A snowy night in Baltimore, and I'm stewing...

Literally. I made Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner, a wonderful meal that is fairly easy to make, but the timing is critical. Everything has to come together at the same time, be tossed, mixed and off to the table immediately. And then it hit me. See, every once in a while, I get these urges. I have felt this one coming on for a while, and have been trying to put it off, but right after dinner the storm clouds desended, and I was as helpless as a scarecrow in a hurricane. I gave in to my baser desires, and promptly decided to…[sub]make a stew.[/sub] Yes, beef stew to be exact. I think my last shred of resistance was overcome this afternoon in the grocery store when I bought a fresh loaf of French bread. It came out of the oven, got stuck in a bag, and was handed to me. I ate half of it on the way home, it was so fresh and good. To me, a stew is not a stew without a fresh loaf of French or Italian bread, split down the middle, sprinkled with garlic and oregano and thickly lathered in butter, then toasted, to be used for sopping up the liquid part of the meal. A good stew also fills the house with it’s delectable aroma, making a snowbound night less bleak. So, for anyone who would like to try it for themself, here is how to make it.
First, lemme say right off the bat that I am going to shortcut part of the process. Yes, I can and have baked and boiled stewbones to make a true broth, but I get the feeling that, other than Chef Troy and a few others, no body else will bother. So we’ll use the shortcuts of a mass market society for that part. I like a meaty stew, so the first thing I did was…

Cube 1 1/2 - 2 lbs of beef. ( I cut it myself. Only takes 5 minutes, and it’s way over priced to buy the cubes pre cut. A London Broil, Flank Steak, Eye Round or other roast works well, tonight I cut up 3 Rib steaks)

Peel and cube 4-6 med. potatos, or 2-3 large ones
Peel and slice into rounds 3-4 carrots
Coarsely Dice 4 celery stalks, minus the leaves.
Cut 8 oz of mushrooms into quarters.
Cut 1 large green pepper into approx 1" squares.
Dice one med-hot pepper for spice- omit if you don’t like spicy foods.
Dice one large onion.
Any other veggies you like can be diced/cubed/chopped and added.

In a large stewpot, brown the beef, don’t drain it. Add 3 cups water and 1 packet of stew seasoning. ( this is the shortcut ). Add the veggies. Notice that they take up a lot more space than the 3 cups of water. This is where it gets fun. All my stews are each slightly different from each other. Tonight I added 3 cups of water, 2 beef bullion cubes, a packet of meat marinade mix, a can of beef broth, and ( a little bit of - maybe 1/4 cup, tops)Wostershire sauce, A-1 and Gravy Starter. Now you stir it well, and season it. I put in all of the following:

Dried, chopped onion
Season Salt. ( Ms. Dash is OK, Johnnies Season Salt is much better)
4-5 Bay leaves
Fresh Ground Pepper
Parsley Flakes
Celery Flakes

And, in small amounts, Dill, Rosemary, Thyme, Tarragon and Dried hot peppers.

Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to the minimum, put the top on, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours- until the potatos are soft. Make the bread, ladle it into a bowl, and enjoy! Hope you like it, cuz you’ll have lots of leftovers, unless you are feeding the Osmands. Bon Apetit`!