Friday, January 2, 2015

Rebecca's Beef Stew

The holidays are over. With that brings the thoughts about going back to the daily grind and keeping myself motivated while I load laundry, co-cook dinner, wrestle a baby out of the cabinets, explain to the four year old that screaming right before bedtime is not idealistic, and pay the bills. I am also thinking about the cold weather and the grey skies...and the possibilities of snow and Snow Days. That's right, I need some motivation and I am not talking about Music and Lyrics' "A Way Back Into Love." I am talking about something that motivates me through January, February, and March that doesn't expect me to pay or sign away my life (get in line...).

One of the free-ninety-free opportunities is free child labor. I am joking, of course, but AB is becoming the age where she can help out in the kitchen. At this time, she actually wants to help. I have had her help me since before she was two with stirring and pouring ingredients into bowls and the slow cooker. I want to make sure that she has a good knowledge of basic preparation of a few meals for life, but also make a few pretty awesome memories while we have the time. 

My mother made this particular soup or stew. It technically is a thin broth, so you might refer to it as a soup. It is full of veggies and beef, and the secret to not having to have it simmer all day on the stove top is my secret weapon - the pressure cooker.  

 I made this Beef Soup for the first time when I was in the eighth grade for Home Economics with Mrs. Norris. Mrs. Norris had a specific number of dishes that we had to cook and our parents had to sign that we actually cooked it. (Not that it was edible, but cooked.)  Additionally, we had to collect recipes on note cards, which had to be turned in for a grade. My mom took time to sit down and go over some of our family recipes, where she shared this particular one. (Then, she assigned me the task of cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - the Turkey and sides. Alas, another story, another day.)

Rebecca's Beef Stew (Pressure Cooker 5-Quarts)
1 lb. stew beef
3 carrots, washed and sliced sliced
4 - 5 red potatoes washed and sliced
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2-3 beef bullion cubes
1 can of green beans, not drained (can use fresh)
1 can of corn, not drained
2 cans of petite diced tomatoes, not drained
1 onion diced
Water - fill to top line

I prefer the baby carrots instead of peeling and prepping, but if the carrots are fresh, they add a sweetness to the soup.
Slice the potatoes. Leave skins on if they are red potatoes. Other potatoes can be substituted.

AB poured in all of the canned vegetables. 

Follow manufacturer's directions for assembling the pressure cooker. Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker. Add water up to the fill line on the inside of the pot. Secure the lid and make sure that it locks in place. Add the weight to the top of the steam vent directly on top of the lid. Check to make sure that the weight is situated correctly. Turn on heat medium to high. It may take about 15 minutes before the top weight begins to jiggle and make noise.

 Turn the heat down to medium and set the timer for 15 minutes. Once 15 minutes is past, turn off the heat to the burner the pressure cooker is on. Allow to sit (up to 30 - 45 minutes to cool enough for pressure to be released). (This is the perfect time to make salad, rice, or bread to serve with the soup. Do not attempt to move or touch the pressure cooker in this time period. Manufacturer's directions may note other ways to release pressure, but this is the safest. 

WARNING- Failure to follow manufacturer's directions can cause severe injury and burns to self and to others. Make sure you know what you are doing before you attempt this. 

Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever remove the weight from the top of the steam vent while there is still pressure in the pressure cooker. There is an extreme amount of pressure built up inside that will force the liquid through the steam vent and damage ceiling and surroundings. The user is also in danger of severe burns and injury if directions are not followed properly. 

Once pressure has been released (see directions from the manufacturer to correctly release pressure), be careful when you open the lid on the pot of the pressure cooker. The steam is still extremely hot and you could be burned.

This is the view of the soup once I removed the pressure cooker top. The ingredients inside are cooked thoroughly and taste as though they have been cooked all day. Allow the soup to cool or serve into a bowl and allow it to cool faster separately. 

Additionally, I serve this with Jasmine rice. My mother always made plain white rice, but I prefer the Jasmine rice because of it's texture and supportive flavor. Club crackers add a nice buttery flavor to the vegetable beef broth. 

AB loved this soup and actually asked for more when her soup was finished. My husband picks out pieces of beef to eat.  (He doesn't eat many vegetables, so this is more for me...lucky me!)  I generally have to fend him off so he doesn't eat all of the tender beef that has cooked.

I look forward to the simplicity of making this dish. And within two days, my family had finished it off. Maybe this will be a dish you will enjoy during your cold, winter months.  Hopefully, this will help you find some motivation. I know it always inspires me. 

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