Slow-cooked Chianti Beef Stew – Part 1

This is more Greek than Italian,. Maybe if Odysseus had been lured by the wonderful smell of this stew he would not have had himself bound to the mast but would have succumbed to the Sirens. He may have never returned to Penelope.

I am a fan of good stew beef but sometimes a bargain comes along and you have to make do :-).

I lucked out and found on sale Choice Sirloin Petite steaks for $2.99 a pound. Of course you need to expect the hidden fat but that just adds to the flavor.

Assemble your tools, good cutting block, beef, a good slicer and of course a bottle of Chianti. Medium price works great. If you are thirsty, have a beer instead.

Cut steaks into 1 inch cubes trimming excess fat at the same time.

After cutting, weigh the remaining beef. I had 4 pounds 10 ounces so I separated out 2 pounds and froze for a good Astoria Stew.

 

I like to weight the trash so I know what to expect in the future. I also like to weight the meat being used as it will help me determine the amount of seasoning and herbs used.

Trash pickup was 3 hours ago, bag the garbage to keep the rodents away. After all there will be 7 days to attract them.

Now I use a gallon zip lock bag to marinate the stew in. Pour in the entire 750 ml bottle of Chianti or any other red blend you like, add 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Double bag and refrigerate for several hours. I prefer overnight.

Most of the time a recipe will call for 1/2 to 1 cup of red wine. We use an entire 750 ml bottle here.  Think of this as a Red Wine Stew instead of a Stew with Red Wine. There isn’t any comparison between the two. I would have still used the whole bottle if this was a normal 2lbs of beef stew.

Please go to Part 2 for the actual assembly of the stew.

 

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Cream of Mushroom Holiday Soup

I was raised in the days of Campbell Soups: chicken noodle, alphabet soup, hearty chicken, and sometimes tomato soup. Oh and the dreadful cream of mushroom soup.

After a couple of my tantrums Mom only used the mushroom stuff in casseroles and probably didn’t tell us. Definitely not the days of full disclosure.

After getting caught putting those cooked mushrooms in my pocket until I had a chance to go to the bathroom, or having the mushrooms discovered in my pockets in the laundry, I can’t really remember which, Mom and Dad made sure I ate them thereafter.

Decades went by and I learned to saute mushrooms to serve alongside steak, I even learned that canned mushrooms weren’t the best for this.

Little by little this fungus made it’s way into my daily cooking, and if the kids wouldn’t eat them, then all the more for me. The only mushrooms I haven’t come to terms with are dried ones, usually a morel. That’s because they are always tough. It must be something I am doing wrong, but who cares as long as fresh ones are available.

Years ago, and that is what this story is about, I had made a Costco run, and if you don’t know about Costco then think of Sam’s Club. Anyway, I had purchased a container (1 pound) of Chanterells and a container of Criminos (baby portobellos), if you are an A personality, you can say portabella) (2 pounds) for upcoming Thanksgiving.

Well we decided to have Thanksgiving on an island instead of home and I had 3 pounds of mushrooms that would have probably grown more fungus while we where away. Oh, what to do?

I had never made mushroom soup before, so I read a dozen recipes on the Internet to get a few ideas. An hour later we sat down to one of the finest dishes we had ever eaten let alone made. And we froze a couple of quarts for when we returned, that is, if we returned.

I know this is titled Holiday Soup and that’s because after eating our delicious bowls of creamed mushroom soup, we went to Orcas Island in the San Juan’s and had a 9 month holiday. We did sneak back to eat those other quarts of soup in the freezer, and to pack.

My recipe for cream of mushroom soup is here. Try it, you might like where it takes you.

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A very cool bar

What to do with an old sewing machine cabinet. This is a Model 22 Drawing Room Cabinet that held a Singer 66-1 sewing machine and the finish was in horrid condition. For the purist out there. The cabinet has a new use but has had absolutely NO modifications to it other than adjust the lift spring load

My mother purchased the cabinet and model 66-1 machine around 1960. It suffered from decades of old English furniture polish and served as a plant holder. I was able to bleach out the top surfaces and steel wool out the gray water mark damage. Although the pictures do not show the top, it’s as beautiful now as the rest of the cabinet. But I have no use for an old sewing machine.

I also don’t really have a use for a mini bar, but if I was going to keep this, it had to have some practical use.

Drink tray utilizes original sewing machine lift spring that has been adjusted for new tray weight. Also shown is the vintage 3 piece cane that has been attached to the drink tray to control the rate of vertical travel speed and to push tray back into cabinet. Drawers on the left hold bar tools, shot glasses and crystal tumblers.

The right side is a hidden door that allowed service to the drive belt. Here you can ‘hide’ the favorites.

When I first began the refinishing and conversion I researched electric lifts, hydraulic lifts etc. Besides being an expensive way to control lift, nothing I found would both fit and provide the needed amount to travel.  So I poured a nice one and decided that the conversion would have been done in the 1940’s to 1960’s, how would they have done it? probably adjust the lift spring tension, problem solved.

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