Saturday, March 21, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 03/20/20: Granola, Hearty Beef Stew, Dirty Martini Bliss

1. Lying low was low key today. I had two cooking projects in mind, two of my favorites, in fact. I gathered up oatmeal, cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond slices, melted butter mixed with brown sugar, and walnut pieces, mixed them together in a bowl, spread the mixture on a parchment paper covered baking sheet, and baked granola for about twenty-five minutes at 350 degrees. In the past, I've found that the recipe I use is too conservative when it comes to the amounts of cinnamon, vanilla, butter, and brown sugar, so I pumped those ingredients up a bit. The recipe also recommends baking the granola for 30 minutes. I have found that's too long. I gave it about 25, maybe a little less.

Debbie asked me not to put any dried fruit in the oven with the granola, so I made a container of golden raisins, date pieces, and trail mix blended together. We add this to our granola in the cereal bowl. I'm very happy with my decision to increase the flavor ingredients as well as the butter. I guess I don't want a granola with subtle undertones of vanilla and cinnamon. I want those flavors to be bold. 

2. About ten years ago, Adrienne gave me an America's Test Kitchen cookbook. I loved it, but when we moved, one of those two times in the last six years, I gave the cookbook away, figuring I would replace it through another purchase.

As it turns out, my purchase was to subscribe to the America's Test Kitchen empire online where I can consult recipes from their various publications and watch videos, too.

One of the first recipes I prepared from the cookbook was called simply "Hearty Beef Stew". Before the musical Carol is in up in Wallace had to shut down, the plan was for Lyle and Lura to see the run's final matinee and I would prepare and fix dinner afterward.

I had bought the chuck roast, potatoes, onion, red wine, and carrots I needed for this stew and decided I'd fix the stew for Debbie and me and see if it's as good as I remembered it.

For me, what's unique about this stew is that once the chuck roast pieces are browned and the onion and garlic are sauteed and a broth of chicken stock and red wine is produced, the stew goes in the oven for an hour; then, after adding in the potatoes and carrots, it goes in the oven for another hour.

The verdict? Awesome as I remembered it. Debbie and I loved this stew tonight and we have quart of stew left over for another time.

3. Debbie and I are working at a comfortable pace to clean our house during our time lying low.

After helping out with some cleaning and working on my two cooking projects, I fixed myself a sturdy and very relaxing dirty martini before dinner. Combined with the comforting warmth and savory delight of the hearty stew, the martini relaxed me so much that I went to bed and did some online shopping and, by nine o'clock, I turned out the light and fell into a deep sleep.

I volunteered to be on Charly duty through the night, but, lo and behold, Charly never cried for food or to go outside once during the night and I enjoyed a good night's sleep as Friday night dissolved into Saturday morning.

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