st. packrat's day.

We've been engaged in an unprecedented undertaking for the past few days: an actual Spring Cleaning. It's so obviously been a critical need for some time now, it seems impossible that we hadn't done it yet.

Maybe it's this: for the last few years springtime has found us either relocating our business across town (boo!) or moving house (yay!), and...while we one way or another got rid of truckloads of stuff each move...our newest living quarters are more modest, maybe even small: one room the size of (to paraphrase Terrill Soules) one room.

Into this one room we have crammed not only the semi-average-sized belongings of two mid-30s packrat nostalgists, but the flotsam and jetsam of our defunkt CD shop (including the entire inventory and fixtures), as well as a currently functioning CD/LP distribution business. And two sweet kitties.

Thus: after a truly impressive effort to get rid of every unnecessary thing in our apartment this week, we decided to commemorate the occasion with an uncharacteristic dinner: some kind o' meaty stew. I've made beef stew about twice in my life, but I've been reading Julia Child's The French Chef Cookbook, and wanting to cook something out of it for a few weeks now. Turns out however that after digging around in there a bit, her stews were just the tiniest bit more fussy than what I had time to cook tonight: and if I'm going to cook out of her book, there's no point in not following the recipes.

So we agreed on some essential components, basically: beef, red wine, thyme, carrots, onions, garlic, and potatoes....stewed. And that's what we had (what follows here is easily one of my worst efforts to date in trying to express a recipe):


beef stew with bay leaves and thyme.

500 gr riblappen (boneless beef chuck), cut into 2-3 cm cubes
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (you could even double this if you were in the mood)
1 cup red wine (Shiraz, Zinfandel, big wine)
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken or beef stock
2 bay leaves
leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme

150-200 gr potatoes, cut into 2 cm cubes
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 small leek, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tbsp parsley or selderij (celery leaves), minced

Heat large soup kettle/crockpot to high, brown the beef on all sides in the olive oil. Remove and set aside. Add onion to kettle, sauté 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 30 seconds then add flour. Cook 2 minutes or so until incorporated and browning. Add wine, stirring to incorporate and scraping bottom of kettle to get any crusty bits. Add broth, bay leaves, and thyme, bring to simmer. Add browned meat to kettle. After a simmer, turn heat as low as possible, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or so.

After two hours, add potatoes, carrots, and leek, along with some more wine or broth if things are drying up. After another hour, things should be tasting and looking good. Adjust taste via salt and pepper, add parsley. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve with a salad, fresh baguettes and butter.

Serves 2 proud mooperbirds.