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Halloween and Beef Stew

Here it is, Halloween! 
Don’t you just love this time of year?  I sure do!
From the pumpkins and costumes to piles of crunchy leaves and chilly nights, Autumn is a very special time!

If Halloween hadn’t been invented, we’d have had to come up with some sort of holiday to acknowledge this season!

As a kid, I’d worry for weeks over costumes and “bag strategy.”  I grew tired of the princesses, pirates and clowns that were available at our local Five and Dime store.  My last such store bought outfit was a Micky Dolenz costume….I actually got it more for my growing Monkees collection than for actual trick-or-treating. 

What I enjoyed most of all through the years was when I made my own costumes….usually with just things I had around the house.   One year I was a sack of laundry, and when I was done with it as a costume I just popped the clothes into the washing machine! 

As I got older, I started going “Halloween Caroling” instead of begging for candy and doing tricks.  Doing this enabled me to crash parties without crashing them. 

My unsuspecting host or hostess would ask “Oh! You actually use that guitar?!  How’s about a tune?”  
Of course I’d have to oblige….with songs like “Silent Night, Haunted Night,” “Here Comes Frankenstein” (to the tune of “Here Comes Santa Claus”), “The Twelve Days Of Halloween,” and “We Three Ghosts” to name a few.  Most folks seemed to like it.

This year we’re celebrating the holiday in a more low-key fashion.  Jack’s health issues makes him tire easily, so rather than going through a lot of stress we decided to spend the evening together, just the two of us; a nice meal, a couple of horror flicks on the t.v…..perfect!

My “cauldron”

I wanted something for dinner that would incorporate the colors of autumn within the confines of a one pan, healthy meal. Jack suggested Beef Stew with Biscuits.  So that’s what I did. 

Grab yourself a cauldron and some Witches’ Brew, chase the bats from the belfry and tell Dracula to go get some take-out….let’s cook!

1/4 lb per person

AUTUMNY BEEF STEW

Meat-wise, 1/4 lb of uncooked cubed meat per person is the rule of thumb
1 onion
1 large or 2 small rutabaga
1 or 2 potatoes
3 or 4 large carrots or 1/2 bag of baby carrots, cut up
1 yam
1 or 2 crowns of broccoli cut up
1 to 2 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 bay leaves
2 tsp corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
Seasonings to taste
2 cups of broth (from pan drippings after browning the cubed meat and veggie steaming water)
Any other ingredients you’d like to add….kitchen sink included!

Prepare almost everything in the same pan to insure maximum flavor! The exception would be those veggies that require extra cooking.  Use a steamer for things like your chopped rutabaga, carrots, potatoes.  Steam them ’til they’re about 3/4 done.  Use the steaming liquid as your “water” for the broth base.

Steaming the “hard” veggies

Brown the meat with chopped onions and garlic, set it aside.  Add 2 cups of  the steaming water to the pan drippings, let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add bay leaves, veggies, starting with the steamed ones first. Let this cook for about 10 minutes.

Add , broccoli, what ever other “softer” veggies you might have.  Let this simmer for about 15  minutes. Taste.  Adjust your seasonings.  Add meat and any remaining ingredients.  Let simmer another 10 minutes and taste again.  Some folks like a thin stew, but if you want to thicken it, mix the cornstarch and cold water together then add to the stew.  Let simmer another 5 minutes or so.  Taste again, adjust seasoning.

Let sit 1/2 hour before serving

HERE’S THE SECRET- Let it sit for about 1/2 hour before serving, this allows it to cool down for a bit, and also helps the flavors to mingle and work with one another.

Serve with a salad and  good bread or rolls.

Serve with rolls and salad

As usual, if you have any suggestions, comments or recipes feel free to share!
Enjoy!

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