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!