Last week I took my turn doing my Grandmother’s weekend cleaning, as her granddaughters do every week. As I dusted and swept, and mopped her floors, she worked on lunch; and I observed her chopping vegetables for stew, less than a half hour from lunch time.
I admit I was skeptical as how anyone could make a decent stew in less than thirty minutes, as I like to let it simmer and cook a long time; but then she pulled out her trusty old pressure cooker. Of course!
I should have known better than to question her ability in the kitchen, as my Grandmother is an excellent cook. When we clean for her, she rewards us with delicious food, and this stew was no exception. Simple, but hearty, with perfectly blended flavors. She served it with cornmeal biscuits, followed by her wonderful cherry cobbler…
As we ate, I noticed that both she and Granddaddy saved a small piece off their biscuit beside their plates, and my mind took me back to years ago when she taught us to “mop” our plates before dessert.
Apparently the old folks used to do this rather than make more dirty dishes. After our first course she would always pass the bread again and say: “Does anyone need a mop?” I often remember dividing a piece with my cousins, each of us tearing off a chunk and passing it along.
The part that always got me was that we were expected to eat the “mop” when our plate was clean. 😐 I was so careful to keep my food from touching on my plate, and they wanted me to mop it all up together and eat it on a somewhat soggy morsel of bread ? Yuck.
Now that I’m older, and hopefully grown up some, I didn’t mind to sop up the stew broth with my biscuit before eating cherry cobbler. Eating it wasn’t even so bad; after all, it was only stew, not meatloaf sauce and particles of pickled egg, mixed with creamed peas, salad dressing and apricot delight…
Well, now that I have whetted your appetite, 😉 I will show you how Grandmother made her simple stew that got me out of yet another cooking rut. (I came home and made it the very next day, and my hubby declared it “definitely fit to eat,” which actually means he really liked it.)
To make Grandmother’s beef stew, chop up three medium potatoes, one large carrot, one medium onion and two stalks celery. Add 1 tsp. of salt and 1 quart of canned beef chunks. (You could use raw frozen beef chunks but you will need to cook them first, then place in pressure pan.) Season to your taste; I added parsley, pepper and dill.
See? The pressure cooker performed its miracle, and in that short time, the veggies are cooked and flavors nicely blended. Grandmother was sweet enough to send some of her cornmeal biscuits home with me. Once again they were the perfect accompaniment for the stew.
*Note, I was wanting a lighter, leaner stew, so I used canned venison. It makes an “E” meal that suits my rather relaxed interpretation of the Trim Healthy Mama plan. To make it an “S” meal, I would use beef and dip around the potatoes, limit the carrots or fish them out of my bowl for Anna Grace. Also the biscuits would be off limits as well. (Do yourself a favor and make it an “E” this time.) 🙂
Another good variation would be adding tomatoes or tomato juice. It’s getting a little warm for stew these days, but usually May brings along some rainy days. This soup is perfect for a rainy day!
PS. For those of you who are not on the Trim Healthy Mama plan 🙂here is a bonus recipe for you.
1 stick of butter (melted in 9×13) pan
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Approximately 1 qt. fruit
Sprinkle of cinnamon, optional.
Mix dry ingredients, whisk in milk and vanilla. Pour batter in pan over butter, and drop in chunks of fruit.
Mom always used drained canned fruit or frozen berries, so that’s what we do at our house, but Grandmother uses thickened fruit-just drops it in by spoonfuls. Then lightly sprinkle with cinnamon if you wish.
(Our favorites include canned peaches, canned tart cherries and frozen mixed berries.)
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve and enjoy!
Have a beautiful week…