Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Flu Shots, Dental Apron, Noni.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday, flu shots. Everywhere we went in Carteret County, they were offering flu shots, not just in pharmacies. To me it seemed a tad early, but then on GMA Dr. Richard Besser suggested the sooner the better to get a good year’s protection. I don’t know what the shots cost elsewhere, but I saw a price of $21 in one place and thought that would mount up for a family. I am so glad I live in a land of social medicine. We bumped into a Canadian who lives in NC and his comment was “nothing in Canada is free, you pay high taxes”, maybe, but I would rather spend a few bucks each tax period than find thousands of dollars when I need a major operation. Needless to say, we get flu shots free.

dental_collar Continuing on the medical theme, we watched the Dr. Oz show last night, first time for a couple of weeks. I sometimes think his programme should be compulsory viewing. His medical help and advice, together with a ton of information, is a great boon. Last night he was particularly concerned about thyroid cancer which is very much on the rise among women and one possible reason is radiation. For instance, how many times has your dentist taken an X-ray of your teeth? He advises a lead apron which also covers your neck area which is where your thyroid is located. The picture just shows the neck protection and is labelled a dental collar, Dr. Oz demonstrated an apron which had the neck attachment as well. Not just for dentistry of course, but any time you have an X-ray for anything, your thyroid should be protected.

Much to my surprise he was also touting Noni Juice which has been sold all over the place for a long time. I tried a bottle once. On the show they said it was good for you and contained anti-oxidants and anti-inflamatories etc., the only trouble is, its damned expensive and you need to consume 2-4 oz. a day for it to be of benefit. One thing they did say was that Noni Juice is over hyped on the internet and other advertising, it is not the cure all which it is often purported to be.

This recipe from Eating Well reminds me of the dishes I used to savour in France or to occasionally make at home and were absolutely delicious, lots of long slow cooking and lots of flavours married and bound together with a rich, red wine. Just writing about it makes me drool.

Slow-Cooked Proven├žal Beef Stew

Source: © EatingWell Magazine

10 servings

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.

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


For 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

For 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


Preheat oven to 250°F.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Have a great day



  1. Beef stew - takes too long to cook (in that I am French!).

    Flu shots have started here too.

  2. Don't you have crock pots in France? The type of machine you shove your ingedients into and let simmer all day? As for the French thinking that it takes too long, things really have changed haven't they?