Friday, January 22, 2010

Recipe: Poor Girl's Beef Stew (aka, The Hardest Blog I've Had to Write)

Pardon my French, but this has been an utterly shitty ass week.

Monday night/Tuesday morning, I was awakened by what I thought was a terrible migraine and a mangled ear; it turned out to be the ramifications of an inner AND middle ear infection, which I haven't had for a good 6 months. Tuesday or Wednesday I called my Daddy and found out he is definitely not doing well physically (cognitively, he's doing quite well after the stroke; it's all the physical stuff that's killing him), so much so that he told his wife he can't talk to me very much, partly because he feels unwell and partly because he feels badly about only being able to talk to me for 30 seconds at a time (if he only knew how valuable those 30 seconds are to me!). And yesterday I found out that my temp assignment had ended. Financially, it's a terrible hit; morally and personally, it's not the worst thing in the world, as I was feeling ridiculously stifled there. I won't get into all the details of it all, but let's just say that I'm a bit too liberal to work where I was working, so I suppose it's all for the best. Still, it aches. I don't like rejection in any form - especially when I was practically being offered the permanent position - and when it takes a direct hit to my finances, it sucks big fat hairy toe.

(You thought I was going to say something worse, there, didn't you? :P)

Alas, it was a temp job and I should be able to find SOMETHING in short order; I have to, right? I simply have no other choice and there is no time to wallow (Okay, so I did set aside 60 minutes to cry about it and then I started job hunting). But when life gives you lemons in the middle of a cold, rainy, stormy, disgusting January, dammit, you don't make lemonade, you make beef stew. Not with actual lemons of course, but with the acidity of the harshness that life throws at you, the kind that requires real, hearty, deliciously warm comfort food.

I had some random leftover cut of beef in my freezer and thawed it this week in the hopes of using it in something (Lord knows what; I just wanted beef). I'm not sure what else it would have worked with, as it was a rather awkward cut of beef. I decided this might be good to use in stew because I wouldn't have to worry about adding too much extra fat in the form of oil and I could hack it up into random pieces, but I wasn't sure if I had everything needed to make a proper beef stew. After perusing my kitchen contents, it appeared I had everything but the Burgundy wine, which was just dandy as I probably would have drunk the wine anyway, lol. Not only had I lost my job, but my old computer took a dive and my DVD player just died with a new Netflix movie inside of it, so I needed something warm & comfy to make me feel better. Not to mention a longer cooking process to keep my mind busy.

So here it is. It's not the most gourmet of beef stew recipes, but darnit, it's still super tasty and proves that you can make things like stew even if you're minus a crockpot! It has plenty of meat and plenty of veggies, so you can feel semi-good about indulging in this winter staple. I like mine to be a little on the tomato-ey side, so be aware that tomatoes WILL be used in this recipe, as opposed to most beef stews. And if you make it just right, it doesn't cost you all that much. A wonderful thing if you are in between temp assignments!!!

Poor Girl's Beef Stew (makes 4 servings; total cost per serving: $2.50)

1 1/2 lbs stew meat or thick cut of steak like chuck roast
2 medium russett potatoes
2 medium carrots
1 medium white onion
2/3 c canned diced tomatoes in juice
2 14.5 oz. cans beef broth
1/2 c water
1/2 c green peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 t + 1/2 t salt
1 t ground black pepper, divided
1/4 c flour
2 T olive oil

Rinse, peel, and chop all the veggies into 1" pieces. Combine the flour, 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t black pepper together and mix well. Add the stew meat to the flour mixture and toss until everything is properly coated. In a large pot heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the meat. Be sure not to crowd the beef pieces so that they brown properly (if you have to work in a couple of batches, do so). Brown on all sides and remove from the pot.
Use about 1/2 cup of the beef broth to deglaze the bottom of the pot before adding the potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic and all the herbs & seasonings. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add the browned beef, balsamic vinegar, the remainder of the broth and the water. Bring to a rapid simmer then reduce the heat, cover, and cook for about 35-40 minutes (this is a small pot of stew, so it will be done quickly!). If needed, thin the stew with a bit more water or broth before adding the peas. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve hearty amounts in large bowls with plenty of warm, toasty bread, and enjoy!


  1. YUM!! I am praying that you find a kick ass job in point two seconds that blows your last job out of the water! You are an amazing soul and good things are on their way to be sure!!!

  2. Just wanted to send you a big fat HUG :) Love ya!

  3. So very sorry about all the bad that's been going on for you lately, and I hope life turns around very soon! The stew looks so delicious that I want to come through the computer screen and eat it up! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hey girl, financially, I totally understand. We've been having overpayment issues at work, so to fix that I haven't gotten a paycheck since early December and won't get one until late February. Hang in there, we can do it. As for the rest, I'm keeping your family in my prayers. You are being very strong about all of this!!

  5. My first comment didn't post properly so I will write it again. I think you have responded to a run of difficulties in the best possible way. With beautiful food! I hope the future is full of improvements. Best Wishes for good health and employment.

  6. I sure hope things will improve for you all the way around asap, and for the rest of us in similar lemonade situations. Good thoughts, prayers, and warm hugs!

  7. Light a green candle (bayberry, if you can find them) and write on an extra deposit slip the amount you want to make to sustain you in a month. Clean you candle with lemon juice (from THOSE lemons!) and hold the candle, praying to Saint Jude (Patron Saint of Impossible Causes), all the Saints and Guardian Angels to lead you to the job that is perfect in every way and that will sustain you in all your financial needs.
    Set candle on top of deposit slip, that is in a saucer to catch drips (fire safety) and light. Keep this going until you get a job. If fire is a fear factor for you, place in cereal bowl and keep in center of stove top (moving only to cook) and it should be fine.

  8. Hope things are soon looking up!

  9. Mmmm, this looks so good! Yummy!

  10. I'm so sorry to hear about your job loss. I won't go into platititudes as we have all heard them. As a fellow jobless veteran, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE consider going out on your own. Lack of money is painful, but you are so incredibly talented. Perhaps we could all get together and help you promote?

    I see many, many blogs both from personal perspective and business, but I love yours as it is not only informative and creative, but very home-y. When I read your blogs, I feel as if I am sitting next to you as an intimate friend.

    I read your blog before I read any one else's!

  11. My goodness. I don't know what else to say but best wishes. You are such a strong gal and you have a fantastic blog.

  12. sorry to hear of all your woes. My dad had a stroke a year and a half ago and we almost lost him this past August to pneumonia. But he's still hanging in there and I know what you mean, those 30 seconds mean everything sometimes! Hang in there and best of luck on your job search.

  13. Hey Kimberly,

    I really feel for you right now. I went through quite the dry spell financially not too long ago. I know that your creativity and skills will not only get you through this but aslo make you come out of this even stronger and MORE creative.

    On another note, this is by far the absolute best stew I've ever tasted! All I had to change was to thicken the stew towards the end. Other than that, I'll remember to cut everything in bite size pieces next time, but that was my bad.

    Keep your head up!!! You can do this!!

  14. I made this soup for the first time last week, and it was by far the best beef stew I've made. Simply, easy, cheap, and healthy!! I accidently bought green 'beans' instead of green 'peas', so that part was left out. Used carrots and celery (mostly to use them up), and also made my own broth with buillion (I like a real brothy stew, so I almost doubled the amount). Wonderful and easy!!

  15. I make this often... it's sooo yummy. Thanks for sharing such an easy hearty recipe that my whole family loves (kids 5,3,1 gobbled it right up!) I use marinated steak, I marinate it in braggs liquid amino, Worcestershire sauce and garlic.... mmmmm! I get the steak on sale, and throw the marinate in a bag and freeze it that way, pull it out when I want to use it and cut it up!



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