Stewing and Struggling

This weekend I did something kind of stupid.  I agreed to run a 5K the day after giving blood.  I thought it would be easy for me seeing how I run much farther than 3.1 miles on a regular basis.  I think I underestimated the toll it takes on your body when you give blood, especially when you’re super short like me.  The 5K was the training run for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and included obstacles, trail running, stair running, and the beastiest hill I’ve seen in a long time.

Here is a picture of me WALKING during the race.  I have never walked during a race before.  But by the time I got to the beasty hill and ran half way up it (after the obstacles) I seriously thought I was going to faint.  One of the officers tried to encourage me to keep on running up the hill, but I told her I just gave blood yesterday and if I kept running she was going to be scraping me off the pavement.  And then, when I got to the top of the hill I started running again, several officers were standing at the top of the hill trying to offer us Krispie Kreme doughnuts.  About one mile back another officer had shouted that there were doughnuts and bagpipes waiting for us at the end.  So that bit of information coupled with the fact that I was pretty mentally tired, led me to believe that the race was done and that I had reached the finish line.  Granted, this race was a pretty small race and the first time this race had ever occurred.  So, I thought maybe they didn’t realize that the end of the race should be more obvious.  After about 30 seconds of walking I realized that I was completely delusional and that the race was not over.  I ran about another 1/10 of a mile to the race end where I promptly grabbed water and plopped down on the curb.  It was the worse race ever for me.  It was more of a fun run than anything, but I had no idea I would feel so horrible running it.

Following the run was breakfast at Panera and a mad cleaning spree as well as some grocery shopping at TJ’s – my favorite weekend activity.  Brad and I invited some friends for dinner and while I cleaned I had chuck roast, carrots, and potatoes stewing in the crockpot.

This is Brad’s mom’s recipe.  I called her for it and everything.  Basically it’s about 3 lbs. of chuck roast browned first, and then combined with about 2 cups of chopped carrots and 2 cups of chopped russet potatoes.  A few cups of water and a small can of tomato sauce with plenty of salt and pepper and you’re set.  I didn’t have all day so I put the stew on high and it cooked for about three hours before our friends arrived.

My proudest cooking endeavor of the weekend was honey wheat bread.   The recipe comes from Food Network, but the website is not very descriptive, especially if you are a newbie bread maker.

I clearly remember the first time I had this bread.  Brad had decided to make bread at like 9 pm.  This is not the kind of bread you make quickly.  So I had been anticipating the bread for several hours and then fell asleep while smelling it baking.  Eventually, Brad woke me up and handed me a piece of bread with butter smeared all over the top.  I didn’t even open my eyes, which may have added to the transcendental experience of this bread.  It was the best bread I had ever tasted.  One day I will try another bread recipe, but for now I don’t have any desire to venture out because I truly am in love with this bread.  It’s oaty and crunchy and soft in all the right places.  It slices just right if you want to use it for sandwiches.  It is perfect with a great soup or stew, which made it really great with the beef stew.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 cups bread machine flour
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the yeast in the warm water and stir, allowing the mixture to rest for at least 5 minutes.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl: all flours, salt, and rolled oats.  In a separate smaller bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar, and the yeast and water mixture.  Mix well and slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Sometimes I use the kitchen aid mixer to mix but usually I mix by hand.  Bread is funny and takes a little careful handling sometimes.  Plus, mixing thick dough with your hands is therapeutic.  Spray one large baking sheet with non-stick spray, divide dough into two lumps and put in pan or on sheet.  I like to use the sheets because the bread comes out more rustic-looking.  I form the loaves with my hands so they have the shape of a large egg.   Allow bread to rise until it’s at least triple in size.  The recipe says to let it double twice, but my impatient self has found that I just let it rise until I notice it is much bigger than it was originally. To rise properly, it needs to be in a somewhat warm space.  I took the little table that sits in our foyer and carried it over to our gigantic windows, placing the sheet with the dough on the table, and allowed it to rise for at least 2 hours.  I am not really an exact-ist when it comes to cooking.  Like my Mamaw says, “You’ve got to feel it.”  So feel it, I do.  When I feel like the bread has risen enough, it’s ready to bake.
Bake until golden brown.

I don’t like to say how long the bread should take in the oven, because every oven is completely different.  I often find that I have to add or subtract 5 minutes or so from every recipe.  So, you really need to watch the bread in your own oven to determine what is best for you.  Mine takes around 30 minutes.  But I don’t really turn the timer on, I just remove the bread when I feel like it’s ready.  I let it sit awhile before slicing into it because the bread will continue to cook.  This bread is amazing with butter.  Between the beef stew and the upcoming stew I’m about to share with you, one loaf was gone in 2 days (we did share with our dinner guests).  The second loaf is in the fridge and being saved for Brad’s parents when we make the long drive to Currituck, NC for Thanksgiving.

The second stew of the weekend came after I conquered 10.5 miles on Sunday.  Ironic that I was dying running a 5K the day before, but enjoyed a pleasant > 10 miles the following day.  Okay, so it wasn’t that pleasant, the last 2 miles was ran in the cold rain.  Seeing how we have plenty of NC coastal shrimp in the fridge (we had 16 pounds in August and  probably have about 10 pounds now), I thought a shrimp stew/soup was in order.  We literally could write a cookbook called What to Do with 16 Pounds o f Shrimp.  We have tried everything.  I think our favorite has been shrimp and grits made with a bit of yellow curry, cumin, mozzarella, and parmesan reggiano.  It’s one of my specialties and I will post the recipe in the near future.

My shrimp stew was inspired by a Cooking Light recipe.

  • 1 3/4  cups  chopped red onion
  • 1  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2  cup  chopped celery
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 2  cups  chopped baking potato
  • 3 cups of veggie broth
  • 2 cups of frozen corn (thawed)
  • 1 pint of organic cherry tomatoes
  • 1  (6-ounce) can no salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2  pounds  medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Old bay

Saute bell pepper, celery, red onion, and garlic until soft in a large pot.  Add broth, potatoes, tomatoes, tomato paste, cilantro, and corn.  Boil for about 10 minutes.  Add shrimp and allow to simmer for about 10 more minutes.  Add salt and pepper.

I allowed my stew to sit on the warm setting of our stove top for about an hour until dinner was ready.  We added Old Bay as an afterthought and it really set the stew off.  If I had to do this over again I would definitely add about 2 Tbsp. of Old Bay during the second step. When I put the leftovers in the fridge, I added a generous scoop of Old Bay.

Oh my geez this was good.  As I was eating leftover at lunch today at work, I couldn’t help but notice the sweetness added by the corn and cherry tomatoes.  Brad would like to add that it was de-li-cious and looks forward to eating it three days in a row.  As for his review of the beef stew, he has had it for breakfast for the past two days, so I guess that’s a good sign as well.

On another note, Brad and I have been looking for a Christmas tree skirt for 2 years with no success.  Does that mean we’re picky?  It took me exactly 3 years to find a tree topper that I like.  If anyone knows of a great store that sells tree skirts, I would love to hear about them.

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Filed under Dinner, running

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