a note on stew.

Dear Mum*,

So, I made stew last week.  Or at least, I’m calling it stew even though it lacks most of the stewish characteristics that I’ve come to know and love.  I bought my package of super-cheap stewing beef and some root veggies and felt oh-so-superior as I put together my super economic/nutritious/delicious meal for my family.

Now, let’s overlook the fact that I cut up twice as much veg as I needed (a 5 pound stewing bag is a LOT of veg as it turns out) and so ended up with about a 3 pound bag of turnips and parsnips in the fridge.  And let’s forget all about the fact that I went out of my way to find a recipe with the fewest ingredients and shortest instructions…meaning the fewest possible flavours (when you’re working with turnip less might not actually mean more).  Instead let’s focus on how thrifty I was feeling by feeding my family on what was about $4 of meat.  Feeding my family for more than one meal even!  Man, it’s like I was MAKING money by cooking this stew.

But when I got home at the end of a long day at the office and pulled the dish out of the oven to view my miraculous stew…  well…  it just didn’t “look” right.  I remember stew as being brown in colour.  Dark, rich, brown.  Mine was not brown.  My potatoes were decidedly white and gazing up at me from a soup-y tomato-y…well, soup.  Granted, I didn’t do anything that would have made it brown (except to brown the meat slightly before tossing it into it’s new found home in the root vegetable medley).  And I didn’t do anything to make sure the sauce was thick – I think I figured the magic of root vegetables and MEAT would happen and *poof* thick sauce would prevail.

I didn’t use a slow cooker, or a dutch oven.  I just tossed it all in a covered casserole and shoved it in the oven…  does it really make a difference?  I’d make it again, but I think I can make a roast with roast vegetable combo that would taste better and provide better gravy than this concoction.  Obviously you and I need to have a chat about stew.

*i don’t call my mother “Mum”…i call her Mom.  But in a letter on the interwebs, “Mum” sounds better to me.

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