Monthly Archives: September 2008

Squash Mania at Taft Farm

The Economic Collapse Calls for Soup

Note: Not my tableware.

I’m going to break in the Dutch oven
today with Irish beef stew. This recipe and photo come via Elise at Simply Recipes Food and Cooking Blog. I’m going to substitute
leftover Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale for the Guinness.

Irish Beef Stew Recipe


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • I cup of Guinness beer
  • 1 cup of fine red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1 Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2 While the meat and stock is simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour.

3 Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)

Serves 4 to 6.

Writer Procrastination

I stumbled upon this useful article about ways of thinking that lead to writing procrastination while “researching” Twitter. Those of you procrastinating by reading my blog might want to read it, too. Ahem and amen.

Your Favorite Dutch Oven Recipes?

Dutch oven and Goose on the porch.

Last night during dinner with my mother-in-law in Connecticut, I mentioned my plan to be all about soup this winter. Dave and Annalena rolled their eyes. Babs asked if I have a Dutch oven. I replied that I have a large pot, like for pasta. She said I need a Dutch oven and that she had an extra one she could give me. So now I have this beautiful blue Dutch oven. What should I cook with it?

Expat Shopping List

A week from today, I’m flying to San Miguel de Allende to visit my mom who lives there. She’s asked me to bring down crunchy peanut butter and steel cut oats. It’s funny what one misses living in a foreign country.

When we lived in Mexico and friends asked what they could bring us, I always requested Peet’s coffee or California wine. Ten years later, good coffee and wine are available in San Miguel, but crunchy peanut butter and steel cut oats remain elusive or they’re imported and crazy expensive at gourmet foods shops (“gourmet” should be in quotes, as these stores stock things like US$12 boxes of Hamburger Helper for desperate homesick expatriates).

I’m also going to pack some Berkshire Bark and horseradish mustard, both of which will be appreciated taste treats from el norte.

P.S. Those of you considering fleeing the country if Obama doesn’t win might want to check out Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad. (I contributed the opening essay.)

Name Game Meme

The world does seem to be coming to an end and I suspect I’m not the only person craving distraction. This fun meme comes via fellow Lowellite, Rachael.

1.Your rock star name (first pet, current car/motorcycle):
Mecca Outback

2.Your gangsta name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe):
Mint Chip Boot

3.Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born): None Sarasota

4.Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name):

5. Superhero name (favorite color, favorite drink):
Spring Green Au Lait

6. NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers):
Ralph Joseph

7.Dancer name (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy):
Thé Vert Cajeta

8.TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter):
Atkinson Atlanta

9.Spy name (your favorite season/holiday, flower):
Day of the Dead Peony

10.Cartoon name:(favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now):
Mango Sweater

11.Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree):
Au Lait Banyan

12.Movie star name (first pet, first street where you lived):
Mecca Siesta

Discipline, Anyone?

Jenny Holzer
from the Survival Series
Times Square, New York, 1985–86

Jenny Holzer has 2626 followers on Twitter, while she herself is following only one person, Guy Debord, who is dead. Hmmmmmmm. No wonder she’s so productive.

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet

I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up, but for now you can find me on the road to ruin…

Horseradish Apple Slaw

I’ve been craving coleslaw with a horseradish kick lately, nostalgic for Fog City Diner’s spicy version and lamenting that I sold my copy of the Fog City Diner Cookbook when we moved to Mexico 11 years ago, as the recipe doesn’t seem to be online.

The following recipe from a Real Simple e-newsletter appeared in my in-box today. It looks good, though I’ll use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Horseradish Apple Slaw

1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 head napa or green cabbage, shredded (4 cups)
2 crisp apples (such as Braeburn or Granny Smith), cut into matchstick-size strips
1 bunch scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, horseradish, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the cabbage, apples, and scallions and toss.

To Twitter or Not to Twitter?

There’s a wave of Twitter washing over my world these days and much seductive peer pressure to join the action. Twitter seems like the Facebook status line on steroids, like 21st century haiku, like something I’d much prefer to do than, say, earn a living.

Novelist Tayari Jones posted on Facebook last week that she was cutting back on Twitter. She un-installed the application TweetDeck from her computer, as her life had started feeling like a constant cocktail party (and she loves cocktail parties).

I’m tempted and conflicted. For those of you who tweet, here’s my question: Is there any point to doing it in moderation? Is it even possible to do in moderation or is Twitter heroin for people like us?

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Copyright © Gina Hyams