Today defined itself as a stew day because of the strong easterly winds and rain showers that came in an unforgiving and regular manner upon this house. I woke early to H depositing a cup of hot coffee on the bedside dresser. I counted my blessings. Hot coffee in bed is always a joy. After breakfast of toasted brown bread and honey I made my shopping list by visiting the cupboards and fridge to see what we needed. I gave up. We needed everything.
I headed off to the store and wound my way up and down the sterile aisles. I wish I could say that I love grocery shopping but I do not. I have experienced food markets in many countries, especially France and wish that my shopping trip could be in that format. But it is not and so I drop my shiny euro coin into the trolley and off I go. I probe things alot. Melons and tomatoes and even lemons. I look at rocket with disdain. It appears jaded. I never hesitate over butter, milk, buttermilk or cheese. I scan the meat aisle like a doctor in a surgery. I think I might as well become a vegetarian because plastic packets of cow are most unappealing but today I relent and buy some stewing beef. It is a good price and looks okay. I also buy some good Irish stout, carrots, celery, barley, onions, garlic and parsley. I know what I want. I envision dinner.
Coming home from the store is always satisfying. Partly because I have survived the traffic and partly because I am home. I dig out the old Le Creuset pot and sweat the onions in a little olive oil, add the beef and stir and season and then add a little tomato purée, the stout, the canned tomatoes and the vegetables. I toss in a handful of barley for luck. I add a crushed clove of garlic and chopped parsley and fresh thyme. I think that's it. I say think because I make this meal up as I am cooking it, from memory and taste...one can add mushrooms towards the end or whatever really. I put the casserole into the oven for two hours on low heat. Today I did something different. After the cooking time I removed the dish from the oven. Transferred the stew to another open glass pan that I have and covered it in Puff Pastry. I cheated on the pastry. Bought it at the store. I have made Puff from scratch but it is only viable if one happens to live on a desert island with nothing better to do...........any how soon the stew bubbles and rises up to greet the pastry and you have nothing but a delight on your kitchen table when everyone comes in ravenous and cold from the day. I served this dish with mashed potatoes. The diners were extremely happy. Conversation was rampant. Desert was an apple and cinnamon cake that I baked in the afternoon. It consisted of sultanas and walnuts, grated apples and eggs from our hens - but that's another story!