Betty Duffy

Monday, September 29, 2008

Beer and Blue Cheese

I obviously have a bit of melancholy that catches up to me every now and then—who doesn’t? But I am mostly a sanguine soul, so by the third day of a slump, I am usually sick of my own sour taste and make a conscientious decision to engage in some joy inducing behavior. One can only handle so much existential angst before it begins to feel self-serving and self-defeating—which, as I’ve mentioned before, is not what this self-titled blog aims to accomplish.

One of my favorite joy-inducing behaviors is eating, which has been sort of a thorn in my side, since I got busted for eating during this pregnancy by developing gestational diabetes. As if eating for two were not restrictive enough, when I have lived the last 32 years of my life eating for four or five and then running it off in the evening, now I have to restrict not only soft cheeses, liquor, and the occasional social cigarette, but also sugar, even fruit and oatmeal. Well, I found a way to work around at least part of those restrictions today: a recipe for gastropub cooking: a Beer and Deer stew, as the kids have been calling it. I’ve been craving a thick hearty stew for several years now, since my sister-in-law made a beef and Guiness stew with Irish Soda Bread for one of our visits to their graduate school apartment. For some reason hearty stews have been sort of awol from our menu here, since the kids aren’t favorable, and neither really, is my husband. But there was a time in my life when people called me Betty Hearty-stew-sted (a play on the maiden name), because that’s what I cooked or ordered when eating out.

In short form, this stew is a pot-pie style with blue cheese rolled into the crust, thus cooking out the risk of dangerous bacteria while keeping that favorite of all my favorite stinky cheese flavors. The stew portion has an English stout broth, which gave me a good opportunity for a moderate glug off the pint of St Peters Cream Stout that’s been in the fridge for close to nine months. The recipe calls for a beef roast, but since my Mom and Dad’s electricity went out several weeks ago, and they salvaged much of their freezer contents by storing them in my freezer, and since that meat has not yet been removed from my freezer, I feel justified in cooking a good looking venison roast that takes up much valuable real-estate. Maybe I’ll give them the left-overs. In short, this meal is costing me very little, and is also providing me with an opportunity to use the sharp knife I got for Christmas last year. Chopping veg with a good knife is one of life’s little pleasures, so that even if the stew stinks, it’s been a good process.

With the smell of a good stew emanating from the stove-top, life feels a little less brutal. The kids have wreaked havoc today on many things. #1 broke a window by swinging a sand-stuffed spandex snake around our entry way (this also ripped the snake which sent a spray of sand all the way into the kitchen). #2 threw the only surviving pumpkin from our garden off the top of the swing-set leaving it splattered in pieces in our yard. And #3 and 4 had suffered negative popularity at the playground this morning due to their poor slide etiquette.

But tonight there will be stew, and warm hearty hops smells, and blue cheese. Maybe I’ll dim the lights, pour a little something sticky on the table, and light a candle that smells like cigarettes for that full pub effect.

(I’m going to put a patent on that cigarette candle.)


Kate said...

Mmmm... your stew sounds delicious. Please review it post-consumption, too. Thanks for the four-year-old props on my St Paddy's Day stew - I need to make that again! I, too, have had the taste lately for hearty stew; sadly, the weather precludes heating anything (even in a Crockpot) all day. Maybe in a few months when we have our wintertime dip into the 70s.

I wish I had known earlier about our shared lifelong love of stew! Sisters-in-law, and now sisters-in-stew. Did you ever take a can of Dinty Moore to lunch in high school? Yes, I loved stew that much.

Betty Duffy said...

I think maybe you should now take on the Hearty-stew-sted moniker. My stew-making skills have done a little backslide over the years. Here's my post-prandial review:
1.) Use beef, not venison. Being a leaner roast, venison possibly diminished the thickness and savoriness of the broth.
2.) Add salt. This is probably a placenta-related omission on my part, but worth mentioning, since the recipe only says "salt to taste." You probably want at least a tablespoon of salt in this recipe and maybe more.
3.) Get the $250 Le Creuset dutch oven to bake the pie crust on top. Since I was using a faberwarre stockpot for the stew and was a little worried about melting my handles, I cooked the pie crust separately and then dumped it on top of the stew. This meant the crust did not have a yummy broth-saturated underbelly. Also, the edges of my crust fell off the side of the pan and caught on fire in the bottom of the oven, which set off smoke-detectors, and made a more natural smokey odor in my kitchen, rendering the cigarette candle unnecessary.

In short, disappointing, and nothing like your Paddy's day stew. I may try salting the leftovers and actually baking them potpie style in a pie pan tomorrow. Until then, I remain your sister-in-stew.

Elizabeth said...

though i would have loved to be there for the stew, i would have loved the flaming pie crust and smokiness. still, patent that cigratte candle, maybe i´ll quit then!

Kate said...

Ha! Katie Hearty-stew-sted. I'm ordering the social cards right now.

Emily said...

Stew in the morning, Stew at night, stew with beer is such a delight.

But I cannot take stew in a can,
nor eat beef and hash with my man.

Instead I insist on stewing in a pot
which is why the amount I eat is naught.

JenX67 said...

OH, that sounds soooooo good.