Food & Books for Fall- Part I

As we are just in the beginning of fall, the weather in Ohio has surprisingly cooperated with some of my favorite fall dishes.  Usually, the calendar turns to September and the weather is still in the 70s & 80s.  This year, it was as if Mother Nature just flicked her switch on Labor Day weekend.  It was in the 90s with heat warnings on Friday and by Monday of that same weekend we were freezing in cold rain.  I love fall- my family has a favorite book titled “Don’t you just love the fall?” that we still read over and over again because it has all our favorite fall things-apples and back to school all the way to Thanksgiving.  I love to cook in the fall and love getting new recipes- like this one for “make your own flavored coffee creamer.” Flavors include a cinnamon strudel and pumpkin spice;  I love the idea of pouring it over oatmeal (another fall/winter favorite here).   Tonight I’m making another fall family favorite- Beef, Barley & Butternut Squash Stew.  It comes from last fall (2010) edition of Fine Cooking and it is YUM!  I’m making a little extra so we can eat it for two nights & also made some yummy crusty bread-because you can’t have stew without something to dip into it!  Here’s the recipe:

BEEF, BARLEY & BUTTERNUT SQUASH STEW

  • 1 3/4 lb of stew beef or boneless beef chuck cut into 1″ cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 tbsp. butter-unsalted
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks-halved & thinly sliced
  • 2-4 medium carrots-cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2-3 ribs of celery-chopped
  • 1 C. dry white wine
  • 6 C. chicken broth
  • 2/3 C. pearl barley
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried sage or 1 tbsp. fresh sage (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 small butternut squash-peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 C. fresh parsley or 2 Tbsp. dried parsley

Heat oven to 350 F.  In a bowl season the beef with salt, pepper and 2-3 Tbsp. of the flour.  Brown in a dutch oven or skillet (if you are like me & don’t own a dutch oven) for about 5 min until brown on all sides and transfer to a plate.  Melt 2 tbsp. butter in the skillet and add your carrots, celery and leeks (or I substituted an onion).  Cook until translucent (about 3/4 min) and add salt and add the wine.  Stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up all the yummy beef bits and cook until the wine is evaporated-7-8 min.  Stir in the remaining 3 Tbsp. of flour and cook for 1 min.  In your dutch oven (or like me, if you don’t own a dutch oven I used my roasting pan) combine the beef, the vegetables, barley,  5 C. of broth, spices.  Bring to a boil and let boil for 1 -2 minutes.  Then cover the pot or pan with its lid and put in the oven for 1 hour.  In the meantime, peel and slice the squash.  After the hour is up, add the squash and let cook for 1 more hour.

Serve with crusty bread and enjoy the soft, yummy, goodness of stew!

Also, I’ve been doing my fall reading and am finishing up an excellent book by Amy Alkon “I See Rude People.” Not only is it funny as she tries a one-woman crusade to beat manners into people and catch local theives, it’s actually well researched on WHY we’ve become a ruder society.  After this I’m looking forward to reading two books I got for my birthday- The Help by Kathryn Stockett and A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.

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