Beef Stew

Today was a fine day to make Beef Stew:  it was -20C on my outdoor thermometer when I woke up this morning at 6:30 a.m.

I’d actually planned to make it today anyway.  I’ve been saving my ‘potato water’ (water used to boil potatoes in) for several days now.  And we had a roast beef dinner a few days ago so I already had the leftover gravy, peas, and potatoes which I add.  I also bought some local beef to use, so I was all set this morning to begin.  I usually choose a big pot to make it in because by the time I add all the veggies and meat, it’s full!

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My wood cookstove was blazing away on this cold morning, so I made this stew on it, beginning at 8:30 a.m.  I find a long, slow cooking stew tastes great.


Beef Stew Recipe

Beef, stew beef or steak cut up into chunks or leftover roast beef.  The amount is up to you.

1/2 teaspoon olive oil or vegetable oil

1/2 celery, chopped

1/2 turnip, chopped into 1″ or so squares

2-3+ large carrots

1 onion

6+ potatoes, cut into 3″ chunks

leftover gravy, about 2 cups

Any leftover vegetables in your fridge

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2+ liters water (or ‘potato water’), as needed


Cut up the beef into 2 inch chunks, unless you’re using stewing beef already cut up.  Add the oil to the pot with a little water, just enough to cover the bottom.  Cook the beef until browned.



Add the uncooked celery, turnip, onion, and carrots.  Cover with the ‘potato water’ or water.  Add salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to barely simmering for 3-5 hours or more.    This is easy to do on my cookstove as I simply move the pot over to the side where it’s less hot.

One and a half hours before you want to eat, add the raw potatoes and any leftover cooked veggies from your fridge.  I find that if you add the potatoes at the beginning, they fall apart by suppertime, after stewing all day.

Fifteen minutes before eating, add the leftover gravy.  Stir well.  Let it heat up until it starts to bubble slightly.  If you find it way too runny, you can mix some flour (1/4 cup) in a jar with 1/2 cup of COLD water, shake really well until it’s mixed completely with no lumps. Then add it to the stew and stir completely, allowing it to come to a boil, stirring often.

It’s ready!  We love to eat our beef stew with lots of whole wheat bread smothered in butter.  Mmmmmm.

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Leftover stew is even better the next day!  Which is why I always start out with a big pot.  You can eat it for supper again or have it for lunch.  It never goes to waste around here – I think our poor dog Yukon wishes there was more left over for him.






Farmers Market

This weekend, I went to my local Farmers Market. What a fabulous place to buy fresh products ! There were a lot of people there because of a Celebrity Cook-off:   cars were lined up on both sides of the road because the grassy parking area was all filled up. I was actually just there to buy my local lean ground beef from Flood Road Farms. But I was in for a treat.NGFM
Walking around the Farmers Market is a rhapsody for the senses! The sights and sounds swirling about are so sweet. On this day, I was greeted with a very talented singer playing tunes on an acoustic guitar and singing (very well I might add) familiar country tunes – but alas, I don’t know his name.2013-08-10 12.01.40

Inside the big barn, I made my first stop at Flood Road Farms for my local, naturally raised beef. I chatted with Sue for a while then moved on to look for some friends I often see there. I passed tables of fresh eggs, crocheted items and hand-made wooden toys in the former animal stall areas which had long been converted to accommodate the Farmers Market.2013-08-10 11.45.38
I followed my nose past the canteen – which was extremely difficult to bypass. Then I made my way around, looking at the beautiful artwork, smelling the delicious baked goods (from bread to butter tarts), stopping to chat with the woman selling the gorgeous cutting boards that her husband makes……..2013-08-10 11.48.48

Then I visited the local Berry Blossoms Honey stand. 2013-08-10 11.50.36

I continued around the barn to one of my favourite products: the NoGo Coffee Company. Now this is the strangest tale because I don’t even like the taste of coffee. But I’m crazy about the smell of coffee! I just love it when my son Marty, the coffee connoisseur / baristas of the family, comes to visit. The house ALWAYS smells like coffee! Last Christmastime when my grown kids were here, we found this NoGo Coffee in our small local grocery store – locally roasted, organic, fair-trade coffee, who woulda thunk!?2013-08-10 11.57.35
Outside there were covered stands with all sorts of fresh, local produce. It was just great seeing all this fantastic food just waiting to be sold. One vendor, Rideau Pines Farm, has been around for decades. In fact, some of my kids went to school with the kids from that farm. They grow just about everything from Raspberries to Pumpkins and sell it here and at their farm with a welcoming smile always on their face.2013-08-10 12.00.12
If I’ve missed Saturday morning’s Farmers Market in the town 10 minutes north, I can always go to the Farmers Market on Sunday afternoon in the town 10 minutes south of me! They have everything you could desire from local meat to candles to clothes.
You don’t have to live in the country to benefit from a Farmers Market. One of the first Markets I ever went to was in the city of Hamilton, Ontario where I grew up. I loved walking through the market on Saturdays during my lunch break when I worked at the Zellers store downtown. I can still remember the smell of the smoked meats melted with the smell of fresh flowers. A few years ago when I was visiting my sister Faye, we went back to that Market just for old time sake.
When I was a young adult going to university and living in Kitchener, we would often go to the old Farmers Market in downtown Kitchener. I frequented it less often when they rebuilt it and many of the Mennonite vendors left to start another farmers market in Waterloo – and so did I.
Farmers Markets are a unique, traditional way of bringing food from the field to the table. I feel very lucky that there are markets like this all over the country.

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