The Virtue of Patience

IMG_4779It’s been quite some time since I last blogged…blaming Boston’s snowpocalypse is an option, but it doesn’t fully excuse my 2-month hiatus. It’s not for lack of cooking, since this kind of weather is the perfect excuse to whip up copious amounts of chili, stew, and stir fries to keep warm. As we near March, I plan to shake off these winter blues and jump back into blogging. For those enduring the snowy onslaught in the Northeast, here are two hearty slow-cook dishes to enjoy: a Classic Beef Stew and a Lentil and Chicken Sausage Soup.
Beef Stew 1Let’s start with the beef: my boyfriend Tom challenged me to make an old-fashioned stew, and I came up with this recipe: it’s extremely simple to make, yet packed with complexity and flavor. These tri-colored potatoes added character the stew, but you can use any root vegetable of your choosing. The starchier the better, since it will help thicken the stew as it cooks. The blue potatoes have become one of my favorite add-ins for stews and roasts alike.
Beef Stew 2What I love most about chuck is how tender it becomes when cooked slowly. While you may be tempted to opt for another cut, there really is no replacement when it comes to stews – chuck will give you the best results. I cooked this in my trusty slow cooker, on low for about 6 hours. As is always the case with stews, it was even better the next day. With record low temperatures and snowfall, this recipe is a surefire way to warm up at the end of the day. Click HERE for the recipe.
Lentil Chicken Stew 2I’ve always wanted to try a “lentil and sausage” stew, but am honestly not a huge fan of sausage. My solution is to substitute chicken sausage wherever possible, and I have somehow convinced Tom to opt for it as well. To match higher demands for healthier products, stores have been stocking a remarkable array of flavors. My personal favorite is Chicken & Apple, which is perfectly suited for the purposes of this recipe.
Lentils and Kale 2The lentils and kale are the real powerhouses in this soup, respectively providing a healthy dose of potassium, folate, Vitamin C, fiber, copper…to name a few. You can use any leafy green or legume, and (if you’re a pork fan) feel free to use regular sausage as well. I cooked this soup in the slow cooker for about 4 hours on “high,” and the result was a flavor-packed meal to warm a cold, snowy night. Click HERE to see the recipe for this savory soup!
Lentil Chicken StewThis winter has not been an easy one for Boston: trains have taken a turn for the worse, sidewalks are nearly impassable, cars are buried beneath feet of snow, and the city’s patience is as thin as ice (pun intended). Yet winter is, at it’s most basic level, quite beautiful. Watching snow fall can be an experience that is both magical and nostalgic. Even as we pile on layers of clothing and trek through slush, our eyes drink in the sights of blanketed fields and frosted trees. For my musical pairing, I wanted a piece that would mirror both winter’s serenity and Boston’s constancy. I ultimately chose Schubert’s Impromptu in G-flat major Op. 90 No.3. The piece is remarkably gentle, with triads cascading like snow and a melody that floats above a peaceful landscape. The emotions in the music speak to what I am certain many a Bostonian has endured this winter: moments of triumph, silence, frustration, melancholy, and acceptance. The recording below features the piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz. What I love most about his interpretation is its patience, allowing the music to breathe and grow with each phrase. In this type of weather, patience can be difficult to muster – but spring is just around the corner, and soon we’ll be looking back on the “blizzard of 2015” with a sense of understanding and resolve, because we’ll have made it through this.

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