One thing people will tell you ad nauseum about having a baby is how much it will change your life. I don’t wholly disagree with those people but at the same time I don’t feel as though my life was turned upside down with the birth of my first son. My husband and I have talked about this quite a bit. I think it is because we have always been home-bodies with little extra money to do things like have a nightlife or travel much. If you travel a lot and are a partier, then yeah, your life will change. Our Timothy seemed to just fit into our life as it evolved naturally.
I never expected life to be the same, year after year. I always saw it as a series of changes, some big, and others more subtle. It seemed to me that it will always be a continuous growing-up process. I suppose I am becoming quite philosophical right now as I try and calm myself in readiness for this new little boy to arrive. Yes, it is a big change, but I can handle change. It is part of life.
As with most things, stress that comes with change can be managed with a little preparation. I have been continuing to do some batch-cooking to stock my freezer and I’ve added a couple containers of this beef stew to my stockpile. A new baby means a lack of time for leisurely cooking and it also means there is a dent in the wallet. This will help on both fronts since I don’t want to resort to ordering in very often since that gets very expensive in a hurry.
Did life seem to radically change when you had children? Did you adapt and roll with it as life moved you forward with this new aspect to your world?
A rich beef and mushroom stew with traditional flavours, perked up with the savoury addition of cocoa powder. This large batch of beef stew can be scaled down easily to suit your family's needs.
3 hrCook Time
3 hrTotal Time
- 4 lbs stewing beef
- 2 onions
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 carrots
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 500g cremini mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half or quartered
- 2 tbsp flour (all purpose or gluten free)
- 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
- 3 tsp salt (approx. - more or less to taste)
- 1 tsp pepper (approx. - more or to taste)
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups low sodium beef broth
- Trim any tough parts off the stewing beef and cut into generous bite-size pieces if necessary. Generously sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large dutch-oven (5 qt or larger) - a cast iron enamelled pot works best.
- Brown the meat in batches, setting the browned beef on a plate as you work through it all. The beef is ready to turn when it comes off easily. If it sticks, that means it is not brown enough and you need to leave it for another minute before turning to brown the other side.
- While the beef is being browned in the pot, cut the onions into a large dice and peel and cut the carrots into 1 inch chunks.
- Once all the beef has been browned, this will take about 20 minutes, set it aside the plate of browned stewing beef. Lower the heat slightly and add in the onions, carrots and garlic. Stir occasionally so the onion doesn't stick to the bottom. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add all the mushrooms and another pinch of salt and pepper.
- After 3 or 4 minutes, add all the beef back into the pot and add the Herbs de Provence and flour. Stir to combine and then pour in the wine to deglaze the pot.
- Stir in the cocoa powder and then the crushed tomatoes and beef broth.
- Put the lid on the pot and either continue cooking the stew on the stovetop or put the whole pot in the oven with the lid on at 375 F for 1 1/2 to two hours. If you are cooking the stew on the stove, stir it occasionally to ensure that nothing is sticking to the bottom. Check the stew in the oven after an hour and if you find that the liquid is cooking down too much, add more broth or some water.
- When the stewing beef can be pulled apart easily with two forks, the stew is nearly done. If it is slightly runny then return the pot to the stovetop on a medium heat (if it was in the oven) and remove the lid. Let the stew simmer until the excess liquid has evaporated away and you have the desired consistency. I prefer a thick gravy.
- Serve over mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes with your favourite green vegetable.