Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boeuf bourguignon in the crock pot

Today is one of those days. It's been nice for the past few days but as soon as Saturday hits, we get a snow storm. There's not much snow, in fact, most of it has melted from the streets and sidewalks. But for a family who wanted to do a little hiking today, it's simply too muddy. Instead, we're having an indoors sort of day.

To compliment the indoors day, I'm making a tasty crock pot dinner. It's a simplified take on boeuf bourguignon. This recipe is my modification of a modifed recipe. Julia Child would certainly scoff at my crock pot version. Good thing she's not in my kitchen. This recipe makes a full crock pot worth of food, so there's plenty for sharing or saving half for another meal. Here's what you need:

1 Tbsp of EVOO (pick your favorite I used blood orange)
1 medium onion, chopped
4-6 yukon gold potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 slices thick cut bacon, diced
1# stewing beef, cut into 1" cubes (you can use more if you prefer more meat, any red meat will do)
1/4 cup flour
3-4 Tbsp provencial spices (or alternate spices, more on this below)
5-6 cups beef or vegetable stock
1 cup red wine (or sub more stock)
salt and pepper to taste

Add chopped potatoes, carrots and celery to the crock pot. Look at all those wonderful colors! I used orange, yellow and purple carrots with yukon gold potatoes. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and bacon and cook until onions are soft and bacon is browned. Remove from pan and add to the crock pot leaving fat in the pan.

Pat your cubed meat dry and place in a ziploc bag with the flour and spices. Herbs de Provence certainly give it more of a french flair, but use what you have and what you like. I used a smoky spice blend I had in my spice cabinet. A simple salt, pepper, basil, and thyme blend works great.  I used beef for my meal, but if you're a hunter you can use deer, elk or antelope too. Shake to coat. Add the meat to your pan and brown on all sides. You may need to work in batches. Once the meat is browned, add about 2 cups of the stock and stir. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the drippings. Add to the crock pot.

Pour the remaining liquids into the crock pot, stir everything and set on low. You will want to let it cook at least 5-6 hours until the potatoes and carrots are tender. This is a forgiving recipe, so if you let it cook 8 hours, it's going to be just as delicious. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

There are more steps to this recipe than simply adding all ingredients to the crock pot. Trust me, the taste is worth it! As with many soups, the flavor is even better the next day. I like to serve it with some homemade bread. mmmm mmmmm.

As a side note, since I was using so many vegetables, I also took the time to make up a new batch of vegetable stock. I used the ends of my celery, onions and carrots plus added a little more into my stock pot. Today I also added some swiss chard, garlic and a few tomatoes. I love being able to use up the otherwise wasted pieces of vegetables. Just fill the pot with water over your veggies, bring to a boil, and then let simmer on low for a couple hours. Remove the veggies and add salt to taste. Let cool and pour into jars. You can keep it in the refrigerator for about a week. I usually store mine in the freezer until I'm ready to use it. Super simple, delicious, and much healthier for you than what you buy at the store.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I want your feedback

Greetings MIM readers and followers! This is a different type of post than I normally write. I want to take a moment to share with you some thoughts and follow up with some questions to get feedback from you.

You've likely noticed my blog frequency has dropped. This is for a number of reasons. First, we hit holiday time. I was doing a little traveling so I wasn't always near my computer. Secondly, we were making some home improvements and changes that required more of my time in my usual writing time. Third, I have been working on my adult education class content. There are a few more smaller items, but what I realized was this: I wasn't prioritizing my blog because I was (and still am) trying to decide which direction it should go.

My intention in writing Mama In Montana was to share ideas I created or adapted for my children, home and family. It's been a side hobby. I enjoy writing it and when I'm burning out, I slow down my posts. My intent has never been to make money with my blog or have it become my career. With that being said, I feel Mama In Montana is a bit random in the content, as a reader you don't know what I'm posting next, there isn't a schedule for when I'm posting so I don't know if I'm keeping or losing readers.

I've built a foundation of readers that keep trafficking my blog and I've done some work to get readers through google searches, pinterest and other social media searches. I feel like I need to give MIM some new direction. I'm just not sure where that might be. I know I want to continue to post and share. I know I can't commit to writing every day. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

This is where you come into the picture. What kinds of posts do you enjoy the most on Mama In Montana? Do you like the recipes? Craft projects? Kids projects? Instructional posts? Would you like to see more photos? Videos? Is there a day of the week you like to catch up on your favorite blogs? Do you check your favorite blogs every day for new content? Do you prefer email subscriptions?

Feel free to post below your thoughts or you can visit the Mama In Montana facebook page. I'm very interested in what you have to say. Does that mean I will use all the suggestions? Probably not, but as I'm revamping my page, I certainly want to know what is interesting to you. Come on! You know you want to tell me something.....