I haven't felt this relaxed in years.
The snow has forced me to stop all the running around, all the furious "I've gotta do this" and "I'd better do that" and just enjoy my house, my yard, my dog, my kid and my snowshoes. It feels like the life I've always imagined people in small towns live. It's just not my nature to sit still, but the snow if forcing it, and I'm completely digging it.
I'm also going nutso in the kitchen. Yesterday, after snow-shoeing over to my parents house with Ruby in the backpack, I cooked up a batch of those no-bake chocolate-peanut butter-oatmeal cookies I remembered my mom baking us when we were little. My sister's 4-year old son, Zach, helped out. It took all of 10 minutes to make enough for days!
But really, the most exciting part of the weekend, cooking-wise, was making the moose stew last night.
Yep--it's made with real moose meat from a moose my dad and uncle got this past October in New Hampshire. Since my uncle lives out there, he's doling out the meat in small batches (for shipping cost reasons, I guess), but since my dad knows Ed and I love wild game (and honestly, we're really the only ones who'd go to the trouble of making a braised shoulder, or slow-cooked stew), we were gifted some stew meat and some sirloin, which went into the stew last night.
I usually cook all my stews in two steps: First, you brown the meat, slow-cook it in some wine/water/broth/herbs/onion-carrot-celery/bay leaves for a couple of hours. Everything but the meat and broth will eventually get tossed out, since the veggies become mush. This step is all about making a really yummy broth and tender, yummy meat. What I do is strain the broth into a big bowl and pick the meat out of the colander, and then return the broth and meat back into the pot. You'll see that the veggies are worthless, but if you're hungry you can salt the veggies left in the colander and snack on 'em, or make baby food with 'em.
Second, you prepare the veggies you'll actually eat in the stew, and I usually do these in steps in a separate pan, coq au vin-style. So last night I cut up a couple of russet potatoes, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and fried them up in a nonstick pan with a little olive oil until still al dente but nice and golden brown, then I put them in a bowl on the side. Next I seared my mushroom quarters in butter with fresh thyme and rosemary, then added them to the potatoes. Then the same with some hunked carrots and large-chopped onions. Cooking on med-high heat the whole time, you're really just getting some color on the veggies. Finally, you put all the veg in with the meat/broth and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
I finished my stew with fresh cream and lots of black pepper and some chopped Italian parsley. It was divine.
We ate it with buttered potato bread, which Ed had made the day before. Head over here for the recipe for that easy, incredibly good bread. Unlike the moose stew, you probably have all the ingredients for the bread in the house already.
What are you cooking in this incredibly snowy weather?