Monday, February 19, 2007

In a Stew

It has been a somewhat productive weekend. I did the gym and laundry and grocery shopping (Trader Joe's and the hated Shaw's) and caught up on some email Saturday. Sunday more laundry, coffee with Wahz, gym, picked up a couple of things I forgot at Trader Joe's then home and much cooking. I made beef stew.

I pretty much gave up eating meat, not out of moral convictions or health concerns but it seemed like one of the foods that was not letting the pounds drop off. Now that I am in the bulk training phase of things my trainer has me eating beef at least once a week. I went over the list of foods that I should avoid and foods I should eat and came up with beef stew. This is fine with me. I might have a number of gripes with my mother, but one thing I will say for her is that she was a really good cook. Food was a very important factor in our lives as a kid. As a first generation American I have not been able to help but notice that the average American's definition of good food is lots. And bland. It wasn't until I was an adult that I found out that onions and garlic figured in my life a lot more than it did in the life of the rest of the country. (I never had a homemade cheese burger that didn't have garlic worked into the meat until I moved out of the house) Beef stew was always one of those special meals. Each one was a challenge. While the basic ingredients were always about the same it always was an adventure in subtleties. What was the difference in the balance of the herbs? Red wine or beer to give it a little body? Tomato paste or roux for a thickening agent? It is like making soup from scratch or any other peasant meal. Using whatever is at hand and making the most of simple ingredients.

Today is the perfect day for this type of meal. It is 19 degrees and with the wind chill it is in the minuses. I wish I had had the forsight to get some yeast and make bread, though the whole grain bread from TJ's is very good. I have to admit I will miss having the bread slathered with artery clogging amounts of butter, but it's a small sacrifice. The other small sacrifice was to let the pot sit overnight. Like certain other dishes, stew is better after it has rested overnight giving all the flavors that chance to meld.

Today was yet more gym time. Serious shoulder workout and triceps. More laundry (okay I admit it I'd let Mt Laundry get way out of control) the rest of the day I am trying to dedicate as much as possible to sloth. It is a holiday weekend, this is a get out jail free card, and I am hoping that I will be able to get myself into a properly lazy state of mind to enjoy the rest of my day. I plan on capping it off with a big bowl of stew. I will eat with my elbows on the table and a book propped up in front of me. I will listen to some music, Hank Williams (Sr. not that fat right wing asshole Jr.) or Le Nozze di Figaro or Dire Straits or whatever takes my fancy. Tomorrow it will be back to the grind. I will be starting off with the trainer and then dragging off to my job, so I can spend the day taking care of people and listening to what they want. But today, I have one extra day that if I listen I can hear what I want and in some small way take care of myself. Comfort in a bowl.