Friday, January 27, 2012

The Beef Stew Project (1.27.2012)



Before
So today I am making beef stew. I promised Sam I would do this. The original concept was to cut back on any fast food we might be tempted to buy this weekend and to make an effort to be – there’s that word again-- healthier. 
My original concept was to go to the local store and buy a frozen crock-pot beef stew. (Right?) Then the Mom-guilt started in and I found myself searching for recipes and making Emeril's Essence.
The problem is that I really don’t like to cook. My mother and my grandmother were both great cooks but in my case it skipped a generation. I have more of a tendency to date and or marry men who are good cooks. I like to eat but for the sake of my friends and family, I restrict my cooking to the microwave.
Stage One: Planning – I go online and find a reasonable recipe from FoodNetwork.com. There are 27 ingredients but many of them are spices.  I do this on like, Monday, and I am really excited about cooking again. It's been a while. 

After: Kitchen Disaster
Stage Two: Shopping – By Thursday, my excitement is flagging a little. I go to the store because Sam will be home tomorrow. It’s been a low-energy week and I am dragging. Up and down the aisles, I get the ingredients I need. Luckily, I only need to buy about half the stuff and have the rest of it at home (like olive oli, oregano, butter--what every good Italian girl who doesn’t cook should have in her pantry). When I get home I realize I have forgotten to buy garlic powder and I worry that it might make a difference. Then it occurs me that Sam has never once in 21 years eaten anything and said: “Needs garlic powder.” So, I figure I’ll be ok.

Stage Three: Prep – I get into the prep. Seasoning the meat and searing it; cutting the button mushrooms and peeling the long, old-school carrots, I get into a rhythm which makes me feel competent. I put together this stuff called Emeril’s Essence. It’s got ingredients like cayenne pepper and paprika and I worry that the end result will burn my eyelashes off. (If there is ever a Food Network show called The Bland Cook, I will be the star.) The recipe just calls for a teaspoon of the cayenne mixture so I put it in there anyway. We’ll see.

Success! "I like it!"
Stage Four: Tasting – Everything is in the crock pot and I take a taste. Not bad. Eyelashes are still intact. Remarkably, after only two hours of cooking, it has a great taste. Like I actually know what I’m doing. I consider the idea of putting the leftover Essence on my Lean Cuisines from now on.
Stage Five: Debut – As promised, beef stew and garlic bread with some Kirby's Return to Dreamland for Wii on the side. It’s snowing outside (although I didn’t promise that) and Sam seems really happy with dinner. And I'm pretty happy with myself. Who knows, I may actually try this cooking thing again some time.