Monday, June 21, 2010

A Stew for You, Dad.

My dad was a real meat and potatoes guy. He grew up on a hog farm (I would have called it a pig farm, but he grew up in Maryland, where pigs are hogs). He never was able to abandon those roots, though he made some attempts as he encountered health problems in his older age. He even went so far as to try some very strict diet regimes—the no yeast/fungus diet and the no carb diet are two I remember. The bulk of my food memories are of him eating pretzels with his evening beer/s, and consuming more than his share of Breyer's ice cream.

My dad died four years ago today. He had lung cancer, which followed adult-onset diabetes. He loved his comfort food. When he was in hospice care the last four weeks of his life, they let him eat whatever he wanted. And you know what he ate? Chocolate milkshakes. He had fought for his life the last 10 months, eating a very strict diet to try to manage his blood sugar while the cancer ravaged first his lungs, then his spine and finally his brain. He earned those shakes!

I remember the last meal I cooked for him. He came to visit me about 3 months before he passed away, and asked me to make spaghetti w/ meat sauce. He loved my cooking. I'm sure he thought I'd make a great wife and mom someday. Or at least that's what I imagined he thought (he was sort of old fashioned about that stuff). Apparently when my husband-to-be asked my dad for permission to marry me shortly before my dad died, he said “I don't know why you'd want to go and do a thing like that, but if you really want to, go ahead.” Nice, dad.

Anyway, my dad loved comfort food, especially meat. Yesterday, in his honor, and for my husband who married me despite my dad's warning, I made beef stew (in a slow cooker). Simple, hearty, tender beef stew with market-fresh potatoes and carrots, and grass-fed beef. My dad would have loved it, just as my husband and I did.

Simple Slow Cooker Beef Stew


2 lb chuck or tip roast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb new potatoes, cubed

1 small bunch carrots, tops removed, clean and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 small onion chopped

¼ cup red wine

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

beef or other stock

fresh herbs (I used parsley, oregano and thyme) and bay leaf

Salt to taste

1 whole dried pasilla pepper

To make:

Turn skillet to medium heat and place 1 tbsp oil in skillet.

Sprinle salt and pepper on roast.

Pean sear roast about 4 minutes each side until brown.

Place veggies in a slow cooker.

Add browned meat.

Cover with enough stock to cover meat. Adds herbs and pepper.

Turn onto low for about 6 hours, or until meat is tender.

Enjoy with fresh, crusty bread.


Lo said...

You've just defined comfort food -- delicious dishes tied up with absolutely irreplaceable memories. This is a lovely post -- and I'm glad you shared!

thriftydabbler said...

I am so happy you got to have your very own relationship with your Dad in the years before he , clear and all
Your very own.

Your memories are precious and how you honored his memory is touching and loving. Thanks for sharing today.