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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Miscarriage – Mourning the could-have-beens – part 2

If you haven’t read part 1 of my story, please use this link: Miscarriage – Mourning the could-have-beens – part 1 and head over to it.

The second time I miscarried was about 7 months after my first miscarriage. I was 11 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

Facebook was a fairly new thing and I had just begun to connect with a whole heap of people online. As with the first miscarriage, I had been to the doctor and had the pregnancy confirmed. It was standard practice in Texas to come back at 12 weeks to hear the fetal heartbeat and do various first trimester blood tests, etcetera. We were excited. After the first miscarriage, I bought a fetal Doppler so I could find the heartbeat myself & after a lot of searching and much panicking, we did find it. It was all very exciting. I would go and try to find the heartbeat almost daily though, which was probably unhealthy in itself. Anyway, we were excited. We were expecting & at 11 weeks, 5 days, I announced it to the world via Facebook, what could it hurt right? My appointment was in 2 days, things seemed to be coming along nicely.

The following morning, Texas started going in to panic mode as there was a big ice storm coming. The entire city of San Antonio began to shut down. We got a call from the doctor’s office saying we would have to reschedule our appointment (it was meant to be for the next day) as the city had closed everything. They would call us back after the ice storm to find another time for the appointment. The timing was incredible.

That afternoon, I began spotting all over again. I couldn’t believe it but read that it can happen, even during a normal pregnancy. I was trying to be calm but when we couldn’t find a heartbeat, something kicked in and I knew in my heart of hearts that this was happening all over again!

It was very different this time. It’s really tough for me to explain and to tell this story, but I pretty much started to go into labor (I had a child, so I knew what that felt like). Everything was wrong. Hubby was at work again – he worked for a home improvement store so had to make sure people got the supplies they needed for the ice storm, ironically.

Our little girl was amazing! She just sat out in the living room watching tv, being the sweet, responsible, almost 3 year old, that I was so incredibly lucky to have!

But what I went through was awful! It didn’t last for that long. But imagine actually giving birth to something that doesn’t resemble a baby at all. I know you can find photos on the internet that look like a tiny baby when you are almost 12 weeks pregnanct, but this was a lump. I couldn’t mourn it, I couldn’t stand looking at it. It didn’t have limbs, it was just a lump. And in some ways it made it easier to move forward and in other ways, far more difficult. That fact that I had been through the whole process of a miniature labor, was very tough to swallow, the fact that it didn’t remotely resemble what the books showed you, made it a tad easier, I guess.

For 3 days San Antonio was shut down, even hubby stayed home for 2 of them. By the time the clinic called back to reschedule, I knew it was all over and told them as much. They wanted me to go to have a D&C (a clean out to make sure everything is out of you so you don’t have any chance of getting an infection) but I knew everything was out of me. I knew my body had done its job. I just knew.

I spent my next few weeks in a daze and thought our daughter would end up being an only child. Obviously I was too old or I had done too much damage in my earlier days through smoking and drinking. It was a tough pill to swallow as one thing I adamantly didn’t want was an only child! But I put thoughts of another baby on the back burner and focused on the child I did have. I gave up smoking (yes, I still smoked – outside – after having our first child – obviously I stopped during the pregnancy-but I stopped completely this time). I started to exercise and even started making some friends. Hubby introduced me to some of the spouses of his college cohort and we all started to socialize on a regular basis too. It was a really fun time in our lives and we made the most of the family time we got together and the quality of life our daughter had.

About 1 year later, I was fortunate enough to get pregnant again and everything seemed to be different from the get go. It was meant to be. And my second little girl is 10 going on 18. She’s a handful, but an absolute joy.

I even got a surprise third baby about 4 years after she was born, when my husband was waiting for a vasectomy of all things! Had I not though, there wouldn’t be any Hunter-isms! 😁 Check out my Facebook page to find out more info about those!

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful and in your time of need, you know that you are not alone. Please feel free to share so others understand how many of us have been through this. Come on over to Aussie Mum’s Adventures on FB and like my page: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures.

If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage, please remember there are resources out there to help you.

In the USA:

https://www.gopinkandblue.org

In Australia:

https://www.pregnancylossaustralia.org.au

In NZ:

https://www.miscarriagesupport.org.nz

In UK:

https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

Being There

Being There

I regularly reflect on life and try to find some deep and meaningful answers on a daily basis. Rarely do I actually get any 😆. But, some clarification has hit me this year, I think I’m done with the BS people in my life. The ones who only want me in their lives when it’s convenient for them. You know the ones. You call or text them for the umpteenth time & always get the response “I’ve been so busy……. blah blah.” We are all busy, every single one of us, but we all have a few minutes to take the time to call and check on the people we love; friends and family alike. It’s important. We all say all of these sweet things on Social media about how we are here if you need us, but why not be there before you are needed? Why not give a little rather than talk a sweet talk? It’s time, now is the time to do that! If it isn’t time for you, then perhaps the people in your life aren’t the right people? Perhaps it’s time to move on and make new friends?

Every relationship you have is an investment. You both give and take, you invest your time and your love, yes even with friends. If you’re too busy to invest that time and love, then maybe these aren’t the right friends for you. Take a moment to reassess who you want in your life, then take a moment to jot them a note, give them a call, send a text.

I know, I know, your busy, you’ve got too many friends, too much family, everyone is strewn throughout the country, throughout the world! If you don’t reach out now, you may regret that you didn’t. We have no idea if today is the first of many great ones yet to come or the last of many great ones lived. We have no idea about that for ourselves let alone for anyone else. After dealing with too many losses at the end of last year into this year and seeing so many people regret not reaching out in time because they didn’t realize their time was so limited, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. I’m not sitting here on my high horse telling you to cull your Facebook friends’ list, what I am telling you though is reach out to those you consider your true friends, a minute is all it takes. Stop putting off having lunch or a coffee with that girlfriend you haven’t seen in forever, stop thinking there’ll be time later to go for that beer or catch up with your mate to play pool. There may not be and you don’t want to spend time regretting.

I don’t want to regret another minute of my life. I don’t want to spend time with people I don’t truly like. I don’t want to spend time with people who don’t truly like me. That’s not doing either one of us any good. I’ve always reached out to people but it’s definitely a two-way street and my life is very full, so perhaps it’s time I stopped. Perhaps it’s time you stopped too. Perhaps our laundry list of so-called friends is just that?

Either way, the people I love , those who truly know who they are, will always call and check on me or text or let me know how they are, just as I will them. The rest, well some could be in this life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, some could just be wasting my time and I theirs. So here’s to truly being there for someone before they need you and to knowing others have got your back!

What the ?

What the ?

Hey fellow Mum/Mom, what the …..?

So, my daughter had her 12th birthday party a few months ago, she invited 8 of her friends. She didn’t invite one girl that she’s had this on again/off again relationship with. She asked me if I thought she was doing the right thing, I asked her how she was being treated lately by said girl and what their relationship was like. She responded with: said girl had been treating her like crap (after having a play date at our house the week before) and she had an invite for her but rescinded at the last minute because said girl was being a little hellion (according to my daughter).
Here’s my thing; my kid and your kid are both not going to paint themselves in the ‘worst’ picture when it comes to situations involving their friends. I’m going to believe my kid, you’re going to believe your kid.
Sometimes our kids aren’t telling the entire truth; sometimes they blatantly lie.
I can’t tell you who is being more honest, what I can tell you is there are always two sides to a story and why the hell are you unfriending me as your Facebook friend because our kids no longer talk?
Seriously, this happened! I have been a parent for over 12 years now and I’ve only just realised that it is a big mistake to get involved with any of your kid’s friend’s Mums! Well okay, maybe not. Maybe you’ll walk away with a friend for life, but maybe you’ll also both get drawn into the shit that happens when your kids have falling outs! Do not get involved!
Well, hang on, if it’s serious, get involved, but most of the time it’s just the frigging drama that goes along with a bean/tween/teen! It’s seriously not something you need to take a stand on and that’s where the grey comes into it: New Mum/mom, only child Mum/Mom, old hat Mum/Mom, your kid is going to go through drama, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being bullied, but it’s a whole lot of drama nonetheless! (Oh and keep a very keen eye out for the bullying because that’s a whole different ball game!)
The drama is going to involve your kid’s best friend/girlfriend/boyfriend or a complete stranger. You are going to have no clue from which direction the drama will unfold. Here’s the big picture though, don’t frigging unfriend the mother you friended a few months ago when your kid’s were best friends because there’s a damn good chance they’ll be best friends again before you know it! Don’t bring the other parent into the drama! I’ve learnt this the hard way, and I say this in all seriousness, don’t frigging friend someone either just because they are the parent of your kid’s friend! Just because your kid’s are friends doesn’t mean you need to be, and you know what? On a grown up level, just because you’re friends, doesn’t mean your kids need to be!
We seem to go through this notion where we think we have to Facebook befriend the parent of every kid our kids love and sometimes they’re not necessarily people we want to know and other times they’re the best friends we never knew we had. It’s a tough game that whole friendship as an adult thing but when our kids come into play, from now on my new motto is, hey, I really like you but you need to understand our kids may have differences and I don’t particularly give a crap because I really like you and the kids can work their own shit out or move on! Do not get overly involved! Advise your kid. Do the parental thing. Call the other kid out. But has the parent done anything to you? Is the kid old enough to have started developing their independence? Then shit, stop holding grudges against the parents; sometimes great parents have shitty kids and sometimes shitty parents have great kids! That’s just the way it rolls.
This woman’s juvenile behaviour has now made me think everything my daughter has told me about her daughter is true, whereas before, I wasn’t so sure. How can we set the example for our children, particularly our daughters (I’m a firm believer in women believing in other women rather than putting them down) when we start judging other women by the actions our juvenile children narrate to us when they are still learning what is right and wrong in the world? Disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about this seemingly smart, well educated woman! And no, there were no other posts made by myself between Saturday night (the night of the party) and Monday afternoon (when she came up on my Facebook feed as someone I might know).
What the ?
Lady, you are doing nothing for your child by being like this. You are not setting a great example to resolve conflict and nor are you ensuring your child has the confidence to make the right decisions- be they right or wrong. I am glad in a way that we are no longer friends because you’ve helped me explain to my daughter the kind of woman ‘not to be’ (but I actually liked a couple of parts of your personality, so in another sense it saddens me that this is where we’ve come).
I wish you and yours all the best and hope your kid can walk away from this a strong woman who knows what it’s like to both fail and succeed and to know the important role other women play in this thing we call life.