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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

 Sunday Roast-Brisket-Stew Dinner

Do you ever wonder how many families still have "Sunday Dinners"? Unfortunately it's probably way, way less than we could even speculate. Families are so torn apart by so many to-dos on their lists. We always tried to have dinners together whether at home, a restaurant, church, school, while driving, or with family or friends. There were many, many times that we took a "picnic" in the car to eat while on the road to another event of some kind.

I know that while raising my children as a single Mama I had many doubts and fears on how everything would turn out since there was always so much to do. The weekdays of course were taken up in the majority with their schooling. But, then there was Russian Ballet for my daughter Candice for about 2 1/2 hours daily, plus homework, plus the bell choir at church, my church choir on Monday nights - they went downstairs to play and for Candice to do homework, (Chelsea was only 2), with a very sweet and kind lady from our church, family church night in the dining room on Wednesday nights; thank goodness dinner was part of it! 

There were piano lessons for Candice which, thank you Jesus was during school hours. The Conservatory instructor just came and got her on the day and time set for her, and then there was practice at home, too. There were family obligations on weekends due to how many birthdays and other visits with family on a regular basis. Of course as they got older there were after school sports, choir and bell choir, and both of them danced. As Chelsea got older we added piano at school for her too, she loved to play the piano and received many adjudicated commendations. Candice didn't really enjoy piano even though she was very good at it, she really loved dancing and was phenomenal. She couldn't continue unfortunately due to a hip anomaly that became unbearably painful when she went on pointe. Chelsea excelled in sports, cheerleading, and eventually vocal music. I had no idea that this petite little girl with braces and braids had this absolutely intoxicating booming voice. I just thought that she should have some voice lessons to boost her self image. Holy cow! Yes, I am bragging a lot about my girls, and they deserve it, immensely. 

Then there is my big "little" boy. Who this weekend will turn 36, but who will be my baby always due to severe handicaps. He is loving and very forgiving for way too many things that have needed to be medically done. He's the big brother to his sisters, but will always be their baby brother. And they are fiercely protective about him! He was an attendant for both of their weddings and he loved every minute. For Greg's and my wedding in 2011 he wore a tux and was his Mama's escort. That alone nearly brought the guests and family all to tears. He's a big sweet Teddy Bear that can eat us out of house and home, loves to watch movies, laughs and giggles a lot, and we will do bizarre things to bring that on! Have Chelsea cackle like a chicken for him-that's a no-brainer!

I guess my point is that no matter what's on your calendar, or what's on your plate, take the time to be a loving family. Eat together, drive together, worship together. Be together. It's brought so much joy and love to my life to just BE with my children. The Lord gave me these incredible individuals - my children, on a loan. He gave them to me to do my best to love them and to raise them up into Godly individuals, for Him. I think I can hold my head up and say I have. Now the problem part is letting go. Letting them be who they need to be, but always, always being here for them.
I hope that you too are able to enjoy your family, or are working on making your family closer. You and they will thank you in the long run, really.

So that's where this delicious stew comes in, the weather was very cold, and stew just sounded like a fab family idea. I had bought a whole brisket, rubbed Lawry's Seasoned Salt all over it, added some thinly sliced onions and some beef broth in the bottom of the pan to start some gravy. I called my girls to see if they all were available, but alas the answer was no. That's okay though, they have their own little households, and since there are only three of us, we ate our fill then I divided the rest of the roast up into three parts. Two were wrapped and frozen, and the third was chilled. We had one more night of roast slices with vegetables and then I made the stew with the remainder. I'd love to share it with you now. Don't forget to call your family together. ; )

Gluten Free Sunday Roast-Brisket-Stew Dinner
(This can be fixed in a crock pot, just assemble all ingredients and cook on low for 6 hours.)

2 lbs. cooked left-over brisket, (or other beef cut you have on hand) cut into about 1 inch squares 
1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with the juice
8 oz. water 
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 lb. baby onions, white or mixed, peeled and left whole
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
4 large carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2-3 medium large russet potatoes, cut into about 1inch dice
1/2 lb. mushrooms, wiped clean then quartered or sliced
1 lb. cherry tomatoes, leave them whole
1/2 lb. snap pea pods, leave them whole
1 teaspoon dried oregano,
1 teaspoon dried/rubbed sage
2 Tablespoons dried parsley 
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste - don't forget that the cooked roast was seasoned once already
10-12 oz *Cabernet Sauvignon, or whatever red wine you have on hand 
*you can also use tomato sauce if you don't wish to use wine

You will need a 8-10 stock pot or dutch oven.

1. Cut the meat and all of the vegetables into size recommended.

2. Heat your dutch oven or stock pot up for about 2-3 minutes over medium heat, then add the baby onions and garlic. Sautee them just until the onions and garlic start to become opaque and fragrant. Add the herbs and let them become fragrant. Add the beef roast cubes and heat up till you see "fond" (the browned bits from the meat and aromatics), forming on the bottom of the pot. 

3. Add the vegetables and stir around to mix well. Let the vegetables and herbs get some character by sauteeing about 8 minutes. 

4. Add the diced tomatoes and their juice, and the water. Stir around, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen the fond which will give fantastic flavor, and to combine. Turn your stew to simmer about 30-45 minutes, covered. Stir every once in a while. At the 30 minute mark or so, add the wine and bring the stew up to a boil, then back down to simmer. Keep the lid off now, as you will want the sauce to condense; which will thicken and also intensify the flavors. Watch the pot and stir every now and then, don't let it scorch on the bottom! You might invest in a good heat diffuser, they work wonders. Finally, taste test the sauce and adjust the salt and pepper accordingly. Test the carrots and potatoes for tenderness, they should be fork tender. 

5. Serve it up into bowls and accompany it with a fresh green or fruit salad, and some incredible corn bread! Here's a sneak peek of some incredible flavored cornbread. Check the next post!