You should have heard the wind last night, well starting early afternoon and carrying on for most of the night. It was something in the region of 60 mph or around 90 kph - not only that, we got some more snow - quite a lot of the stuff in fact and this morning have had sanders/salters (not sure which) out already - we live close to two schools and on a bus route. At the moment we are still debating the wisdom of driving out into the country for our bowling today. Apparently Toronto had a lot of rain but we haven't had that. Been a lot about the dangers of texting and twittering this morning. Apparently all kinds of people are being caught in either affairs or criticising their places of employment and getting fired. What idiots people are to text such private things. It started because some of Tiger Woods' messages have apparently surfaced. Don't people realise there is a delete button and you can remove such things from your phones etc. You can be suspicious about someone when they won't let go of their handheld and even go as far as sleeping with it under their pillows. And I have trouble getting Matt to remember to take ours with him - he certainly doesn't know how to text (he didn't even realise you could text with it). Definitely technology challenged, my hubby. Because of a recent change in the law here regarding drinking and driving, you can now lose your license for three days if you have been drinking anything alcoholic when you drive, I asked a couple of friends about the laws in the UK and in Oz. They both seem to be very much the same as our laws except for this new addition although Australia appears to be thinking about introducing something similar. People have recently been arrested the next day because their blood alcohol levels are still high from the night before. It takes one's liver an hour to burn off one unit of alcohol, so if you really have a skinful at night, you are NOT OK to drive the next morning. Even if you don't cause an accident, if you are stopped, the fines and consequences are so bad, it just isn't worth taking the risk and if you drive for a living, your job is out of the window. All this cold, windy, snowy weather makes me think of warm, comforting meals. This Provençal Stew from Eating Well fits the bill beautifully and isn't too heavy on the calories either but is full of taste. Slow-Cooked Provençal Beef Stew From EatingWell: November/December 2007 The flavors in a slow-cooked beef stew improve as it sits for a day or two, so it is a perfect make-ahead for a dinner party. Buy nicely marbled meat, such as chuck, for this recipe. 10 servings Ingredients Bouquet Garni * 2 large green leek leaves, (about 6 inches long) * 1 bay leaf * 1 stalk celery * 2 sprigs fresh parsley, with stems * 3 sprigs fresh thyme * 1 2-inch-long strip tangerine or orange peel Stew * 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided * 2 ounces pancetta, or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces * 3 pounds beef stew meat, such as chuck, trimmed and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces * 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided * 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided * 2 medium yellow or red onions, chopped * 3 cloves garlic, chopped * 1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1-inch rounds * 2 tablespoons tomato paste * 1 pound button mushrooms, halved if small, quartered if large * 1 bottle (750 ml) full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy or Pinot Noir * 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley * Freshly grated zest of 1 tangerine, or orange Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 250°F. 2. To assemble bouquet garni: Place one leek leaf on the counter. Top with bay leaf, celery stalk, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs and tangerine (or orange) peel. Place the second leek leaf on top and tie the bundle together in four spots with kitchen string. Set aside. 3. To prepare stew: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta (or bacon) and cook until barely brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving any drippings in the pot. 4. Add beef in batches (do not crowd the pot) and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to a large bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 5. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the beef. 6. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside. 7. Pour wine into the pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Return the browned beef, the carrot mixture and the reserved pancetta (or bacon) to the pot along with the bouquet garni. Press down on the beef and vegetables, making sure to submerge them completely in the wine; if necessary, add just enough hot water to make sure they are covered. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the pot and press it directly on top of the stew, covering it completely. 8. Transfer the stew to the oven and cook, with the lid off, until the beef is tender enough to cut with a fork, about 3 hours. Check every hour to be sure the ingredients stay submerged in liquid during the entire cooking time. If too much wine evaporates, add a little hot water to make up for the loss. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, stir in the reserved mushrooms. 9. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Combine chopped parsley and tangerine (or orange) zest in a small bowl and scatter on top of the stew just before serving. Tips & Notes * Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 8, let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat at a gentle simmer on the stovetop for about 30 minutes or in a 350°F oven for 1 1/4 hours before serving.