Winter Dinner on the First Day of Spring

It’s the first day of spring. Naturally, it’s snowing. Here is the letter I mentally composed this afternoon:

Dear Boston,

Who do you think you are, Cleveland?

Love, Mrs. O

I defy you, weather. Friday we were sitting on the front porch, eating ice cream in the late afternoon sunshine, and now you want to throw snow at us? Fine. We are not fazed. I am prepared with the appropriate dinner —  beef stew with red wine and barley (recipe after the pictures), brussels sprouts (roasted by Mr. O), and pumpkin pie — and Mr. O is prepared with a West Wing marathon.

Photographs by Mr. O.

Stew in the slow cooker

Brussels sprouts straight out of the oven

Cooling pumpkin pie

Further wintry weather defiance from HH and CK's still-lovely flowers

Dinner is served

And then dessert

A note on brussels sprouts:  I used to hate them. It’s possible I hated them without ever tasting them. I thought they tasted like overcooked broccoli with the texture of mushy cabbage. I didn’t figure out how wrong I was until I attended Thanksgiving dinner several years ago at the home of MF’s aunt and uncle.

The difference? Roasted brussels sprouts. Ever since then, I’ve roasted most vegetables I’ve come across: carrots, parsnips, potatoes, cauliflower. Mr. O introduced me to roasted asparagus. Roasting is awesome.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts A La Mr. O

  • brussels sprouts
  • olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper

Cut the bottoms off the brussels sprouts; halve them if they’re big. Put them on a baking sheet; toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.


Stone Stew

It’s not really fair to make an ingredient list for this recipe, since it was composed on the fly entirely out of items I had on hand.  Life isn’t fair, though, is it?

  • 2 cups cooked ground beef
  • half bottle of red wine
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 very, very large carrots
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (leftover)
  • 6 small red potatoes, halved
  • tomato paste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can vegetable broth

Put everything in a slow cooker on high for four hours, then turn to low for two.  Probably cooking on low for eight hours would work too.  Stir infrequently.

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