It’s Tuesday Tips at the Tall Earth Blog and our in-house dude has some thoughts on food to share with you. For readers who are reluctant, but do want to step into the kitchen, we’re going to go with something basic and hearty. Delicious Stew. You’ll be on your way to eating well.
The myth that is “Eating Well” eludes so many of us and it seems like we have lots of reasons why we can’t quite grip its mythical-creature wings. Some are legit, some are silly, and some are just plain made up.
One of our most common reasons for not “eating well” these days is: “In today’s workaday world, who has the time?”
I’d like to share a thought on this: If you do it right, cooking your own awesome meals will actually save you time! And money. Home-cooked meals are tastier, in my opinion, than anything store bought, maybe because accomplishment tastes so good, as does knowing exactly what every ingredient in your food is. And it’s a lot easier to be “eating well” when you’re making it yourself.
So, why are so many guys intimidated by the kitchen? Could be that the feeling of unfamiliarity is overwhelming, whereas ordering a pizza feels easy and comfortable.
If this resonates with you, you might find my post called “Easy Does It” helpful. In it, I share that we can all eat well and cook in a way that feels right for us. There’s no right or wrong way. Whatever step you take, small or even teeny-tiny, is an important and significant step on the road to eating well.
For readers who are reluctant, but do want to step into the kitchen, here’s a dish for you. We’re going to go with something basic, something hearty, something manly. Stew.
And it’s going to be delicious. This is the Ernest Hemingway of dishes. You won’t have to worry about co-workers making fun of your “healthy lunch,” because when they see the size of those chunks of meat in your hearty stew they’ll be drooling.
Our continuing theme is “No Recipe.” Experiment. Discover taste.
But you might say, “I don’t have time for that!” Truth is, 30 minutes of prepping like a madman will save you lots of time during the week. Here’s the trick: Invest some time in the kitchen once a week, cook a big batch, store some individual/smaller servings in the fridge for the next few days, and you’ll have lunch or dinner ready to grab in a time-crunch panic crisis. Can’t find your keys and you’re late? At least you won’t have to worry about lunch! But I digress.
Time-Saving Bro-Tip: The most time consuming components of cooking, I find, are prep and clean up. Once you’re set up, one more carrot to peel doesn’t add that much time, and you’ll be cleaning some dishes as it is. So, it makes a ton of sense to cook in bigger batches. Having a freezer stocked with prepared food is comforting. Imagine you catch a cold, and then you remember you made a batch of chicken soup, ready on hand in the freezer.
Money-Saving Bro-Tip: The cheapest cuts of meat will tenderize during cooking. Bone will add extra flavour to your broth.
Making the Stew: Let’s Wing This!
1. What you want is representation in 4 or 5 categories.
- Tubers: Potatoes, Yams or Taro, or an alternative like this
- Meats: (Ideally grassfed)
- Veggies: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots (recommended!), Celery, etc.
- Herbs/Spices: Basil, Turmeric, Paprika, mustard seed etc. (I group onions and garlic in this category.)
- Filler (Optional): Grains, Rice, beans, legumes, pasta, etc.
Bro-Tip: Stew is perfect for using up leftover ingredients that would otherwise go bad, including leafy greens like lettuce and spinach.
2. Cut up your veggies. How big? Try bite size, or try bigger. Switch it up the next time to see what you like better.
3. Fill your pot halfway with water. As you put ingredients in, the water will rise.
4. Put garlic, onions, and spices in.
Notes on Spices:
- Smell them. Get to know them. Be adventurous… or be conservative. Go with what you feel. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
- The natural flavours of the vegetables and the meat will come through in this slow-cooking process, everything else you do is just bonus!
- See for yourself which ones blend and which ones clash. Buy a variety and test them out.
- I recommend you “layer” the flavours. Add more of the more subtle ones, and less of the intense.
5. If you want you can brown the meat first but I never bother doing that.
6. “Free pour” salt for 1 or 2 seconds. You can add more as you’re going along.
7. Bring to boil and add meat. After it comes to boil again, cover and lower heat to medium-low. If you keep enough room (big pot) it shouldn’t boil over. You want the meat to cook for a few hours to soften the gristle and tenderize the meat. It’ll also give it time to infuse the meat with flavour.
8. You can add your veggies right away, or wait till the meat’s done, if you want more texture. Whenever a spare 5 seconds presents itself, taste your concoction. If you’re anything like me, you’ll do this obsessively to make sure it tastes right, and adjust. I also love eating and this gives me an excuse to enjoy the aromas and work out which spices I’m tasting.
9. The more the water reduces, the more the flavours will saturate. Cook for 2 to 3 hours. How do you know when it’s done? Try some. See if it’s done the way you like it.
10. You can thicken your stew, if you choose, with oats, flour, or cornstarch, by adding very slowly.
11. Add bulk to your creation with soup mix, lentils, rice, beans barley or pasta, if you’d like. If you choose pasta, I recommend pasta shells. If using grains or legumes , soak them for at least an hour and remember to wash them. Fill bowl with water, swish around with your hand. Drain and repeat at least twice.
Buttery Bro-Tip: If you really want to impress, put butter in your stew. Your guests will wonder what strange magic is happening in their mouths.
And there you have it, my friends, that’s all there is to it. Put it in one big container ready to be ladled, or several small ones, ready to be taken out of the fridge at a moment’s notice. If you’re impressed with your own work, you can share with your family. They’ll be delighted.
Until next week… Arrivederci!