Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beef Stew

Animal farming consumes more of earth's resources than plant farming does, but animal farming on small family farms, especially ones located near where you live, consumes fewer resources than large corporate farming does.  If you do not want to be a vegetarian, you can still take steps towards eating in a way that is greener, by consuming meat that is farmed humanely and in a way that does not pollute on a massive scale, by consuming meat that does not have to travel far to get to your kitchen, and by decreasing the amount of meat you consume.  One way to decrease the amount of meat you consume without feeling like you are depriving yourself is by making dishes that load up on vegetables so that meat is a smaller part of the overall meal.  This recipe for beef stew has lots of vegetables in proportion to the meat, so that everyone partaking of it is eating less meat without even realizing it!  To increase the sustainability of your eating here, purchase grass-fed beef, preferably beef that has come from a local farm.  Purchase as many locally farmed vegetables as possible, too.

I roasted some of the vegetables before adding them to the stew because I am finding more and more that roasting vegetables in olive oil and salt brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables.  I can't get enough of them!

3 lbs. stew beef
2 large onions
sea salt
olive oil
2 cups good red wine
4 cups beef broth
2 TBS tomato paste
8 stems fresh thyme
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
½ lb. carrots
½ lb. parsnips
4 small turnips, peeled and diced
1 ½ lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
shitake mushrooms, sliced
about 1 cup (or a handful) of parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare all vegetables by slicing and dicing.  Toss carrots, parsnips, turnips and potatoes with olive oil and salt, spread in a single layer on baking sheets and roast in oven for about 30 minutes, tossing every once in a while to ensure that all sides get a little brown.  Meanwhile, stir some sea salt and pepper into flour on a large plate and coat chunks of beef with the mixture.  Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and saute until translucent, stirring occasionally.  Raise heat to medium high.  Add flour-coated beef chunks to the pot and stir.  Cook until meat pieces are brown on all sides.  Add wine, beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, marjoram and bay leaf.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Add the roasted vegetables when they are golden brown.   Add green beans and mushrooms.  Simmer stew covered for about an hour (longer is ok, too, just check the pot and stir to avoid the bottom burning).  Add chopped parsley before serving.  This will taste even better the next day.  It also freezes well.  I am guessing this makes about 10-12 servings.  It served my family of four for a couple of dinners and also provided several lunch servings.

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