Winter Stew for a Wet Spring Day

Hi again, everyone.

So I’ve started tracking my monthly grocery expenses. This is proving a little bit tricky, since I started tracking June’s expenses several grocery trips into the month. So I’m mostly going by memory for the first two trips. The third one (today), however, I wrote out in full in my little records sheet.
Part of this tracking is to see what we spend, in a given week, to feed two people[1]. The other part is to see what I spend, on a given shopping trip, when I buy as local as I can swing — E.G.: I bought a small jar of minced garlic today (product of Quebec, I think)[2] for comprably or more expensively priced than the 2-3 bulbs of garlic (from China or Mexico, not sure what an Ontario Garlic price would be) that would have gone into it. Maybe that was dumb. Maybe not. We’ll see.
I bought a butternut squash – organic, product of Ontario, and approximately the same volume as my own head – for close to $14. Fourteen dollars for a squash. My gods, do I ever miss my garden when I get hit was that kind of pricing.
That said, I will probably be able to get 4-6 meals worth of squash out of this one, and that makes things a little more reasonable (though not that much). Still: O.O
In somewhat related news, I’m also experimenting with a new stew recipe, inspired by this recipe over at Well Preserved. Partly I’m doing this because it sounded interesting and I wanted to give it a try. The other reason is that, like learning how to cook (and enjoy) cabbage and celeriac, if my end-goal is to get in on a meat CSA (like this one), then I will need to know how to cook stuff like mamalian kidneys, liver, tongue, and heart (I confess that tripe is still a little too far on the “wild side” for my liking but… I’m hoping that I’ll come around).
As such, today I’m slow-cooking (in a crock pot, on “high”, for six or seven hours) a cow’s heart, sliced thinly into strips and combined with a sellection of veggies, most of which came from the grocery store today.
Beef Heart Stew
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1.5 C sliced cremini mushrooms
1-2 tbsp butter
1.5 C duck stock
2 C red wine (very, very cheap red wine)
1 cow’s heart – brined for 72 hours, then cut into short, very thin strips
1 yukon gold potato, diced
1.5 C diced butternut squash
5-6 slices balsamic-pickled beets (small), quartered (I made these last year, and think they’ll be a good addition)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried rosemary
0.5 C blanched garlic mustard[3] or other wild greens
0.5 C uncooked pearl barley
0.25 C uncooked red lentils
Brine heart for 72 hours [EDIT: Brine heart for 24-36 hours – 72 is too salty]
Rinse, then cut out and tough white bits
Slice heart into short, thin strips (like what you’d see in a package of “beef stir-fry strips” at the grocery store)
Combine been strips with duck stock and red wine in a slow-cooker
Dice onions, roughly chop garlic and sliced cremini mushrooms
Combine onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a skillet with butter
Sautee until onion is translucent (putting a cover of them will help the process along)
Add mushroom mixture to slow-cooker
Dice potatoes, pickled beets, and squash (peel the squash first, but peeling the potato is optional – I didn’t bother)
Add to the slow-cooker
Add further red wine to cover, if needed
Add rosemary and bay leaves
Turn slow-cooker on to “high” and let cook for 5 hours
After five hours, add blanched wild greens (or 1.5 C chopped fresh wild greens) [EDIT: and the barley and the lentils]
Cook for a further hour or two
Serve, ideally with some kind of bread product like baguette our chunks of sour dough
So there you have it. Ingredients-wise, it has the feel of Winter, not Summer – If I were trying to make a summer stew[4] I’d more likely go with wild greens, ramps, green onions, fresh herbs (rather than dried), hot-house (or garden, depending on how far into Summer we’d gotten) tomatoes, and tiny, tiny new-potatoes thrown into the mixture whole. Maybe radishes and diced sweet potato (if I could find any).
I’m hoping that this stew will be tasty and delicious (and not overly salty), feed three people well (and hopefully have some left-overs — maybe I should add extra squash and potato?), and give me a chance to do a slightly beefier stock using the last of a frozen turkey carcas (now nearing six months in my freezer, so guess when we ate that one).
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Which is not really accurate, since we feed more than two people a few times per week, and also (more significantly) because I tend to stock up on things – E.G.: the 8kg of sugar I bought last week has not even been opened but, hopefully, will see us through Canning Season without too much trouble. I’ve got three bottles of white wine vinegar that are left over from making pickles last year, and which will (mostly) be used for same this August/September. I do not expect to go through two pork roasts in a single week. You get the drift.
[2] I realize that this may just mean “Chinese and Mexican garlic, processed and jarred in Quebec” but… I’m taking my chances, since the other options were, in fact, bulbs of garlic from China or Mexico respectively.
[3] I say “half a cup, blanched” because I’m using one of the muffin-cup sized blocks of garlic mustard that I froze in early May. A big handful of fresh grape leaves or dandelion greens or whatever would work just as well. The idea is to get some Green Stuff into the stew.
[4] Okay, I probably wouldn’t try to make a summer stew. But hypothetically.


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