Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Girl Cooks: Hearty Beef Stew and Biscuits

The Girl has been wanting to cook a whole lot more recently - and I am not going to complain about that!

Last week, she made a few "no recipe" dinners - Monday, she made a "throw it together" chili, which I basically gave her ingredients and told her to put them together.

On Tuesday, she made chili cheese dogs using the leftovers.  Delicious.

On Wednesday, she made chorizo quesadillas.  No real recipe, more technique.

Last night, she said that she wanted to make beef stew.  It's been bitterly cold.  Stew sounded perfect.

I've been making beef stew since I was about her age.  I was always an avid reader, and when I was about her age, I was obsessed with Anne McCaffrey's Pern series.  I joined a Science Fiction book club as soon as I started babysitting and earning money.  I bought The Dragonrider's Guide to Pern.  Included in sidebars of the book are a few recipes - Klah, Bubbly Pies, and Hearty Herdbeast Stew.  It is this stew that I use as a jumping off point, but I have modified it mightily through the years.

I taught The Girl to make my variation on this stew last night.  Now, I just have to get her into the Pern novels...

Hearty Beef Stew
Modified from Hearty Herdbeast Stew from Anne McCaffrey's The Dragonrider's Guide to Pern

1 1/2 lb lean beef stew meat
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
1/2 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 large onion, diced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
2 c water
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1" cubes
2 ribs celery, diced
2 bay leaves
1 c corn
1 Tbsp steak sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together flour, garlic powder, steak seasoning, and pepper in a large freezer bag or large bowl.  Add the meat to the flour mixture, close bag or cover bowl with plastic wrap, and shake to coat well.

Melt butter in a large heavy pot, then add dredged meat to the pot.  Brown on all sides.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and water, then the potatoes, bay leaves, carrots, and celery.  Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Continue cooking for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the corn, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil again, cover again, and reduce to a simmer again for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the potatoes are tender, uncover and simmer for another 15 minutes or so, to thicken slightly.


Along with the stew, The Girl decided that she wanted to make biscuits.  I pulled out my trusty Fannie Farmer Cookbook and let her look up a recipe.  She decided to make the Baking Powder Biscuit II recipe, because it was what we had all the ingredients for.

From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

I did have to look up what temperature a "hot oven" would be (answer = 400 F).

Sometimes, the best tools are your hands
If you don't have the Fannie Farmer cookbook, I can totally recommend it.  Even if just for a history lesson, it is worth having.  Some of my favorite recipes started from the Fannie Farmer cookbook.

Baked with love
The Girl decided to cut the biscuits into heart shapes, and they turned out wonderfully.

We are all looking forward to teaching the kids to cook more and more, with increasing independence.  We can't wait to see what she decides to learn next!

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