What food do you crave on a cool, windy day? Stews, soups, and chili are at the top of my list. A cold front came through this past weekend bringing lower temperatures and winds over 30 mph. I figured it would be that last cold snap of the year. I had been wanting to make my dad’s beef stew and I decided it was the right time.
The recipe was adapted for a different method. My dad’s recipe instructions are for a pressure cooker and I do not have one. I used my trusty Staub dutch oven. I wanted to keep it as much to the original recipe as possible. The important part was the end result and the way it tastes. His beef stew is what I will forever judge any stew against. No other one will every be as good as when he made it. I miss my dad and wish he was here to cook it again. I remember hearing the sound of the pressure cooker when I was a kid and knowing what was for dinner. Those times made for wonderful memories I will cherish forever.
I pulled out the recipe and made a shopping list. What I discovered at the store is how things have changed over the years. The recipe called for a 16 ounce can of tomatoes and only 14.5 or 28 ounce cans are available. It appears the cans have gotten smaller. The same was for the tomato juice, the 6 ounce can has been downsized to 5.5 ounces. Based on past experience of making other slow-simmered stews, I went with a larger size carton of chopped tomatoes. The additional liquid would help since stews seem to thicken more during a slow cook than in a pressure cooker. I would rather it have a little more sauce than be too dry.
Cooking and adapting a family recipe was a lot of fun. I thought of my dad throughout the whole process. It felt as though he was beside me and helping me along the way. I could almost hear him saying “you did good” as he did so many times before.
When was the last time you cooked a family recipe? What was it? Make sure you or your family member writes down the recipe. Save it to be passed along as any treasured heirloom.