Beef Bourguignon

Here is me channeling my inner Julia Child. I remember watching the film “Julie and Julia” and the famous dish that Julia Child mastered, and in turn, Julie tried to master. I needed something this weekend that was aromatic, hearty, and delicious. Obviously, I wanted something challenging too and boy oh boy was this!

I will preface this recipe by saying only prepare this meal if you have the time to prepare it. This takes at least a 1.5 hour prep period, then 6-8 hours cooking in a slow cooker. Clearly, it takes a lot of time and energy to make this meal. But it tastes so good!

Ingredients: onion, white fingerling potatoes, can of whole tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 pounds of beef chuck, 6 pieces of applewood bacon, dry red wine, crimini mushrooms, baby carrots, beef broth, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Directions:

1. Rinse the beef chuck off and cut into 1 inch pieces. Now, there are multiple choices of beef chuck at your grocery store. You could buy stew meat so you dont have to cut the pieces up yourself. I bought what was on sale and it worked out quite well.

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2. Cook the pieces of bacon in a skillet. Once golden brown, place the cooked bits on a plate with pieces of paper towel to remove the grease.

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3. Set the grease aside in a small container. You will use this to cook the meat and veggies in.

4. place a table spoon of grease in the skillet. Heat until lightly smoking. Put a bit of the meat in the skillet. Add salt and pepper on the meat. Sear the meat on each side for 1-3 minutes.

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5. When the meat is cooked (does not need to be thoroughly) place pieces of meat in the slow cooker. Place less than a 1/4 cup of red wine in skillet. Swish the wine and grease around and put in the slow cooker. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all the meat is cooked.

6. Place a table spoon of grease in skillet. Cook the chopped onion in the skillet until its soft.

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7. When the onion is cooked, add a cup of carrots and a table spoon of tomato paste. Once cooked, place in the slow cooker.

8. Place a table spoon of grease in skillet. Cook the crimini mushrooms until cooked well. Set aside to place in stew later.

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9. Cut the white fingerling potatoes and tomatoes from the can and place in the slow cooker.

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10. Place 1 cup of red wine and beef broth over veggies and beef in slow cooker. Cook for 6-8 hours.

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11. I made this with egg noodles kind of like a stroganoff. So delish. YUM!!!

Bon Appetit!

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A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

One of the most depressing novels I have ever read (and obviously by this blog, I’ve read a fair few) has been Mistry’s A Fine Balance. Good Lord, the main characters could not catch a break. Mistry’s novel takes place in India during the revolution. There are four main characters: Dina, Ishvar, Om, and Maneck. The entire book discusses the characters’ back story, each extremely different from the other, how the characters came to inhabit the same flat, and what happens after they live together. The intertwining story of the characters has to do with economic issues plaguing India during the mid-20th century that caused a widow, two tailors, and a student to come together and try to survive.

Dina is the owner of the flat that the other three characters inhabit. She is a widow whose husband died in a bicycle accident a few years after their marriage. Dina needed to make ends meet to support her rent dues so she finds two tailors to make clothing for a large retailer. The tailors, Ishvar and Om, travelled each day from their disgusting home to Dina’s, worked a full work day and then travelled back. They did not live with Dina until later in the novel when they lost their home by a redevelopment endeavor of the government. Maneck was a student at the university and was paying for the room in Dina’s flat. He came from a village in the mountains, as well as a fairly wealthy family due to them owning a small shop that supported their town. That’s how he had the money to not only go to school but also live with Dina.

This novel was an epic 600 pages. Usually I enjoy long novels, but this one took me weeks to finish. This is mostly because I could not think of a less enticing thing to do on the weekend than read the novel, which is so sad for me. But, I finally blasted through the last 100 pages and go through the ending. The only people I would recommend this novel to are Indians who would cherish the historical perspective of the novel. Quite honestly though, I have no idea how the novel made it onto my list of top 100 books of all time. Mistry drones on and on at times, giving exceptional details in some respects, but other times it was as if I read two pages and had to go back for the novel jumped into the future by weeks or years within a paragraph. Mistry failed at portraying time in a meaningful way throughout the book. The majority of the book proceeds at a fairly slow snail pace, where other sections speed on by.

With respect to the actual material of the novel, I thought Mistry over-portrayed the depression of all of the characters. Specifically, during this era in time in India, the government supports the sterilization of the people. Mistry repetitively drives the point home that the government supported doctor efforts to go to the poor regions of the country to sterilize the people. It was almost too much and too sad. I think this was an important part of the time in India, I think that Mistry spent way too much time, novel space, and effects on characters in considering this part of the plot. I also despise how Mistry ended the novel. Ishvar and Om are severely affected by their castration and sterilization, Dina loses her flat, most support characters die and are killed, and Maneck commits suicide. Really, Mistry?!

To reiterate, the only way I would say to read this novel is if Indian history is your specialty or part of your ancestry. Otherwise, pass it at the library; no one needs that extent of depression.

Chicken Burritos

Let me start off this post with a blanket statement: DC severely lacks decent, affordable Mexican food. Now, I was born and raised on CA so I love love love Mexican food. So, I must rely on my own culinary skills to eat Mexican food. It has been a long long time since I’ve had a burrito, especially one with flour tortillas. I’ve been craving a decent burrito for months. Finally, I got the materials together and made them! They were delish and I enjoyed them so so much!

Ingredients: 2lbs chicken breasts, spanish rice, refried beans, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, onion, large can of enchilada sauce, low fat mexican cheese, can of black beans, can of corn, and large flour tortillas.

Directions:

1. Boil the chicken breasts until they are cooked all the way through. Remove from water and cut into small pieces.

2. Chop onion and cut the bell peppers into matchsticks. Cook the onions until they are soft in a large saucepan. Then add the bell peppers and cook until soft.

3. Once the onion and peppers are cooked thoroughly, add the cans of black beans and corn and chicken until everything is hot.

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4. While everything is cooking, grease a pyrex dish and based off of the dish’s dimensions decide how many burritos to make. Get a plate out with your flour tortillas  and this will be your burrito making station.

5. Place one tortilla on the plate and place the two spoonfuls of chicken and veggies onto the tortilla. Add enchilada sauce on top of the mix. Top with mexican cheese.

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6. Fold the burrito, closing the ends of the burrito. Place them tortilla ends down into the Pyrex dish.

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7. Cover the burritos with enchilada sauce and mexican cheese. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbling. Cover for the most part with foil, then the last 10 minutes without foil. Enjoy!

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Pad Thai Made Easy

I have recently tried to push the boundaries of my culinary skills lately. Specifically, I want to cook a range of different ethnic foods that I love ordering but have never had the courage to try to cook. Whenever I go to a Thai restaurant I either get a red curry dish or Pad Thai. I know real adventurous, but those are two things that I love to order, but I have never cooked Pad Thai on my own. So this was my opportunity to try, and I’m glad I did for it’s very easy! Hope you enjoy and let me know what you think or any suggestions you may have.

Ingredients: Blue Dragon Pad Thai Sauce, bag of frozen stir fry vegetables, brown rice noodles, cup of vegetable stock

Directions:

1. Boil a few cups of water. Set aside and place noodles in the hot water for 5 minutes. Then place noodles in a colander to dry.

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2. Steam the frozen vegetables in a pot with a bit of vegetable stock.

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3. In a separate pot mix the rest of the stock with the Pad Thai sauce and put the noodles in. Once the vegetables are cooked mix the veggies in with the noodles.

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4. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce is absorbed into the veggies and noodles.

Modern Cross Stitching: Part I

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted things to this blog, yet I have been keeping busy! Work is crazy, but so are the projects I have been working on. As you well know I am a self-taught (with some help from my mommy) cross stitcher. I thoroughly enjoy the form of art because you can listen to a podcast while doing the activity or watch a film/TV show.

I have completed and bought a few cross stitching kits which include: a needle, all of the pre-sorted thread, cloth, and sometimes beading. But what I have really gotten interested in is designing my own charts, especially choosing my own color pallets for the designs. Specifically, I’ve wanted to take cross-stitching to a modern level incorporating characters form popular culture.

So far I have designed and completed two pop culture sets: Power Rangers and Scooby Doo. I’m really proud of these two sets of characters because using what thread colors I had was able to choose colors highly representative of the characters. I thoroughly loved doing these two sets and am investigating what other things to do. Additionally, I’m looking into games like Tetris, puzzles, and other geometric shapes. Stay tuned for other pieces of work!

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