Hearty Beef Bourguignon

Hearty Beef Bourguignon

As with so many of my blogs, they really are random and varied in their subject topics and this one is no exception.

Several years ago, a wonderful friend of mine who was born in Paris but raised in the French countryside by her Parisian mother and Tunisian father, showed me how to make beef bourguignon. It was one of the most wonderful meals I’ve tasted. Over the years, I have made a few adjustments and even modified it for the crockpot and it has become a favourite meal in our house. According to my French friend, the difference between French country beef bourguignon and Paris beef bourguignon, is the potatoes, but I love them and wouldn’t make it without them as they give this dish the added heartiness it needs.

I’m going to do my best to share with you the recipe/process of making it but you must first understand that I don’t really measure anything when I cook, so you’ll have to go with my explanation of amounts and if your anal about your quantities, you’ll just have to make it your own by perfecting the measurements 😉. The great thing for me is that each time I make beef bourguignon, it has an ever so slightly different taste and each time is just as lovely as the prior one.

If you’re still here then I’m assuming you want to know more. This is a great family meal and can also be a great dinner party meal, which is how I came to writing this blog. We had guests over one Friday night and the menu was quite last minute, but it was a hit and I was asked to share my recipe, so here goes:

Obviously the first thing you need is the beef. I am not completely au fait with different types of beef, so I normally buy either a nice looking lean beef for stewing package (and still remove all of the fat as none of my family likes fat on any meats) or I buy a top sirloin family package and cut it into chunks (somewhere about the 5cm/2” chunk size especially if I’m doing it in the crockpot as the meat will shrink, basically, you want it to be bite size after it has been cooking. As far as the amount of meat, it really depends on how many you’re cooking for. The night of the dinner party, I was cooking for 8, so I used about 1kg/just over 2lbs, of meat.

I cook the meat in a large pan with olive oil on a medium high heat until just brown, then add the bacon. Again, I like the bacon to be nice and lean. I cut most of the fat off and have even used lean turkey bacon in the past. Either one works. In this case I used 7-8 slices of center cut pork bacon that I cut into very small pieces after I had trimmed the fat off. Then I threw in a variety of salts (pictured) because I didn’t have any ‘seasoned salt’ on hand, so just made my own. It’s important to add a little extra salt as you will be cooking potatoes.

I added 3 cloves of fresh garlic (refrigerated minced garlic is just as good – about 3 teaspoons) and lots of onion powder as well as some dried minced onion (note – I love cooked onion but my husband and 2 of my kids, do not. I find things need that onion-y taste, so have resolved to using a mix of onion powder/dried minced onion to give the taste without adding the texture they dislike so much).

This is a 1/4 cup that I used as an oversized spoon equivalent- don’t get too caught up on perfect measurements 😊

Next add a couple of heaped tablespoons (or 1/4 cups with a bit) of flour. This was weird for me the first time I saw it as I thought it would end up chunky/lumpy like gravy, but it works itself out. Stir the flour in, it will get thick and pasty very quickly so have your wine ready to go.

Thick and pasty after the flour has been added

 

I really like using the box wine for this. I have used different types of red and I guess it can’t really be called a bourguignon if you don’t use that wine, but semantics. Lol. The Franzia chillable red gives the dish a lighter taste (which my kids prefer, rather than a heartier red that continues to give it a ‘wine’ taste even after the alcohol is cooked). My friend used a heartier wine but added an equivalent amount of water, so I really find this does the job just as well. I did measure it this time knowing I would share the recipe with you 😊 and I used about 750mls of the Franzia and added  about 250mls of a cheap cab sav to find a happy medium in the sauce/stew. I gave it a quick stir and threw it all into the crockpot then added the tomatoes and tomato paste, 3 bay leaves and a huge spoonful of the beef stock paste you see pictured here. I love this paste. Best stock brand in America in my humble opinion. Find a good quality beef stock where you live and use it generously.

If you are cooking it in your pan, add these ingredients, put a lid on your pan and turn it down to a simmer, stirring regularly and cooking for about 40 mins. If you’re using a crockpot, set on low for 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, stirring it after about an hour.

Potatoes. In this particular meal, I used a 3lb bag of baby red and yellow potatoes. But I’ve used all sorts of potatoes and just cut them into bite sized pieces. You have some different options here as far as cooking them goes too. I like to cook the potatoes a little bit before adding them to the crockpot as I have had potatoes not quite cooked even after they have supposedly simmered away for 8 hours. Your other option is to cook them and add them at the last minute. I prefer the first method because they get the saucy flavour interspersed in the potato and it adds to the overall quality of this dish, but sometimes things don’t work out, so it’s always an option at the end. If you’re cooking this meal on the stovetop, then your only option is to cook the potatoes separately and add them into the sauce for a few mins. Make sure you taste it after you have added the potatoes to see if you need to add some extra salt, this goes for both methods.

To finish off this hearty stew meal, I throw a loaf (or two) of French bread into some foil and warm it up in the oven. Serve it with some real butter and let your guests dip away into this wonderfully warming meal!

Let me know what you think of this recipe and if you make it, how it goes down with your family and friends. This meal gave 4 of us seconds and lunch for 4 of us the following day, so it certainly went a long way.

If you enjoy reading my crazy, varied blogs, please subscribe here on WordPress. Sharing is caring, so feel free to share with your friends. I’m on Facebook: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. Come like my page and share it with your friends! You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures And please subscribe to my YouTube channel: Aussie Mum’s Adventures – it’s a work in progress though 😊

Ingredients

  • Beef
  • Bacon
  • Seasoned salt
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Wine
  • All purpose (USA) or plain flour (Australia)
  • Large can of crushed tomatoes (28oz in USA equivalent to 794grams metric – but don’t worry about being precise, just adjust your other ingredients to account for amount of tomatoes) and/or
  • Fresh tomatoes if desired
  • Tomato paste – small can or about 2 heaped tablespoons – be generous 😊
  • Bay leaves
  • Beef stock
  • Potatoes
  • Crusty bread
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A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Imagine this: you’re sitting al fresco style at a lovely restaurant eating brunch with your husband and your 12 year old son. Everything is great, you’re eating your food and this family outing is extremely pleasant; all of a sudden your son’s face goes extremely red. You wonder if he’s choking but he’s not making any noises or gesturing in any way that indicates that such a thing is occurring. He stands up and you can see a wet patch on his bottom. He’s had a minor accident you think, but then the smell hits you quite violently and you realize this is no minor accident!

Now imagine your son is special needs. Imagine if you were that parent. Imagine if everyone around you (and the restaurant, even al fresco, was absolutely packed) just sat and stared!

So I tried to imagine this and I honestly couldn’t, not in a real, oh my god, this is really happening, kind of way. This is what did actually happen to my sister and not one restaurant patron helped her in any way at all. She didn’t have any wipes on her (isn’t that always the way when you desperately need them) and her husband ran to to get as many paper napkins as he could whilst she desperately tried to clean their son up.

“What could another patron have done?” You might be asking. Well, anything but nothing! Here are some suggestions if you ever find yourself witnessing such an awful situation: Alert the staff, suggest they get some disinfectant and lots of paper towel. A bucket of hot water, a mop, you know, those things you need to take care of a situation like this, offer to help get paper towels from the public toilets, if you have young children (and there were other families with very young children there) offer your baby wipes! Try not to stare. the worst thing these people did was nothing. This was an awful situation for my sister and her family. She was embarrassed, stressed, mortified and by the end of this now-turned-horrific brunch, a little angry! And I can’t say I blame her.

We all talk about how kind we can be on social media, but it’s time to own that kindness in real life. Stop being so ghastly! Help out your fellow people when they need you! No, it wouldn’t have been pleasant, but no one was expecting you to do the actual clean up! My sister didn’t even expect the restaurant staff to do that! She cleaned it up as much as she could with the limited resources she had, but their disappointment in their fellow patrons and the lack of kindness shown to them, is something that has to be shared so that no one ever has to go through that again!

It’s time to start actually doing the right thing and thinking about people other than yourself. To the patrons at that restaurant: shame on you!

If you have a child with special needs and would like more information on where you can get support, please check out the links below:

USA (this is a link to a blog that lists 10 organizations within the USA that can help you with support):

Where to find support in USA

In Australia:

Support in Australia

UK:

Support for parents in UK

NZ:

Support for special needs in NZ

If you enjoy reading my crazy, varied blogs, please subscribe here on WordPress. Sharing is caring, so feel free to share with your friends. I’m on Facebook: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. Come like my page and share it with your friends! You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures And please subscribe to my YouTube channel: Aussie Mum’s Adventures (I’m still working on it, so please have patience with me!).

Bathroom Makeover – The Flooring

Bathroom Makeover – The Flooring

So hubby and I decided it was finally time to actually do some sort of makeover of our master bathroom. It wasn’t a big space but it certainly wasn’t a nice one either. The only thing acceptable in it was the shower itself. Somebody had obviously recently renovated it. Not necessarily in my choice of colour, but it was certainly good enough for us not to worry about ripping it up and starting over. This isn’t our forever home. We did however desperately want to get rid of the god-awful brown square tiles covering the floor and the lip leading into the shower. 

I am reasonably sure the man who lived in this house prior to us, had absolutely no taste whatsoever, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. We have seen numerous examples throughout the house proving this point. Just look at the backsplash (almost identical to the bathroom tiles) and countertops in the kitchen: 

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I’m not sure if he was doing everything possible to eradicate everything even remotely feminine in this house (apparently they went through a pretty nasty divorce after he told her to leave because he had found “the love of his life”)! I mean he seriously sounds like such a dick anyway! Good riddance! And good riddance to the ugly brown tiles throughout the house that don’t match anything else. 

Back to the bathroom: we had decided on the LifeProof vinyl flooring planks, having been very impressed by the way they’ve held up over the past year in our basement. We love the colour too (seasoned wood) and it looks amazing with blue paint (& every other colour too)! Here’s a link to it at the Home Depot: LifeProof Seasoned Wood multi-width vinyl flooring (and no, I’m not getting paid by them to share this link with you, though I wish I was! lol)

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We knew how durable the vinyl flooring was because we used it in our basement renovation over a year ago and it has withstood three kids, a dog, a cat, numerous guests (the guest room and spare bathroom are down there) even some drunk people – yes, the bar and pool table are also down there! 😉 I was actually originally toying with the possibility of using the travertine, like I had done in the kids’ bathroom, but decided against it because of what a pain in the arse it became when I actually renovated the bathroom from hell (aka the kids’ bathroom). I didn’t want to rip out the existing tile, I wanted something easy to lay, was reasonably priced and was also durable – unlike the flooring we had put throughout the main level that looked beautiful at first, but damaged the minute you breathed near it (Here is a link showing some of the ‘wear and tear’ on this flooring. Do NOT buy this product, you will regret it and the company – Harmonics, holds no liability, blaming the installation process for everything! This was the Harmonics Spiced Applewood Laminate Flooring from Costco.)

Normally, you don’t need to lay any underlay underneath a vinyl flooring but because of the square tiles, I decided to use a vapour barrier one I had found on Amazon to help even out the uneven divides between each 2×2 inch tile. It obviously need to be something that could go in a bathroom, so this one was perfect: 3in1 Silent Vapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment w/overlap and tape 100sq.ft by Feather Step and you can’t beat the price at $18 for 100 sq. ft! Be prepared though, it does smell a bit when you open the packaging up.

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The next thing you need to do is to work out how your flooring is going to lay. Because the Seasoned Wood Vinyl Flooring planks come in multi-widths, we had to plan this out in advance to get minimum waste. I suggest you do the same thing. Here is a time lapse video link to us laying the floor : Bathroom floor laying. So, the first thing I need to clarify is that we do have the vapor barrier upside down in this video. We did eventually reverse it, but it was a long process and quite frustrating, so I didn’t get video footage of that. Remember, silver side down.

The next problem we had was the super weird, ugly shower lip. Why would you put those ugly floor tiles going up the edge of the newly renovated shower? A normal person would have gotten rid of that, but not our guy! Probably because it was a tad too hard; it certainly puzzled us for a while as to how we were going to get rid of them without removing the tiles (we would have to do it all if we removed these ones).

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Hubby suggested using baseboard, but I was very concerned about the moisture getting into it, even after I coated it with spar urethane (a special urethane that is used for sealing wood in areas where it will be exposed to water or strong sunlight). We tried it nonetheless and it looked like crap to be honest. I bought a couple of different types of tiles, but we needed something big enough and with nice enough edges, that it would look good on the top where it met the other tiles from the shower, or we needed something to finish it off. It was really a matter of trial and error. We had decided to use the Aspect Peel and Stick backsplash  stainless long grain metal tiles behind the countertop (hubby’s suggestion) so I thought it might be a good idea to use these down the bottom of the shower, where it met the floor. But how to finish the edge off and cover the little bit of exposed ugly tile? I searched through the house looking for something I could use when I found it!!!

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Yes, that is leftover wire cord from an IKEA light! If you look closely you can see that the outside is actually covered in plastic, it was surprisingly flexible too. I straightened the cord out, sealed the ends by melting the plastic for a split second and glued it on with a waterproof glue and Voila!

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The Aspect Peel and Stick tiles with the IKEA lighting cord used as the finishing touch

 

We love our new bathroom floor!

If you enjoy reading my crazy, varied blogs, please subscribe here on WordPress. Sharing is caring, so feel free to share with your friends. I’m on Facebook: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. Come like my page and share it with your friends! You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures And please subscribe to my YouTube channel: Aussie Mum’s Adventures (I’m still working on it, so please have patience with me!).

Teen Anxiety and Blaming Parents

Teen Anxiety and Blaming Parents

I recently read an article titled “10 Reasons Teens Have So Much Anxiety Today” and I was really quite shocked at just how much the author generalized and blamed parents in this article. A little too much blame methinks. As if parents don’t have enough stress on them too! How about the fact that in America it’s all about working rather than spending any quality time with your family? How about the fact that teachers aren’t given the respect and recognition they deserve? And yes, I do believe (highly unfairly) some parents expect teachers to raise and discipline their kids.

I think another factor is that society wants to give everyone a medal! God forbid we recognize that our child lost! – Our daughter had a soccer game the other day and it was awful! It was awful to watch. She played terribly. Her team was annihilated because none of them played well. She got into the car afterwards and told us how she played terribly. I said she had some moments that were good, but it definitely wasn’t fun to watch and she certainly wasn’t playing her best. She said she didn’t give it 100% – All we ask is that our kids do their best. Every time. If you are going to commit to something then you need to give it your best. I told her I appreciated her admitting that, but if she wants to play soccer then she needs to give it her best, every, single time. There is no talking it up at our house. We are by no means perfect parents but when our kid doesn’t commit and recognizes it themselves, I’m not going to disagree. I’m not going to praise the not-so-good. I am going to praise her great moments though. Our other daughter has just made a lacrosse team. It’s the B team. She started playing lacrosse at a free clinic last Summer. She did another clinic in Autumn. And another this Winter. She can’t expect miracles. She can’t expect to be the best immediately. It just doesn’t work that way. I’m proud of how she responded though when I told her this morning that she had made the B team. She said that if she wants to get better then she has to work hard. But she’s going to play hard nonetheless and actually said how thankful she was that we actually let her start playing the game now (14).

No one knows if they’re doing the parenting thing the ‘right’ way. Articles like these point out some great things to keep an eye on but they also blame parents in so many ways and that’s when it becomes unfair. We are trying to do our best. We are told what we can and can’t do as far as our parenting goes. We are told we are doing it wrong all the time. “Too many electronics!” “You have to have your kids skilled in electronics!” “They’re not exercising hard enough!” “You’re putting too much pressure on your kid by having them exercise hard throughout the week and playing competitive games on weekends!” There’s a happy medium somewhere there, but we can’t be blamed for everything! Society as a whole needs to intervene in a more productive way. Playtime at school has to happen. Yes to less screen time, but haven’t the so-called experts been saying that for years about TVs?

My son told me he was bored the other night, I told him to read a book or play legos or take his imagination on an adventure! We ended up playing a family card game of Uno. It was fun! Kids need to be bored and parents need to allow them time to develop coping skills, it’s also a time when parents can add some family fun into the mix.

I very much believe in the hierarchy point though. I have friends whose kids seem to dictate all that they do. I have friends who treat their kids as equals and share with them far too many facts about themselves or other adult friends. Your kid is your kid. Not your peer. Not your friend. When they are adult enough, become friends. But they need you as their parent, their guide, their guardian, right now.

This article points out things to keep an eye on within ourselves (as parents) and some modifications we can definitely make in our day-to-day lives as the parents of teens or even tweens, but blaming us for everything isn’t the answer either.

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