I cooked what felt like a million things over the weekend, and I’ll eat almost none of them. Instead, the dishes are stashed in my parents’ freezer—a stockpile for my mother’s recovery from back surgery, which will be slow and tough for her, but (by god!) she will not be hungry.
On Saturday, I chopped and simmered and stirred all day, making a spectacular mess with which my sister tried to keep up (she’s a saint). I was on my feet for hours and hours, at my mother’s stove, her counter, her sink, using her knives, her pots and pans, her pantry ingredients. All the while, she was in bed.
I brought her bites of things as I finished the various dishes, and she ooh-ed and ahh-ed. She said she loved the smells of garlic and roasting tomatoes and savory soups, which wafted from the main floor kitchen all the way upstairs to her bedroom.
I left on Sunday, and of course it felt too soon. But I knew a piece of me—a piece of my food—would stay behind, feeding my parents in the coming days. That helped me, and I hope it’s helping my mom, too.
This stew wasn’t on the roster of soups and salads and such that I made on Saturday, but it would’ve been a perfect addition. Instead, I think I’ll make if for my mom when she’s well again, when we can sit at the table and eat together.
Beef Stew with Carrots & Mushrooms
Slightly Adapted from Cooking Light
1 pound small cremini mushrooms
2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
28 ounces less-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 pound small new potatoes (halved if large, kept whole if small)
1 1/2 cups (1-inch) slices carrot (about 12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown. Spoon mushrooms into a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add onion mixture to mushroom mixture.
Place flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dredge beef in flour, shaking off excess. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add half of beef mixture; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add browned beef to mushroom mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining beef mixture and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Add 1 cup wine to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add thyme, broth, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Stir in beef mixture. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is just tender.
Stir in potato and carrot. Simmer, uncovered, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beef and vegetables are very tender and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.