Purple Rice and Beef-ish Stew

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I know what you’re thinking: holy moly this woman makes a lot of beef stew. You don’t know the half of it. But each one is different, because I make them up as I go along. So I hope in posting as many of them as occur to me to photograph, you can draw some inspiration for flavour combinations!

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It started with this package of frozen stewing meat I inherited from Atlas’ freezer. It likely came from her parents’ organic hobby farm in BC, or from one of the people with whom her dad has a trade deal. And, given the nature of some of the other things I’ve inherited from Atlas, it could very well be goat, and not beef. In fact it’s probably goat. So I tried to adjust the spices such that it would work for goat, or beef. But what do I know.

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I grabbed my big stock pot and chopped up an onion, which I chucked in the pot with some butter and olive oil and sautéed until it was soft and smelled amazing.

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Then I pitched in the beef/goat/mystery meat, together with some salt and pepper, and cooked that until it was browned on all the edges.

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While that was going on I prepped everything else. Seeing as I had some on hand from my recent Krupnikas-fest, I decided to grate some fresh turmeric into the mix, to give the broth a nice earth-flavour. If you like the earth flavour, then you could probably add some fresh beets to the stew. They’ll definitely give the stew some colour.

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In fact, the turmeric would, under normal circumstances, have dyed my stew a lovely yellow colour, save that I’m putting purple rice in it, and purple rice dyes everything, too. The turmeric did, however, dye my fingers yellow.

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And some of the counter. I miss our all-black counter from Elizabeth.

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Fact, though: if you spray bleach on a turmeric stain, like this one:

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It will turn from yellow to orange, and then just wipe away.

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I added some freshly grated ginger to the pile as well, because I had a whole bunch of it in the fridge.

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Then I chopped up a medium-sized rutabaga. While not as absorbent as potatoes in stew, rutabagas and turnips hold their shape well while also providing some of the mushiness you expect from other root vegetables and tubers.

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And a giant (GIANT) carrot.

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And some cauliflower.

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And my purple rice. It’s kind of obscene how purple it makes everything else, but I love it.

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And a head of roasted garlic. Because everything is better with garlic. I popped the cloves out and roughly chopped them.

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I chucked all that in the pot, together with some concentrated vegetable and beef broth and a whole lot of water. Remember when you’re putting uncooked rice or pasta into a soup or stew to add extra water as it will be absorbed.

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I also sprinkled in some ground cumin and yellow curry powder.

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Bring that whole thing to simmer for about an hour, until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are squishable with a spoon.

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Serve hot (because it’s a stew, silly). Sooooo satisfying and purple!

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When in doubt, make soup!

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My parents are down in Florida and I’m looking after the house while they’re gone. This entailed cleaning out the fridge after they left, and so I arrived home with this oddment of groceries: 1 small zucchini, 4 wilted green onions, 2 baby bok choi, 9 multicoloured carrots, half a large sweet onion, half a large rutabaga, and half a large Savoy cabbage.

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Welp, that looks like a soup to me. Fortunately I had some stewing beef in the freezer which I chucked in the sink to defrost. Then I got to chopping.

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I also chopped up 1 head of garlic, and sautéed it with the onions in a large stockpot with a drop of olive oil until they were soft and sweet.

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Remember when cutting up rutabagas to be very careful. Slice off the top and bottom first so you have a flat surface to work on before you go after the skin, as it will be tough, especially if it’s been waxed.

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I added all the other chopped veg to the pot. I only scrubbed the carrots, didn’t peel them. All that vitamin-y goodness is in the skin and these are such tender carrots it seemed like a waste to remove the skin.

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Make sure to dry your beef before you brown it. It will make browning way quicker.

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I also like to dredge it in flour for a nice crust, and the flour will help thicken the stew as it cooks. You can use rice flour for a gluten-free option.

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Brown the meat until it has a nice seared edge all the way around.

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Then you can chuck that in the pot, too. I added about 8 cups water and two mini cups of concentrated beef bouillon, but go with whatever floats your boat.

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Give it a stir and set it to simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until the rutabagas are soft when you smush them with a spoon.

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I added in a pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves, as well as a few teaspoons of dried oregano. Add salt and pepper as well, if you like.

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To combat the bitterness of the cabbage I also added in a few tablespoons each of maple syrup and rice vinegar (it sounds weird, I know, but it works). You can also use cider vinegar.

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My scrumptious savoury stew!

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I shoved it into large freezer bags that I froze flat for easy storage. I can’t wait to haul one of these babies out in the dead of winter for some comfort food!

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Turnip Puff

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There aren’t many vegetables that grow locally here in Newfoundland, and there are fewer still that you can easily obtain during the winter months.  One of the vegetables that you can get from a nearby source, however, is the turnip.  This is actually a rutabaga, but they call them turnips here so that’s what we’re gonna call it.  This was the smallest one I could find in the store, and it’s the size of my head (I don’t have a very large head, but I think a head-sized turnip is a pretty big turnip).

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Normally we just boil them up and mash them (and then maybe bake them after that with some butter and sugar), but I’ve gotten kind of tired of that, so I searched online for a variation of that and found this nice little recipe.  You should give it a try, and give your lowly turnip/rutabaga a little boost.

Start with your turnip.  You’ll need about 3 cups peeled and cubed turnips for this recipe, but I just did my whole huge one, which I think ended up being about four cups.  Plop those in a big pot with enough water to cover.

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Boil those up until they’re tender when you stab them with a fork, drain them, and then mash them with about a tablespoon of butter.  Mmm, butter … I don’t think I could live without butter.  It’s my favourite thing.  Set those aside to cool slightly.

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While that’s cooling, preheat your oven to 375°F and spray a baking dish that will fit at least 3 cups turnip.  Mix together 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, a dash of ground pepper and another dash of ground nutmeg.

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Take an egg and crack it in a little bowl and beat it up.

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Beat the egg into the slightly cooled turnip (that’s why you cool it, so it doesn’t cook the egg).

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Then stir in your flour mixture as well.

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Plop all that into your baking dish and smooth it out.  Melt about 2 tablespoons butter and mix it with 2 tablespoons bread crumbs and sprinkle that over top.

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Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes until the top starts to brown and is heated through.

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Serve it up with anything you like.

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We used some of our leftovers as a thickener for a chicken hash we made later that week and it was delicious.

Maple-Glazed Ham

The Pie and I took Easter easy this year, and it was just the two of us, so we kept Easter dinner simple.  We had a maple-glazed ham, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, crisp mashed rutabaga, and roasted asparagus with cheese and bread crumbs.

The Pie and I like ham, and we’ve featured it here before.  Because we’re lazy, we always go with a pre-cooked ham, but this year we thought we’d try something a little different in the glaze department.

So, take your ham and take a knife and score the ham all over in one direction, then another, to make diamond-shaped cuts everywhere.  I just scored along the string lines, and that worked fine.

Stud the ham with cloves.

Mix together 2/3 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff, please), and 1 tablespoon mustard (I went with an organic dijon).

Grab yourself a pastry brush, a very handy item.  Ours are made of silicone, which makes cleanup so much less of a pain in the bum.

Plaster that ham with your glaze. Bake according to your instructions, adding more glaze as you see fit.  If you bake it at 350°F for an hour or so, you should be good.  You are looking for an internal temperature of about 140°F.

Let it rest for a few minutes, then slice it up.

TADA!

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The Pie and I took Easter easy this year, and it was just the two of us, so we kept Easter dinner simple.  We had a maple-glazed ham, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, crisp mashed rutabaga, and roasted asparagus with cheese and bread crumbs.

These mashed potatoes are super easy, and really not all that healthy.  But honestly, I don’t really think “healthy” and “mashed potato” should be used in the same sentence.  But that’s just me.

Gather yourself a selection of potatoes and peel those suckers.  Or don’t peel them.  I prefer my mashed potatoes with skins, but I was making this for the Pie and he prefers them without, so there you go.  Cut off all the spots and things.

Cube ’em up.

Boil the rawness out of them.  Drain them.

Mash them silly.  Add in lots of butter.  More than you think sane.

Some minced garlic.  Use your judgment here.  I don’t want to try to force my ideals of garlic amounts on you.  That’s just not my way.  I am not a proselytic garlic lover.

Some cream cheese.  Again with the judgment.  And some herbs of your choice.  Today we used dill.  Other days we use basil or oregano.

Eat.  Tell your arteries to pipe down and go back for seconds.

Roasted Asparagus with Cheese

For you Canadians out there, don’t forget to VOTE! █♣█

The Pie and I took Easter easy this year, and it was just the two of us (well, plus Gren), so we kept Easter dinner simple.  We had a maple-glazed ham, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, crisp mashed rutabaga, and roasted asparagus with cheese and bread crumbs.

Now of course you all know how to keep asparagus nice and crispy.  Today I’m going teach you a new trick.

The bottom ends of asparagus are woody and tough, and need to be removed before cooking.  To do this, all you have to do is bend the asparagus until it snaps.  I was doing this with one hand so I could photograph it and the stalks were flying across the room.

The natural breaking point for asparagus is where the tender bit meets the tough bit, so it saves you the guess work.  Tada!

Place your newly cropped asparagus in a roasting pan.  I used about 1/2lb asparagus.

Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.  Shake the pan from side to side to coat the stalks.

Roast for 10-15 minutes at 425°F until the stalks are tender-crisp.  Toss with a few tablespoons bread crumbs

… and grated cheese (your choice).

And serve.

Bashed Neeps with a little Sweet Potato

Behold the lowly, plebeian turnip.  If you were my Scottish great-grandfather you’d call them neeps.  The vegetable of the working class.  Nubbly root vegetables that overwinter remarkably well.  Tasty tubers.

You get the idea.

I’m fond of turnips.  Rutabaga as well.  They’re a little yellower, bigger, and stronger tasting than a turnip.

Thanksgiving is all about the harvest vegetables, and the turnip is a traditional addition.

I used 4 medium-sized turnips.  (And 2 large apples.  No picture of those sadly.)

Peel them with a sharp knife and cut them into cubes.

Chuck them in a pot with a pinch or two (or five) of cinnamon and enough water to cover.

Cover and simmer them until very tender, about an hour, maybe more.

Drain and mash with butter and a dash of maple syrup.

You can serve it as is, but this time we felt that the turnips were a little bland.

We peeled and cubed a single large sweet potato and boiled that up as well until it was tender.

Mash that sucker in with the turnip after you’re done your boiling.

Add a spoonful of ginger, as well as some nutmeg and a bit of brown sugar.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot.

You can also freeze this stuff for thawing and reheating later.  It saves time on the big day.