (I think because it’s cooler) and decided not to think about the opportunities much more for the night and worked on our Cult Cab.

I figured I’d be heading home in a little while when LB starts bringing out broccoli rabe, tomatoes, squash and fresh cod, pasta… I slowed my sipping, because I wasn’t going to miss out on that part of my ‘glass of wine!’

She started with the rabe, cooking it the way she learned from her Italian grandmother. Olive oil and minced garlic to start, then add the rabe and sauté. Then we added tomato wedges, some water and let it all keep cooking.

Season lightly and grate fontina or asiago cheese into it, and LB likes to always finish or add a little more oil. When you platter it add a little more cheese. I could have eaten the entire platter. easily.

Then she sautéed summer squash, added canned tomatoes and once it was cooked she lightly mashed it and used it as the poaching medium for the cod. Delicious!

Ok, then she served some pasta with a peach and tomato sauté that was very good too, but she kept complaining that it had lost its luster overnight. So the other day I decided to try it. I had tomatoes from the CSA and peaches from LB, and I had boiled wheat spaghetti the night before. I just sautéed some shallot with the tomatoes and peaches and it is so bright and fresh and delicious and inexpensive and healthy. I made it again for the 3rd time today. Who knew? Thanks LB!


Peach and Tomato Pasta

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Just trust me.


1 shallot, sliced
1-2 tomatoes, large dice
1-2 peaches, large dice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp parmesan, grated
prepared pasta


- sauté the shallot 30 seconds to 1 minute over medium high heat
- increase heat, add the tomatoes and peaches
- add a little water if the mix is drying out
- serve over pasta with cheese

Monday, September 10, 2012

extra crispy

When I prayed for a spectacular barbecue this past weekend, I should have been more specific. This is my golf cart.

After a wonderful evening with family and friends at our pig roast on the beach, four of us hopped on the golf cart and came back to the house for the evening. We were home and winding down for about 30 or 40 minutes when suddenly there were huge flames leaping up in the back yard right off the deck. Inexplicably, the cart had caught fire and the fire extinguisher, hose and running with buckets of water wouldn’t hold it back.


Here it was last week, seemingly healthy with buckets of goodies for out-of-town guests and barbecue sauce gifts we made. My buckets had mini wine bottles and plastic glasses with wine glass ‘flip flops.’ Some granola bars, Old Bay and Salt n’ Vinegar potato chips since those make me think of boardwalk fries, and some water bottles and other snacks. We’ll miss our cute cart  but I’m glad the fire department got here before the house caught fire!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Strangely This Totally Happened

I am snarfing down some post-workout peanut butter and broccoli, watching Andy Roddick in his last US Open and recalling that at the recent family gathering my Uncle Grant said he just couldn’t believe that we managed that crab feast in my parents’ formal dining room and asked if I have any further evidence. Unfortunately I deleted the pictures I took of the white and off-white rug that sits under the dinner table that few people would put anywhere, much less under where meatballs are served to 6 year olds and red wine is poured for people like me. crazy. But somehow it survived the crab feast I believe.

One other note of interest. My mother has dedicated much of her energy over the years to ridding the world of beer being drunk out of bottles. Yes, you read that right. She firmly believes that beer should be decanted into a Tiffany’s beer flute and I’m not making that up and yes, I have Tiffany’s beer flutes. I could go on, but I don’t have any clonopin, so let’s just have a look at the crab eating, and please also allow the fact that some of the Amstel Lights were imbibed directly from the bottle serve as evidence of how loose and lettin it all hang out we were.

It was a soggy, soggy day and I am not Ansel Adams…

Most people would move the crab feast into the kitchen, or garage, but we set up in the dining room. My one uncle even wore jeans which I don’t think I’ve seen him in since we went camping when I was about 8 years old which.. lets see 8 from 2, I borrow from the 4.. forget it. It was a long-ass time ago.


The crabs were great and we finished every one of them.

There you have it Uncle Grant!


Thursday, August 30, 2012


After about 2 collected hours of sleep last night I feel as fresh and sharp as a bar mop. It’s probably because the Vision Board I’m attempting to start is going to have a beautiful sunrise image on it so that I will sleep better and be up and cheerful for more sunrises. I decided on that addition to my board just yesterday, and considering I can’t get my printer to print out any of my Visions, I think last night’s 8 hour wait for the glorious start to this day is a real testament to intention-setting.

That, and I’ve got a few things on my mind like non-GMO labeling, some friends who completely ditched me lately, what the hell my next career will be, and let’s face it – the fates of Lester Holt, Al Roker and America’s other fine weather people… because hurricanes are really, really, really windy. And I’ve got proof.

Usually our meteorologists stand in front of a map, explain their weather predictions and we grasp the weather concepts ‘sunny,’ windy,’ rainy,’ ‘cloudy,’ grab our sunscreen or Kate Spade umbrellas as needed and head out the door. Not so with hurricanes. Hurricanes are really, really, really windy. Don’t believe them? Feeling bored with this particular hurricane? Enter modern media’s Actually-in-the-Weather Men and Women who ditch their cozy news studios for battered beaches and bulkheads like a team of Navy Seals with their foul weather gear and Elvis hip-grinding, straight leg into the wind stance that they must teach at major network career-building seminars.


weathered men

So sure, I like to see a little of the action as the storm approaches, but I get it. Wind, rain, flooding. I’ve got a good sense of it, and now I advise everyone to go inside for a hot toddy. But after seeing Lester Holt take a beating Tuesday night, I had the tube back on yesterday morning to see him out there still, with his stiff leeward leg, all 8 feet of him catching major air, forcing jocularity as he anticipates the next big blast and educates us once and for all what it’s like when it’s really, quite windy and rainy.

This can’t be necessary I told my husband. We get it right? Al Roker doesn’t have to be out there morning, noon and night – human flotsam and jetsam in 80 mph winds creating some artificial (but potential) emergency just for our weather theater amusement. Then again, we all saw what happened to Ann Curry so I understand Al’s motivation.

Nevertheless, I had convinced myself that Americans could most certainly understand wind and windiness, even lots of windiness, and that the networks could scale back on flapping their weathered people from a flagpole until I came across this story which clearly proved me wrong.

The mayor says he couldn’t get his sail down, but that would mean he couldn’t get any three of his sails down and that, well.. most likely means he waited for the hurricane’s arrival to try to bring them in or something similarly insane. Anyway, he had hurricane winds with full sails up, and was rescued from the boat that proceeded to sail itself into a power line. I’m tempted to say that he was hurrying to get to the RNC, but for now my plan is to keep my blogging politics to GMOs and other gross food issues (in which Obama is culpable in my opinion). My vision board will also have a 3rd party on it. Right next to images of a Burberry raincoat, my made you laugh, made you cry memoir book jacket, and a 36′ hurricane-dodging Jeanneau with memory foam in the v-berth. Sweet dreams.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Veggie and Lentil Stew

Not that anyone can tell, but I’ve been busting my buns in the gym doing Jamie Eason’s Livefit trainer on It’s a good program I’m just having a hard time sticky to the chardonnayless, high-protein dining plan. I’m still plugging away at it, but am a little chicken and tilapia’d out at the moment, so I working some legumes into the picture for some vegetarian workout-supportin grub.

For this veggie stew I fist simmered yellow split peas in water with turmeric until almost a little overcooked so I could mash them with a whisk and use them to thicken the stew.







Then I proceeded to halfway follow a couple of recipes to come up with and Indian-ish stew using a curious mix of Indian and not-so-Indian ingredients that were easy to get my hands on.

I plan to someday make Sambar Masala because I like spicy food, but in my laziness I just purchased Garam Masala.I didn’t trip over any tamarind pulp in the aisles of Wegman’s, so I used  pomegranate molasses. And if I can ever find an easy way to get my hands on fenugreek that will be a wonderful day. In the meantime I just cook without it.

Using a can of tomato juice is probably also cheating, but it all worked out as a good way to cook up this week’s veggie haul.







Vegetable and Lentil Stew

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1.5 hours

I used a bunch of vegetables because it's what I had on hand, be would be nice with just green beans or eggplant or cauliflower or any other combination with the tomatoes.


2/3 cups yellow split peas
1 tsp tumeric
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp curry powder
1 Tbsp garam masala
1/2 cup shallots, sliced
2 jalapeños, chopped
1 - 2 eggplants, in 1" cubes
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2" wedges
1 cup green beans, cut into 1" pieces
2 small squash, halved and sliced
3 cups tomato juice
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
salt and cayenne to taste
cilantro to garnish


- combine peas, tumeric and 5 cups of water in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until slightly overcooked; about 30 - 40 minutes
- mash peas with a wire whisk and set aside
- heat oil in large pot and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chili flakes and stir for 1 minute
- add shallots, curry and masala and cook another minute
- add the vegetables and sauté 5 minutes
- add tomato juice, molasses and simmer until vegetables are tender; about 30 - 40 minutes
- add the mashed peas to thicken the stew and serve topped with cilantro

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Asian Chicken Salad

When I stir fried the other night I happened to have some left over roasted chicken, so I decided to dress it up to go along with the veggies. I wound up doing a cheat version of a favorite recipe of Ina Garten’s from her book Barefoot Contessa Parties! Her recipe is excellent, but I do generally cut way back on the oil. This time I cut back on it entirely because I didn’t need much and wasn’t make the full salad with the vegetables etc.

For my cheat version I put about a quarter cup of peanut butter in bowl and whisked in about a tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and soy sauce, and added a touch of honey and sesame oil. I served it with some barley and the veg stir fry. Turned out great, but in the meantime, the full recipe is even better and is a wonderful thing to have in the fridge.


Chinese Chicken Salad

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

from Barefoot Contessa Parties!


8 split chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
good olive oil
kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper
1 lb asparagus, ends removed, cut into thirds diagonally
2 red bell pepper julienne
4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
2 Tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted

For dressing:
1 cup vegetable oil (I use half this)
1/4 apple cider vinegar
1/3 soy sauce
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled, grated
1 Tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I use chunky)
4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper


- preheat oven to 350
- place chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil; sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and roast for 35 to 40 minutes until just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- remove meat from the bones, discard the skin and shred the chicken into large, bite-sized pieces
- blanche asparagus in a large pot of salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes until crisp tender. Remove to ice water and drain when cool.
- combine chicken, asparagus and red pepper in a large bowl
- whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and pour over chicken and vegetables
- add scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste
- serve room temperature or cold