I can never figure out why most of the US decides that the best time of year to reassess life and makes lots of over the top resolutions is dead smack dab in the middle of the winter. If the will was lacking (even a little) before January 1st, I highly doubt that several more weeks of snow, darkness and cold will provide the incentive you need. Personally, I had a few holiday pounds to shed, which is not hard to do, but eating “diet” food during snow storms and bitterly cold spells is neither fun nor motivating. So, yesterday, after being told not to drive to work, Laura and I decided that we needed some proper comfort food (and a chance to get out of the house).
A trip the Sherman’s Market was amusing and a little scary. The roads were terrible, and the bus can hardly fit on some roads. And the snow kept coming down down down. Some stew beef, peanut butter and more yogurt later, we cracked open a bottle of red wine given to us by Laura’s parents and got to work. Our menu? Red Wine Beef Stew, Fresh Oatmeal Bread, Apple Salad, and Peanut Butter Jam Cookies. And a Lord of the Rings movie to keep us going.
The beef stew was based upon a recipe for Beef Bourguinon on Epicurious. I used a little less butter to brown the beef, and more vegetables, and half as much stew beef. Also, since our wine was very young, and more sweet-resiny than tanniny, a good dash of tomato juice for acidity. It cooked for nearly three hours, half with just the beef, and half with the vegetables. So good!
I needed to add a lot more liquid than called for. My dutch oven does not have a great seal, and a lot of steam escaped. It was thick and hearty, with the meat meltingly good, and the vegetables cooked to perfection. There is something about slowly cooked meat and vegetables that really makes a meal a wintertime comfort. Wine and brandy help, too.
While I slaved over the stove (read: knitted while it baked), Laura was making a batch of Oatmeal Bread. The zorro wheat, and the hard red winter wheat are miraculous, and Laura is excited to begin baking us lots of bread and rolls. I can’t complain one bit.
This is the first time the bread dough actually made a cohesive ball in the stand mixer, much to our pleasure. Watching the strands of gluten forming was really neat to watch, our bread coming together as a bread ought to.
The dough was very soft and very sticky, but smelled amazing. It took some effort to get the stuck dough bits off of our kitchen cart, but it was totally worth it.
We only have one loaf pan right now, so she made little buns to cook quickly for dinner. There were two more little rolls, but they were eaten and long gone by the time this picture was taken.
Salad was a simple affair, with a mustard-vinegar-shallot dressing over apples and greens, and a hint of Herdsman’s Cream cheese. Simple, but the flavors came together really well. In my opinion, apples, cheese and mustard are a wonderful snack combination.
All plated, it was a superb dinner.
Another picture, shall we?
After nursing some more red wine, cleaning up and wallowing in tummy bliss, dessert was in order. You can’t have an indulgent day without a supremely indulgent dessert. A jar of peanut butter in one hand and a jar of mixed berry jam in the other, we produced these goodies.
I used a recipe from Local Kitchen, but chose to make them with heaping tablespoons, not teaspoons and a whole egg. Man-oh-man are these good. I blended it all by hand, so the sugar was still pretty crunchy and wonderfully distinct from the peanut butter dough. My favorite part of making these? Seeing what static electricity does to molasses in the bowl.
Almost ready to be baked…
Giant, delicious cookies. There are two left. That is how good they are.
Overall, it was an evening that quelled a lot of cravings and comfort food needs. I feel that I have gotten my butter quota in, a fueling for the wet-snow shoveling that will need to occur. We did one round yesterday, while it was soft and fluffy, but more snow overnight followed by freezing rain makes for sad shoveling.
But you know what makes for happy Locavore Ladies? Leftover beef stew and oatmeal bread for lunch, followed by baked beans and steamed brown bread for dinner. Happy ladies.
Stay warm and dry out there!
- Beef: North Hollow Farm
- Carrots, onions, shallots, eggs, greens, herbs: Red Fire Farm
- Potatoes, Oatmeal: Wood Prairie Farm
- Apples: Apex Orchards
- Flour: Home ground from Pioneer Valley Grain CSA grain
- Jam: Our Pantry!
- Peanut Butter: Teddies Peanut Butter
- Cheese: West River Creamery
- Mushrooms: Forest Harvest Via Siena Farms
- Mustard: Raye’s Mustard