Thursday, May 11, 2017
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Today's post was actually yesterday's post until I mentioned that my sister-n-law shared her recipe with me back in January at which point a profusion of thoughts and memories of events surrounding that month suddenly whirled around my brain and flowed out onto the paper, or technically speaking, the monitor. I felt I should write about them instead as I'd recently taken a 5 month or so hiatus from blogging. So, I nixed the stew. I did promise to share it today though, so here it is!
I took the liberty of naming it "Monica's Herbs De Provence Vegetable Beef Stew" for and after my sister-n-law who made it for some of my kids and hers one night in January when we'd gone over for a visit. She was busy chopping up all these veggies, throwing them into a big stock pot of yumminess and when I asked about it she just said she chops a bunch of this, a handful or two of that, a can of that, some of this, etc. etc. That's my kind of cooking but of course it can be difficult to tell someone else how it's made. I do believe I've got it down though and it will be easy for you to make yourself. I've made it three times since January including day before yesterday. It's been referred to as the bomb diggity every time.
Ultimately, I would say this is more of a wonderful stew for cold, damp Fall and Winter nights, but we've had much cooler than usual temperatures here in OK so it's been great to have on chilly, rainy evenings. I've made it twice in the past few weeks.
This is chock full of veggies and if you want to omit the beef then you've got a 100% Vegan stew...maybe throw in some beans for protein. My son, Ethan, is dating a girl who's a strict Vegan and we're hoping to have a big Vegan meal one night. I will make this for Gloria. I think she'll love it as much as we do. In fact, my kids and Shawn all say they'd love it without the meat as well...and we're pretty carnivorous around here so that's a big deal at our house.
Now, my daughter, Kalyn, is turning into quite the cook herself and she has made this stew for her boyfriend's family on at least two occasions that I know of. The first time she was going to make it she called me from the grocery store and and asked what the spice was that Aunt Monica put in her stew. I told her it was Herbs De Provence or something like that (I couldn't myself remember exactly the name of it at the time). I told Kalyn it was a blend of several spices. She said, "Oh, ok I see it". I told her to bring me some and I'll split the bottle with her so I can make it as well.
I asked Kalyn to call me the next day to let me know how it turned out. Was it as good as Aunt Monica's? So she calls the next day and tells me it was off. She wasn't sure what it was but it just had a different flavor. She said it was good but not great, like what Monica had made. We went over all the veggies we remembered Monica putting in hers and kind of mentally checked them off the list. I said something like, "well, I think Monica probably gets the best brand of seasonings, so maybe that was why yours tasted a little off".
Kalyn came over within the next few days and brought me the remainder of her spice she'd used in the stew so that I could make it and see how it turned out. She gave me the bottle of spices and I said, "Oh, I'm pretty sure I know what happened with your stew, KK".
Here's what she gave me! Whoopsie daisy!
I couldn't help but to laugh out loud. This is a Roberts' classic mistake. My husband, Shawn, still gets teased to this day about using salt in place of sugar in a cookie recipe when he was a kid. He had so much pride that he ate every single cookie and acted like they tasted good. Oh, I am laughing out loud thinking about it because I can just see him doing that!
So I know that we are all on the same page here, let's go over what Herbs De Provence contains. Herbs De Provence is a blend of Lavender, Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Fennel, Parsley and Fennel. Here is the bottle I bought, at Walmart. No fancy brand, just the organic version.
And now, without further adieu, I share with you
Monica's Herbs De Provence Vegetable Beef Stew
1 1/2 - 2 TBLSP Herbs De Provence
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1-2 lbs stew meat (leave it out if you want to do Vegan)
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
2-3 14-15 oz cans Vegetable stock or broth (I used both) (use 3 cans for a soupier consistency, 2 for a thicker consistency...I've made it both ways and taste is the same)
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
3-4 red or russett potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 bag carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 lb mushrooms, rinsed and cut into pieces
1 red bell pepper (or yellow or orange...I always make a big batch so I use 1 red and 1 orange or yellow), seeded and cut into pieces
1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped
2 or so big handfuls of kale, chopped
Drizzle some olive oil in a stock pot and heat. Dredge your stew meat in flour with a little salt and pepper. Throw it in the pot with olive oil and let it brown.
As the beef begins to brown, toss in the onions. Cook for 5 or so minutes and throw in the carrots. I like to add these first as they take longer to tenderize but in all honesty, I don't think it matters all that much! You can probably just throw it all in and ''fahget about it''...just don't let your stew scorch! Next add the broth and remaining vegetables and bring to a boil and allow to boil until potatoes are close to tender. Add a little more salt and pepper, the crushed tomatoes and the Herbs De Provence, not All Spice.
Your pot will be boasting with color and a wonderful smell will waft through your kitchen and home as this stews. You'll want to turn the heat down and simmer for an hour or so until the meat is completely tender...fall apart in your mouth tender. I noticed Monica boiled her soup so I actually did that to. Everything cooks down and marries beautifully.
The kale will turn very dark green and the mushrooms almost disappear as they cook, but it all blends harmoniously.
I've served it with several breads including a crusty French baguette, roasted garlic Ciabatta, sourdough and garlic butter on herb bread. They are all fabulous but I think my favorite are the garlic breads. If you're in the Tulsa area and have Reasor's they've got some nice artisanal breads, one of which is 'Roasted Garlic Ciabatta' and it's out of this world good! It compliments the flavors so well. Plus, Trevor is a supervisor there as he's working his way through college.
Here are couple of alternative suggestions for the stew. I'm sure you will come up with some of your own as well. Please post a comment if you do as I'd love to know how you make it your own and share your take on other versions!
1) The first times I made this I made it more soupier than these photos show. This time (in the picture below and first on this post) I used more veggies and meat which made it thick.
2)We've decided in our house that we will mix this up by serving it over some kind of pasta (maybe Penne) with a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan on top.
3) Monica told me that she has used Beef broth in lieu of the Vegetable broth so that's something to consider if you want a beefier flavor. I'm sure it's wonderful.
4) I think it would probably be good with chicken vs. beef
5) Substitute lentils for the meat and you've got a Vegan meal
Give it a try! I know you'll love it!
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
I'm not quite sure what just happened but 15 minutes before posting this post it was chock full of pretty pictures of fresh vegetables and a Frenchy beef stew served in blue transferware with herbed bread and the recipe for it that my sister n law gave me last January. But then, when I thought about January, it reminded me of all that's happened over the past several months. I have received quite a few messages and emails asking where I was and when I'd be back, etc, etc. and I wanted to explain why I took a 5 month blogging hiatus.
I don't think Monica's Herbs De Provence Vegetable Beef Stew
goes all that well with everything else so it's getting the punt until tomorrow! Please do come back again for the recipe, because it's so easy, yummy and healthy! You'll love it.
Beginning in November, with my Father in law, he had an undiagnosed abdominal aortic aneurysm which burst while he was out of town (out of state actually). Just look up survival rates for aaa and you'll understand how very serious this is, usually fatal. The survival rate is just 10% and that's IF you even make it to the operating table. Most do not. By God's timing and His incredible grace, He put Jim (my father-in-law) in the right place at the right time to be able to survive such a life threatening event. I plan to write more about this later. Needless to say, this was very trying for our family, especially my husband, his siblings and my sweet Mother in law.
During my Father-in-Law's recovery from his brush with death, just about two weeks later, my Mother fell, broke her hip, had to have surgery and then be moved temporarily into a rehabilitation facility for recovery and to learn to walk again. While there, she came down with a serious eye infection which only further complicated things as the rehabilitation facility wasn't really equipped for dealing with a serious eye infection and she is still dealing with some of the ramifications of it today. Mom has other serious heart and health conditions on top of what was going on with her hip and eye infection. She spent several weeks at the facility, including being there on Christmas night. And to make it much worse, there was some abuse (not sexual, but very serious verbal intimidation). The worker in question was fired and/or dismissed at least during the investigation.
During the time my Mother was recovering, one of my brothers (I have six-ish older brothers (yes, an even longer story) and one is needing a kidney transplant and one is on dialysis. My brother needing the transplant was to go on dialysis first and was literally at the hospital being prepped to have the port put in but some other serious medical problems / blood test results caused his Dr. to come to the conclusion that he wasn't strong enough to have the surgery at that time. He was told his days were numbered. He is still with us, but in poor health now.
And then this happened...
Par for the goings on of the past couple of months, about 10 days before Christmas, we had a major pipe burst in our upstairs bathroom which completely flooded not just the bathroom, but also Trevor's bedroom, the hall between his and Ashton's rooms and then proceeded to gather into a raging floor joist river that ran across the ceiling of our downstairs family room and emptied itself out in the kitchen in a downpour. We had to shut the water to the house off pronto and our electricity as well because light bulbs in the ceiling fixtures began exploding from the water seeping in them from above. By the time it was all said and done, the entire kitchen ceiling was drooping in and coming apart from the wall. It was just hanging in some spots. Holes had to be punched in the ceiling bubbles for water to drain as you could see the pooling of water in the sheetrock above, otherwise it was going to give way to the weight of the water and cave in! The contractors told us it would probably give way and fall in by the next day and then instructed us to remove everything out as fast as possible. Trevor, Ashton, Shawn, Ethan and I stayed up until 4 a.m. clearing the kitchen of its furnishings, everything on the walls and all contents including food. This process in turn cluttered up the entirety of our downstairs as we were rushing to get it all out and just stacking things here and there and everywhere. It took them over a month to finish the job and get the kitchen back to us.
looks like snot, but it's not! (it's just water coming of the bull's nose)
So much for celebrating Christmas at the Roberts' house in 2016!
(look close at the window... you can see it is wet both outside and inside! Water came down both sides and weighted the valance so that it broke. They almost look like light but the strands you see in front of the window and over to the right side is actually water coming down from the ceiling)
But wait, there's more
Three days before Christmas, another brother of mine notified me, out of the blue, via a Facebook message, that my Dad had Stage IV lung and liver cancer (which I later learned from one of his Dr.'s had metastasized from the colon cancer he was diagnosed with 8-10 years ago) and was given just two to three months to live. We drove down to my hometown within a couple of days of receiving my brothers message to visit my Dad and when we left I told Shawn that I just knew from observing his symptoms that he was already in the dying process and wouldn't make it another 2 weeks. He was rushed to the hospital a few days later coughing up blood. We went to visit Dad again but he was in a coma and never regained consciousness. He passed away on January 6th.
More devastating news.
The Friday before my Dad's funeral I received a phone call that one of my cousin's had found her 30 year old son deceased. His funeral was two days after Dad's. I had only met him a few times, but, none the less, it was so difficult to think of losing a child and to wonder just what my cousin and Aunt must be going through. It was especially tough to see my Aunt and cousin (Mother and daughter) together, as they both lost young sons; my Aunt lost her son, my cousin, to an auto accident some 27 or so years ago when he was just 21.
Besides all that drama we have pressing issues with two people within the family/extended family going on that I am not able to talk about publicly, but they are very serious. For those of you who believe in prayer, I'd welcome a prayer for those two family members. God will know who you're praying for, even if you don't!
Dealing with Dad's death
My Dad's passing brought about a plethora of mixed, though mostly negative, emotions and feelings, many of which I'd suppressed for years. I have spent some of the past five months working my way through a lot of those feelings, the dealings we all face in everyday life; both happy and not so happy, and spending a lot of time talking to and getting to better know God.
Now you know why I was gone for so long.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
This plate recently arrived and I couldn't wait to take pictures. Bordered with rosebuds the scene depicts deer and cattle. It dates to 1834 and was produced in Longport by G. Phillips.
The older brother, Edward, was said to have been very optimistic about the possibilities of exporting their wares to America as other potters nearby were already involved with trade to America. In September 1831, he along with his wife and children were on their way to America when tragedy struck and Edward was killed in a carriage accident. His wife sold her interest in the pottery to George in 1834 and the marks were changed to G. PHILLIPS.
George continued to produce many of the same patterns the brothers had manufactured previously. While maintaining the quality of earlier wares, he also introduced two new patterns, Verona and Park Scenery, which were both enormously popular. Park Scenery was produced in red, green, blue, brown and less frequently in a two color process.
By 1841 there between 400 and 500 employees at George's factory. Sadly, George also met with an untimely death, at the age of 45. The following year, his factory and home were auctioned and his wife left Staffordshire with their children to start a new life in Australia.
Many of the buildings on the New Bridge site survived well into the 20th century, and the Georgian style master potter’s house, occupied by George Phillips and his family until 1841, is now the Duke of Bridgewater Inn. The bottle ovens and factory buildings were demolished in the mid twentieth century.
This is the only piece I have in stock currently and it's for sale in my shop, HERE
joining: Beverly at How Sweet The Sound
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
My Mother in law came to Easter dinner with an absolutely breathtaking bouquet of freshly cut Iris's from her garden. She has always grown the prettiest flowers! I've recently been enjoying photographing fresh flowers with some of my transferware and I've been a little in love with the color combination of teal, lavender and blue lately.
I couldn't resist taking some photos of a few of the Iris' together with these antique Royal Doulton plates which had just arrived.
The name of the pattern on the plates is Arundel and they over well over 100 years old, dating from 1890-1902.
(photo via Arundel Castle)
The pattern is named after Arundel Castle, where there are about more than 10 outstanding gardens which have been open to visitors since 1854.
(photo via Arundel Castle)
Iris, Most Beautiful Flower
Symbol of life, love and light'
Found by the brook, and the meadow,
Or lofty, on arable height.
You come in such glorious colours,
In hues, the rainbow surpass;
The chart of colour portrays you,
In petal, or veins, of your class.
You bloom with the first in Winter,
With the last, in the Fall, you still show;
You steal the full beauty of Springtime,
With your fragrance and shar colour glow.
An artist's desire of full worth;
So Iris, we love you and crown you,
Most beautiful flower on earth!
Edith Buckner Edwards, 1961