If you are looking to save a little money on produce, you should be aware that some Farmers Market vendors typically lower their prices toward closing time. Mr. Vogel typically does his "Stuff a Bag for $5" sale after about 11:00am on Saturday mornings at the downtown Chico Farmers Market. Time it right, because he'll run out of herbs fast. The last couple weeks the winter squash and pumpkins haven't been included in the sale, but pretty much everything else is fair game. Last week I scored rosemary, thyme, chives, basil, 6 paste tomatoes, a couple yellow tomatoes, 4 eggplants, a large bunch of mustard greens, a beautiful variety of sweet peppers and a couple hot peppers. With ten dollars I bought all of our vegetables for a week. I
Now Mr Vogel doesn't label his produce as organic, and I should probably ask what his thoughts are on organic food, how he controls pests, that type of thing. In the grocery store, I typically buy only organic produce. At the farmer's market, one of the stalls I visit every week is certified organic from Durham, but I also buy from non-organic vendors. I feel that consumers should be able to communicate with their farmers and I understand that many farmers are "almost organic," and that is good enough for me.
The weather is cooling off. We've even had a few pleasantly dreary days this past week. So, with those beautiful end-of-summer peppers and herbs I made a delicious beef stew. Normally I would include onions and carrots in stew, but I had neither. That's ok. What I like best about a stew, is that it doesn't require a recipe.
With that, here's a recipe:
Serve with crusty bread and butter. You may want to make this stew a day before serving it. If so, refrigerate in a tall container. The fat will solidify on top, making it easy to remove. Serves 6-8.
1 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup all purpose flour
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups liquid: water, broth or a mixture including wine or beer (I used water.)
6-8 cups cubed vegetables (I used a couple baby yukon gold potatoes, which I left whole, and an assortment of sweet peppers.)
Seasonings (I used a sprig of rosemary, couple sprigs of thyme, a dash of red pepper flakes and 5 cloves of garlic, crushed)
Optional: 1 small bunch of greens, chopped (about 6 cups raw)
Finishing: maybe a splash of vinegar, a bit more garlic, chopped herbs to garnish
Toss meat with flour, salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add meat and brown on all sides. This may need to be accomplished in 2 batches.
Add liquid and scrape bottom of pan. (If your meat has burned onto the bottom of the pan, you'll want to wash out the pan to avoid a burnt taste in the stew. Otherwise, those browned cooked bits are flavor, leave them in!) Add vegetables and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add greens. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes. Finish: Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish and serve.