Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wildlife, Shopping, Dust, IP Experiment

I have seen  documentaries about how wildlife is adapting to towns and seen many pictures of foxes living in towns. Then I have recently been wondering about the park outside our windows and wondering what, if anything, other than squirrels of course, lived around it. Then today, we were coming home passing another park area close by here and be damned if a fox didn't cross the road in front of us. I was quite excited to see it bearing in mind that the best we have seen before was a mother Canada Goose with her string of goslings feeding on the grass verges. We have a lot of black squirrels here, I thought they were a separate breed, but somehow they have apparently mutated from grey squirrels. Used to love watching squirrels in NC, we put corn out for them and they would sit on the wooden platform and eat from the cobs. Think I have a picture somewhere. We used to have lots of birds feeding or nesting in our yard too. I miss that.

We went for a haircut this afternoon and then went to collect groceries. Between us we got the
shopping cart which seems to be on loan from a local store (although we have two again somehow) and filled it up. They are very heavy and I can hardly push them empty let alone manoeuver them through the doors. We don't have electronic buttons, we need them mind you. Matt pushed the trolley and I opened the doors - 5 not counting the elevator. Got the shopping to the kitchen and then took the trolley back (the store does know we have  them apparently although they usually only leave us one) and I parked the car in the underground parking lot. I said to Matt, is this worth $15. We decided it wasn't, but I'm, not so sure. Pushing the carts round the store might be OK, but not round this building.

Talking of the parking lot, the car is dusty as anything from being down  there. Didn't have this problem before they cleaned the garage!! I cleaned the car quite recently and really don't want to have to shell out again because of the dust, but I guess I am going to have to, I could hardly see out of the rear windshield. Whilst waiting for our groceries I cleaned it with a Kleenex, not very successful, but...

Oops, I have just realised they tried to deliver something to us from Costco and we weren't here. Gotta go. OK, panic over, they left a ticket and I can pick up "round the corner" after 1. Phew.

I have never been a devotee of stews as such or maybe I really mean stewed beef, not sure. Anyway, I found this Nigella Lawson recipe some years ago and have made it several times, it is ideal for freezing and keeps really well. However, in comes my Instant Pot. I have endeavoured to adapt it, the present quantity is way too big for my little pot, but I must be careful how I cut things down. Leave the spices alone Josephine. We will see what happens and I will be sure to let you know. So, below is the original recipe - for a start I have cut the beef back to 1 lb. and will go from there. From what I have been reading, it is a good idea to leave out the flour when cooking and add cornstarch when it is all done. So, here goes, wish me luck..

Spiced Beef in Red Wine

There is nothing to stop you from serving spiced beef in red wine at a dinner party, but proper
cooking should not be undertaken only for company. I make a batch of the beef and, when it is cool, bag it up in single portions and put it in the freezer. It makes a great warming supper for nights when you are lazing on a sofa watching television. Just because it's Wednesday, you need not have to resort to a bagel or grilled cheese for dinner.

2 slices bacon, roughly chopped
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 large leeks, white and light-green parts only, roughly chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup fresh parsley
1/3 cup flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ lbs chuck steak in 2-inch cubes
2 Tbs vegetable oil, or more as needed
pinch ground cloves
1 ½ cups red wine
2 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
3 star anise
1 Tbs light brown sugar

1. Working in batches in a food processor, process bacon, onions, leeks, carrots and parsley until finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and set aside. Place flour in a freezer bag or other plastic bag. Season with salt and pepper. Add steak cubes, seal bag, and shake until cubes are well coated.

2. Place a flameproof casserole dish over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons oil. When hot, add beef in batches, turning until well seared on all sides. As beef is browned, transfer to a plate, and set aside.

3. If casserole dish is dry, add 1 tablespoon oil. Place over medium heat, and add bacon and vegetable mixture and ground cloves. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine wine, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, star anise and brown sugar. Place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. When vegetables have softened, pour liquid over vegetables.

4. Return beef to pan, and stir well. Bring to a boil, partly cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently until beef is tender, about 2 hours. Serve hot. If desired, stew may be cooked and then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for a month.

Servings: 6

Author Nigella Lawson.

Have a great day


  1. It wasn't until last year that I really started seeing the black squirrels around here. Now they are everywhere.

    1. Interesting Alex, I had only ever seen them in Ontario. I wonder why they mutated to black, they are pretty though.

  2. We have tons of wildlife around us. I live in a housing development but every house has over an acre so there are lots of places for deer, rabbits, squirrels, occasional fox, huge turtles, skunks, and we hear coyotes though we haven't seen them.
    Why do they make doors so heavy? My local Barnes and Noble bookstore has massive doors I can barely open.
    Still shopping around for my instapot. My last child moves out next week so I'll be using it for small meals for hubby and me.

    1. I am envious about the wildlife in your area Susan. With a park outside our windows, there must be more than we see or hear, but I don't know.

      They are fire doors I believe, but I still don't see why they can't have the electronic buttons.

      Then all you need is a 3 qt Susan. I love mine and use it almost every day. Just got a new book of yours today. Look forward to reading it.