Oh Dear…

…my friends, it’s been too, too long 😦

Life – namely work – has got in the way of blogging again.  Bleurgh!

First things first – Happy 2013 to you all! I hope the year is good for you.  I looked back at this post to reflect on how much I achieved in 2012 over the past year:

* Learn to sew – simple items, with a sewing-machine: Done but not done: I did some hand-sewing shown in this post and was so pleased with the results. Boosted my confidence.

* Have a plant-strong dietary intake: Big, fat success – yay! I love veggies more than ever and am eating far more.  Much more mindful of including them in my diet more frequently, and making them interesting to eat. Fruit – not so much.  I’ve never been a big fruit-lover, and that’s okay with me.

* Maintain the list of books I read each month: Done.

* Read the library I received for Christmas(2011): Not quite done. But much reading achieved.

* Keep taking photos: Ooo-er – this one’s dwindling… 😦

* Work: I remain in the same post and at long, long last it’s starting to feel good. It’s been hard.  I’ve learnt so much. But now there is positive feedback coming from outside of the Team and it’s great! I still love working with people with mental health needs – always have enjoyed it.

* Enjoy life and remain thankful to God: Always.

* Seize each day and opportunity to creat memories: Needs some work!

For 2013 I haven’t really identified any things to achieve.  Not really feeling inspired, which is not a good thing at all.  I keep having some thoughts about a bit of voluntary work but nothing grabs me. I’ve also started doing a bit of drawing and painting – I used to love this when I was little and haven’t done it for ages.  It’s quite nice to dabble.

The Slow Cooker came out today for a party – I’ve been craving beef for a few weeks now and decided to buy some diced stewing steak for a casserole.  I couldn’t decide whether to do a tomatoey-based casserole, which can be very tasty, or a traditional English beef casserole.  The second option won.

Beef Casserole & Dumplings(serves 5)

For the Casserole:

400g Stewing Steak, diced

1 heaped tbsp plain flour

1 tsp dried, mixed herbs

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 medium onions, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large carrot, sliced

1 small swede, diced

1 Knorr beef Stock Pot

300ml boiling water

1 tbsp mustard

150g peas

For the Dumplings:

100g Atora vegetable suet

200g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp dried, mixed herbs

salt & pepper

10 tbsp cold water

Turn the Slow Cooker to low. In a plastic freezer bag mix the plain flour & 1 tsp mixed herbs, add a good grinding of fresh black pepper. Tip the diced steak into the bag and mix/smush it well to cover the beef with flour. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan on a low-medium heat, add the floured beef. Allow it to cook until browned, turn the beef and repeat. Remove to the slow cooker.

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the frying-pan and add the sliced onions. Cover and allow to sweat – stir occasionally to avoid colouring/burning. Once the onions are soft add the garlic, carrot, swede and a good grinding of fresh black pepper and stir. Cover and allow to heat. Place the beef Stock Pot in a jug and cover with the boiling water.  Stir thoroughly.  Mix in the mustard then pour the liquid over the vegetable mix and turn the heat up high. Once the vegetable and stock mix is boiling transfer to the Slow Cooker and mix well. Cover the Slow Cooker with the lid and leave for 5.5 hours. Add the peas to the casserole and stir well. Cover and leave for 1 hours.

To make the dumplings: Mix the suet, self-raising flour and mixed herbs in a mixing bowl. Add a little salt and plenty of fresh black pepper and stir. Add the cold water and mix with a fork – the mixture will be thick and a little sticky. Roll as many dumplings as you wish. Place on top of the beef casserole mix in the Slow Cooker. Turn the heat to high and leave for 1-2 hours depending on the size of the dumplings. I made 5 large dumplings and they took 2 hours to cook.

Serve and enjoy! 
On the block:

P1060980Freezer bag + flour:P1060981Brown the beef in the pan:P1060982Heat lots of lovely chopped veggies in the pan with stock:P1060987And transfer to the Slow Cooker:P1060988Look at those beauties – plopped on top of the hot casserole!P1060990And……done!P1060991This was a pleasure to tuck into. The herby dumplings were big, fat and fluffy and totally satisfying. The casserole was full of flavour – especially that wonderful swede. It has a strong flavour which some might not like, but I love it and it reminds me of a traditional stew or casserole. Another root vegetable to use might be parsnips. Both of these vegetables add mild sweetness to the flavour.

Confession: I don’t like boiled carrots! Why are they in the casserole?  Because they’re good for you! And thinly sliced, they lose their flavour and can be mashed in the gravy.  So I eat health without the taste of it – win!

The floured beef helps to thicken the casserole juices. Adding the herbs to the bag helps to distribute them throughout the dish.

I used the basic dumpling recipe found on the side of the Atora packet but doubled it.  The last few times I have made dumplings I have followed the recipe exactly and they turned out to be hard little lumps.  This is not how dumplings should be!  So this time I doubled the recipe and made 5 large dumplings – they turned out just great!  They rise and swell when they’re cooking.  The finished texture should be sort of spongy.

As with so many of my dishes the quantities of ingredients can be varied.  Adding plenty of vegetables makes the dish go much further.  Seasonings and vegetables can be altered to suit one’s taste.  I didn’t add potatoes as I was making the dumplings.  If I didn’t do the dumplings then I would add potato for carbohydrate.  Another option would be to serve with bread & butter – those were the days of heavy manual labour and people being able to get away with eating such food!

I’m going to try freezing the casserole and dumplings.  I don’t think frozen dumplings should be a problem but I’ll let you know.

Have you ever made dumplings?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s