Monday, October 3, 2022

MONDAY RECIPE POST - BEEF AND POTATO STEW

This is our first beef stew of the season, always a favorite request.  I usually try different versions. This one added more potatoes (though you wouldn't know it by looking at those photos) and a few new twists at the end of the recipe, Balsamic Vinegar and Horseradish stirred in just before serving up (see my notes at the end of the recipe).  With the start of the colder months (even though the days are still very nice), the evenings are a little chillier and it felt like it was time to make a beef stew.

I found it at Eating Well and you can find the original recipe here.


Beef and Potato Stew – 8 servings

Serving size: 1-1/2 cups - 435 calories in each serving.

This beef and potato stew is slow-cooked (not slow-cooker as I first thought) to perfection, and you end up with a delicious gravy and the meat is very tender.  Very important for me, you can make it ahead of time.  I would have no problem doing this the day before.


3 lbs. pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

¼ cup unsalted tomato paste (we bought a 7 oz. can and used it all)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon (I used Meiomi Pinot Noir, which is a family favorite, not that we are wine connoisseurs, we just know what we like.  We usually pour ourselves a glass and serve with our meal)

4 cups unsalted beef broth

5 fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 (24 ounces) package baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally (1-inch)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. 

Heat a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. 

Toss beef with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl. 

Add oil to the pot and swirl to coat. 

In 3 batches, add beef; cook until browned on 2 sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. 

Transfer to a plate. 

Repeat with the remaining beef. 

Reduce heat to medium and add onions and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown slightly, about 3 minutes. 

Add tomato paste and rosemary; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the tomato paste darkens, about 1 minute. 

Stir in flour; cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are coated, about 1 minute. 

Stir in wine and bring to a boil; cook, stirring, until glossy and thickened, about 5 minutes. 

Add broth, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. 

Stir in the beef and any accumulated juices. 

Remove from heat and cover tightly with a lid. 

Transfer to the oven and bake until the sauce has reduced and the beef is mostly tender, about 2 hours. 

Remove from oven; stir in potatoes and carrots. 

Cover and continue baking until the beef, potatoes and carrots are tender, about 1 hour. 

Don't forget to take the thyme sprigs out and the bay leaf before serving.

Stir in vinegar and horseradish. 

Garnish with parsley, if desired.


To make ahead

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

If you are following such things, the nutritional values can be found at the original recipe, the link I have provided in the beginning of the recipe.  


We thoroughly enjoyed this beef and potato stew.  It was delicious!  

I ended up using a slow cooker, even though the above version was made for the oven.  This was because we didn't have a Dutch Oven big enough to fit all the ingredients, and the container for the slow cooker fit perfectly.  I looked at another recipe cooked that way, and they said put it on low for 7-8 hours.  We found that ours cooked faster, and after checking at 6-1/2 hours, everything was cooked perfectly.  So, if you end up using a slow cooker, I would check to see if it is done after 6-hours.  It worked for us and everything was very tender.

We cooked all the ingredients in a large frying pan up to the point of adding the already seared beef.  Instead, we put the meat into the slow cooker, and carefully poured all the other cooked ingredients over the top, and then turned on the slow cooker.

I added a container of mushrooms along with everything else.  On reflection I would have added two containers.  Also, my co-chef in the kitchen suggested we add more potatoes, more carrots and even more onions.  

This version doesn't have a lot of salt in it, which is a good thing if you are watching how much you use for health reasons.  We are trying to watch our salt intake and if you need more, you can always add it at the table.  Depends on your own taste.  

Don’t forget to remove the sprig of thyme and bay leaf. 

Neither of us felt like adding the Balsamic vinegar or the horseradish when suggested.  I added a dash of vinegar in my bowl at the table.  Both of us preferred it without as the broth was incredible.

I forgot to add chopped parsley at the end of the meal, which would have made it look prettier.  A little green goes a long way.  I wasn't really satisfied how it looked in my photos, but at least it tasted great.

One more thought, adding a little extra flour to make a thicker broth/gravy.

We added a nice crusty roll for dipping.

A big thumb's up from both of us and we are enjoying the leftovers, which only seemed to get better.

That's about all I can think of.  If you have any suggestions of your own, I would be happy to hear them.

Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your week 
and Bon Appétit!




Saturday, October 1, 2022

SATURDAY MORNING AT THE BIRD FEEDER - OCTOBER BIRD


"When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather."


October's Bright Blue Weather
by









Helen Hunt Jackson (pen name, H.H.; born Helen Maria Fiske; October 15, 1830 – August 12, 1885) was an American poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans.  You can learn more if you click on her name.  I shared a quote of hers at this post last month.




Friday, September 30, 2022

HOVERFLY ON TICKSEED


I was interested in the insect on this pretty yellow flower.  At first, I thought it was a bee but as I looked closer, its markings seemed to be different, and I then thought of the hoverfly.  Later I confirmed it. They have been described as a bee/wasp lookalike.  The adults are nectar and pollen feeders, and after bees, are the most important insect pollinators. 
Other facts: you can tell the difference between bees and hoverflies.  Bees have four wings and hoverflies have only two wings.  Hoverflies also don't have a stinger.  Good to know!  Some greenhouses breed hoverflies for use in pollinating peppers, or to help plants produce seeds for seed banks.  Hoverflies also love to feed on aphids.  They are found worldwide.  There are about 6,000 of its species throughout the world, and 900 are in North America.  Hoverflies are found on every continent except Antarctica.  

The flowers I found them on are the Tall tickseed, a species of Calliopsis.  Also known as Tickseed, Tall coreopsis and Atlantic coreopsis.  Its botanical name is Coreopsis tripteris.  It blooms in the summer and is a perennial herb.  Tickseed can be a tall plant and reaches up to 7 to 9 feet.  It spreads aggressively and likes a warm and dry climate but can tolerate occasional wet weather.  It grows best between 50 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.  To attract birds you need to let the flowers go to seed as birds love them.



Thursday, September 29, 2022

NATURE IS...

 



"Nature is the purest portal to inner peace."






Angie Weiland-Crosby was born and raised in Southern Maryland. After graduating from college, she traveled the United States for two years before settling in Los Angeles, California. She now lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her family.  Her full biography is at the link above.

If you enjoy Fairies, she has just written her first book, "Scarlet Oak".  It is available on Amazon at this link and is available in paperback or Kindle.  





Wednesday, September 28, 2022

THE HISTORIC HOUSE AT GREEN SPRING GARDENS - HUMMINGBIRD PHOTO EXHIBIT - 9-24-22


When we entered the garden, there was a sign to let us know there was a hummingbird photo exhibit at the historic house.  It's been a very long time since we went inside, and this was an excellent opportunity to do just that.  It was our first stop at the garden.


We enter a hallway and turned left into the first room.  It was very quiet, and only had a father and his young daughter inside.  They normally have it set up as a dining room as they do afternoon teas here.  We keep saying that we should reserve a table one of these days.  In the meantime, here we are looking at the hummingbird photos.
  

I was able to take a few photographs but as we moved on it became more crowded.  Amazing hummingbirds taken by equally amazing photographers.I didn't want to disturb those who were enjoying the exhibit and settled down to enjoy them too.  (I like to enlarge my own photos in the evenings on my laptop, to study details of any bird I photograph.  There were no signs saying not to take photos.  I always check.)  


The bird in my next photo, where I could just about read the information card, is the Green Violet-ear Hummingbird taken in Costa Rica.


I cant ID many others, except for one more.  Not too knowledgeable on my hummingbirds.


Isn't this a beauty?  According to the card it is a Violet Sabrewing, photo taken in Monteverde, Costa Rica. 



I also enjoyed the flower arrangement on the mantle, and from all the overhead lights...


it seems as though they have quite a few exhibits here


I always take notice of the flower displays scattered here and there.


The view through the window is looking at the back of the house.


On the other side of the hallway there is a small gift shop, with a few prints on the walls showing how the house used to look.   There are reflections in some unfortunately.


Originally, as shown below, the kitchen was a separate structure and not attached to the house.  Separate kitchens were a normal thing in the south back in the 18th century, to keep away the heat and noise, and cooking smells from the main house. 
 

An explanation also stated that later when a family called Moss took ownership, c. 1827 or thereabouts, a brick kitchen was built on the east side of the house.


If you enlarge the photo above, the information says: "Green Spring House undergoing renovations in 1936.  Minni Whitesell, owner from 1931 to 1942, saved the house from demolition."  Thank you Minni!  I can't imagine the garden without this beautiful old house.  Is that Minni and her daughter walking through the doorway?

I bought a few items in the gift shop, just before we left.  Gregg bought me a book on the house's history that I was leafing through, and I also picked up two gift cards and two packets of tea.  The cards are the type that a tea bag is included, with a slit in the card so that the tea packet can slip into it.  I have seen them before in other places and they have been around for quite a while.  You may have seen them too.  They make a sweet gift for a family member or friend.  A handwritten card and a cup of tea, lovely!


 The small room (gift shop area) was filling up with people and we both wanted some fresh air by that time.  I was also eager to get to see what was blooming in the garden...


but I took a couple of photos of the other dining room from the top of the steps (of the gift shop), and that was it for the historic house.

Those anemones were calling me.

I always love the anemones in front of the house.  This is the Grape leaf anemone, also known as a Grape leaf windflower.  It originated in the Himalayas.


Next is a Mexican marigold, also found in front of the house.  (In fact, when I looked up the yellow flower with a touch of red next to it, they were also recognized as such.) Also known as Big marigold, Aztec marigold and African marigold, and they grow in full to partial sun.  Its botanical name is Tagetes erecta.  This plant was considered sacred by the Aztec people, and it was used to decorate temples.  It doesn't attract many birds surprisingly, but the blooms don't produce much nectar.  


This was a sign at the side of the front door, pretty enough for a picture.  I liked it enough to turn it into my logo.


That's all from the house.  I will have a post about the flowers soon.  There were many still blooming, though some were a bit past it, still pretty though.


Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of your week.





Tuesday, September 27, 2022

GREEN SPRING GARDENS - 9-24-22 - SATURDAY

 Lion's tail


I find this a very unusual flower.  It reminds me of a colorful creature, with long 'legs'.  These clusters grow at intervals on one stem, a few inches above each other.  I have shared photos of it on previous visits you can see one of those at this link, with the information I found at the time.  It is the 6th photo down in that post.

It goes by the name Lion tail, but is also known as Wild dagga, Lion's ear, Lion's claw or Minaret Flower.  Its botanical name is Leonotis leonurus.  

It is a very tall perennial garden plant that can grow very fast, up to 6 feet in its first season.

An evergreen shrub, native to the southern regions of Africa and cultivated around the world for its distinctive orange flowers and its tolerance for hot, dry weather.  Hummingbirds are drawn to its nectar, also butterflies, though I didn't see any the day I took these photos.  It was too cloudy I expect, and though not cold, not too hot either.   Lion's tail flowers curve at an angle matched by the beaks of African sunbirds so I read, who feast on the plant's nectar.  

It likes full to partial sun and is super easy to take care of, with resistance to almost all pests and diseases.  It is a perfect option for gardeners with brown thumbs.  And yay, this is perfect for me!

I am happy to say that Gregg and I visited Green Spring Gardens last Saturday.  After not visiting over the summer months, we were delighted to get back. There were still lots of flowers still in bloom and we also went inside the old house. They had hummingbird photos on display.  Very enjoyable!  

And we had a great time walking around the garden.  I will be sharing more of what we saw in tomorrow's post.  

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of your week.


 

Monday, September 26, 2022

MONDAY RECIPE POST - CRANBERRY-APPLE CROCKPOT OATMEAL

 I will serve this up when we have overnight company and am often asked for the recipe.  It is a favorite breakfast (I have also eaten it for supper when I am tired and need an easy supper). What I like is that even when it's just me, I put leftovers in several 1-cup ramekins, wrap them in aluminum foil and freeze them.  Easy enough to take out and pop in the microwave.  Or if there is more than one person who likes oatmeal, I take out and thaw overnight.  Next morning, I can pop them in the oven to warm through.   


I found it at The Slow Roasted Italian which you can find here.  The actual recipe can be found on this page and it was shared by Donna.  Thanks for a great breakfast treat Donna!

Cranberry-Apple Crockpot Oatmeal

Serves 4

4 cups water

2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups apples, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/8 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Using a 5-quart crockpot, spray the inside with non-stick cooking spray.


Add all the ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Cover and cook on high for 1 hour or on low for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.


Donna suggests preparing this the night ahead.  Add apples, craisins and butter to a Ziploc bag and refrigerate.  Combine oats, brown sugar and salt to a separate Ziploc bag.  Set aside.  In the morning pour both bags into slow cooker, add water, stir and turn on.


To reheat oatmeal, add a splash of water or milk to a 1 cup of oatmeal and microwave for 1 minute (more if necessary). 


Overnight cooking method:  follow recipe as listed, cooking on low for 6-8 hours.  Oatmeal will be very soft and porridge-like.




What did I think of this dish?  I always enjoy and it is very comforting on a cold morning.  It is not something I do just for cold weather, I make it all year round.  The addition of the apples and craisins are very yummy.  As mentioned above, I put what is left in the freezer, to be taken out whenever I feel like a bowl of nourishing oatmeal. 

I am having a feeling of déjà vu, that I may have shared this before on my blog.  I have gone through all my breakfast/recipes and could not find it.  Perhaps it's because I have several other oatmeal recipes on here.  If this is a repeat (as it is one of those I transferred from my old blog and I just updated a little) I apologize.  


Thanks for looking and I hope your week is a great one.


 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

SATURDAY MORNING AT THE BIRD FEEDER - THE CARDINAL DEALING WITH A SHORT ATTENTION SPAN.

You will often find me peering outside with camera at the ready.  I am waiting for the birds and have to be fast as they don't stay around for long.  On this occasion I had the company of a female Cardinal.  She was trying to tell me something and I replied...



I'm not the only one with a short attention span, am I?Hmmm.....

The idea for this post came to me one day when I was trying to multi-task.  I'm not a good multi-tasker, as I have been known to get distracted easily when there is wildlife around.

A quote that tickled my funny bone, as I always enjoyed Daffy Duck and on occasion can relate.

"A fellow with the inventiveness of Albert Einstein but with the attention span of Daffy Duck."

~Tom Shales~





Friday, September 23, 2022

WE MET HIM AT THE MANASSAS NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK...

...near Bull Run, quite a while ago now.  What a sweet natured dog, a Long-haired German Shepherd.  His owner told us his name, but I've long since forgotten.  I'll call him Bear.  Bear sat patiently, looking thirsty.  It was a very hot day when I took his photo.   

"You can say any foolish thing to a dog and the dog will give you a look that says, "Wow, you're right!  I never would've thought of that."



Thursday, September 22, 2022

A FEW FLOWERS

I am sharing three flowers taken on our travels in August/September 2013.  When I took these original photos, at the time I was unable to identify the flowers that I took photos of, even though I tried.  Thanks to my app "Picture This" it has made it much easier to do that, and it has lots of good information.

Warty caltrop, a species of Kallstroemia, and also known as Small-flowered carpetweed
Warty caltrop is a low-growing ground cover with small golden flowers.  The plant's seeds are a common source of food for quail and dove.  The 'warty' part of its name, warty caltrop, refers to those seeds, which have tiny, potato-shaped protuberances, and are located near roads and railroads.  It is an herb and an annual that blooms in the Spring, Summer and Fall.  It grows from 1 to 2 feet and its flower is 0.4 of an inch.   There were two maps, one showing where it grows in the US, which includes Alaska in a separate part of the map bottom left...
and another shows the western tip of Alaska (top upper right), the Aleutian Islands.  The other country is the Philippines.  
I found this online also, a fun map of Alaska on wood.
The next purple flower is the Silverleaf nightshade, also known as Silver-leaved nightshade, Silverleaf nettle, Prairie berry, Silver nightshade, White horsenettle, Silver-leaf bitter-apple, Satansbos, Bull-nettle and Horsenettle.  Now those are a lot of names but let's not forget its botanical one, Solanum elaeagnifolium!  Silverleaf nightshade grows throughout the North and South Americas, and Africa.  In South Africa it is called "Satan's bush".  Ingestion of silverleaf nightshade is thought to be toxic to horses.  It can also be toxic to cattle and in severe cases, hallucinations, paralysis and death, yikes!  Compared to humans, the risk is higher for animals.  I won't go into any more details as it's not something that most would want to plant in their garden - at least to my mind.  Beautiful but deadly!
Next is Scarlet sage, a species of Sages (Salvia).  Also known as Bloody sage, Tropical sage, Scarlet salvia, Indian fire, Texas sage, Blood sage and Red Salvia.  Its botanical name is Salvia coccinea.  You will find it blooming at any time of the year.  It is a tropical wildflower and blooms in sandy soil in hot climates.  Butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to it.  The flowers are each an inch long and tubular, providing a perfect fit for the hummingbirds to drink its nectar.  In addition to hummingbirds, goldfinches have been seen picking out the seeds from the scarlet sage blossoms.

Only three flowers to share with you, and I hope you have enjoyed them.