Stew

Anyone can make stew. But not like my wife, Jackie, who doesn’t use a recipe. (I get hungry just thinking about it.) She’s just got the touch! Don’t worry though, I found some recipes at the end that will help you cook-up some real tasty stews in your own kitchen. 

It’s right about that time of year for me when I crave another “feel good” food item – (you may have noticed this happens multiple times throughout the year).  With the thermometer going down, and the chilly skies with complete darkness driving home from work, my mind gets focused on thick and steamy, golden delicious, melt in your mouth, give me another helping – stew.  Now, I must admit, I’m REALLY spoiled, as my wife Jackie has a stew “to die for”.  You know, the kind of stew that “sticks to your bones” – sort of like a little internal heater pack.  From my “non-culinary” observations, she puts a whole bunch of browned meat and potatoes and vegies and spices in a big roasting pan, adds water and lets it “gurgle” all day – (that’s my professional cooking term) for a bazillion hours in the oven.   A magical transformation takes place – sort of like my ovens here when we’re solving your PIA (pain in the @%$) Jobs!  The house fills with the pan’s aroma, as the meat and carrots and celery and onions and spices and potatoes all do their thing.  What’s so cool – I asked her for the recipe, and she said – “I don’t really have one – just sort of make it up each time – and throw in what looks good” – (man, did I hit the amazing cooking spouse jackpot or what!).  And throughout the day, I get in trouble for simply wanting to “test” the product! (I think as an officer, I should be able to test what’s in the oven….right?).  When it’s time, I’m so anxious to sit down and do what I know how to do best -EAT!, and remember to have a chunk of your favorite bread so you don’t miss a drop! So, here’s a little history on “stews”. If you have a family favorite, please email it to me at skowalski@khtheat.com – and I’ll be sure to share with the gang and give it a try. Special thanks to one of my favorites – Shel Silverstein for his delightful poem, and delishably.com, tablespoon.com, sunset.com, gimmesomeoven.com, foodnetwork.com, and tasteofhome.com for the info and recipe links. Enjoy!

I have nothing to put in my stew, you see,
Not a bone or a bean or a black-eyed pea,
So I’ll just climb in the pot to see
If I can make a stew out of me.
I’ll put in some pepper and salt and I’ll sit
In the bubbling water—I won’t scream a bit.
I’ll sing while I simmer, I’ll smile while I’m stewing,
I’ll taste myself often to see how I’m doing.
I’ll stir me around with this big wooden spoon
And serve myself up at a quarter to noon.
So bring out your stew bowls,
You gobblers and snackers.
Farewell—and I hope you enjoy me with crackers!

    — Shel Silverstein

Stew (the noun) is “a dish of meat, fish, or other food, cooked by stewing.” (this reads like a definition a kid would make up when they didn’t know the answer).  So, for you newer chef’s out there … basically, any combination of two or more ingredients simmering in a liquid (broth) is a “stew.”

On the other hand, Soup is “a liquid food made by boiling or simmering meat, fish, or vegetables with various added ingredients.”) – when asked, I’m a “stew” guy for sure!

Many people and cultures present soup as an appetizer—a clear broth with or without a few beautifully prepared vegetables simmered within, or a cold vegetable or fruit appetizer (great in summer!).  Stew is not an appetizer, nor a light introduction to the main course.  It is the main course, the star of the show, and the perfect comfort food for those days when there is more darkness than daylight, when outdoor temperatures begin their descent toward freezing.

Historians agree, there is no way to come up with a definitive answer of when stew was invented, but the advent of combining ingredients in a pot to create a nutritious, filling, easy-to-digest meal (“stew”) probably occurred some moments after the discovery of fire, or perhaps more precisely, when prehistoric man took that first step in learning how to cook—learning how to boil water.

In her book, Food in History, Raey Tannahill states that we knew about boiling water long before the invention of pottery (about 6,000 B.C.). She believes that prehistoric men used reptile shells or the stomachs of animals they had killed as vessels in which to boil liquid.

After learning to boil water, humans made another discovery. Boiling foods not only makes them taste better, it creates new flavors. Cereal grains and some root vegetables, when heated in water, break down, soften, and release starchy granules. These starches then thicken the cooking liquid, the flavors of the individual ingredients combine, and a stew is created.

Couple passed down through the ages:  Beef Stroganoff, Coq au Vin, Paella, Hungarian Goulash — in essence, all of these are a stew.

Archeological remnants have been found to show that stew was a common food for Vikings and our European ancestors throughout the Middle East. Stew was eaten by princes and paupers alike, carried to the New World, and travelled across the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean. It sustained cowboys on the cattle drive, nourished a generation through the Great Depression, and has been a part of human existence for millennia.  And still today, it makes this “heat-treater” a happy man!

Links to some favorites:
All-American Beef Stew (jampacked with 13 “Must Do” Tips for great stew – be sure to read it!)
Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon (she’s genius – and so fun to watch)
No Meat – Earthly Mushroom Potato Stew/Soup

 

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

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