Wednesday, December 30, 2015

beef and barley from Jamie Oliver

For a few weeks I had a free preview of a new channel which featured lots of Jamie Oliver programs so I went down a Jamie Oliver rabbit hole for a few nights. Our weather turned nasty over Christmas with crazy wind and rain storms and no one who wasn't having to venture out for work wanted to go outside. Including the dog with his new haircut.

And the boy was having trouble getting out of his new glow-in-the-dark Jurassic World pajamas - as in he wants to wear them 24-7 and I can see a battle brewing next week when school starts back up again.

 The thought of a rich beefy stew like pot burbling away on the stove was very inticing especially as this year I did not have a fridge full of leftover turkey etc as we were treated to Christmas dinner at our in-laws. We did make a dash out into the frozen sleet to pick up barley, briefly run the dog and post a return on a disappointing Christmas toy which had broken.
a small strawberry smelling pillow made in a jiffy for the boy
 But the beef burbling did live up to my imaginings depite veering off Jamie's recipe. And provided a lovely hearty beef and barley stew for supper.

Beef and Barley Stew (adapted from Kate and Will's wedding pie from Jamie Oliver)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 knob butter
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1 heaped tsp dried thyme
3 medium onions, peeled and chopped
900 g stewing beef, cut into 2.5 cm dice
sea salt
ground pepper
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 bottles ale
2 tbsp flour
1.2 litres stock, I used a mix of beef and chicken (I used more beer than the original recipe so less stock)
140 g pearl barley
3 tsp  English mustard (I used dijon as it was all I had)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
100 g Cheddar cheese

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy, lidded dutch oven or casserole dish over high heat and add herbs, meat, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, beer, stock and flour and stir everything comes together and starts to bubble. Simmer over low heat with the lid on for about 1 hour, then add the barley, put the lid on and simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the meat shreds easily and the gravy is thick. Spoon away any oil from the top and add the mustard, worcestershire sauce and cheese. Taste and season as required.

I served this alongside a big green salad and roasted carrots. Delicious.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

counting down

Whoa. Is it just me or did December just whoosh by at super sonic speed? I am so behind on all my Christmas list - just getting the tree decorated and the cards sent but my usual cookies

 have been baked and given and parties and concerts have happened. This year I spent the first part of the month getting ready for a craft show

 and then worked as an assistant elf on a school event that happens every December. 

It's called Santa's workshop and basically families donate stuff to be given as presents. Every year the request is the same, give donations that can be gifted and that you wouldn't mind getting back as a present. Or as a friend put it, you give stuff and get other stuff back.

But I did the math, we are a net giving family as we get back two presents with one child but as my friend has three children in the school, she gets back twelve gifts (each child buys for parents and siblings). It's a wonderful day after loads of hard work sorting, washing,
bag of stuffies for washing

 packaging and decorating when the children come into the gym/workshop to choose gifts for their parents and siblings starting with the kindergardeners. The little ones come with their big buddies (kids from the upper grades) to help them choose and wrap, and for the day, the kids wear their pajamas and it is all feel good, in a gooey, marshmallowy way. 

This year our boy is a big buddy to a kindergardener so I saw him twice - once when he was helping his buddy and then when he was shopping (I wasn't allowed to watch).
 As volunteer elves helping the kids, we do have to manage the gift tables so that the big kids who come last still have a selection to choose from, which gets tricky with teen boys and dads especially. All the gifts are $2 each with the money going to various charities - this year our sister school and refugees. At the end of the day anything left can be bought for a loonie ($1) in loonie madness. Fun. After the dust settles all books go to the school library for the book sale and all other gifts are donated.

Then came the class party and now school is done for the year and we are relaxing at home - well after the decorating, gift wrapping, baking and grocery shopping is done. The dog got his Christmas hair cut

 and we had a bit of snow. We spent a couple of days visiting family on Vancouver Island

 and now are home for the holidays.

 My husband's new job in retail means he is working most of this week and next.

Last week I made a holiday version of my scones, adding hazelnuts and chocolate to them.

Chocolate Hazelnut Scones (adapted from Recipes Only Cookbook Caroll Allen- June 1989,Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd edition. )

3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c brown sugar
1 c butter
1 c milk
1/2 c finely chopped hazelnuts
1/2 bag of chocolate chips

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder and brown sugar. Pulse to blend well. Add the butter and pulse until well-mixed in. Add the milk and pulse until a dough just forms. Add in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Dump the dough onto a counter and pat into a 3/4" thick rectangle. Cut into triangles and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 deg F for 10-15 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!