Sunday, August 23, 2009

This is a busy season coming up for me….! #1. HARVEST! Thought I’d be retired by now, but doing one more harvest season. #2. My 50th High School Class Reunion…I know, it is hard to believe I have been out of high school 50 years, but it is true! #3. I am catering a dear friend’s wedding reception. And finally, #4. I am going to start painting again! I miss it! Three weeks without being covered in oil paint is just too long! I personally hope ARTichokes never closes again….too hard on me, messes with my mind! I’ve been working in soft pastels, but they just don’t do it for me, yet. I’m still just learning the techniques and papers, etc, so I have a long way to go.
Cooking, on the other hand, is still going on. This week starts the 4 to 5 week long harvest season and we had to close the reservations for the first three weeks. Dennis sent out the newsletter announcing the first 3 dates and within 2 hours we were completely full! What that means for me is cooking for 100 people every Sunday for the next 3 weekends. After that comes the harvest dates for the red varietals!

Thank goodness I have excellent companions in the kitchen, Mike and Christine Hursey. And, we are cooking in their brand new professional kitchen at their new Casa Somerset, just down the road from the vineyard. It will almost be like retirement!

The menus for these first 3 events are Mediterranean, French and Greek. Should be lots of fun out in the vines; good wine, good food, good music, and as always, good company!
Tomorrow, Monday, Vicki Johnston and I set up the large still life at ARTichokes for our 4 day Still Life event. I am really looking forward to it. We will be able to paint for 4 days, Tuesday through Friday, leaving the still life set up the entire time, giving us an opportunity to complete a large intricate painting or several smaller, quicker studies. Who knows, I may even try a pastel. I hope all you painters have it on your calendar!

The Somerset Painters are not painting this coming Wednesday, due to the still life event.
We will return to our weekly painting out in Miami County eventually, but we plan to visit Ada Koch’s studio the following Wednesday.

Now, finally, deciding what recipe(s) to share with you today. This weather has me thinking fall and cooler weather, but I know we won’t be that lucky for long. However, I do think I might start sharing cooler weather recipes with you….it will turn to fall eventually!
This one is not right off the farm….Grandmother Ogg didn’t use pimientos or chives in her dumplings, and the peas were out of the garden, or out of the cellar where all of the jars of her home canned vegetables were stored! Chances are, the onions, salt and pepper were her only seasonings, and you can count on bacon fat being used rather than olive oil! Other than is just like her's!

Beef Stew with Dumplings 10 to 12 servings

2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1” cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
28 ounces beef broth, I use low sodium variety
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup water
1 10oz package frozen baby peas

For dumplings:
1 ½ cups biscuit mix
2 tablespoons finely diced drained pimientos
1 tablespoon finely minced chives
½ cup milk

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, brown the meat in the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic; cooking until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, herbs,and seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover, lower temperature and simmer for 1 ½ hours.
Discard the bay leaf, then combine the flour and water until smooth; stir into stew. Bring to a boil; cooking for 2 minutes to thicken. Reduce the heat and stir in the peas.

For dumplings, combine the biscuit mix, pimientos and chives in a bowl. Stir in enough milk to form a soft dough. Drop by tablespoonfuls on to simmering stew. Cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, until dumplings are cooked through. Do not peek before 10 minutes. Lid must remain on during the cooking time. When done, serve immediately.

The nice thing about dumplings is they taste so good! They simmer in the meat broth and get light and puffy. When you have dumplings, you don’t need potatoes or bread, just a nice salad will do the trick. And for dessert…I think a couple of Swedish Butter Cookies and a cup of coffee hit the spot!

Swedish Butter Cookies….makes 6 dozen

1 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the syrup and blend well. Combine the flour and baking soda, then gradually add to creamed mixture.
Divide dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a 9 inch log.
Place logs 3” apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cut into 1 inch slices. Remove to wire rack to cool. Dust with powdered sugar.

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