Long time no blog! I wish I could say that yours truly has been too famous and in-demand to write over the last few months, but it’s just not the case. Catherine is of the opinion that none of us from 2137 is self-important enough to blog frequently, and our lack of postings since last year might go far in supporting her thesis; but I’m about to prove her wrong by resurrecting the 2137 blog from its internet grave . . . again. Sorry, C—I just won’t let it die.
To bring you up to speed on Arkansas these days, may I just say that within the last two weeks, the temperature has ranged anywhere between 70F and -19F depending upon the location of the most recent arctic blast. Last Wednesday a storm promising 3-6 inches of snow dumped no less than 20 inches outside my kitchen door, all in the matter of a morning; and here I sat in my house for days and days, grateful for a functioning heating and insulation system, but going absolutely stark raving nuts. Who knew living in Arkansas was like living in Sarah Palin’s Alaska (minus the hockey jokes)?
The following menu–easy beer bread and what my friend Summer has dubbed “Winter Stew—is one of my favorites, and it happened to be exactly what the doctor ordered as our pantry became more and more picked over. I managed to make it to Walmart between snowstorms to snag some fresh ingredients (only at great risk to my life, I might add!), but most of the items I had here in my snow-covered house.
Easy Beer Bread
Assemble your ingredients:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 12-oz. bottle of room-temp. beer
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- PBR (for yuks)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Stir together dry ingredients, and crack open a bottle of tasty beer (I used Magic Hat #9) using the bottle opener you got for Christmas. Mine happens to play the University of Arkansas fight song.
Slowly pour the beer into the dry ingredients, then stir gently until just mixed. It is supposed to be lumpy and moist, but not too thick.
Mine was a little dry, so I added a splash of the PBR leftover from our Christmas party. Please don’t tell anyone about this part.
Spray a loaf pan with Pam, and melt 2 tbsp. butter in the microwave. Pour the butter into the empty loaf pan.
Spread batter into buttered pan, then pour the rest of the melted butter on top.
Bake for around 40 minutes, until the top and edges are golden. Behold the glory.
As Uncle Jesse would have said, “Have merrr-cyyyy.”
While you wait on the bread to bake, you can start on the stew. Like I said, Summer has dubbed this one “Jocelyn’s Winter Stew,” but it is adapted from this recipe of Rachael Ray’s. I first had it during the winter of 2006, when my friends Emily and Dave so generously made it for me in their Vienna apartment.
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 lbs. italian sausage, removed from casings (I usually find around a pound to be enough)
- garlic (2-4 cloves, minced)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 portobello mushroom tops, chopped, and with the gills scraped out
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 1/2 cups lentils
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced into bite-size chunks
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- rosemary (2-3 sprigs)
- 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken or beef stock
- salt and pepper to taste
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but they all cook down into deliciousness. I like to chop everything first (onion, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes) so all I have to do is throw everything in at the right time.
Get some olive hot in your soup pot. Dump the sausage in there to brown, along with some minced garlic.
Cook for about five minutes, until the sausage is crumbled and brown. Add the chopped onions and mushrooms.
Once the mushrooms turn dark and the onions turn clear, add the diced carrots, potatoes, and those delicious lentils. If you ask me, it’s the lentils that make this soup.
Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, then add the bay leaves, paprika, and rosemary sprigs. Dump the can of tomatoes on top, and mix it all together with the broth.
Is this looking lovely yet? It’s definitely smelling like the savory version of heaven.
All that is left to do is to bring the stew to a boil, then leave to simmer until the potatoes are tender. Remember to remove the bay leaves and the rosemary sprigs, and to add salt and pepper to your liking before serving up.
Tastes delicious with that beer bread I mentioned. 🙂